Do You Believe in Your Intelligence?

  • Dr. Sapna Sharma
  • 18 September 2018

“Everyone working with me is super smart and intelligent!  I am always stressed out because I am not that intelligent.”

Many people come to me for counseling with similar complaints about themselves or their children’s intelligence. In all my twenty years as a counselor, I have refused to listen to people talk and think negatively about them in such a casual manner.  I usually have a question for such people:

“Who do you think is an intelligent person and what makes you believe that you are not intelligent?”
Interestingly, No one is able to answer the first half of this question easily. If they do attempt to answer it, it is always on a comparative note –“I did not get good marks in school...” “I could not get into a college of my choice…” I always wanted to do/become this…but I couldn’t….  I am not smart enough.”

What makes us believe that there is only one common definition of intelligence or smartness? We have examples of people who scored low in school did very well in life, or those who could not study well have become experts at other things. But when it comes to us, we tend to overlook these examples of motivation.

Society gives us many such evaluative labels: meritorious, smart, clever, beautiful, good, failure, dumb, dull, bad. With these labels, we attribute judgmental definitions to ourselves and to people. We locate ultimate truths in those definitions and set great store by them.

But words have their limitations. In his childhood, the great scientist Albert Einstein was labeled a slow learner. The same people lauded him for his intelligence when he became a world-famous scientist. But when speaking about himself, Einstein always said, “I am not very smart or clever. I dwell over a problem for a very long time. And then only do I find the solution.”

Most people fall short at such a juncture. Whatever the problem, the solution lays right within it. But we mostly lack tolerance as well as perseverance. We always are in search of readymade answers to our problems and when we don’t get them, we are in despair. And we start blaming ourselves or our situation or our fate for our misfortunes. Interestingly, we do not give any consideration to the most important fact that everyone cannot be good at everything. That, I am made for something else, that, for this particular thing my friend knows more than me but for other thing I know better. That, not knowing something has got nothing to do with my intelligence. If I am mentally healthy I can learn things that I do not know, But I am definitely not unintelligent.

If my work or life faces any obstacles I ask myself two questions:
1) Have I put in adequate efforts?
2) If my effort is not falling short, then I ask- Do I know and understand everything about this issue at hand or do I need to ask for some help?

Then I make sure that I take some knowledgeable person’s advice.
But on no condition, do I doubt my intelligence, nor do I let anyone else doubt it either.

As for you, what do you do when you have a problem? What do you do or say to your children when they are not able to score on their school report card? Do you ask for help to solve your and your children’s problems or you get into the label game? Are you aware that there is a counselor available for you right round the corner or definitely one for online counseling for whatever your issue may be?

Believe in the inherent intelligence of all beings. All we need is guidance and patience.



Leave a Comment