In November 2018, I started a project, where I collect stories from emotionally intense people from around the world.
I am overwhelmed by your generosity and feel incredibly moved by your courage to be vulnerable, the poignancy of your stories, and the poetic beauty in your words.
I hope you will land on some resonance and encouragement in the stories and recommendations from your fellow travellers of life.
To contribute, please click here.
Rebecca G., 46, Australia
’Sometimes I feel like I am not really from here and I long to go home. I have come to understand home as my spiritual being, my higher self.’
Your Name: Rebecca Garnett
Who are you:
My name is Bec, I am 46 and I live in Australia. I am lucky enough to live very near to the beach. The things that matter the most to me are my children, social justice, the environment, books, learning, music and my spirituality. I love being at the beach, the sand and sun restore my energy and the ocean washes everything away. I am so grateful when I am in the water, the vastness of the ocean and the way the sun reflects across the surface of the water makes me feel alive and grateful to be here.
I work in an early intervention program for children who are at risk of developing poor mental health but I am considering taking a break for a while to focus on my own healing and well-being.
Finding this site has been amazing. I feel like I have found my tribe.
I have always felt like a square peg in a round hole. Being perceptive and sensitive has felt like a blessing and a curse most of my life. While understanding the undercurrents of a situation can sometimes be helpful often it isn’t. This has made me question myself a lot and doubt whether what I feel in my heart is true. The older I get though, the more I trust my own judgement. When I have listened to that quiet still voice within, I have found that it tends to be a lot more reliable than my rational mind or listening to other people.
I cry a lot, everything I feel, I feel intensely. Even as a child I would cry when my feelings were hurt over things that didn’t seem to bother other children. A friend who has known me since I was very young told me that she remembers me as being a very serious child. That’s not how I remember it though, I remember liking make believe and getting lost in my imagination. When I was a child, I believed that the world was a beautiful place. I still do, or at least I believe it can be and should be and seeing any seeing any kind of injustice really disturbs me.
I have felt lonely and misunderstood my whole life. I don’t seem to be able to paddle around in the shallow end, I am always diving deep – looking for meaning, trying to synthesise my feelings, thoughts and ideas to gain a deeper understanding of myself, others and my world. Sometimes I feel like I am not really from here and I long to go home. I have come to understand home as my spiritual being, my higher self.
I get attached to people deeply and still feel sad about people who are no longer in my life. I don’t seem to be able to move on and let go the way others can as I connect deeply with people’s souls. I long for connection but fear abandonment.
I feel overwhelmed easily and need time alone but when I feel joy and gratitude I feel that intensely too.
Like lots of people on here, I am an empath, an introvert, personality type INFJ. According to the Riso-Hudson Enneagram which is another type of personality framework which I personally prefer, I’m a five with four wing (Investigator with Individualist wing). If you are interested in checking out the book, ‘The Wisdom of The Enneagram’, I found it to give me a good understanding of my personality type and what I need for psychological and spiritual growth.
I love the app Insight Timer. Sarah Blondin is my favourite teacher but there are lots of amazing spiritual teachers on this app that help to remind me that I am human and that the pain I feel so deeply is part of my growth as a human being. Astrid Brinck also has some beautiful guided meditations that help remind me of my connection and get bak in touch with my soul and Destiny Marie Love has a beautiful poem called ‘When triggers arise’ which is definitely worth listening to.
I love the work of Khalil Gibran and Rumi’s poetry.
In terms of music, I love Trevor Hall, especially the song ‘You can’t rush your healing’ and Xavier Rudd, ‘Follow the Sun’ and ‘Bundagen.’
People who have influenced you:
I have been inspired by Uncle Bob Randall who is amazing Aboriginal Leader (you can find his talks on u-tube), Deepak Chopra, Rebecca Campbell who writes about unleashing the wild woman within, Brene Brown’s work on shame, Nelson and David Richo who changed the way I related to my shadow side to name a few.
