By Imi Lo
Living with Emotional Intensity
Have you been told that you see too much, hear too much, or think too much?
Some people feel more than others.
They are often told—spoken and unspoken—that they are ‘too much,’ ‘too intense,’ ‘too sensitive,’ ‘too emotional,’ and that their behaviors are either ‘too dramatic’ or ‘too timid.’
People who feel more deeply and intensely than others are more aware of subtleties; their brain processes information and reflects on it more deeply. People with emotional intensity are sometimes described as sensitive, caring, and attentive. At their best, they can be exceptionally perceptive, intuitive, and keenly observant of the subtleties of the environment. Yet they are also overwhelmed by the constant waves of social nuances and others’ emotional and psychic energies.
They tend to notice and remember a lot and can be over-stimulated when things are too chaotic or novel for a long time. This ability to feel deeply and intensely often starts from a young age when emotion regulation skills are lacking and can lead to psychological wounding associated with shame and loneliness.
Growing awareness of this trait has generated much inquiry, yet psychologists have so far been unable to agree on a single defining attribute. If you identify with the description, there are a few possibilities:
Emotional intensity comprises of the following five components:
1. Emotional Depth, Velocity, and Complexity
You experience emotions to an unusual level of depth, complexity, and intensity. This makes you feel incredibly alive, sometimes painfully so.
A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive.
a touch is a blow,
a sound is a noise,
a misfortune is a tragedy,
a joy is an ecstasy,
a friend is a lover,
a lover is a god,
and failure is death.
2. Deep Empathy and Sensitivity
For more on Emotional Intensity.
The above conceptualisation of the emotional intensity trait inevitably involves some simplification of human complexity. Any typology is necessary a simplification compared with the real, unique human being in front of us. We as a human species are both different and much the same, in a paradoxical unity. We must not forget that what always holds more weight than the theory is the here-and-now-ness of the living human beings, who are constantly changing and evolving.
The Gifts and the Perils
Dr. Mary-Elaine Jacobson, author of The Gifted Adult, has identified some of the top criticisms a gifted individual often faces:
The good news is, with the right information and support, liberation from the pain of ‘being too much’ is possible. Once you have discovered the origin of your differences, you may begin a journey of retrieving long lost gifts.
Suddenly, your whole life history makes sense. You realize that a lot of the shame and depression they bear come from ill-informed and uninvited commentary about your unique qualities, and people’s fear of what is unfamiliar. In fact, your high level of awareness of subtleties is not only unusual but also extremely precious.
As you step into embracing your unique qualities, you learn to trust your unique ways of relating to the world and can connect to what you have to offer. Themes such as authentic existence, the meaning of life, and purpose of being come to the foreground of awareness, and here you are, embarking on a true journey towards your full potential:
'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen
'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?'
'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'
'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.
“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.” —Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit
is a Tony-winning producer/writer/actor & CEO of TheDreamUnLocked: Boutique Coaching for Actors, Writers & Dreamers