What Is Intrapersonal Intelligence? (And How to Improve Yours)

what is intrapersonal intelligence feature imageIntrapersonal intelligence is one of the most powerful psychological assets you can develop.

Why?

Because it’s the key to studying independently.

This is because intrapersonal intelligence allows you to imagine what other people think and the thought processes they use to accomplish their goals.

In other words, if you want to succeed like Einstein, you need to be able to create a mental image like he did.

Fortunately, this is easier to do than most people think.

And as you’ll discover, intrapersonal intelligence can not only be developed readily by anyone.

It is the key to improving how you learn a wide variety of topics, from math to languages, philosophy to acquiring new skills.

Ready to improve this aspect of your intelligence?

Let’s dive in!

What is Intrapersonal Intelligence?

“Intrapersonal” literally means within a person. It is a form of insight typically arrived at through reflective thinking.

Another way of thinking about it involves realizing that you are not one fixed personality. Rather, your personality is built from multiple parts.

Sometimes these parts compete with one another. For example, research has shown that young people choosing vocations might not yet have enough insight about the different parts of their personalities to make solid career decisions.

Yet, when these students are given insight into the theory of multiple intelligences, they feel less confused and more confident in the choices they make, even at a younger age.

As another study puts it:

“Intrapersonal intelligence is the ability to understand oneself and act on that understanding which includes awareness of moods, intentions, motivations, temperaments, desires, self-discipline and self-respecting abilities.”

In other words, it’s not just about understanding the different parts of your psychological experience. It’s about using that insight to act in particular ways to produce positive outcomes.

Origins and Research

Much of the research into intrapersonal intelligence stems from Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences.

Although many people have criticized Gardner’s approach, it has led to many positive changes to education. In particular, many teachers now know how to help young people cultivate metacognitive thinking skills.

three young students

Helping students improve their intrapersonal intelligence has even been shown to improve math scores. They experience better outcomes because of their increased analytical thinking abilities as such.

Similar research has shown improvements in other skills, such as artistic ability and the medical sciences. Indeed, as we learned from Dr. David Reser on the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast, medical students who learned memory techniques as a group by tapping into aspects of their personalities that often go unexercised.

Intrapersonal Intelligence Examples

To sum up, intrapersonal involves finding the different aspects of your personality and then utilizing them as resources.

Many incredible example are available, so let’s get started with some of the most impactful.

One: Image Streaming

Einstein wasn’t just smart. He was imaginative.

And he took every opportunity to visualize the problems in physics he was trying to solve.

One technique he used was image streaming.

Not only does the technique (as I teach it), walk you through multiple aspects of your personality. It helps you experience the fullest range of sensory visualization modalities. Once you start experiencing these different resources within yourself, you’ll be able to take action on them.

Not only that, but if you’ve ever worried that your intelligence is fixed, image streaming helps prove that it isn’t.

Two: Masterminding

Although it would be a stretch to call Napoleon Hill scientific, many accomplished people have used a technique he called “masterminding” in his book, Think and Grow Rich.

In brief, you call up people you’ve read about (like Einstein) and ask them to help you solve various problems.

a letter to someone

It sounds ridiculous on its face. But in a letter to Lucy Donnelly, the highly influential philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote:

“And another thing I greatly value is the kind of communion with past and future discoverers. I often have imaginary conversations with Leibniz, in which I tell him how fruitful his ideas have proved, and how much more beautiful the result is than he could have foreseen; and in moments of self-confidence, I imagine students hereafter having similar thoughts about me. There is a ‘communion of philosophers’…”

I often hold conversations with philosophers myself and it is a tremendous tool for solving problems.

Rest assured, I have no belief that I’m actually talking to my favorite philosophers. But provided I know their writing well, it’s a perfectly reasonable way of accessing my intrapersonal intelligence and taking action on what comes out. It’s also another reason why philosophy is so important.

Three: Battling Monkey Mind

Many people struggle with thoughts gone wild.

But recent psychological therapies like Internal Family Systems therapy have been helping people tap into their intrapersonal intelligence to deal with psychological problems. In No Bad Parts, Dr. Richard Schwartz helps people identify and tap into their many “sub-minds.”

This approach has even shown positive outcomes for certain kinds of chronic pain.

Likewise, I have worked with a metacognitive and memory-based meditation technique that helps you experience the multiple parts of the mind.

As I shared in my TEDx Talk, this approach works by using questions that help you identify the different parts of your mind and then neutralize them.

Four: Bringing Science to Your Intuitions

Has anyone ever told you to “follow your gut”? So you did, and yet you still wound up failing badly?

Chip and Dan Heath explain why our intuitions often fail in their book Decisive.