Some written words:
Letter to myself
I understand your sadness
And how you’ve locked yourself away
But you no longer need to be alone
Not tomorrow, nor today
I promise to treat you tenderly
To hold you when you’re scared
To give you all the love you need
Make sure that you feel heard
I’ll be there in your darkest hours
And never leave your side
I promise that from this time on
You’ll never have to hide
I’ll give you everything my dear
I’ll understand your pain
For you are worthy of my love
I won’t let you down again
Rebecca Garnett 2nd February 2017
‘I don’t know what it’s like to not have deep emotions, even when I feel nothing, I feel it completely.’ AR Asher
‘We are all learning how to work in kindness and compassion with ourselves during the ragged, tender moments when life catches us off guard and brings us to our knees.’ Jessica Schaffer
‘Your pain is the breaking of your shell that encloses your understanding’ Khalil Gibran
A life advice:
The light can’t exist without the shadows….darknesss and light are part of one another.. Love yourself in the dark corridors of your being, when you are down, you deserve more love …. not less. In the darkness you are being taught how to love …. Give yourself permission to be in all the places you are’ Sarah Blondin
In your own words:
Believe in yourself, you are more than ok just as you are. Learn to see your emotional intensity as a gift but guard it wisely. You have so much to give but there are many people who will not understand you or who will feel threatened by you. Avoid giving of yourself to those that don’t nourish you emotionally and spiritually and help you grow; they will deplete your energy. Surround yourself with people who can nurture your sensitive soul.
Anonymous, 46, UK; Landscape artist
‘AS A EMOTIONALLY SENSITIVE AND INTENSE SOUL YOU DESERVE A HUGE SIZED PIECE OF LOVE. DON’T ACCEPT ANYTHING LESS THAN THE LOVE YOU GIVE.’
Who are you
I am 46. I have lived, studied and worked in London, Oxford and Bath.
I am a contemporary landscape artist where I paint, draw and sculpt as part of my practice my path hasn’t been a straight forward or easy one. I also teach art. My passion is Fine Art Painting/Sculpture but also love anything creative. I love music especially Jazz.. I love contemporary dance, reading and poetry and cooking etc. I adore animals and seems to have a special connection with them. I love walking and could walk for miles. I feel intensely when I am standing in the middle of a great art exhibition or listing to music. Nature also moves me especially the elements. I love walking in the rain with my beautiful dog. I love walking by a wild sea.
What matters to me: I have strong concerns about social injustice, those with disabilities and animal welfare. I have strong values about how people should treat each other. I am emotionally intense, highly sensitive, highly creative, consider myself kind and giving and extremely determined and passionate about causes. I love giving too, I am very understanding and compassionate. I naturally think the best of people,
I was a happy child up until I was 6 years. I have strong memories of happy days learning to ride my bike with gusto and determination. I remember wearing my red 1970s tracksuit and was proud to wear my swimming badges which were earned at my Saturday morning classes. I adored the movement of playing on the swing and remember the paddling pool vividly and of mum putting me on the blanket under the buddleia tree. I remember how the blanket smelt and the light shining through the foliage. I loved my formative years at playgroup where I was a prize winner in a county art competition. And at primary school, I had a lovely first teacher, where I remember adoring story-time at the end of the day. I’ve always loved learning and creating. I had pets and learnt early on that nurturing my pets and my cuddly toys gave me great joy. I had lots of friends, was a chatty, smiley, a happy child. I was a tomboy always playing outside, climbing trees and having gang meetings in the shed at the bottom of the garden. I have very strong visual and sensory memories of my childhood.
For many reasons which I won’t go into life got more difficult after that time. I have often felt lonely all through my adult years, crying has been central to my life I think because so many things have been overwhelming. However I don’t feel a lone cause I love people. I love life. There is so much to do, to achieve, to love. I discovered my abilities relatively early on in my teens but have felt for a long time that I have not reached my potential even at 46. My studies, learning and creating gives me great joy and feel this is my safe space. However I as an emotionally sensitive and intense person I have felt great guilt about enjoying my inner world and moving forward with my abilities.
Yes, it is extremely tough being sensitive and intense. It’s only been the last couple of years that I have been finding out more about neurodiversity and was first introduced to it when someone said that I was and empath. I read lots and from there I discovered Elaine Aron’s work in America. From there I found Imi who is giving my so much with her wonderful book.
Throughout my life I have met some lovely beautiful people and some of those have been the ones who have supported my sensitivity and creativity. There are others more often than not that have hurt and challenged me whether it be in work, family and partners. This consequently has been detrimental effect on my esteem and confidence. I have lost count on how many painful comments have been made over the years. I am not ashamed to say that I have had 2 episodes of reactive depression when life’s dealings has brought me to a very low ebb. I have always had great faith in human nature and have held on to the fact that love prevails but I also believe that you need to keep learning about yourself and to change some things so that you can become a stronger and more resilient person. I believe that love is the light of the world. You have to be courageous too.
I have recently had to accept the painful painful truth of when the person you love, your trusted partner attacks your very soul for being emotional, sensitive and passionate about life in all its shapes and forms. To regain strength I am now looking at myself more intensely than ever and analysing the relationship patterns I kept repeating. That’s where self esteem comes into it I think. You must believe you are beautiful, you must believe you deserve to be loved cause you do. I am embarking on a journey of learning to heal and love myself. Lots of work I know but I’m starting by surrounding myself with everything I love doing, being with lovely people and embarking on an inner spiritual journey. I have recently been to an introduction to meditation course which I am hoping to go further with.
