Being smart has huge benefits, but it isn’t always easy. Here are seven problems highly intelligent people often have and a few ways to overcome them.

1. Highly intelligent people can be under more pressure to achieve success

For people who have always done well academically, there can be huge pressure to succeed in a big way. The expectations of parents, friends, teachers and peers can be high and this can cause fear of failure. This fear can cause intelligent people to lose motivation and give up on their pursuits.

To overcome this it is important to have a well-balanced life. No one’s life is all about academic success, and finding other ways to value yourself can help you stay more confident and motivated. Focusing on the love of the work, rather than the outcome, can also help to keep a sense of perspective when things don’t go according to plan.

In addition, intelligent people may need to practice skills such as communication and networking, in the same way that other people might have to practice math.

2. Highly intelligent people can have more difficulty finding friends

Smart people often seek relationships with people they see as having equal intelligence. Highly intelligent people may consider that those with less intellectual power than them are not worth developing relationships with. However, this can lead to isolation and loneliness.

To overcome this, it is worth placing value on skills other than intelligence. Everyone has different kinds of intelligence and skills that can be valuable.

A friend with good social skills can help you have a good time and improve your social life while a friend with practical skills might make a great camping buddy or be able to help you with tasks such as car maintenance or DIY. Valuing those who have different skills can lead to a more balanced and rewarding life.

3. Highly intelligent people can be perfectionists

Because smart people are so good at analysing things, they are quick to find faults and problems. Because of this, it can often feel like anything they do is not good enough because it is not perfect. This kind of perfectionism can lead to overwork, unhappiness and low self-esteem.

To overcome this, it is important to be realistic about work and the time allocated to do it. Intelligent people need to realise when work is ‘good enough’ for its purpose rather than being perfect. When tackling a problem, it helps to think about what is required from the end results, in this way it is easier to judge when the result is good enough.

4. Highly intelligent people can suffer paralysis by analysis

Smart people can find it hard to make decisions because they like to analyse information and come up with the best possible solution. However, in today’s complex world, a ‘best’ solution is not always possible. This can leave highly intelligent people frustrated and paralysed with indecision.

To overcome this, it can help to remember that there is often not one right answer. If intelligent people can focus on making the ‘best decision possible with the given information’, this can help break the paralysis. It can also be of benefit to view mistakes as learning experiences that can lead to growth and better results in the future.

5. Highly intelligent people can find it harder to have relationships

Smart people tend to analyse things a lot, which can make them over-critical. In addition, they are quick to spot problems, which can make them seem negative. Highly intelligent people may also believe that there is only one right way to do things. These traits can cause conflict and are often not conducive to developing meaningful relationships.

Because highly intelligent people are on the lookout for the negative, that may also become suspicious and fear being fooled by others. As a result, highly intelligent people find it difficult to appreciate and trust others and they can end up being alone.

To overcome this, it is important to stay open to other people’s ideas without assuming that there is one right way for everyone. Trying to look for and appreciate the other person’s good points also helps to keep relationships positive and healthy.

Communication is vital in all relationships in order to ensure both partners feel accepted and valued and though this takes effort, the benefit of love and companionship makes it worthwhile.

6. Highly intelligent people can find it harder to be happy

For many of the reasons we have already discussed, like the difficulty developing relationships and being perfectionists, intelligent people can find it harder to be happy. Isolation and depression can become a real problem.

To overcome this, it is important not to hide from problems by retreating into ‘safe’ behaviours like spending too much time on computer games or avoiding social situations. Humans are social animals, even those with the highest IQ’s, so making the effort to be part of a group and community will lead to higher happiness levels.

It can also help to realise that not everything in life is about achieving results. Taking time to do something for the sheer joy of it can increase happiness levels, boost positive emotions and ultimately make success more likely.

7. Everyone notices a smart person’s mistakes

People will notice every tiny mistake that an intelligent person makes. This is hard on the smart person as it increases their fear of failure and drives perfectionism. Highly intelligent people often base their self-worth on their intelligence so mistakes can hit them hard.

To overcome this, remember that when someone points out a mistake you have made, it’s always about him or her, not you. They may be jealous of your intelligence and find putting you down makes them feel better.

The best thing to do if you make a mistake is to admit it and say something like, ‘everyone makes mistakes’, or, ‘I’m just human’. If you do this, people will soon stop bothering to criticise.

Being smart has its advantages and disadvantages just like any other trait. The secret to being a happy and successful intelligent person is to build on strengths and learn to overcome weaknesses.

Intelligence isn’t everything; to be a well-rounded individual requires other skills such as understanding and empathy and good communication skills. Working on any weaknesses and flaws can help intelligent people use their intelligence in the best, possible way.

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the power of misfits

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Hoeby

    Just how “intelligent” are you if you allow these things to become real problems in your life? I feel we are talking about very limited range of intelligence here? Perhaps we are talking about people with other more profound deficits? It is perhaps the case that people who score highly on IQ tests more commonly have these deficits but does that mean it is because they are intelligent? Correlation is not causation.

    1. ginger

      Gifted Children and Adults process the world differently than most people do and, yes, even without any other disorder they do typically resonate with these seven struggles. Although the literature for and about Gifted Persons is unfortunately limited, perusing what’s available on the web and bookstores should give you an idea of how it’s defined. It copied this from Dr. Patricia Turner’s website, but this is an excellent overview:

      “…It is defined by having an IQ in the top 2-3% of the population, as measured by a psychologist.

      Giftedness does not disappear after the ag of 18 and gifted adults continue to differ from the norm throughout their lives.

      Gifted adults frequently realize they are “different”, but don’t understand that the ways they are different are typical for the gifted.

      Gifted adults are often seen by the rest of the population as:

      quirky, eccentric, and non-conforming,
      driven and intense,
      perfectionists with high standards,
      too sensitive,
      threatening and intimidating, and
      prone to question authority.

      Gifted adults often identify themselves as:

      unable to switch off their thinking,
      introverted and needing periods of contemplation, and
      their own worst critics.

      I counsel gifted adults in my practice to help them recognize positive attributes of being gifted, that include being:

      independent and self-disciplined,
      tolerant of ambiguity and complexity,
      imaginative and original,
      highly curious and ingenius,
      perceptive and insightful,
      aware of things others are not, and
      flexible and adaptable.

      Gifted adults also typically possess:

      extensive vocabularies,
      remarkable abilities with numbers,
      the ability to learn new things rapidly,
      a long attention span,
      a wide range of interests, and
      a high degree of energy.

  2. Daniel

    I agree w/ Ginger’s assessment. I find deep meaning and intense conversation in every object I observe. I always over analyze and misinterpret other people’s comments or actions b/c I read more into them than I suppose they intend. When I talk to people I’m always hoping someone will bring new information and knowledge that I haven’t had the pleasure to enjoy but that is seldom which is always a let down. I get bored quickly by most peoples topics and find that I am unable to engage in conversations that are generic. I’m looking for the “quirky, eccentric, non-conforming, driven and intense perfectionists with high standards that are too sensitive”. I will not find them “threatening and intimidating”.

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