INTRAPERSONAL SKILLS

What is intrapersonal? The term intrapersonal (‘intra’ meaning inside) has been taken into use by Dr Helena Lass to separate our inner functions and processes from the physiological functions of the physical body. Intrapersonal intelligence is understanding our inner domain and it leads to an ability to lead our inner events at will.

In her scientific paper 'Developing Intra-Personal Skills as a Proactive Way to Personal Sustainability - The Preventative Side of the Mental Health Equation' Dr. Lass writes that "in reality all humans possess an internal realm and experience intrapersonal events on a daily basis such as feeling emotions, learning, thinking, planning, focusing and leading our attention, having an ability to investigate, gaining an insight etc." Intrapersonal skills can be seen in this context as basic ability to direct different intrapersonal events within our inner domain. In this sense, intrapersonal skills form the foundation of any successful career, yet are lacking in workplaces and the wider business world because of their total absence in current educational curricula.

Intrapersonal skills open up professional skills

Intrapersonal skills open up our professional skills as they enable to deal with all the processes that otherwise disturb our work within our inner domain, like lack of attention, constant inner reactivity to external events, lack of insight etc. "By learning, training and directing intrapersonal skills, a vast amount of inner potential will open up, ultimately advancing our human capacity leading us towards better mental wellness." Only when we experience mental fitness, can we easily solve external problems, be creative and take initiative at work. 

Intrapersonal skills can be seen as basic skills that open up other skills. Much like learning to read: when one learns to read, many other skills and competencies can be developed as a result. 

Dr. Lass writes in her scientific paper: "Being awareness-based, intrapersonal skills are the pre-requisites of a fulfilling life and a more harmonious and sustainable society. We need to know how to deliberately direct awareness in order to learn effectively, differentiate lasting values from fleeting ones to support our choices for a meaningful life, and learn to individually connect cause with consequence to become responsible citizens. One can contribute and reach goals considerably better if there exists know-how about conscious application of awareness to effectively process data, orient in changing environment, and become aware of and regulate one’s emotional as well as mental reactions."

Dr. Lass also states in her paper that "A structured approach to intrapersonal functions enables the entities that people describe as the mind, Self, awareness, subconscious, spirit, ego etc. to obtain a clearer meaning and a practical reference." What it means is that we gain a practical understanding how to direct different inner processes at will and thus become successful at taking personal responsibility and leading others and external processes around us.


 

According to Ingvar Villido (Master teacher on awareness, Author and Founder of The Art of Conscious Change), there are three main types of internal functions (the meta-functions) that every person needs to direct every day, but has not been trained to do so in school:

  • awareness and intellect-related;
  • mental and cognition-related;
  • feelings and emotions.

Training intrapersonal skills helps people to direct all internal activities in a deliberate way. Let's define intrapersonal skills that matter.

INTRAPERSONAL SKILLS LEAD TO:

  1. Mastering your attention (keeping your focus);
  2. Listening and observing attentively;
  3. Ability to discern important and set priorities;
  4. Purposeful thinking, analysis & problem-solving;
  5. Good cognitive-mental activities;
  6. Result focused mindset and ability to plan;
  7. Excellent access to your memory;
  8. Ease of directing your emotions and behavior;
  1. Ability to adapt and adjust to any kind of change;
  2. Gaining access to new knowledge through insights;
  3. Ability to access inspiration and intuition at will;
  4. Improved creativity and spontaneity;
  5. Adequate decision making and execution of those decision;
  6. Noticing the needs of your physical body in time;
  7. Taking more personal responsibility;
  8. etc.

 

Every individual is not only potentially capable, but indeed requested to direct these different inner functions with the help of systematic intrapersonal education if we aspire to live harmonious lives and build sustainable work-cultures and societies. Intrapersonal skills define our ability succeed with interpersonal relations. So, in that sense awareness and awareness based intrapersonal skills are the very foundation of interpersonal skills as well as professional skills. So instead of focusing what interperosnal skills matter, we should focus on how we can upgrade our intrapersonal skills to a level that helps us to notice our inner processes and thus communicate with others easily.

 

WHAT IS AWARENESS?

Awareness (dynamic use of ‘consciousness’) in itself is not mental knowledge, emotions nor the physical body. Awareness is an ability to register what is going on, in present tense. Awareness can be described as a connector between you and any chosen object (external object, like a pencil or an object on your computer screen; an internal object such as your thoughts or feelings). It is namely awareness that you sustain in a certain position when you want to focus on something. 