I am realizing that as a emotionally sensitive and intense soul you deserve a huge sized piece of love. Don’t accept anything less than the love you give. Surround yourself with kind people. I think learning to love yourself will give you stability and the beautiful building block to be the best person you can be and shine through with your gifts. Putting yourself first (I don’t mean this in a selfish way) it will also help you make the right decisions in finding a supportive and loving partner. I am also learning a lot right now about boundaries and values and I think that’s this very important for sensitive souls.
Natural World, Earth Pilgrim DVD – Satish Kumar – A Spiritual Journey into the Landscape of Dartmoor with Satish Kumar (such a beautiful dvd)
Father Christopher Jamison – Finding Sanctuary: Monastic steps for Everyday Life
Elaine Aron – The Highly Sensitive Person
Ben Okri, Author – The Famished Road
Italo Calvino – Mr Palomar
Elizabeth Gilbert – Big Magic, Creative living beyond fear.
People who have influenced me:
I have meet many people on my journey who have influenced me but I am ultimately drawn to kind and talented people.
Through my work I am inspired by creativity especially artists whether it be painters,ceramicists , sculptors, poets, composers and writers. I am inspired by those people who have a voice and I use this as a guiding light however lonely I sometimes feel.
Some written words:
Be Strong, Be Bold, Be Brave, Be Kind. You are Beautiful.
Although it can be extremely tough being sensitive and emotionally intense keep loving the world and those beautiful things it holds and those beautiful things which are inside of you.
Ben Okri – Author
The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.
Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart bigger.
Magic becomes art when it has nothing to hide.
Don’t despair too much if you see beautiful things destroyed, if you see them perish. Because the best things are always growing in secret.
The higher the artist, the fewer the gestures. The fewer the tools, the greater the imagination. The greater the will, the greater the secret failure.
A life advice : My friend Martin once said to me, there is nothing wrong with you, all you need is stability. I have been searching for this for a long time but now I realise that this comment is so valuable in so many ways. Stability can be created by you. It will help if you have a supportive partner who helps with life’s ups and downs but ultimately stability can come from within. What you do, what you feel, your spiritual journey, the friends and people you chose to have around you all serve stability. At 46 I still have much to work on but I am figuring it out.
My words to you: Find things you love and find the things you love doing. Focus on you, work on everything you love doing. Study well whether its creative or academic, or both. I totally believe that education is your path to help strengthen you in the world. Don’t worry, be who you want to be. Write down your thoughts and feelings and get out there in the world, don’t shy away. Build a network of people around you who value you and your beautiful gifts and nature. Build on your gifts, we need them.
“I can see the trees and feel their life.”
My Name: Dana Ashley
Who am I: Georgia, USA
I enjoy being in nature, I love wild plants and animals.
I work at a bank but I am going to nursing school.
My children. The earth. Giving other people peace.
It has been very difficult and confusing at times and it has been very powerful and comforting at times. I have grown to embrace who I am and enjoy being different. It has made me strong.
Honestly nothing has helped me more than this website. It made me realize that this is real and I’m not a freak.
People who have influenced me:
I have an Aunt that I was very close to. She was different as well. She was a drug addict and ended up losing her life to liver cancer. In her last days I sat with her and she began to tell me about being different and how she could feel and see things and looked at me and told me she knew I had it too. It was a very rough time losing her but I decided I wasn’t going to try and make myself normal anymore.
Some written words that have resonated with me:
A sensitive soul, a heart of wild you grew up thinking you were a cursed child. Embrace your blessing it’s not a curse for you have been kissed by the universe. Author unknown
A life advice:
I realize know I’m lucky. I’m lucky because I can see it. I can see the trees and feel their life, I love wild animals and experiencing their energy. I know when someone needs me and I can help them no matter how I’m feeling. I have this whole world living inside of me that is so complex. I don’t share this with many people. I feel like it’s my secret super power.
My words to you:
You will find your way but you have to first realize you aren’t a freak. Far from it. You are special. A warrior. Different from the rest. You were chosen this path for a reason. The sooner you accept it the more good you will spread in this cold world.
DIANN, 62, Los Angeles, Coach and Speaker
‘it is simply who and what I am – a seeker, a life long learner, someone who needs to be stimulated and challenged to keep climbing the mountain.
I really can’t stop. And I don’t want to.’
My Name: Diann Wingert
Who am I:
I am a 62 year old Caucasian woman who lives in a Los Angeles suburb. I have lived all over LA, but have yet to leave for good. That being said, I finally began traveling in my 40s and have now explored India, Mongolia, Myanmar, Brazil, Chile, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain, Italy, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and a number of US states, including Alaska (my most recent trip). I have changed careers several times – starting out in the fitness industry, then medical sales, became a social worker, then a psychotherapist, neurofeedback practitioner and now I am a coach and speaker. My next reinvention will be adding published author to the mix. What is most important to me is continuous personal evolution, growth, change and expansion. It has taken me this long to finally embrace that it is simply who and what I am – a seeker, a life long learner, someone who needs to be stimulated and challenged to keep climbing the mountain. I really can’t stop. And I don’t want to.
I have known that I was different from a very early age, but it took me decades to fully understand the nature and the extent of these differences. I was identified as gifted in the 4th grade and many years later, found to be ADHD as well. My intuitive awareness combined with my intellectual abilities and communication style ( direct, insightful, introspective and extremely articulate ) has made me the subject of considerable misunderstanding my entire life. Comments from school teachers as far back as the second grade still ring in my ears. For many years I felt hurt by being told I was “intimidating” or”threatening”. It made no sense to me that directness, honesty, intelligence and humor would make me an outcast. I connect with people very easily, but as the years have gone by, I have started to retreat. I am tired of outgrowing people and needing to move on without them or suffer the intolerable Death by Boredom. Only another gifted person would understand that admitting that doesn’t make me antisocial or narcissistic.
Because I have taken the entrepreneurial path, I am inspired by the work of Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell and James Altucher. They are brilliant, humble and generous in sharing what they have learned. There are too many creatives to count as influencers, but a movie I saw recently that delighted me was “The Shape of Water.” Not only was it a visual feast, but it very creatively shared the experience of isolation as a result of being different that others and how powerful it is when you find someone who understands.
People who have influenced me:
Most of my influencers have been authors, because I have never found the real life mentors that I was seeking. In all honesty, I didn’t even know what I needed until recently when I “came out” as twice exceptional (gifted & ADHD) and stopped looking for heroes in all the wrong places. My greatest regret in life is that I wasted so much of it trying to be “normal” and convince myself to live on what satisfied others. I now think of this as emotional anorexia. I denied my intellectual, emotional and physical intensities and forced myself to make do with who and what was around me. Naturally this lead to episodes of existential (and sometimes clinical ) depression over time. I choose to believe it is never too late to discover who you really are and to find others who are like you. As a Baby Boomer, I may not be very tech savvy, but I am incredibly grateful to be living in the digital age. My chances of finding my tribe have never been better.
Some written words:
The most impactful quote for me is captured in the Serenity Prayer. I was a Christian believer for about twenty years and eventually became Buddhist, but the wisdom contained in these words is the best manifesto for daily living I know: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change those I can and the wisdom to know the difference. I now repeat a secular version of it to myself as a daily mantra.
A life advice: It is never too late to have a happy childhood.
Whether you believe you can or you believe you can’t, you are right.
The prison door can only be opened from the inside.
In your own words:
Accept and embrace your uniqueness. Craft, create and curate a life that respects your gifts. Protect your sensitivities and honor your vulnerabilities. The world will not understand you, but you must understand yourself. Never apologize for who you are, never seek permission or approval to be you. They cannot and will not give it to you. You are here for a reason. You are not broken. And you are not alone.
My Offering to you:
I am currently coaching creatives and entrepreneurs who struggle to fully express their brilliance. Many of them have ADHD challenges ( procrastination, perfectionism, people pleasing, distractibility, disorganization, etc). I am passionate about helping others release their gifts into the world and fulfill their true potential.
EFFIE, 40, Toronto; high school teacher
‘there are no rules, go your own way.’
My Name: Effie Chan
Who am I:
I am from Toronto, Canada. I am 40 years old. I was born in Canada, but my parents are from Indonesia. They traveled much before i was born and lived in many asian countries, hence they speak Indonesian, Cantonese and Mandarin. Being born here, i speak English firstly and broken Cantonese. I am a mother of two children aged 8 (boy) and 10 (girl). I am in a heterosexual marriage with my husband but I am also bisexual with a girlfriend whom I have found to be my twin flame. All parties are aware of each other as i have been blessed with partners whom are beautifully open and expansive minded.
I have been a high school teacher for 17 years: 15 years teaching math and the past 2 years and currently teaching health and physical education. I enjoy teaching young people, but as with most jobs i have good days and bad days. In recent years as i have reflected more upon my abilities and challenges in this profession, i have come to understand that i am an INFJ HSP empath:) Yes, all of that. As you may understand, being in a profession where I am constantly immersed in the swirling energies of others can deplete me and cause those ‘bad days’ that drain me. I have recently been trying to protect myself and give myself that downtime and withdraw from people when I get a chance to. This recharges me (to be certain) but somehow i’m still missing something in the equation as I have found these windows of solitude to be helpful but not enough. Band-aids help, but I know there are other more effective ways to heal. I’m on a path to seek those ways.
A huge part of who I am is my fighter self. I have competed in muay thai fighting on the amateur level. I have been doing this for 7 years, competing for the last 4 years. I have taken a year off from the competition due to a traumatic incident that happened to me last year that has required that I put my fragile and sensitive mental health first. I am still active in training, but due to this big event that happened, i feel like I’m starting back at square one and re-learning about the new me in this sport that I love and excel in. This sport was my salvation when i experienced some heavy relationship issues, but it too has had it’s depleting moments. Once again, fighting in front of hundreds of people can do something to an INFJ HSP empath…something I’m working towards wrt to reconciling my nature with my passion.
Aside from athletics, i am also an artist. I draw and paint. I see images and visions easily, especially after heightened emotional moments spent with my amazing girlfriend, whom is also an INFJ HSP empath. Because of who I am these visions have been both beautiful and bright, as well as terrifying and depressing.
What matters to me is living an authentic life: to do what i feel my gifts in this life are. I believe I am meant to connect others to their respective strengths of which they may not see (a teacher is a very fitting profession for this), but also to live what my heart desires despite what others think and say. It matters to me very much to a be light in this world, both for myself and others. It matters to me to be true to who you are.
I have a few experiences i’d like to share. I will start with a personal statement, a very honest, non-second guessed, response followed by something brief to clarify.
1) I’ve felt very alone.
I’ve been called a cry baby growing up because I was hurt easily by comments made to me which were not intended to hurt but merely to correct. My grade 1 teacher telling my corner to simply shhhhh was enough to send me to tears. Growing up, I often wondered to myself ‘what the heck is wrong with me? why do I cry about everything? No one else does.’
2) I have felt like I don’t belong here, that there’s something wrong with me.
Feeling alienated and isolated, I always felt i was..’off’ and that i have some genetic mistakes in me but will keep quiet about it bc I’m ashamed of my weakness. I have felt like i’m intellectually slower than others because others focused on the content and I was hung up on the feeings.
3) I have found solace in doing activities that involve just me. I’ve always gravitated towards sports that are individual (badminton, cycling, rock climbing, fighting, etc). I have found my home in being alone, going inward and getting to know my Higher Self.
4) I have hated myself.
I have had much self loathing because I have been so easily effected by life events, causing me to get pulled into a negative vortex/energy, while others are immune to it (it seems). I end up feeling a lot of pain and hurt, not always mine, but I tend to get sucked in easily while others move on. I often hate that i am so swayable.
5) I have seen my sensitive nature as a strength for connecting with my students.
Despite what i said in 4), I do recognize that my sensitive nature can be a strength as i can understand my students well and connect superbly with them.
6) It has been tiring.
Many times i just want to turn myself off and stop being so aware of all the energies around me. I’m currently working on trying to find ways of managing my wave of emotions which can be threatening and very negatively powerful.
My inspirations: Books on trauma. Books on resilience. Books on stones and crystals, meditation and mindfulness.
People who have influenced me:
Buddhism. Eckart Tolle, Wayne Dyer, Esther Hicks and other people of the like. My own intuition though, has been the best guide. I have truly listened to my heart in order to make it so far:) Sometimes things get muddled in there, and when they do i tend to turn to meditation, my Higher Self and Buddhism to help me find a way out. Recently I have been blessed and lucky enough to find my kindred soul spirit, so my dear girlfriend Leila has been a huge salvation in my many dark moments.
Some written words that have resonated with me:
Words that have resonated with me from various sources…
go your own way
its okay to withdraw
you are right, too
don’t give a fuck about others
there are no rules
The best life advice that I have been given, read, heard, or internalised: there are no rules, go your own way
What would I say to a young emotionally intense person who is finding their way in the world:
choose to stay
go your own way
…a few words among many others i’d say (both to myself and others)
My Offerings to you: Three paintings from my Chakra series:
Fee, 33, Milton Keyes; Clinical Researcher
‘I find I am either in rapture or despair. If I’m ever somewhere in between, it hardly registers in my nervous system.
I can see all points of view, yet at some point I have to choose where I stand, knowing I’ll antagonise someone.’
My Name: Fee
Who am I:
I am 33. I live in the UK. From Gloucestershire originally, now living in Milton Keynes.
