While you may not spend a lot of time considering your intrapersonal skills, they come into play pretty regularly. In fact, you probably use these skills in most areas of your life.
Intrapersonal (“within the self”) skills are the internal abilities and behaviors that help you manage emotions, cope with challenges, and learn new information.
These skills, which relate to emotional intelligence, include things like:
- openness to new ideas
- the ability to overcome distractions
- time management
You may have noticed these skills all have something to do with your ability to self-regulate.
People with strong self-regulation abilities often have an easier time:
- managing behavior and emotions
- weathering challenges
- working toward goals in spite of distractions
Unlike interpersonal skills like active listening, intrapersonal skills may have less of an immediate impact on your interactions with others. But they’re still essential.
Don’t worry if these skills don’t come to you naturally. It’s absolutely possible to cultivate intrapersonal intelligence. The 10 tips below can help.
Do responsibilities and to-do lists overwhelm you?
Maybe you frequently forget about commitments or let chores you dislike pile up because you never feel like doing them.
It’s hard to get started when you have no idea where to begin. You keep putting things off, but of course that leaves you with less time to handle all those (potentially unpleasant) tasks.
If you tend to stray off task when you have a lot to do, try creating a schedule that includes work commitments and appointments along with social activities, household chores, and self-care, like exercise and relaxation.
This can help because:
- having reminders of everything you need to complete can help keep you on track despite distractions
- scheduling enjoyable activities reminds you there’s more to look forward to than that mountain of laundry
After a few weeks, you might notice a change in how you manage your time— even without the help of a schedule.
Very few people are naturally good at everything, and that’s OK! But you probably have some specific strengths, even if you don’t recognize them yet.
Maybe you have a knack for patience with small children or rude co-workers, but you’re less patient with yourself when you make mistakes.
Or perhaps you’re a fantastic problem-solver at work but have a hard time addressing difficulties in your personal life.
It’s common to direct emotional skills outward in ways that benefit others and fail to apply those same skills to your own experiences.
This can make it seem like you lack those skills, when really you just find it easier to help other people. But you deserve that same support.
Start practicing these strengths by considering what you’d do for someone else in your situation.
If you’d encourage a friend to stick with something challenging, for example, direct that persistence toward yourself instead of giving up.
It’s a go-to practice for many people looking to increase emotional awareness.
Its key benefits include:
Maybe these effects don’t directly help you reconnect with yourself. But they can contribute to improved physical and emotional wellness.
Feeling mentally and physically strong can help boost your internal resolve, making it easier to work through tough situations.
Meditation also has other benefits more relevant to increased self-awareness:
Self-reflection might seem like a pretty big undertaking. And yes, it can cover a lot of ground.
But it really just involves thinking over your actions, choices, and the things important in your life, including personal values and loved ones.
When you self-reflect, you might pay attention to what habits work well for you and where you experience challenges.
- avoid friends instead of leaning on them when struggling
- procrastinate on tasks at work when you don’t understand them
The process can also help reinforce your knowledge of the people and things that really matter.
This gives you the chance to explore new ways to achieve or hold on to those things.
Journaling can help you connect with yourself on a deep emotional level by providing a tangible record of thoughts and feelings to look back on later.
Your journal is a written record of you. It provides a great space to keep track of important goals, emotions, and your overall daily experience.
It also helps you pinpoint things you want to address, like low self-confidence or lack of motivation.
Keeping a journal can also demonstrate growth over time.
When you doubt your internal abilities or feel as if you haven’t accomplished much, glancing back through months or years past can show you where your skills shone through.
Maybe you handled a crisis well or had the resilience to bounce back from a painful breakup, for example.
Increasing compassion for others can help you get more in tune with your own emotional experience and help your self-compassion flourish.
Compassion doesn’t always come easily. It’s often especially difficult to have compassion for people who treat others badly and demonstrate unkind, uncaring behavior.
But the saying “Put yourself in their shoes” is always a good place to start. Considering another person’s perspective often provides insight on why they might act in a certain way.
Performing a random act of kindness can also help promote positive feelings toward others and yourself.
It also helps to remember everyone makes mistakes.
If you feel shame or guilt about something you regret doing, remember we all do things we wish we could erase. Life doesn’t grant do-overs, but you can always try again.
The second (or third) time around, you’ll have more knowledge and experience, increasing your chances of getting it right.
Compassion and other self-awareness skills make it easier to:
- recognize where you went wrong
- accept that underlying factors and personal difficulties often make it tough to make the best choice in every situation
- believe that most people (including yourself) are trying to do the best they can with what they have
The way you talk to yourself and think about yourself can have a big impact on your internal experience.
Negative thought patterns and harsh self-criticism may seem like a good way to motivate yourself and hold yourself accountable for mistakes, but more often than not, these have the opposite effect.
Instead of mentally chewing yourself out when you mess up, try taking a look at where you succeeded instead. What went right for you?
It’s still wise to note where you might have room to grow. But praising yourself for strengths and achievements can help you approach these weaker points with more confidence and determination.
Doing so can help it become easier to try again later.
Trying something new can be scary. It often seems safer to stick with what you know already works.
But sometimes a little risk can pay off, whether you’re:
- trying to help a relationship thrive
- launching into a new career
- picking up a new hobby
Following the same routines can hold you back and keep you from exploring alternatives that could fulfill your needs even more effectively.
Risk-taking that ends in success can boost self-confidence and motivate you to keep trying new things.
But taking chances that don’t work out can lead to progress.
You’re still building traits like resilience and persistence, since making it through setbacks shows you it’s always possible to keep going and try again.
Goals say a lot about who you are as a person and what drives you. They help inform your choices and shape your life.
It’s important to have goals, both for the immediate and more distant future.
Success with smaller goals, like breaking an unwanted habit or reading a book every month, can empower you to make broader goals that require long-term effort, such as reducing your carbon footprint or becoming a completely honest person.
Realistic goals take into account your limitations and personal strengths.
Recognizing your past accomplishments furthers self-awareness while also bolstering your courage to take bigger steps with future goals.
Thinking about the person you want to become can help you continue setting goals to achieve those dreams.
It’s not always easy to expand emotional intelligence on your own, especially if you only have a vague idea of the traits you want to strengthen.
With the help of a therapist, you can often increase self-awareness as you identify challenges or areas of concern that pop up in your thoughts and habits.
A therapist can also help you link specific patterns back to intrapersonal skills and offer guidance on areas worthy of further exploration.
For example, if you struggle to forgive yourself for mistakes you’ve made, a therapist can help you relate this to inner self-compassion and teach skills to boost self-kindness.
Crystal Raypole has previously worked as a writer and editor for GoodTherapy. Her fields of interest include Asian languages and literature, Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health. In particular, she’s committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues.