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The forgotten intrapersonal level of communication related to the environment

Opinion & Analysis
Little or no attention at all has been paid to the essential role of intrapersonal communication level which defines the inner person, the self, the absolute individual and the hidden language.

Ever since environmental communication issues have been articulated, they have been characterised by the two-way communication approach which is largely the interpersonal nature, without any attempts to factor in the intrapersonal level.

Little or no attention at all has been paid to the essential role of intrapersonal communication level which defines the inner person, the self, the absolute individual and the hidden language.

Intrapersonal communication is generally viewed as, communication with one-self, including self-talk, acts of imagination and visualisation or self to self-communication, where an individual assumes multiple roles. These are the source, receiver, message, channel, feedback and the environment. For these reasons, the individual assumes the burden of being weighed down by the baggage of the multiple roles to be performed. From intrapersonal level, comes out three issues, self-talk, self-concept and self-love which normally leads to exaggeration of self-worth, dangerous and fatal decisions on the environment.

Intrapersonal communication also involves the physiological and psychological processing of messages happening within individuals at conscious and unconscious levels as they attempt to understand themselves and their environment. In this regard, there is little separation among the human beings from their environment, punctuated by reciprocal relationships, where intrapersonal communication becomes instrumental in revealing meaning and meaning creation.

This is the first point of call that embodies the human being, humanism, their relationship and interaction with the outside world, which is the natural environment. Intrapersonal communication is transformative for the following reasons: introspection, self-talk, self-awareness, internal dialogic and external dialogue, intrinsic value and motivation towards the environment and climate change.

Today it is the human being and their desires, covetousness and uncontrolled behaviours at the center of environmental problems, failing to hold themselves accountable for global environmental atrocities that have brought the world to its knees. It starts with the mind, generating into inner-speech, self-talk, affirmation and praising towards meaning making and conceptualising reality about nature. The environment as the natural capital, heritage and the scientific natural laboratory is in danger if our dangerous and toxic ideas are not shared with people who are at the centre of environmental degradations, deforestation, land-use practices, pollutions poisoning nature and negative impacts of climate change.

Intrapersonal communication thrives on different voices, perspectives, narrative angles and minds, all in one, leading to an individual thinking aloud. If these internal voices are not regulated, they influence external behaviours that are used to shape the environment and policy. Inner speech as the competence behind all human communication provides an understanding for the vital knowledge in intrapersonal communication.

This vital knowledge becomes dangerous when it is abused in passing wrong decisions about the environment.

Interpersonal communication is also highly subjective and normally leads to false success goals if there is no proper counter argumentation. Sometimes the contestation of ideas pinned in the deeper self normally provides no solution or problem-solving to the prevailing ecological issues.

Intrapersonal communication is influenced by nurture on nature. That is the nature-nurture controversy where nature refers to the biodiversity predispositions impacting on human traits such as physical, emotional and intellectual while nurture describes the influence of learning especially with regards to environmental factors on the physical, emotional and intellectual. The role of culture in intrapersonal communication is crucial in conceptualising reality as it is influenced by worldviews.

Intrapersonal communication is the embedded talk that sustains and governs the human mind. It is the talk that breathes life into language and gives it a voice, shaping and defining human lives from the beginning to the end. Communication involving a single communicator needs to be shared with the outside world because an individual cannot remain as the sole sender and receiver, among others.

One characteristic of intrapersonal communication is that there is a symbiotic relationship between the mental and social activity, leading to the internal collaborations within oneself, to be shared with the outside world for sustainable development to be realised. Unshared speech remains egocentric and subjective while the “I” and “Me” monitors the doing with regards to our behaviours towards the environment.

Understanding the implications of intrapersonal communication has received limited attention in the environmental domain that is why the world continues to suffer from self-centred decisions made by global powers.

Intrapersonal communication should be explored leading to public dialogue which is an essential component for social and environmental change. Situate the environment within the self for introspection and empathy then create and establish a culture of conservation. Total introspection and engagement of the self-precedes speaking out which is a critical form of public and social engagement.

Intrapersonal communication also influences ecocriticism, that is the interconnections between nature and culture, especially cultural artifacts, language and literature in relation to the natural environment. There is an evolutionary relationship between environmental communication and ecocriticism emanating from the sense of introspection either due to storytelling about the environment.

Intrapersonal communication can also be the voice of conscience, that voice which warns anyone to do something unethical although they would proceed to commit environmental atrocities even after being warned. Finally, intrapersonal communication needs self-persuasion that would lead to external persuasion and resolve.

Peter Makwanya is a climate change communicator. He writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted on: [email protected].

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