Intrapersonal intelligence: How can we improve the ability to better understand ourselves?
When we talk about the concept of intelligence, it is very easy to think about what is needed to solve mathematical problems, repair a device or plan a strategy to follow in specific cases.
However, we can also consider that there is a type of mental abilities that are more private, difficult to outsource in a very striking way. What has been called intrapersonal intelligence is a good example of this.
What is intrapersonal intelligence?
Intrapersonal intelligence is one of the types of intelligence proposed in Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. The set of cognitive abilities to which it gives expression is somewhat hazy and difficult to distinguish from other forms of intelligence, but in short it can be said that intrapersonal intelligence refers to the degree to which we know the internal aspects of our own way of thinking. think, feel and act. In other words, it represents our ability to know ourselves and intervene in our own psyche, in a broad sense.
In what way can we know ourselves?
According to the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, recognizing the repertoire of feelings that define our own way of being (and the type of stimuli that can induce each of them), discriminating well between different moods and taking advantage of this knowledge to regulate our behavior towards determined objectives. In this way, intrapersonal intelligence is what makes it possible for us to know the internal aspects of our mind and use this information in our favor.
For example, knowing how to be especially sensitive in certain subjects can facilitate the task of confronting conflicting situations, which can be key to avoid losing control in these cases and, at the same time, work techniques to control levels of anxiety, anger, etc…
Intrapersonal intelligence can easily be confused with emotional intelligence, a theoretical construct in which several psychologists have worked and which is not born of the Multiple Intelligences Theory. It is true that both types of intelligence emphasize self-knowledge and the regulation of emotions, but emotional intelligence is a broader concept. Thus, the difference between intrapersonal intelligence and emotional intelligence is basically that intrapersonal intelligence only accounts for some processes that could be compared to what is measured when studying the second.
On the other hand, intrapersonal intelligence can also be confused with interpersonal intelligence, which is also framed in the theory proposed by Gardner. Interpersonal intelligence is related to our ability to relate to others and work in teams optimally, while intrapersonal intelligence is private. That is, the first allows us to know others and interact with them in a useful and successful way, while the second allows us to do the same with ourselves.
Both, however, could have many links with what is understood by emotional intelligence.
How to improve in intrapersonal intelligence?
At this point, it should be remembered that any form of intelligence can be trained and improved over time as if it were a muscle. However, it can be said that intrapersonal intelligence is insufficiently studied and that it is difficult to propose exact methods supported by science to improve it.
However, beyond the light that future scientific investigations may throw on this subject, I would recommend the following to see progress in the area of intrapersonal intelligence:
1. Give Mindfulness a try
Mindfulness has proven useful in increasing one’s own self-regulation of emotions, so it may be a good idea to start your practice in a sustained manner. You can also try traditional meditation forms.
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2. Often think about what you are feeling
Stopping to reflect on the feelings you experience usually will help you recognize them when they appear and detect their patterns, regularities, etc. In this way, you will know what situations trigger these moods and you will realize how you usually act when you feel this way.
Mentally labeling these emotions with names or words, in general, is a good way to start.
3. Consider how you can guide this knowledge towards goals
Knowing a lot about our way of thinking and feeling is of little use if we do not take advantage of that information to improve our quality of life. Intrapersonal intelligence is also, in part, able to predict some things about our own behavior. Therefore, you can create action plans to intervene on your ways of feeling, thinking and acting.
An example would be to hide a chocolate bar because we know that when entering periods of anxiety we tend to resort to food to seek relief.
4. Evaluate your progress
In order to progress in self-knowledge, it is good to look back to see what works and what does not. Being critical of our own progress is also essential if we do not want to get too optimistic about what we do.
These steps can help you to work better with your own person, but the last word you have, of course, you. Each person is a world, and the existence of intrapersonal intelligence is a reminder of it. No manual or self-help book will be able to give you all the pieces you need to understand well how you function. That task belongs to you.