I work for the National Health Service, helping to establish clinical research opportunities for patients across various therapeutic areas. This work means a lot to me. I’ve always worked in a research environment. Research is how we develop best practice and answer the unknown. I work for a wonderful team and find meaning in helping to present patients with opportunities to access new treatments, and helping researchers answer important questions about best treatments and patient quality of life.
The search for new knowledge drives me in all aspects of my life. I want to know something about everything. I think this has been partly driven by feeling like I need to keep my needs and feelings dampened and concealed – if I couldn’t expand my heart and soul, at least I could expand my mind.
I worked as a scientist for many years, completing a Masters degree and PhD in geochemistry. Science was dependable, something concrete to grasp and believe it. My pursuit of pure knowledge has softened over the years, with a greater concern as to how knowledge can help others, rather than seeking it for the sake of knowing. I lost a few years in the latter frame of mind, and it left me with a distinct sense of unease and something wanting. It took my a while to know myself enough to realise what the problem was. Discovering that I am an INFJ helped a lot with this, but the main driver was being in the wrong environment for too long. With new self-knowledge, change became inevitable.
I find I am either in rapture or despair. If I’m ever somewhere in between, it hardly registers in my nervous system. I’ve always struggled with my memories of events, and I wonder if this is why.
I’m always on the fence. I can see everything from every perspective. This sometimes makes it hard to know what my true values are, hampered by having no belief in myself and my abilities. I am a people pleaser, never wanting to upset or offend anyone, and this makes seeing every angle really difficult – I can see all points of view, yet at some point I have to choose where I stand, knowing I’ll antagonise someone.
Because of the above, I’ve always been frustrated by small mindedness, and people who just go with what’s established and seem to lack empathy. I was confronted with sexist attitudes while at a college open day, when I expressed my desire to consider astronomy as a degree option. It was met with a sneering face and a drawling “Why?”. This memory (and that look in particular) sticks with me. “Why?” I think, “Why the hell not?!” I don’t understand people who express anything other than “Wow, good for you!” in response to someone expressing their hopes and dreams and aspirations. Those kind of negative responses shake me deeply, more so for having lacked the courage to speak out against them for a long time. I like to think I would now.
When I was a child I was scared of a lot of things that seemed strange. I had many phobias. I knew it was unusual to react in fearful ways to these things and I was always curious as to why. Such fears were usually met with ridicule, derision, bafflement. I was left frustrated because I knew there must be a reason for my fears – my brain was made of the same stuff as others’ brains, surely – but I was consumed with feelings of inadequacy, and had no one to explore these fears with.
I’ve experienced chronic emptiness and an urgency, like there’s something I should be doing but I don’t know what, for so many years. I’ve realised this has resulted from ignoring my core, or my true self, and focusing on the outer skin that says “I can look after myself. I don’t need anyone or anything”. Through therapy I have been learning about my unmet needs and, most importantly, learning that it’s okay to have needs, no matter where they originate or what triggers them; viewing my need as neither good or bad, but simply as my needs. Going through this process has led me back to creative pursuits I enjoyed as a child – playing music, drawing and writing. With these things, I suddenly feel full.
The emptiness can still appear at times when I’m ignoring my needs, leading me to act impulsively to feel better, leading me to try and satisfy those needs in the wrong ways, while my conscious, “self-aware” and “knowledgeable” mind is criticising me for my actions. To confront this, I imagine myself trying to merge my inner and outer selves – the inner, true, spontaneous self with the one who feel inadequate and has therefore abandoned the true self. While I was in a very low place last year, I would often imagine I could see another me, split off from me, usually walking a way ahead of me. As I began to heal, she would walk alongside me, and occasionally merge into me, with time becoming more teasing and playful. Eventually, we became friends and merged completely. While I am full, I cannot imagine I see her at all, no matter how hard I try.
I form attachments to things easily. I used to call them obsessions. They still happen occasionally, but have diminished in frequency and intensity over time. I wonder now if they resulted to fill in the empty feeling. The attachments could be anything – a person, a place, a book, film, characters, any topic. The object of my attachment would be all-consuming. I’d want to know everything about it, and show to everyone that it was the most important thing in the world to me.
Attachments to fictional things or places have usually be pleasurable and inspired creativity. Attachments to people have been more difficult to bear. Usually starting as pleasant for both, and inspiring creativity, then ending in disappointment and heartache. I can recall a few people in my life whom I have developed a strong attachment to and sense of connection with, but these friendships have never lasted. The most recent was the most devastating to me, and has led me to my lowest point, and what I hope will be my highest – and the search for healing led me here, for which I am incredibly grateful.
