“Stories from People” is a meaningful project that involves gathering stories from people who navigate the depths of emotional intensity across the globe.
The response to this endeavor has been overwhelming, and I find myself deeply touched by the generosity you’ve shown in sharing your experiences. Your willingness to embrace vulnerability, the profound emotions conveyed in your stories, and the eloquence of your words have left a lasting impact on me.
I sincerely hope that as you explore the collection of narratives and recommendations from fellow travelers on this platform, you will discover moments of resonance and find encouragement along your own journey through life.
Anonymous, 56, wisconsin; homemaker
‘I have deep need for truth yet liers seem to be drawn to me like a challenge.’
Who am I:
I spent my longest time in Wisconsin, USA. Moved around as a child a lot within it and spent part of my childhood in Georgia USA. I am currently 36. I enjoy deep conversation with people who reflect on things, observe themselves and others and enjoy dry observational humour. I have work meany jobs. Couldn’t manage to make one fit, always excelled but my unstable relationships always hampered my career goals. Currently i am homemaker with my toddler. Relationships matter most to me aside from my faith. Odd because i my distaste for disingenuous people keeps me to my small circle but we would do anything for eachother and i like that. I think the life experience is to constantly grow and evolve but disheartening most people do not see it that way.
It has been lonely. I get sucked into abusive relationships with my tendency to see good, want to care for and my interesting perspective that easily solve others problems when they need me but leave me hated and socially awkward when they don’t care for what i have to say. A few other odd ducks have joined my pond… They love my insights and strength and for my best decade long friendships words cannot express what that mean to ground me. I accept them however they evolve and they accept me. I have deep need for truth yet liers seem to be drawn to me like a challenge. Break the loving honest girl… Like that would be hard… But I’m still breathing so i guess they failed after all.
“I killed him not for he was an evil man but for he was ambitious”... Something like that from Julius Caesar.
Eggshell therapies. To find a community that knows how i feel makes me feel far less alone. I sometimes really feel like no one will ever get me or even care to ask… Everyone is selfish and i am alone almost incapable of selfishness. Feeling far too much all the time…
I use to read about Borderline Personality Disorder but as i stabled out i no longer fit the criteria. I complained right from beginning no ever addressed WHY borderline do what that do… No books on THAT at the time. Just things there didn’t scare me but sure freaked my loved ones who believed i do whatever book said i might. The label started and no escape… I liked the identity it brought but still didn’t fit because i believed my actions still my choices be it good or bad. Highly sensitive person changed shame into pride… Though somehow i still found pride in BPD… It was not well… Embraced. I didn’t judge people very harshly and somehow expected the same… Bet you guessed how that turned out. So… Don’t take BPD books too seriously. Very helpful. But don’t wet yourself over them… You are always you. Not what someone says you are.
That 21 personality test… That was enlightening and cool. Think its 21…big shocker im INFJ
People who have influenced me:
My parents, my faith, Jesus main historical figure i can think of…. On negative side my relationships and my parents at times.
Some words of resonance:
“I killed him not for he was an evil man but for he was ambitious”… Something like that from Julius Caesar.
“Truth, what is truth” by Pontius pilot
“All things in Christ are new creation”… I liken the Phoenix with this… You can start as many times as you need to… Dust off and fly again
A life advice: For an emotional intense person… Don’t stop thinking… You can’t. Its ok… Embrace it. You are amazing, not flawed.
My words to you:
Find your niche and don’t stop looking. If you found eggshells… You are doing great already. Don’t let yourself fry out, enjoy quiet… Its ok. And don’t give up on humanity when you want to and hobbit hole away... Good people are out there. People watch though, the first to approach are not the good ones generally. Always be true to your convictions, at end of day it is yourself you have to live with and most people don’t understand that. Fair is not fair but lowering yourself to other people’s cruelty makes for a hard life for us. What you thought impacted them probably didn’t but you will live with always, just make sure its worth that.
An Inspired and Grateful One, England, therapist
‘Check out the wisdom of others but ultimately listen to your instincts.’
