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Emotional intensity is a trait often found in the Highly Sensitive Person, Empaths, and gifted people. Being an intense person, or having an intense personality, means feelings a wide spectrum of emotions in a more vivid and profound way than most people do, and this includes both positive and negative emotions – pain, distress, despair, fear, excitement, love, sadness or happiness. It means a person is deeply empathic, sensitive, perceptive, and imaginative. It also means they are more prone to existential angst and depression.
What Is Emotional Intensity? Why do you Feel so Much?
Are you an Emotionally Intense person? Have you ever asked yourself: “Why do I feel so much?”
Having an intense personality may mean the following:
1. Emotional depth and passion
2. Deep empathy and sensitivity
3. Being highly perceptive
4. A rich inner world, with vivid imagination
5. Creative potential and existential angst
Like a lone traveler in an unfamiliar land, loneliness leads us on a pilgrimage of self-discovery, where the beauty of solitude intertwines with the longing for connection.
1. An Intense Person has Emotional Depth and Passion
You have always been an ‘old soul.’ You are an unusually deep thinker and feeler compared to peers your age. You see the world with depth and complexity. Although the passion and curiosity you have remained like that of a child.
You experience emotions powerfully, both positive and negative. You might have asked yourself, ‘Why do I feel so much?’ ‘Am I feeling too much?’ You do feel a lot, sometimes positive and negative at the same time. For example, you may soar high into bliss and plunge deep into despair within a short period of time.
You know the meaning of ecstasy and rapture, though this may not be shared by others around you. When you feel into music or art, you feel completely absorbed; sometimes, you have difficulty pulling yourself out from an immersive art experience.
You love passionately, even if you may not show it explicitly. This applies to romance and to your friends, family, pets, and even wider humanity.
You give a lot in relationships and are easily wounded by abandonment and rejection.
You are gifted with immense passion, even if you do not show it on the outside. You form such strong connections with people, animals, and places that separation is painful, even traumatizing, for you.
You experience life with tenderness and nostalgia. When you recall a memory of someone you love, you feel as though it was yesterday.
2. Deep Empathy and Sensitivity are Parts of Emotional Intensity
You have a grave concern for the wider world from an early age. (this is a common trait for gifted people) Your empathy is so strong that when others are hurt, you feel as if it is happening to you. You may even feel physical pain when you witness abuse.
Being an empath, you feel you ‘absorb’ other people’s psychic and emotional energies. After being in crowds or social situations, you may get overwhelmed.
You are not interested in small talk and shallow connections but in soulful and meaningful relationships. You are sensitive to your friends’ and lovers’ needs and you are a loyal companion.
However, having energetically ‘thin boundaries’ also means you are vulnerable to relational hurt. You take things personally and often take too much responsibility for what happens in a relationship. You are more likely to drive all blame to yourself than to blame others.
You are physically sensitive to your environment. You may be overwhelmed by too much sensory input. You are sensitive to loud noises, strong smells, or tactile sensations such as clothing tags and rough surfaces.
3. Having Emotional Intensity Also Makes you Highly Perceptive
You can sense and perceive things that others miss. You see beyond the surface, pick up subtle cues, and are very attuned with any changes in the dynamic between people.
You are gifted with a sharp intuition and are able to assess someone’s level of honesty rapidly. Even when they do not say anything, you can sense their ingenuine thoughts and intentions.
Even when someone does not admit they are upset, you can sense their sadness underneath the normal facade.
You have a sense of knowing when something is about to happen or about other people’s inner worlds. And you are often correct. Some may call you a ‘psychic’.
When your perceptiveness is paired with a strong sense of justice, the interpersonal dynamic can become challenging for you. For instance, you are able to sense people’s hypocrisies and unfairness at work, and even if it is to your disadvantage, you cannot help but point out ‘the elephant in the room’. People may be threatened by you because they feel you see through them.
You may be the scapegoat in your family because you are the one who points out things that are not going well despite what it looks like on the outside.
