Intrapersonal Conflict (What is it and How to Cope)

In this brief guide, we will look at Intrapersonal conflict, Intrapersonal conflict vs interpersonal conflict, intragroup conflict and how to resolve intrapersonal conflict.

Intrapersonal Conflict

Intrapersonal conflict refers to the conflict that someone engages in with themselves, and something that causes the person to fight their own values and belief system, which also hampers their productivity in some way.

Intrapersonal conflict can often lead to problem situations in the person’s environment and their relationships with other people, because when someone is conflicted about their own sense of self, they can obviously find it difficult to be at peace with their outer environment.

The intrapersonal conflict may be experienced by a single individual, when their own goals, values or roles diverge. 

Intrapersonal conflict is the conflict humans face within themselves which means that there are a lot of situations in which this conflict may arise out of situations of the person not being able to figure out what they should do or what they want, or even in some cases, what they need and what they want.

This discrepancy can often lead to significant conflict within oneself, because the should statements that lead to intrapersonal conflict are almost always driven by the values, religious beliefs, upbringing which are internalized when we are children, which means they are far too deep into our subconscious, and they may not get separated from our sense of identity quite so easily.

Our conscious wants on the other hand are driven by the environment which entices humans to indulge overlooking should ideals, that entice the person to abandon their belief systems once in a while and give in to temptation.

These wants and desires often dictate how we act because our primal natures convince us that fulfilling the needs of the present may be more important than the possibilities of the future.

Intrapersonal Conflict may be an integral part of human life as well, because according to most psychological theories, growth cannot happen in vacuum and conflict is necessary to point out the areas in which we need to grow and evolve, which is why it becomes so important for us to deal with our conflicts in an effective manner.

Sometimes intrapersonal Conflict may also arise when major decisions need to be taken, and for some people, this decision-making process can become incredibly taxing.

In some cases, intrapersonal conflict can also arise out of unhealthy habits and unhealthy behaviors like substance abuse of any kind, and often these individuals can suffer from problems of various kinds because of their skewed locus of control.

These individuals may often experience intrapersonal conflict when their body and their mind tells them that they need to quit and they also want to quit, but the fact that they are used to the substance at this point can lead them to be in a situation where the substance taking behavior wins the conflict between should and want.

If you’re facing this, it may be a good idea to seek the help of a therapist or other mental health professional. You can find a therapist at BetterHelp who can help you learn how to cope and address it.

Intrapersonal Conflict Examples

Examples of intrapersonal conflict may include situations like a lawyer who represents a defendant they know to be guilty of the charges brought against him but they have to do it anyway because either the firm took the case on or they need the money, or simply that they chose this profession and feel stuck when cases like that come around.

Another intrapersonal conflict example might be a worker whose goal it is to earn her MBA but then she’s offered a position that requires her to transfer to a different state, in which case the intrapersonal conflict might arise out of the decision she has to make about studying or working and staying or moving.

Another type of intrapersonal conflict, role conflict, may be seen in an example of intrapersonal conflict where an employee might have to choose between dinner with clients or dinner with family.

Another intrapersonal conflict example might be the choice between one’s upbringing or beliefs, religious or otherwise, and their social surrounding, for example, when someone is raised in a vegetarian family but is enticed towards non-vegetarian food at a work dinner where everyone is eating the same thing and they want to fit in.

Intrapersonal conflict can actually occur due to social settings a lot of times, and there are many cases in which peer pressure can cause significant changes to a person’s behavior which then causes them to experience intrapersonal conflict.

Another intraperosnal conflict example might be the conflict that arises out of needs and wants, that is, requirement and desire, like when someone goes to a shop and gets way more than they need just because they were enticed by all the things in the shop.

Lastly, a great intrapersonal conflict example is the conflict that arises out of a discrepancy between ideal self and real self, for instance, in someone who wishes to be at the top of the company but is constantly under-performing and this is not fitting in with their belief of “I am worthy” or “I am good enough for the job”, and this kind of intrapersonal conflict may often be one of the worst types, because this can lead to a drastic decline in the person’s self-concept.

Intrapersonal Conflict Vs Interpersonal Conflict

The distinction between intrapersonal conflict vs interpersonal conflict is a key one, where intrapersonal conflict refers to the conflict one has within themselves, but interpersonal conflict is something that might happen among the members of a group, or even between two people.

