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5 Reasons Smart People Have Trouble Accepting Themselves

smart anxious personLet’s talk about five specific struggles that people who are above average in intelligence face.

Research suggests that individuals with an IQ of 120 are brighter than 91% of the population.

This isn’t some arrogant claim. It’s a fact. And it is not the fault of the high IQ individual. That said, being smart is not an emotional advantage. People with a high IQ do not necessarily have it easy on the inside. Emotions are processed by a different part of the brain.

Smart people can struggle with self-acceptance for a number of valid reasons. If you’re smarter than most other people, then you might identify with the following.

1. Childhood programming gets in the way of smart people, too

Even when you’re highly intelligent, you are still susceptible to the same negative childhood programming that gets in the way of most people. Worse, you may find intelligent ways to fool yourself into hanging onto the negative.

You may have picked up some self-limiting beliefs in childhood, at a time when you did not have the capacity to defend yourself. Now, you do have that capacity, yet you may use your intelligence to defend the limiting beliefs already in place!

When you add in the ego – or desire for a smart person to be right about how he or she perceives the world – you end up with someone who skillfully self-deceives in order to justify limitations.

2. It’s hard to fit in

If you are smarter than 90% of people around you, then it will be hard to fit in. Those with higher-than-average intelligence often feel like they need to ‘dumb themselves down’ in order to fit into social circles. This doesn’t resolve the issue, however, because you know you are dumbing yourself down.

Highly intelligent people often feel like they have to hide their intelligence, regardless. What would happen if they let loose and expressed their thoughts freely. The common fear is that other people would not relate.

So, they blame themselves or believe they are somehow defective – an outcast.

3. Emotions are emotions

Being smart does not protect you from feeling bad. However, many smart people believe they shouldn’t be struggling emotionally. After all, they’re really smart! They are used to being able to solve problems. However, emotional problems are of a different nature and may not lend themselves to resolution by analytical thinking.

Emotional IQ lies within the realm of a different brain system, which does not sync easily with the intellect. Integrating emotional life with the conscious intelligence is often difficult, as smart people are capable of constructing sophisticated defense mechanisms.

4. Worries are rampant

Do smart people worry more? Evidence suggests that high intelligence fuels worry associated with generalized anxiety disorder. Smart people are capable of creating all manner of internal scenarios in which things go wrong. Peaceful, present states like ‘acceptance’ are tough to arrive at when your mind is busy obsessing on potential future catastrophes.

5. Sleep may be scarce

Do smart people struggle with sleep? Evidence suggests this may be the case. High IQ people are more likely to be nocturnal. And this is not necessarily a good thing. Those who stay up later tend toward depression, emotional instability and even a few physical conditions like heart disease. Not good!

Emotionally challenged, worried, sleep-starved and anxious about fitting in? This may be the product of your high intelligence. Now, what are you going to do about it?

First, you may need to realize that you need help integrating, healing and accepting your emotions. You might need therapy or coaching from a smart person who has been down the road you’re traveling.

Most of all, realize that your high intelligence can be an asset to your emotional health only after you learn how emotions work, which is not part of any conventional education.

To get started on your emotional education, watch this free and enlightening video. It details the inner workings of self-sabotage. If you recognize yourself in this video, there is tremendous hope for healing and emotional renewal.


5 Reasons Smart People Have Trouble Accepting Themselves

Mike Bundrant

Mike Bundrant is the author of Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage and co-founder at The iNLP Center which offers online certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and life coaching.

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APA Reference
Bundrant, M. (2015). 5 Reasons Smart People Have Trouble Accepting Themselves. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 10 Nov 2015
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