I have a keen sense of awareness about where people are physically in relation to me. It’s hard to ignore. So much so that I find myself exhausted by moving around others all the time, but it’s hard not to. I also know what people are going to say before they say it – when they are talking I feel like I’m a few steps ahead of them and can start to feel impatient. I also become easily frustrated in meetings when it seems that everyone must have their say for the sake of saying something, and the meeting lasts an hour when it could have been done in half that time.
I look for meaning in everything. The realisation that we decide the meaning of things has been both a blessing and a curse. I can choose, and yet what’s the point? Everything is so beautiful, yet it’s all in the process of decaying. These types of thoughts accompany me wherever I go. Everything seems beautiful and sad. The pain of this is both enthralling/inspiring, and devastating/crushing.
My mind feels like a constant stream of images, thoughts, and imagined conversations. It is never still.
The most important point I would like to get across is that, until very recently, everything I have mentioned above I saw only in a negative light. I could not appreciate a single thing about any of it. It was all evidence of me being odd or defective in some way. For example, even being interested in a lot of things or being able to see things from other points of view, I took to mean that I must be fickle and weak. Now, I try and see this as a positive thing – I am curious and empathic.
With access to incredible resources like this website, books, and therapy, I have been able to slowly change my perspective, gradually let certain aspects of myself become free, and (most incredibly) observe those aspects and feel admiration and even pride for them.
Nature is my main resource. It allows a connection, a true connection, which is what I have always been searching for. The connection is as much with myself as with the universe, as I come to truly love myself for the pleasure I find there, pleased that I am who I am in that moment. Being in nature has been the easiest way for me to be me.
Music in combination with nature is most powerful. I can listen to music to match my mood, or counteract my mood with the opposite music. I currently enjoy listening to the album “Sleep” by Max Richter. 8 hours long and composed to accompany a full night’s sleep, it has the ability to lull my mind as I walk, so that I can be completely present with whatever I’m feeling.
It’s rare for me to go on a walk and not cry at some point.
I also find a lot of comfort in books. Sometimes while at work I get so excited at thoughts of the book I will read that evening.
Some of the books/authors I have found most inspiring and helpful:
Imi Lo – “Emotional Sensitivity and Intensity”, and eggshelltherapy.com
Irvin D. Yalom
Alain de Botton
Sheldon Soloman et al., – “The Worm At The Core”
Daniel Goleman – “Emotional Intelligence”.
James Hollis – “Living an Examined Life”
Elaine Aron – “The Highly Sensitive Person”
Lisa A. Romano – “The Road Back to Me”
Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga – “The Courage To Be Disliked”.
Eckhart Tolle – “The Power of Now”.
M. Scott Peck – “The Road Less Travelled”
Alice Miller – “The Drama of Being a Child”
Lena Andersson – “Wilful Disregard”
Rachel Reiland – “Get Me Out Of Here: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder”.
Marcus Aurelis – “Meditations”.
Derren Brown: Happy
Paul Kalanithi – “When Breath Becomes Air”.
Atul Gawande – “Being Mortal”.
Miriam Toews – “All My Puny Sorrows”.
Philip Pullman – “His Dark Materials”.
Stephen Grosz – “The Examine Life”.
Due to my near-lifelong dislike of having feelings, I’ve always been particularly captivated by art that shows people experience or succumbing to emotions. The painting ‘Beata Beatrix’ by Dante Gabriel Rossetti is one such painting. It reminds me that emotions can both inspire beauty and be interpreted at beautiful, and not met with disdain by all.
It has been so wonderful to discover Imi and her work, and to read everyone’s stories on here. So lonely I have felt that, once I discovered this ‘Tell Your Story’ project and read them all, I couldn’t wait to contribute my own. How wonderful to have so much in common with so many people! I hope that my writing can contribute to this body of comfort.
People who have influenced me:
I’ve always been inspired by females who exhibit strong will, determination, courage, and humility.
One fictional role model of mine since I was a child is Lyra Belacqua from the ‘His Dark Materials’ Trilogy by Philip Pullman. Not only is Lyra incredibly strong when it comes to difficult decisions, she is also assertive and completely herself. From the beginning you know she knows her values and what she stands for, and she doesn’t waver. On reflection it seems I may have been drawn to her strong sense of self as much as the adventure on which she finds herself.
Some written words:
A stanza from the poem ‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage’, by Lord Byron (particularly the final 2 lines):
“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar;
I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.”
“How often does nature thus become an involuntary interpreter between us and our feelings!” – Melmoth the Wanderer, by Charles Maturin.
I would like to share something I wrote while in the grips of an attachment to someone; something I said to him; something I was trying to work towards. “Freedom, for me, is knowing that I can feel my feelings and not become a slave to them. I choose how I act, so I am free. There’s strength in that I think, and freedom to do anything.”