In a workplace, intrapersonal conflict vs interpersonal conflict may be fairly easy to spot, because where the intrapersonal conflict may cause a decline in only one person’s performance, interpersonal conflict may cause a sharp decline in the entire group’s or both the individuals’ performance. 

Interpersonal conflict can also be caused by intrapersonal conflict, in situations where one person’s intrapersonal conflict may be so large that it starts affecting the entire group in some way or affects their relationship with other people as well.

This might be seen when a boss that is suffering from a major intrapersonal conflict due to their feelings of inadequacy starts to take it out on other people because they are just not able to deal with them, and this leads to interpersonal conflicts all over the office.

Another situation where an intrapersonal conflict might cause an interpersonal conflict is actually fairly easy to spot, and may happen when someone who is experiencing feelings of low self-worth or low self-esteem falls into unhealthy relationship patterns, causing interpersonal conflicts between themselves and their partners.

Interpersonal conflict can respond better to external mediation than intrapersonal conflict, because intrapersonal conflict may involve a great degree of motivation and help from the person who is experiencing the conflict, whereas in interpersonal conflict the two individuals may be more inclined to solve their problems.

How to resolve Intrapersonal conflict?

Here are the steps you may employ when trying to resolve an intrapersonal conflict:

  • Identify the intrapersonal conflict: Talk to the person that you think is having an intrapersonal conflict, ask them how they are feeling and what is going on. You may need to create a rapport with them, and make them feel comfortable, make sure you do this.
  • Identify the strategy you are going to use: Having a plan is crucial when trying to solve an intrapersonal conflict, because you cannot just go in empty-handed and expect things to get better just by talking to the person.
  • Talk to them about your strategy: The person also needs to agree with your approach and agree to trying it your way, otherwise you might not have any chance.
  • Take concrete steps towards helping the person solve the intrapersonal conflict: Once you have taken their permission to try to solve things, you may implement some of the initial steps of the strategy and see if that works for them.
  • Get them to try alternative behaviors: If their behavior is causing them the intrapersonal conflict, get them to try some different behaviors for a change and see what sticks.
  • Try to show the value of compromise: Compromise is not a bad word, and sometimes things don’t turn out as perfectly as we hope, try to help the person see that.


In this brief guide, we looked at Intrapersonal conflict, Intrapersonal conflict vs interpersonal conflict, intragroup conflict and how to resolve intrapersonal conflict.

Intrapersonal conflict is something that often causes a lot of problems in the industrial and career settings and most individuals working in human resources are likely to be well-aware of this issue.

A human resources representative may often have to deal with situations of intrapersonal conflict and therefore they need to be trained in how to resolve intrapersonal conflict.

On the other hand, they must also know the differences between intrapersonal conflict, interpersonal conflict, and intragroup conflict, because these are all very different mechanisms that affect the workforce in adverse ways.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Intrapersonal Conflict

What is an intrapersonal conflict example?

Intrapersonal conflict is any type of conflict that arises within a person and an example of this conflict may be when someone is uncertain about what is expected or wanted and this leads to them having a sense of being inadequate to perform a task.

The most common examples of intrapersonal conflict are usually seen in conditions where the individual is a member of one team but is also at the head of another.

What is the difference between interpersonal conflict and intrapersonal conflict?

The difference between intrapersonal conflict and interpersonal conflict is that while Intrapersonal conflict is conflict we experience within ourselves and it involves only the individual themselves, Interpersonal conflict is a conflict that involves two or more people.

The key difference between intrapersonal and interpersonal conflict is visible in the fact that intrapersonal conflict can lead to interpersonal conflict but it is unlikely that an interpersonal conflict will lead to an intrapersonal conflict.

How many types of intrapersonal conflict are there?

There are 2 main types of intrapersonal conflict, and they are task conflict and relationship conflict, and they both significantly reduce productivity and morale, and they can cause significant impairment to the functioning of the individual both in the workplace as well as in their personal life.

What are the 4 types of conflicts?

There are 4 types of conflict in storytelling or story writing, and these are Conflict with the self, Conflict with others, Conflict with the environment and Conflict with the supernatural. 

Writers writing a powerful narrative often make use of any or all of these conflicts to create moving and significant narratives, and they may most often use Intrapersonal conflict or Conflict with the self, which shows the internal battle a lead character has with themselves rather than with anyone else, and it tends to be the most powerful one because it usually leads them on a journey of self-discovery.


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