You have a need to push the boundaries of conformity, to question or to challenge traditions, particularly those that seem meaningless or unfair.
You might have been a drop-out from conventional settings, schools, and the workplace, as a lot of gifted people have. Although your path is not an easy one, your intuition and integrity also make you a great visionary leader.
4. An Emotionally Intense Person has a Rich Inner World and Vivid Imagination
You have a rich inner world. You may think not just in words but also images and metaphors. You have a vivid imagination, fantasies and dreams.
If you did not have a happy childhood, you might have resorted to your imagined world as a haven in times of emotional turmoils.
Intellectually, you are inquisitive and reflective. You have a strong need to seek to understand, to expand your horizons, to gain knowledge. You might have felt an urge to leave home to explore the world, even if you feel guilty for leaving people behind.
With the gifted ability to process information with speed and depth, you absorb and surge through information very quickly. You are likely to be an avid reader and a keen observer. You may appear critical and impatient with others who cannot keep up with you.
You also can integrate intellectual concepts with your deep feelings for original conceptions. You may have a constant stream of ideas, sometimes so many that you feel you cannot keep up with them.
When you get excited about an idea, your mind runs faster than your words can keep up, or you find yourself talking rapidly, perhaps even interrupting others.
When you become absorbed in your love for a piece of art, literature, theatre, or music, the outside world ceases to exist.
You are highly inquisitive and often diligently reflect on your own behaviors. The flip side is that you may be occupied with obsessive thoughts and scrupulous self-examination. You may also suffer from perfectionism and live with a strong inner critic.
You are sensitive to the spiritual world or were drawn to spirituality from a young age. Even if you don’t have a religious background; you feel connected to something in nature or something bigger than yourself.
5. An Intense Person Has Great Creative Potential But Also Suffers Existential Angst
From a young age, you experience existential depression and think about issues such as the meaninglessness of life, death, and loneliness. You might have felt frustrated that those around you, including the adults, were not prepared to discuss and consider these weighty concerns.
Because you can sense your own potential and how things can be, you are driven by strong existential angst. You may be haunted by an unnamed sense of urgency, a constant impulse to move forward. You get a constant ‘niggling’ feeling that there is something important that you should be doing, even when your vision is not clear yet. You live with a feeling that somehow time is running out, and you are not doing what you should be doing. Your quiet intensity might go alongside ambition that has been stifled.
For some unnamed reason, you feel a weight of responsibility on your shoulder – even for things you are not responsible for. This is not an unhealthy ambition but an extreme concern for ethics that you cannot shake off.
Your angst propels you to learn, expand, and advance in your life path, but it can also paralyze you. You may be prone to creative blockages such as ‘artist’s block,’ ‘writer’s block,’ procrastination, the fear of exposure, or the Imposter Syndrome (the feeling that you are a fraud).
You are multi-passionate. Even though you might have chosen one conventional career path, you could not curb your curiosity and passion for other disciplines.
When you have a strong vision or innovative idea, you can feel the split between belongingness and authentic expression— you want to express yourself with your full, authentic self, but you are worried that it will mean being rejected.
“you are not a mistake. you are too many exquisite details to be a mistake.”
― Nayyirah Waheed, Salt
Do You Have An Emotionally Intense Personality?
Some people experience life more vividly, are more aware of subtleties, and process information more deeply than others. Your intensity may be quiet, but it comes with deep potential and sometimes stifled ambitions. With your emotional intensity, you may have been described as having a keen intelligence and unbounded perceptivity; You may have been called or feel like an old soul. Your sentimental nature means you are always pondering the transient nature of relationships and situations and plagued by an intangible feeling of divine homesickness.
The sensitivity in the intense personality makes it hard for you to fit into the hypocritical aspects of this world. This is because you possess a particular kind of awareness of the truth, injustice, suffering, and painstakingly beautiful things.
