What Is Intrapersonal Intelligence? Self-Analysis 101

4 minutes read -
Shannon Terrell
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A woman using intrapersonal intelligence to write in her notebook
Table of Contents
Highlights: What is interpersonal intelligence? And how can we use this skill to deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us? We’re going to demonstrate exactly how intrapersonal intelligence works and how you can develop yours to become a true introspective expert.

Intrapersonal intelligence is a form of intelligence we all share. The problem is, not many of us know how to use our interpersonal intelligence to our advantage.

So, what is interpersonal intelligence? And how can we use this skill to deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us?

Let’s explore exactly how intrapersonal intelligence works and how you can develop yours to become a true introspective expert.

What Is Intrapersonal Intelligence

Intrapersonal (‘intra’ – ‘within’) intelligence is the intelligence of the self. It’s the ability to decipher and analyze your individual motives, desires, thoughts, and emotions.

Self-reflection, self-inquiry, and self-analysis are all methods of intrapersonal intelligence. Having this form of intelligence helps you understand what you want, what you don’t want, and why you are the way you are.

Here are some examples

Since intrapersonal intelligence is such an abstract concept, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what it looks like in action.

A prime example of this introspective skill in action is journaling.

Keeping a journal, a diary, and even an online blog, are all forms of intrapersonal intelligence. Taking time to acknowledge your ideas and put them to paper is a powerful process of self-reflection and can help you stay in touch with your inner passions and instincts.

What does it mean to have this form of intelligence?

Believe it or not, intrapersonal intelligence is an underdeveloped skill for many of us. Everyone possesses a form of intrapersonal intelligence. But many of us lack the understanding of how to use this form of intelligence for our benefit.

What Is an Intrapersonal Intelligent Person?

So, what does someone with strong intrapersonal intelligence look like? People with intrapersonal intelligence are often quite introspective. There are proficient self-analyzers, able to step back and view themselves with an objective, critical eye.

A person with well-developed intrapersonal intelligence is in tune with themselves. They want to learn about and understand themselves better. They aim to discover why they think, feel, act the way they do and learn how to influence the habit patterns and behaviors they don’t like about themselves as much.

For example, those with intrapersonal intelligence are often self-disciplined. If you know someone who’s able to self-motivate and is an ambitious self-starter, they’re likely exercising their intrapersonal intelligence.

Someone who’s able to get themselves to the gym every day or practice meditation on a routine basis has enough self-knowledge to know what they need to do to stay motivated and self-disciplined. That’s intrapersonal intelligence in action.

What Is the Difference Between Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Intelligence?

These terms may sound the same, but they’re actually quite different from one another. And both belong to Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences.

In 1983, developmental psychologist Howard Gardner proposed his theory of nine types of intelligence. Intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligence were two of Gardner’s types of intelligence. Both pertain to personal relationships: one with the self, and one with other people.  

Intrapersonal (‘intra’ – ‘within’) is the intelligence of the self.

Interpersonal (‘inter’ – ‘between’) is the intelligence of others.

Someone with intrapersonal intelligence has a keen understanding of their personal motives. But someone with interpersonal intelligence? They have the ability to understand the wants and needs of others. They are often highly empathetic and perceptive and thrive in roles as psychologists, teachers, managers, team leaders, and social workers.

Why is it important?

Everyone has different strengths, and it’s important to play to those strengths. But it’s also important to develop areas where you don’t feel quite as strong.

Why learn more about intrapersonal intelligence? 

We need to understand how our minds work so we can work our minds better. — @jimkwik Click To Tweet

The more we understand the different forms of intelligence we possess, the better we can wield them in our everyday lives.

A woman writing in a notebook

Tips on Improving Your Intrapersonal Intelligence

So many of us run on autopilot. We rush from one engagement to the next, barely aware of what’s going on around us or within us.

We’re so often rushed and frazzled that we don’t give ourselves time to react to what’s happening in our lives. So, take a bit of time out of your day to reconnect with yourself. It can be a liberating and eye-opening experience.

How can you improve your intrapersonal intelligence? Try incorporating a few of these into your weekly routine:

  • Keep a journal
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Record your dreams
  • Teach yourself a new skill
  • Take 10–30 minutes of “me time” each day
  • Go on a solo nature walk

Developing your intrapersonal intelligence can help you become a better partner, friend, and coworker. Why? Because when you’re in touch with who you are, you’re able to offer the best of yourself to those around you.

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Shannon Terrell

Shannon Terrell

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