My Name: An Inspired and Grateful One
Who am 1:
After the war my extremely courageous beloved mother travelled from Hamburg to England on a quest to be a nurse where she met my handsome father at an army camp, where they soon married and started their family, albeit I was born 12 yrs later than my elder sister. We couldn’t have been more different characters, forming polar opposite relationships with our parents and that rivalry and those life perspectives forced us apart, never to be reconciled sadly. With no family left in my life I often feel abandoned like an orphan, and wish for the security, recognition and warmth from a lively family life. Meaningful friends are few and far away and my closest loves have been my horses and especially my dogs for years, although the distress of loss is inevitable it’s painful and too familiar.
Betrayal from my husband crushed the world I knew leaving me protective and wary and my mid life years and future feels threatened and uncertain which shouldn’t be happening at my 55 years.
My 20 year old son’s possible Attention Deficit/Avoidance Disorder causes turmoil. He thrives on chaos and I struggle with our polar perspectives and attitudes. I grieve for the loving relationship I’ve never received as a mother although I gave birth to a son who doesn’t recognise I’m alive. That sounds like I’m a submissive, but although I withdraw to keep myself safe sometimes, I’m generally active, involved and have gusto about life.
I found what seems to be a rewarding career for myself when my fascination for CBT and NLP became my bedtime reading and within a year I had started a Counselling Degree way out of my depth academically, but here I am 5 years later with a busy Private Practice and a Therapy Centre business. My dad would be so proud it would bring tears to his eyes and knowing that makes me feel lucky and special.
So often lonely where no other has such deep layers of meaning and care, which feels painful and a sense of hopelessness in an unbearable and cruel uncaring world. Where others are treated as unimportant and disposable, especially defenceless animals and the destruction of our planet for human greed and selfishness.
The Road Less Travelled
Ivine Yalom Therapy books
Everything counselling but especially the inspirational and meaningful works of Imi which influences my work with my emotionally intense clients!
People who have influenced me:
My Father was my hero, a wise, gentle, sensitive, emotional man. Generous with his smile and kindness. His sensitivity may have been his downfall of the personal success that he yearned which saddened me but drives me towards believing in myself and nurturing a can-do attitude.
Some written words:
the Poem I used to read as a child with my dad out of a little red book of Poems. How I wish I had that book still, where did it go.
The Old Brown Horse
The old brown horse looks over the fence
In a weary sort of way.
He seems to be saying to all who pass:
“W ell, folks, I’ve had my day-
I’m simply watching the world go by,
And nobody seems to mind,
As they’re dashing past in their motor-cars,
A horse who is lame and half-blind.”
The old brown horse has a shaggy coat,
But once he was young and trim,
And he used to trot through the woods and lanes
With the man who was fond of him.
But his master rides in a motor-car,
And it makes him feel quite sad
When he thinks of the days that used to be,
And of all the times they had.
Sometimes a friendly soul will stop
Near the fence, where the tired old head
Rests wearily on the topmost bar,
And a friendly word is said.
Then the old brown horse gives a little sigh
As he feels the kindly touch
Of a hand on his mane or his shaggy coat,
And he doesn’t mind so much.
So if you pass by the field one day,
Just stop for a word or two
With the old brown horse who was once as young
And as full of life as you.
He’ll love the touch of your soft young hand,
And I know he’ll seem to say
“Oh, thank you, friend, for the kindly thought
For a horse who has had his day.”
By W. F. Holmes
A life advice:
Be kind and curious rather than judgemental of others – I am often touched and surprised. There are remarkable people out there that can be overlooked and everyone can touch our lives. There’s always something to be grateful for. Make someone’s day and it will enhance yours.
In your own words:
Seek others that get you and enrich your life and your true self will thrive. Check out the wisdom of others but ultimately listen to your instincts which will guide you where you will need to go.
Ian, 49, The midlands (UK), police officer
‘Without realising it, I grew to be insular, withdrawn, quiet and worst of all a wall flower or non entity who was completely disassociated from my emotions.’
My Name: Ian
Who am I:
Where do I live?
I live in the northern part of the Midlands in the UK.
How old am I?
I am 49 years old.
What has been my geographical footprint?
I was born in Africa – my parents were working there but when I came along they returned home to the UK. I am an only child and we initially settled in a different part of the UK but after about 9 years and due to my Dad’s work we moved to the Midlands and then I moved to and remained in the further northern part of the Midlands as an adult.