It’s not that you shouldn’t rely on your intuitions forevermore, but rather, they should be tested. They suggest using their W.R.A.P. technique, which essentially draws upon different aspects of your personality:

  • Widen your options (patience and due diligence)
  • Reality test (analytical thinking)
  • Attain distance (giving yourself space for reflection)
  • Prepare to fail (maturity and discernment)

They also recommend talking with experts as much as possible, something that builds your own inner expertise as you learn new skills.

Another tool you can use is taught in The Wise Advocate. One of my favorite exercises from the book has you asking yourself if you feel limited or expansive when faced with a decision.

By consulting those feelings within yourself, you’ll be sure to make better decisions because you’re using structure to test them. That’s not only what scientific living is all about. It’s also a reliable way to improve your IQ.

Five: Mental Strength

Often called “resilience,” this intrapersonal strategy involves finding inner resources to help you overcome obstacles.

a man overcome obstacles

But at an even higher level, you want to set the stage so that you don’t have to call upon resilience in the first place.

To help yourself with that, give my mental strength exercises a try.

6 Intrapersonal Intelligence Activities That Can Increase Your Skills

Now that we’ve seen some examples of how intrapersonal intelligence plays out, let’s dive into some activities.

Please don’t feel that you have to try them all. Pick the ones that make most sense to you.

Journal About Your “Selves”

Using a journal is an excellent means of self-expression. But we often lock it into the myth of our identity as some kind of unified whole.

For the purpose of this exercise, explore different aspects of your many selves.

To give you a personal example, I’m responsible for a ton of different activities related to the Magnetic Memory Method Masterclass.

As a strategy for maximizing my time as a solopreneur, I keep multiple journals. One is for my “Inner CEO.” Others are for my content creator, my marketer and my researcher.

By journaling for each of these aspects of my personality, I’m able to nurture them all and keep this project growing without burning out.

Use Memory-Based Meditation

There are many kinds of meditation. For example, here’s a number of concentration meditation techniques to explore.

But by memory-based meditation, I mean more specifically learning and reciting specific material from memory.

The material I have found most successful comes from the work of Gary Weber in books like Happiness Beyond Thought and Evolving Beyond Thought.

I’ve summarized the material and teach you how to memorize it in a book called The Victorious Mind.

meditation on wooden board

Read Multiple Biographies

Once while being interviewed, I told the host that my hardest lesson in life has been remembering that other people do not think the same way I do.

As soon as I heard myself say it, I realized that I needed to read more biographies and autobiographies. I was literally starved for perspective!

So what’s the trick?

Compare and contrast your way of thinking with the thought processes of the people you’re reading – as many other people as possible. And pay extra-special attention to their problem-solving models.

Practice Taking Action On Discoveries

As you now know, the definition of intrapersonal intelligence is not just insight about your inner workings. It’s about taking action on those insights.

How?

Try this simple exercise:

When you observe an aspect of your personality, create a vision statement around it.

If you follow the specific guidelines I give for crafting such a statement, you’ll thoroughly vet the actions you want to take. They’ll be focused towards positive outcomes that will reveal even more about your many inner resources.

Write Fiction

Even if you have no plans to storm the world with bestselling novels, taking some time to write simple stories will help you explore different aspects of your own personality.

sitting on grass and writing

When you make up characters or base them on people you know, you’ll be exercising that inner reflection so central to this psychological skill.

Plus, because writing is action, you’ll have the full definition covered as you flex your imagination and take action by writing.

Learn a Language

Without a doubt, language learning is about talking with others.

But it creates great internal exercise as you explore different aspects of language as it flows through your mind.

It also gives you the opportunity to use a Memory Palace. This learning strategy involves using multiple people and locations in combination to help you absorb vocabulary and phrases faster.

As you do, you’ll utilize and improve multiple levels of your personality.

Improve Your Intrapersonal Intelligence

As you can tell, all it really takes to boost this aspect of your life is a bit of self-reflection and consistent action.

You now have a bunch of activities to explore and scientific studies to read.

And if you’d like the ultimate learning experience that will help you remember everything you encountered today, consider signing up for my FREE Memory Improvement Kit:

Free Memory Improvement Course

It comes with four videos and a number of worksheets you can fill out as you improve your memory.

The more you explore your memory, the more you’ll exercise your intrapersonal intelligence.

After all, what are we other than the quality of our memory abilities? And where else is our intelligence stored?

So what do you say?

Are you feeling equipped with knowledge about intrapersonal intelligence and how to improve it?

Just shout out if you have any thoughts or questions. I appreciate you visiting the site today and hope to hear about your experiences with this form of personal development soon!

 

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