In our world today, the norm is to try and cover up our deep-rooted existential anxiety by means of numbing. When things get too much, it is in our human nature to want to close our eyes and pretend that nothing is happening. Many people have settled to dull their minds by engaging in mindless activities or consuming short-lived pleasure.
However, those who have an intense personality and those who were born with a sensitive and perceptive soul struggle to do that. It is not that you try to be different or pretend that you are special, but you just cannot shut down your natural ability to see and feel so much.
As an emotionally intense person who lives with emotional intensity or overexcitabilities, you may feel that you have no other option than to take life seriously and aspire to live fully, intensely, with full presence and passion. Even when it hurts, the intense soul inside you may stubbornly refuse to be diluted for her infinite zest for life and wants to embrace it all, with wide-open eyes. Perhaps deep down you know that the joy and aliveness you will experience is in direct proportion to the suffering you can endure. In the end, without sensitivity, what would life be? It is this part of you that has given your life so much colour and meaning. Although it brings both ecstasy and terror, it is also the source of all that is precious and memorable.
A Caveat About Emotional Intensity
The above conceptualization of the emotional intensity trait inevitably involves some simplification of human complexity. Unfortunately, this is the limitation of language: Just as a map is always a simplification of the territory it is trying to describe, to make sense of things and communicate, we need to create a schematized version of a complex reality. Any typology is necessarily a simplification compared with the real, unique human being in front of us. My intention is not to have a grossly simplified system that shoehorns someone’s reality into fixed pigeonholes or rigidly suggests that you would always perceive, think or feel in a certain way.
A pathologizing caricature is the last thing we want to reinforce. In the end, we as human beings are both different and much the same in a paradoxical unity. We must not forget that what always holds more weight than theory is the here-and-nowness of a living human being constantly changing and evolving. I hope we can all retain the wisdom of the ‘beginner’s mind’ (Suzuki, 1973), such that part of us will always stay open and curious and see things as if we are seeing them for the first time.
Nothing is definite.
Having an Intense Personality: Why Do You Feel ‘Different’?
Emotional Intensity is a form of ‘neurodiversity’— the biological reality that particular groups of the population are innately different from the norm.
As a human species, we seem inept at embracing differences. We have divided ourselves in countless ways— between black and white, between the majority and the minority, between introverts and extroverts, and even between the stoic and the sensitive. Our current political climate clearly reflects this dark side of our tribal nature.
This is why people with an emotionally intense personalities often find themselves on the margin of society, being condemned as being ‘too this’ and ‘too that,’ or that somehow they are deemed as being too fragile for the world.
The problem is not our differences but our judgment of each other and our indifference towards it. By pathologizing, stigmatizing, and marginalizing intense people, the world is sitting on a gold mine without knowing it, and we are being held back in progression as a collective.
Having an intense personality is not inherently an illness; it often points to potential high intelligence, unique talents, or endowment. However, after years of being misdiagnosed by health professionals, criticized by schools or workplace authorities, and misunderstood by even those close to them, it is understandable that many intense people start to believe something is wrong with them. Ironically, low self-esteem and loneliness make them more susceptible to having an actual mental disorder.
People’s brains vary. Research has validated that some people are born with a certain kind of biochemical or neurological makeup that can make them more emotionally intense, sensitive, and open to external stimuli than the general population. These are the people who exhibit intense personalities.
Neurodiversity is a biological reality; the term describes the infinite variations in our ways of functioning as human beings. In fact, the idea that there is one “normal” or “healthy” way of perceiving and being in the world is merely a cultural construct (Foucault).
Nowadays, understanding of mental health and difficulties is often confined to categorizing people based on a disorder or diagnosis. Whilst there is certainly tremendous value in acquiring a formal diagnosis (accessing the right treatment, feeling validated for the difficulties, realizing that one is not alone, research), such a ‘one size fits all’ mentality has its limitations.