What do I most enjoy doing?
I really enjoy spending time with my partner and her doggie – they are the best thing that has happened to me. I also like solitude, but not too much and time to reflect and just be. I love the moment when I centre and just appreciate the natural wonder and beauty of something.
What do I do for a living?
I am a Police Officer and have been for over 20 years – most of which I have been very lucky to have served as a Detective. I left school at 16 years of age and wandered into the Police Cadets – my girlfriend at the time was going to apply, so I did (I was so easily led!). I then became a Police Officer at 19 years of age (my goodness I was SO not ready for this!) and resigned two years later. I spent a few years doing administration, finance and IT in the NHS, then re-joined the Police in the mid 1990’s.
What matters to me?
Genuine people. My partner is very genuine, grounded and most importantly gets me.
I care deeply about what I do, (most people say too much), the impact it has on fellow human being’s lives and the people (yes all of them!) I meet through work.
The realisation in later life that I’m not reasonably intelligent because of what I know, but because I frequently question what I mistakenly think I know.
When I was a child, I did not have a luxurious lifestyle, but never went hungry and always got presents for my birthday or Christmas. What was missing was emotional and physical contact – love and a cuddle. Without realising it, I grew to be insular, withdrawn, quiet and worst of all a wall flower or non entity who was completely disassociated from my emotions. My Dad was completely emotionally remote and Mum was an expert at completely emotionally dominating me, leading to develop the ‘skill’ of burying my emotions and feelings deep down.
The only real emotional connection that I had was with my Grandma but she lived so far away, I only to see her once or twice a year. When I was eight she passed away and this left a huge hole in my life and as I see now, I continued for a long time to grieve for her loss.
My saving grace was that I had a circle of pals where I lived, but then when we moved I lost all my friends and was not understood or accepted. I became further isolated and withdrew into my own world. Looking back I didn’t really fit in anywhere and people saw me as strange and also some couldn’t make their mind up if I was a boy or a girl. (A girl once approached me and actually asked which gender I was).
My life up to the age of 16 was basically lived internally and mostly in a dissociative place. However I also recall instances, from the age of about 7, where I would have quite extreme emotional outbursts. Even at this age my internal chemical production was surprisingly powerful. In the last six years of my education my strange ways led to bullying, falling in and out of friends with peers frequently and a real (then unrealised) sense of not fitting in – but also was prone to being a ‘little shit’ who could manipulate people and behave accordingly.
I left school with very little qualifications and somehow ended up being selected from over 2000 applicants as a Police Cadet in the 1980’s. I lived in a large house on the Police HQ site with other Cadets and during his year, my life was an emotional disaster for me. We were subjected to so called’ hazing’ by older cadets and I my personal boundaries were seriously breached on numerous occasions.
To cope I retreated to a dissociative place and unfortunately chose to act in an ever increasingly more masculine way to fit in and to try and find acceptance. I chose to adopt a more masculine identity to fit in, whereas the reality was that I was and am much more feminine in my outlook. I did not have the self knowledge to understand or the self esteem to accept and live this fundamental truth. In order to survive I made a bad choice. This meant that essentially I was rejecting my myself and my true nature and continue to do so everyday, until recently when I realised what I was doing.
I moved on to become a Police Constable and somehow managed get through training school, propped up by alcohol and a rapidly evolving ‘chameleon’ nature (more of this later). Throughout my two years as a Constable I was frequently challenged about my apparent lack of interest, how tired I looked all the time and whether I actually wanted to do ‘the job’. I really struggled, partly because my so called ‘tutor’ was not very good (again didn’t realise this at the time) but also I was so withdrawn, but still not see it.
I met my then wife and mother to my children. I was unfaithful to her, was not in love with her and came to realise that really she was an emotional parental figure and anchor that I so desperately needed when I met her in my late teens. That said we have produced great children and I am immensely proud of them.
In my early 20’s I realised that I need to earn more to contribute to our household and became even more obsessive and driven, working long hours to ‘prove myself’ and obtaining the education that I didn’t have.
