To Thine Own Self Be True – William Shakespeare

IQ.  EQ.  Like strengths, there are many types of intelligences, only a couple of which are really in the popular lexicon.  Focusing on only a couple of types of intelligences is a lost opportunity, just like it is a mistake to only measure the value of a person’s worth only by his bank account.   It is too easy to miss the chance to develop and appreciate these other talents when we only talk about IQ and EQ (emotional intelligence).

I think intrapersonal intelligence is a fairly important one.  This talent involves introspection and the ability to step outside ourselves, think about our lives and find meaning and spirituality.  Being introspective allows one to be self-aware.

Since intrapersonal intelligence is a type of innate talent, some are likely to be low on this ability, since most/all of us are not good at everything.  However, to the degree that this type of intelligence can be cultivated, I believe it is well worth while.  Purposefully cultivating my intrapersonal intelligence helped me really to have a deeper understanding of myself.

Here’s why intrapersonal intelligence matters:

–          Projection – Being aware of your feelings helps to separate your feelings from others.  Has anyone ever accused you of being angry, depressed, or hostile, when in fact you’re not feeling those things at all?  That occurs when one cannot identify their own feelings.   Being unable to distinguish your own feelings from someone else makes it very difficult to understand that other person.

–          Schema – Understanding your own emotional tendencies helps one understand how we might have bad emotional habits.  Sometimes these habits are so fast and automatic, we never stop to question them.  But sometimes they’re just wrong.  We come to the wrong conclusion about an event, and we often fail to comprehend that our emotional reaction is a habit, not necessarily a reflection of reality.  Being able to recognize and challenge a bad emotional habit helps us to, well, grow up and change that habit.

–          Conscience  -Self-awareness is also necessary for heeding our conscience.  Our conscience is often our guide for our own behavior or evaluating others’.  Have you ever done or said something, then had this queasy, uncomfortable feeling?  Has anyone ever done or said something to you that produced this reaction?  This is our innate sense of morality that we should respect and heed when guiding our actions and reactions.

–          Authenticity – I’ve become more convinced over the years of the importance of authenticity to our well-being.  When we fail to be true to ourselves, whether our conscience or our unique combination of strengths, intelligences and values, we feel a sense of disconnection and malcontent.  Often we feel we’re swimming upstream and fighting the world when we’re not living a life compatible with our authenticity.  Self-awareness allows us to detect and follow our inner compass toward our true self.

So if you’re not high on the IQ or EQ scale, never fear.  You are good at something, and it is your job to find what that is and cultivate it.  Everyone is, and you’re no exception.  Also, developing your intrapersonal intelligence can also help you to become wiser, more authentic, and find your unique path.  Happy trails!