10 Disadvantages of Being Highly Intelligent

10 Disadvantages of Being Highly Intelligent

It’s a common misconception that life is easier for those with higher intelligence. People fail to recognize that the bigger the intelligence, the bigger the responsibilities. Having a high IQ is a good thing, since it allows one to perform tasks at a faster pace than an average human being. Achieving goals in life can also appear easy, but little do people understand about the drawbacks that comes with high intelligence. Did you know that being too smart can sometimes be an obstacle? While being intelligent is not a problem, the disadvantages that come with it surely are. Here are 10 surprising disadvantages of being highly intelligent.

1. One of the main disadvantages of being highly intelligent is feeling unfulfilled all the time.

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Image: Elijah Hiett

Having a high intellect does not mean that one would be living a fulfilling life. While highly intelligent people strive to prove themselves and live with the motto, “I can accomplish anything”, time and time again, life reminds them that despite their precious gift, one can never achieve everything in life. This leaves a highly intelligent person unfulfilled or feeling empty. A 1992 study conducted on 399 highly intelligent individuals between the ages of seventy-five and eighty-four, found that by the time they turned eighty, they believed that they had not lived up to their expectations in life or achieved the things their younger self believed they could achieve. (source)

2. Intelligent people usually suffer from loneliness, anger and depression.

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Intelligent people are plagued by existential angst, frustration, and loneliness, reports the BBC. Famous author Hemingway explains this situation with this quote: “Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know”. That does not mean that all intelligent people are suffering from loneliness, anger and depression, but most of them do. Studies also show that people with an IQ of 140 are about twice as likely to max out their credit card. Experts also suggest that employers should hire people based on their wisdom rather than intelligence since our emotions are capable of overriding the brain, which could also be a reason why most highly intelligent people are impulse spenders. Studies show that this is because the average human being accumulated more wealth over their lifetime, because they spent less and they lived a more simple life. (source)

3. They tend to overthink more often than others.

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One of the biggest disadvantages of being bright is the pressure caused by overthinking. For instance, when others put their theory to practice, so they can determine an outcome, highly intelligent people put their practice to theory. For them, they have to know every single outcome associated with a decision and this often leads to their brain working constantly to sort out the issue. Intelligent people are good observers, who explore each avenue before taking a single step. Since they are always indulged in their own thoughts, it prevents them from experiencing the feelings of happiness and pleasure. But life is not always about making the right decisions. Sometimes, we can find joy and happiness in our mistakes, since they can show us the right path.

4. They lack social skills, which often leads to a poor social life.

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“In certain settings, a smart person likely has to adjust their personality and manner of speaking because if they use their normal vocabulary and speak about their typical interests, they will sound like a pretentious know-it-all”. Having a poor social life is part of a highly intelligent person. “It is difficult to find people with a similar level of intelligence depending on how smart you are. People with a lower level of intelligence will subconsciously avoid you because your very presence can make them feel less intelligent, and nobody likes that”. Being intelligent can also make you feel alone since you are limited by social obligations.

5. People often have high expectations of you, which adds unnecessary pressure.

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Once people realize the fact that you possess some extraordinary ability to think differently, they would always be wanting help from you. If your boss gives you an assignment, they would expect you to complete it in the shortest period of time, and if it’s a friend who is need of help with tax returns, they would expect you to provide them with the highest refund possible. These simple tasks can add unnecessary pressure in the lives of intelligent people. Every now and then, it’s ok to remind people that you too are a human being and can make mistakes in life like everyone else.

6. Intelligent people are more prone to anxiety.

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Studies show that intelligence and anxiety may have evolved together as mutually beneficial traits. People with high intelligence also tend to have higher levels of anxiety. According to professor Jeremy Coplan, who led the study,

“While excessive worry is generally seen as a negative trait and high intelligence as a positive one, worry may cause our species to avoid dangerous situations, regardless of how remote a possibility they may be. In essence, worry may make people ‘take no chances,’ and such people may have higher survival rates. Thus, like intelligence, worry may confer a benefit upon the species.”

Brain scans also show that people diagnosed with an anxiety disorder had higher IQ’s than those who were not. The scans also showed that activity in sub-cortical white matter correlated with both anxiety and intelligence. So, in simple words, people who were more intelligent also worried more. (source)

7. You have a problem with authority.

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One of the biggest advantages of being highly intelligent is the independence. Being independent all your life and not having to ask others for help can be a rewarding experience but at the same time, taking orders from others can be a bit annoying. If you are given a task that needs to be completed a specific way, you might realize the right approach even before beginning. However, your intelligence and observations might be suppressed by others since they themselves consider their thoughts and ideas to be the only practical solution in real-life.

8. Your logic is always superior to your emotions.

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Sometimes, our emotions are capable of forcing us to make decisions, which we might regret later in life. In the case of intelligent people, they always stick with the logic rather than emotions. Even if the decision causes them to take a longer path instead of a shorter one, those with higher intellect stick to rational thinking. This however, can sometimes affect the relationship we have with others since not everyone understands the thought process.

9. They are also more susceptible to gambler’s fallacy.

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Image: Jonathan Petersson

Basically, gambler’s fallacy is a belief or claim that is caused by unsound reasoning. It occurs when a person believes that the chances of something is less likely to happen in the future because of the frequency with which they have occurred in the past. For example, if a dice rolled “7” three times in a row, then the person would believe that it would never happen a fourth time. Another example is, if a team has won the coin toss for the last three games, the person believes that the team would definitely lose the fourth coin toss. While it’s unclear as to why gambler’s fallacy happens with highly intelligent people, a team of Chinese researchers concluded that it does happen with those who have high cognitive ability. (source)

10. They are also more likely to crumble or feel overwhelmed under pressure.

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One might think that highly intelligent people are the least stressed individuals on Earth. However, the latter is true since they are constantly striving to succeed. The perfect winning streak also puts an immense amount of pressure on them because they feel the need to constantly prove that they are indeed capable. Apart from that, they are also used to winning throughout their life. The thought of failing and finding ways to achieve makes them anxious. Studies also show that highly intelligent people are more likely to crumble when put under pressure. Experts suggest re-arranging and performing tasks one at at time to reduce stress and improve quality of life.

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