Unfortunately they are not too proud of me because I left their mum after 20 years but by this time something had started to awake in me that I could not ignore any more. I was beginning to realise that I had spent near on 40 years building a life based on pleasing other people, addictive patterns to make myself feel better about this and was really struggling with the emotional aspects of my life. I was numb most of the time, but then would have very extreme emotional responses at home and work and just could not understand why.
I would sugarcoat this with my addictions and seemed to live/exist on a emotional permanent see-saw. I would experience real emotional highs but would also suffer the real lows and yes have been in the woods, in my car, with a knife ready for self harm and typed the goodbye note on my phone. (Note to Imi: haven’t felt this way in a long time now!).
At work I was obsessive (still occasionally am) and once I got my teeth into something, I poured everything I had into it. I now see that this was because I felt that I had something to prove from my period in the Cadets, as a regular Officer and because of my condition and past. Colleagues would (and sometimes still can) go for a whole shift without me speaking to them because I was so focussed on a particular thing. They find my ability to focus and concentrate unnerving. Generally speaking, if I could succeed in completing a balanced and fair investigation, then in my mind I was putting the world to rights. I now realise how naive this was and that I have to let go quite a bit and separate me from my work.
When I met my partner, my emotional life slowly began to change for the better. I reported historical events from my time as a Cadet, sought help from work and was referred to a Psychotherapist (Becky – fabulous lady and true professional) and my long mental health journey began. I was diagnosed with BPD, which came a shock but also not a shock when I thought about and reflected on my life over the years. Over the last three years I have slowly managed to find some ‘middle ground’ in my head and come to realise, that for me, this is exactly where my difficulties always were – in my head. Everyday I have to centre myself – sometimes numerous times a day at work and now understand my unconscious thinking patterns that lead to difficulties with my self-worth.
I spent my life rejecting myself, because that is what I picked from my parents and peers – alienation. I have also worked out that I do not have the so called normal emotional filters – I sense and actually feel other people’s emotions. Its like kryptonite to me – great for survival and professionally but as I don’t have a defence it like being a permanent wi-fi receptor, particularly with people in highly emotional states.
I was trapped between my low self esteem and sensing/experiencing other people’s emotional states and trying to manage them, because if they were calm then in my head I was accepted by them and more importantly not a target for them. Its a bit like, as Becky once commented, PTSD with people. I could never find an emotionally safe place for me and it is/was exhausting. But more and more so now, I can find my emotional ‘sweet spot’ with people and situations.
I also realised that I had become an emotional and social chameleon. I always did (and still do to a lesser extent professionally now) walk into a situation/room and take the emotional temperature of the people present and decide which personality trait/behaviours I would use to survive the situation. I can work people pretty quickly and regularly experience their emotions, which are usually contrary to what they are displaying. I see now that this was because of the emotional black hole that I created for myself when my Grandma passed on. On the upside I am extremely independent, open mind and have discovered that I am an intuitive intellectual (my own made up phrase but feels right).
One exercise that I competed with Becky was to look at a series of 80 personality archetypes. I had to select those that were ‘me’ and reject those that were not. I selected 56 that were ‘me’. According to Becky the ‘normal’ range of archetypes chosen was 10-15. My immediate comment was ‘How the f**k do I manage to carry all those around in my head?’ (Sorry for the language but I’m trying to convey the power of the realisation in that moment).
I made a conscious decision that I was not going to hide my diagnosis from colleagues, or most importantly from the people that I serve, which ever category they may ‘fit’ into. I can tell you that telling other people with so called personality disorders or significant mental health diagnosis’ was difficult at first and I felt emotionally ‘naked’ But do you know what – the barriers that I broke down were huge and the rapport and bonds I have made, with ‘victims’, ‘witnesses’ and ‘suspects’ alike were, are and will continue to be magnificent. When telling someone about my diagnosis it is great to watch their jaws drop and then feel the ‘whoosh’ of their emotional guards dropping!
I feel that I am in place where I am a much better Detective because I am different, see things differently and treat people differently.
I have just realised that I have blethered on here so much – if you have read this far then thanks for taking the time to read my story. This is probably the first time I have recorded it anywhere, other than speaking with my partner and my psychotherapist – to both of whom I owe an awful lot too.
I thought long and hard about this and stopped myself several times, because of my professional life. I now see that it is a valuable part of my recovery and development. Mainly though I wrote it because I want to be emotionally open and honest with you. Thanks again.