Ingvar Villido explains this in his book 'Turning Point' in the following manner: "A person who is aware of the existence of his of her consciousness also uses it consciously when relating to things. This is the application of awareness in daily life. I call it simply awareness, when your consciounsess is in contact with an object and you are aware of this process. In this state, being aware of your awareness, you carry out actions and direct them with awareness, which is the only normal alternative to subconscious life."


Vector of awareness according to Ingvar Villido

Illustration information is shared with the kind permission by awareness teacher Ingvar Villido.

Being beyond the mind, awareness is the very thing we use to investigate the mind itself, among other intrapersonal events. As a universal agent for discovery, it forms the base for all intrapersonal skills. All of us intuitively relay on awareness during unexpected situations, but slip back to automatic default mode (so called ‘autopilot’) for the rest of the time. This is waste of human potential. Prioritizing awareness means to 'wake up' from the autopilot mode that runs our thoughts, feelings and reactions – everything in life becomes more colorful, more real, acquiring sharper lines and aliveness.

HOW AWARENESS DIFFERS FROM MINDFULNESS?

Mindfulness is a term that refers to certain awareness practices that have been modernized from buddhism and are passive in nature (witnessing, observing). In mindfulness awareness is used to discover and monitor. The awareness practices that are today known under mindfulness highlight just one of the five modalities to use awareness.

Most of the practices where awareness is applied in active, dynamic form remain to be discovered by modern societies. The use of awareness practices in their in active format will rise as an elder brother or second pillar alongside the first pillar of the already well-known mindfulness. 

THE CONNECTION BETWEEN AWARENESS AND CONSCIOUSNESS

When you become aware of your awareness  you have discovered your consciousness. Consciousness being itself static, is not of use in practical work/life situations.

According to Ingvar Villido it is your awareness that is its active form and builds the connection between yourself (subject) and an endless amount of objects in your inner world (‘mind’) and the world around you. 

Once discovered, use of awareness in it's active form will empower people with ability to initiate change. The first major change will take place when you will be able to disengage the 'autopilot' – the inner automatic reactions. The second change is concerned with replacing the foundations of how one handles data. In essence, upgrading your brain's 'operation system' from mental train of thoughts to having instant insights.

Awareness and awareness based intrapersonal skills enable innovation, like it happened to Newton when he was sitting under the apple tree and gained a revolutionary insight after being hit by the falling apple. 

Lets bring some practical examples – it is your awareness that enables you to:

  • Notice the feeling of growing pressure;
  • Focus on task at hand (in open office situation);
  • Observe where the ball is so that you can catch it during the ball came;
  • Notice the possibility to change lane on motorway without disturbing traffic flow;
  • Notice your insights, intuition and creativity if it is trained so;
  • Become conscious and aware of yourself. 

INTRAPERSONAL SKILLS AS A KEY TO MENTAL WELLNESS AND PROFESSIONAL EXCELLENCE

Learning and training how to use your awareness forms the cornerstone of intrapersonal skills. This will enable you to overcome the limitations of passive mindfulness and mediation practices.

Dr Lass brings out in her scientific paper that "Early proactive intervention in the form of structured awareness-based intrapersonal skills education increases quality of life and decreases the chances of stress, burnout, depression, anxiety, etc., all of which have become epidemic in their proportions and have serious consequences on individuals, companies and economies alike."

Active awareness practices highlight the application of awareness that you already possess, just in a much more deliberate and skillful way. There is no need to do sitting practices or take extra time to apply awareness – you will learn and train to use it during a presentation, a conference, behind the desk, while solving a conflict or shopping.

Life is dynamic – always changing. Learning how to deal with changes within your own mind and around you in the physical world leads to excellent mental wellness. However, awareness is the first step that enables one to discover, become aware of what is the cause of the problem in the first place. Awareness based intrapersonal skills enable you to switch off the otherwise dominating 'autopilot mode' and take full command over your own life and work. 

When you observe successful people, you will find that they have one thing in common – they are very attentive in their area of expertise; they use awareness within their work situations more extensively then others. That's why using intrapersonal skills in the workplace will lay a solid foundation for your professional excellence and business success.