The neurodiversity paradigm suggests the diversity embedded amongst us, though challenging to meander at times, makes us stronger as a species, as communities, and as people. Having a group of individuals with an intense personalities in the world is not only a natural form of human diversity but also an essential factor in our evolution and the progression of our collective consciousness. This perspective is the opposite of the medical model, which contends that there is a ‘normal’ and desirable way of functioning, and anything else is a disorder.
In recent years, there has been growing interest amongst psychologists and the general public on the topics of emotional intensity, high sensitivity, emotional intelligence, introversion, and their links to well-being and creativity. An overlapping trait among these topics is Emotional Intensity— the propensity to feel emotions with more awareness, intensity, and depth.
If you have an intense personality, you may also find resonance with the following:
You are one of the 15-20% of the population who identifies as a ‘Highly Sensitive Person’ as defined by Dr. Elaine Aron
You identify as being an Empath
You feel that you have Thin Boundaries as defined by Hartmann’s inventory
- You are neuro-atypical- For example, you may have high-functioning autism without realising it.
You fall on the right side of the bell curve and are gifted in one or more forms of intelligence:
Intellectually Gifted -traditional IQ measure)
Logical-Mathematically gifted -the ability to detect patterns, reason deductively and think logically
Linguistically gifted – the ability to express oneself rhetorically or poetically, and to master languages
Spatially gifted – the ability to create mental images
Musically gifted -the capability to recognize and compose musical pitches, tones, and rhythms
Bodily-Kinesthetic Giftedness- a keen sense of body awareness, ability to communicate through body language
Interpersonal Giftedness-the ability to understand and discern the feelings and intentions of other
Intra-personal Giftedness –the ability to understand one’s own feelings and motivations
Spiritual Giftedness –Psychic sensibility, clairvoyance, clairaudience, and particularly ‘Claircognizance’
(the above framework is based on Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, with the added Spiritual dimension)
Emotional intensity is an innate trait, a temperament. Having an intense personality is a mixed blessing. It means feelings a wide spectrum of emotions in a more vivid and profound way than most people do, and this includes both positive and negative emotions – pain, distress, despair, fear, excitement, love, sadness or happiness. At its best, intensity comes with a sense of awe, quivering aliveness, and deep appreciation for the beauty in this world. It feels like a consuming, out-of-control, never-ending storm at its worst.
As someone with an intense personality, awareness and information about individual differences are invaluable in that they can help you make sense of your life history. By reviewing events and difficulties that you have experienced through a new perspective, you can realize where many of the old hurtful, uninvited commentaries might have come from and be liberated to embark on a journey of true self-discovery.
“I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.”
Does Having Emotional Intensity Means You Need Therapy?
Many people who live with emotional intensity worry that they will be attached to some kind of clinical label or be deemed so ‘ill’ that they will have to be in therapy for years. Yes, on one end of the spectrum, someone can experience emotional intensity in a way that constitutes a clinical diagnosis, such as Borderline Personality Disorder (which has been suggested to be more accurately described by the term ‘Emotional Intensity Disorder’), Bipolar Disorder, or ADHD. Your experience may or may not find its roots in developmental and attachment trauma. However, having an emotionally intense personality is not something to be fixed or cured but to be accepted, appreciated, and mastered. Trying to suppress something that is so core and intrinsic to your being would be a terrible insult.
Nowadays, we live in an emotion-phobic culture that encourages silencing feelings, especially the ‘negative’ ones. However, if you are someone who lives with emotional intensity or has an intense personality, you may struggle to do what is considered the norm (‘normal’) — denying, brushing off, or dampening the intensity of feelings. For example, you may find that when a worry sows its seed in your mind, you struggle to get rid of it. You may find yourself being left with no choice but to dwell in thoughts until the problem is solved. To others, you may appear neurotic or obsessive. Your friends and family may advise you to ‘not think too much, to ‘sleep on it’, or to ‘go get a drink’ and distract yourself. These temporary strategies may work for them, but you continue to find yourself struggling to settle with peace.
In these cases, the path of development for someone with emotional intensity will be about courageously staying close to all emotions, attending to them without completely surrendering to their destructiveness or being overwhelmed by them.
A healthy, emotionally intense individual would have learned to maintain a core sense of identity without it being swept by the moment-to-moment changes of their feelings.
The aim of our work is to help you thrive as an emotionally intense person. You may still experience the stab of intensity-dysregulation at certain times, but through developing self-knowledge and awareness, as well as having a healthy relationship with your intense inner world, you realize your emotions do not control you. You can live with and ride life’s waves with passion and peace.
By developing the strengths and skills to befriend each emotion that comes along, you will be able to circumvent the path of self-destructiveness and be like an alchemist who turns their streams of feelings into something deep, beautiful, and poetic; a connective tissue to wider humanity. You can make the best of your emotional intensity rather than pathologizing it.
Why Emotional Intensity Matters
To be human is to feel. Yet we live in an emotions-phobic world nowadays. Our system medicalizes the most natural human expressions: grieving of the loss of loved ones, anxiety in our fast-moving world, and anger when injustice happens. We tend to judge certain emotions as ‘good’, or ‘bad’, and society as a whole has become afraid of strong, honest emotional expressions. This kind of collective apathy cannot sustain itself. We also deny emotional honesty by pathologizing emotional intensity and stigmatizing those with an intense personality.
Because of society’s stigma, many people have come to disavow their emotional intensity. On an individual level, numbing our feelings makes life feel barren. Without emotions, even when our mind is busy, we feel vacant, lethargic and bored with life. It is as if life is passing by in front of us without us fully living in it. By detaching from our passion, we no longer know what we want. As a result, many people experience lingering low-grade depression or background anxiety.
On the other hand, what we resist persists. The more we push emotions away, the more they will come back in full force, in ways and times that we least expect them- that is, when we get triggered for no obvious reasons, burst out in sudden rage, or resort to extreme behaviors in order to further suppress how we feel. Humans are not robots. Our psyche has its wisdom. It knows that if we are to ignore our emotions, they will grow like weeds and eventually destroy us.
A world in which we collectively disconnect is a dangerous one. Crime, violence, and discrimination happen when we as a society become desensitized to each others’ suffering. It may feel ‘easier’ to detach from the pain and injustice in the world. However, such temporary tranquillity is brittle because, just like waves can never separate from the ocean, we can never completely disconnect with the rest of the world.
It is only natural that we cry over the woes of the world and be pained when it is in pain. What else is a heart for, if not this? Mother Teresa once beautifully said, ‘May God break my heart so completely the whole world falls in.’ Her heart may be broken day after day, yet she is one of the strongest people ever lived.
As someone who lives with emotional intensity, you might have felt that you have no choice but to numb your feelings and protect yourself in this unpredictable and volatile world. You might have felt that you had to withdraw, to defend, to hide behind four walls. As you have probably figured out by now, such a strategy leads merely to internal deadness. Defending against the world doesn’t work. Neither do shrinking and hiding. What can take you forward is to open your heart and mind.
The chaotic time that we are in is imbued with potential for the emotionally intense person.
For the last few decades, our world has been driven by linear, mechanistic, patriarchal values. We have gone very information-driven, intellectual, and concrete. We have been ambitious, driven, and stressed human doings, disowning our essence as human beings. As the world gets more shallow and literal, we slip into the tyranny of logical productivity and dismiss the heart-centered intelligence guided by emotional intensity.
But it is not working. We are constantly stressed out. We feel separated from one another. We need to drown ourselves in hedonistic activities. Our global economy is outgrowing the capacity of the earth to support it, and what is happening in politics might just be the ‘final push’ of the old system before it is forced to recede.
As a whole, we are yearning for a more vibrant life, one that is about inner abundance rather than materials. Communities need inspiration, not more information. People yearn to be led by empathy rather than force.
Humanity is calling for a different way of being and a redefinition of power.
We await the emergence of heart-centered trailblazers, torch-bearers, and bridge walkers. And this may be where sensitive, intense, and gifted people come in.
Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find.”
From Misfits to Leaders For Those with an Intense Personality
Passionate engagement with life is not an easy path, and it is a path less traveled. The word passion comes from the Latin verb patio, which means to suffer and to endure. As an intense person, passionate living entails a kind of openness where you are exposed to the ups and downs, gain and loss, pleasure and pain. When you choose to walk the path of passion and honor your emotional intensity, you commit yourself to face the bare bone of reality- including its embedded challenges and uncertainties, even when they pain you, trouble you, and tire you out.
Your love for life is the most powerful when you combine it with your ability to see beauty and make intellectual or creative linkages. This is what artists and poets have done all their lives across history. Many of them have intense personalities but are very much misunderstood or even condemned for it.
Sadly, though, historically and up until today, those with visionary or insightful qualities are also deemed mad, pathological, and schizophrenic by the world. Yet the misunderstood ‘misfits’ are also the ones who have shown the world the most bravery, tenacity, and love. They were their time’s great healers, visionaries, trailblazers, and creatives.
Famous Gifted People with an Intense Personality
Here are some examples of people who might have been gifted and emotionally intense but misunderstood. (This is just a guess; there is no way of verifying it without actually meeting them).
Steve Jobs — as brilliant as he was — is often portrayed as an abrasive, hot-tempered, and even narcissistic leader. He was probably misunderstood because of his unusual level of intellectual, imaginational, and emotional intensities— known as ‘over-excitabilities,’ these are common traits for many highly talented individuals across history. His fast mind and strong intuition created immense creative pressure from within him, which sometimes came out as obsessions or even madness. Deep down, he was a highly intuitive and emotional person. When he found something truly incredible, he was moved to tears: “Every once in a while, I find myself in the presence of purity — purity of spirit and love — and I always cry.” As someone with an emotionally intense personality, he cared deeply, which drove him to be demanding of those around him. A lot of people mistook his passion for arrogance or his focus for selfishness.
Van Gogh– Many know Vincent van Gogh as the brilliant, disturbed artist who fought with depression and the darkest side of emotional intensity. He was also known for cutting off part of his ear and committing suicide. Rather than simply labeling him as mad, we can come to understand Van Gogh as someone with an emotionally intense personality who was overwhelmed by his own creative visions and sensual perceptions. He had a deep passion for not just beauty and colour but also his family and divinity. In contrast to the image of a self-obsessed artist, he had a big heart and an intense devotional and spiritual life– He volunteered to preach in an impoverished Belgian coal-mining town, whose population adored him. As an artist, his emotional intensity and passion went against the popular artistic style at the time– Impressionism, which was the softly brushed depiction of tranquil scenes in nature or of royal people. Ultimately, Van Gogh was misunderstood and undermined because he created art ahead of his time.
Princess Diana – the first wife of Prince Charles of Wales, remained the object of worldwide media scrutiny both during and after her passing. The media has painted her with the portrait of a troubled Princess who was emotionally volatile and unstable. In truth, despite a sensitive and delicate outlook, Princess Diana was never truly fragile. She was emotionally intense, vulnerable but strong, and humble but stood up for her values. She was a dynamic woman who combined many fine traits shared by those who have an intense personality: Warmth, empathy, grace, humility, wit, thoughtfulness, generosity, compassion, resilience, and courage, all alongside her emotional intensity. Her graceful resilience was a rare gift. “She was an entirely intuitive person,” said journalist and historian Paul Johnson. “She was not particularly good at rational processes, but she could get on well with people because she could grasp ideas if they had emotional importance to her.” With the compassion and deep understanding that came from her emotional intensity, she was a safe haven to those around her and a role model for all sensitive women who came after her. As a true trailblazer, Princess Diana has a compelling sense of herself as the seeker and speaker of truth; she openly spoke about people’s fears of strong women.