A life advice:
“Our life begins twice: the day we are born and the day we accept the radical existential fact that our life, for all its delimiting factors, is essentially ours to choose” – James Hollis, “Living An Examined Life”.
“Something within us always knows and always registers its opinion” – James Hollis, Living an Examined Life.
In your my words:
The most important thing that has happened to be over the last 12 months is that I’ve become my own friend. It has taken a lot of help and perseverance to find the courage to begin exposing elements of my true self (I also had to rediscover them first), but becoming reacquainted with them and learning to love them has led me to feel less alone.
Be who you are. Don’t debate and intellectualise the reasons why you feel certain things and relate in certain ways. Don’t judge yourself for your needs. Just explore them. Accept them, no matter where they originated. Acceptance exposes the impact of repressed feelings on your actions, reducing their power, allowing you to show up in the world in the present, and to new opportunities.
That you don’t want to just fit in for the sake of it will eventually be seen as your strength rather than stubbornness or rebellion or indifference. Becoming your own best friend provides wonderful company.
flamingflower, wa, military female
‘in the end acceptance of positive and negative energies is inevitable.’
Who am I:
US military female in WA USA .
What matters most to me is finding my Authentic Self.
I enjoy martial arts.
For me being positively sensitive ias a good thing versus negatively sensitive to negative feelings is not.Perhaps in the journey of finding Authentic Self yin/yang works as a mirror to self. But in the end acceptance of positive and negative energies is inevitable.
My inspirations: History books and holy bible.
People who have influenced me: My Sensei in martial arts…and my dad whom I lost in 2017…but His love goes beyond the grave.
A life advice:
“It all starts w/ a thought or intent which when mixed with emotion becomes a powerful creative force.”
-Excerpt from Explore Meditation.
My words to you :
Accept who you are and work your way into building your true authentic self.
Ian, 34, England
‘I wish to love, care for and support people around me, but keep finding that social norms only permit men to love and care for their romantic partners and their children.’
My Name: Ian
Who am I:
I am a 34 year old who has lived in various parts of England. My main ambitions are to have a positive impact on the world, loving and caring for and supporting people around me, and hopefully making innovative contributions of some kind to the wider world, making good use of my combination of intelligence, intensity and sensitivity.
I had quite a positive childhood, but it has been difficult since adolescence, as these traits have often been perceived as emotionally immature, in a society which expects men to keep a stiff upper lip, even to the point of being treated as a discipline issue. I am very used to the message that my feelings and perceptions are questionable, that apart from the way I see things, everything is fine.
I have always thrived within emotionally deep friendships, preferably relying on several people for emotional depth and intimacy rather than just one, but have always felt “up against it” in a society that expects men to depend on a romantic partner for all types of intimacy and stigmatises emotional bonding and intimacy in men’s friendships (with both men and women). Similarly, I wish to love, care for and support people around me, but keep finding that social norms only permit men to love and care for their romantic partners and their children. Forming strong emotional connections with friends, only for these connections to be invalidated by people around me, is often very hard. As I have never aspired to be a “family man”, preferring to focus on contributing to wider communities, I often get a sense of there being no place for me in this society.
On the other hand, it feels very satisfying on the occasions that I do form deep connections with people and get opportunities to support them and enrich their lives, and I find it rewarding to express them through a range of creative outlets including writing and listening to music.
Various online sources of information on giftedness, sensory processing sensitivity and emotional intensity have been helpful, including several of the articles on this site. The 2002 film Equilibrium also sticks out due to its subject matter, with its portrayal of a very emotion-phobic society where people who felt emotions were executed as “Sense Offenders”.
People who have influenced me:
Mahatma Gandhi (social reformer) and Albert Einstein (scientific innovator) are two that particularly stick out, as I can strongly relate to a lot of their traits and their struggles, and they went on to have a large positive impact on the wider world. The observation that these traits can contribute positively towards both scientific advances and social reform is very empowering.
Motorsport’s Jean Alesi (referred to as “the mercurial French-Sicilian” by commentator Murray Walker) had a large impact in my childhood due to his struggles with being a very openly emotional man operating within a sport increasingly dominated by “stiff upper lip professionalism”, and the positive recognition he got as one of the sport’s big characters even though he only won one Grand Prix.
Some written words:
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man” – George Bernard Shaw.
“When you grow up you, tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world, try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader, once you discover one simple fact, and that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.” – Steve Jobs
“Although I am a typical loner in daily life, my consciousness of belonging to the invisible community of those who strive for truth, beauty, and justice has preserved me from feeling isolated.” – Albert Einstein