Virginia Woolf– Much examination has been made of Woolf’s mental illness; many speculated manic-depressive or Bipolar disease. Indeed, she seemed to work on the edges between what was considered sanity and what would be called mental crises. Yet to her, these are utterly natural cycles that reveal the true workings of her emotional intensity. Most often, the media portrayal of Virginia Woolf gives prominence to her mental crises and suicide. Yet, if we look at her life, she has been a prolific and gifted creator, a committed pacifist, a second-wave feminist before its time, and a true legacy that continues to inspire a million others. She was indeed an emotionally gifted woman, misunderstood as she was ahead of her time.
Leonard Cohen- Leonard Cohen has a reputation for being dark and pessimistic and was known as the poet of brokenness or the ‘prince of gloom’. Yet we often overlook the deep emotional strength embedded in his virtues and his emotional intensity. What he is, is someone who is honest and brave enough to acknowledge the shadows of our collective consciousness. When we take a closer look at his work, we see that even in his bleakest expression, there is a sense of sharp wit, reverence for the truth, and a sense of deep empathy. In his track Anthem, Cohen famously intoned: “There is a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in. ”Sensitivity, emotional intensity, and perceptiveness are among Cohen’s many fine qualities. He intuitively knows what people want or feel. Being emotionally intense, he is strong enough to be vulnerable and has transmuted his suffering into life-affirming arts that can touch millions.
Loneliness may be a solo act, but emotional intensity turns it into a grand performance, complete with applause and standing ovations.
The Summon For the Intense Person
Existing self-help resources for highly sensitive people often focus heavily on protective and defensive strategies; this breeds the idea that sensitive people are somehow ‘too fragile for the world’. But with your unique qualities, people with an emotionally intense personality may have important work to do in the world. It is critical that you do not collapse into the trap of pathology. Not being able to own your gifts and be authentic about your true nature keeps you in hiding and holds you back from bringing your gifts into the world.
Real emotional health as an intense person is not about stoicism. It is about your ability to expand, absorb, and the willingness to say yes to your inner and outer world. It is about allowing life to move you and affect you deeply without losing your ground. It is about making the best of your emotional intensity.
We root in order to rise. While healing old wounds is important, you may be ready for the next step. The next chapter is about moving from being the ‘misfits’ to standing as the leaders of the world (and this can take many forms. You can be a thought leader that speaks to a small niche, a quiet creative pioneer, or you can model how to be the best parent in town).
This pledge may seem extreme, but for too long, intense people have been misunderstood, shamed, and sidelined, and just like the beginning of any movement, a forceful pushback is needed to swing the pendulum.
At this point, some of you may ask: Am I really that ‘special’? Are you suggesting that I am superior in some way? Does this further alienate me from those around me? The fear of your own power and of losing belongingness is understandable. Here is a more useful way of thinking: We all have our unique blueprints and trajectory in this lifetime, and everyone is gifted with certain qualities to do certain things in the world. Maybe you are qualitatively (rather than quantitatively) different from someone who is less intense, but that does not make you any better or worse. As your body already knows, suppressing your expression can lead to existential guilt, depression, restlessness, physical pain, and chronic emptiness.
Your unusual life path might be a summon from Life.
Emotionally intense people are the truth-tellers, game-changers, and fierce lovers of the world.
By nature, you may be the pioneers, questioners, and progressives whose role in the world is to bring forth the realities that others do not yet see or understand. Embracing your gift of emotional intensity is something you can do for yourself and those around you. If you can summon the courage to stand out as a sensitive leader, you set a solid example for all others like you.
Imi Lo is a consultant and published author with extensive and international experience in mental health and psychotherapy. Her books Emotional Sensitivity and Intensity and The Gift of Intensity are available worldwide and in multiple languages. Imi has two Master’s degrees; one in Mental Health and one in Buddhist Studies. She works holistically, combining psychological insights with Eastern and Western philosophies such as Buddhism and Stoicism.