I have come to realise that movies, books, music and Imi’s wonderful ‘letters’ provide me with material to reflect upon and therefore learn more about myself, after my sessions with Becky concluded. Depending on my mood, I find the right piece of music can settle me down, allow me to focus on me and get me centred. I recently watched the movie ‘A Star is Born‘ and probably for the first time in my life was able to publicly wipe a tear or two from my eyes (well maybe a few more). Just imagine – me crying! It was so good and liberating! 🙂
The truth of my career is that I have been investigating myself whilst trying to help others. I have experienced and met so many different situations and people and realise just how useful these were/are to help me reflect on and understand myself, but also how fortunate I have been to meet the ‘nice’, ‘awkward’ or ‘middle of the road’ folks and how much of a privilege its been to meet them all and see/feel something of myself in them.
My other real inspiration is books (audio and written) concerning Zen, mental health and not surprisingly fictional crime related novels. When not having in depth conversations with my partner, or just sitting with her, my other form of ‘heaven’ is getting lost in a book. Books by Alan Watts about Zen and other eastern philosophies really light me up.
Finally, I get regularly asked ‘Are you really a Police Officer? You don’t seem like the others I’ve met’. This lets me know that I’m centred, being natural and authentic and I find it really inspiring.
People who have influenced me:
My partner – she is the most genuine person I know and keeps me grounded and frequently asks me ‘What you thinking/feeling?’ when she notices that I’m disappearing into a dissociative place in my head!
My psychotherapist Becky.
Imi and the ‘letters’ – finding your website was one of the reasons I got help – forever grateful to you.
Some written words:
Alan Watts quotes:
“You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing”
“Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes”
“Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone”.
A life advice:
Sorry but another Alan Watts quote:
“Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself. Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witness through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence”.
In your own words:
Learn what your gifts are. Listen to them and live according to them.
Life’s a dance so get dancing!
NINA, 39; STRATEGY CONSULTANT and ECONOMIC IMMIGRANT
‘when everything was closing in on them, when they were faced with so much injustice, they took matters into their own hands.’
My Name: Nina
Who am I: I am 39, an economic immigrant, I love to connect with people on a deeply emotional level, to me this is living and loving. I am a strategy consultant. I spend a lot of time listening, observing, perceiving and reflecting.
Being sensitive, intense and perceptive is lonely mostly, we are a minority. I am an ethnic minority, in my work a gender minority, but I do major in something, I see things other people do not see and I use it to help groups and companies progress by providing them with insight for strategic planning.
I spent a lot of my childhood anticipating and appeasing the moods of a controlling parent, a difficult and unhappy childhood but the skills I learnt have served me well. One has to have been a bit of an outsider, to have felt threatened enough to develop the skills to observe groups behaviour accurately. Given enough free access but also enough protective distance to a group of people and their environment and industry I can read moods, motives, ambitions, skills and behaviour which can be reflected back to them as self knowledge to help them to function better and develop strategies to succeed in their business area.
My inspirations – the film Thelma and Louise – I just love the way they bonded with each other, how they didn’t give up on each other and how, when everything was closing in on them, when they were faced with so much injustice, they took matters into their own hands, rather than give in, they fought to the end, it is sad and heartbreaking but uplifting, For some reason I love films about forbidden gay love, oppressed love, Brokeback Mountain, In Gods Country. Books about surviving cruelty and inhumanity – Is this a Man – Primo Levi, Music – currently my favourite song is Luke Ross, Shadows in the Dark – Emotional and mental health Books – Feel the fear and do it anyway, Did you have Controlling parents – Pete Walker, CPTSD. Mental Health professionals who have helped me – Richard Grannon, the Sparton Life Coach, my wonderful therapist and Imi of course.
People who have influenced me:
People who have influenced me – my grandmother for her gentleness, my children for their innocence, my husband for his optimism, my therapist for his empathy and skill, Obama for his dignity and elegance, People who stand up to injustice in the service of others, especially against powerful authority figures where they risk their own safety, careers and reputations.
Some written words: Desiderata has always helped me in the past when I feel down.
A life advice: I love this from desiderata – ‘Love is as perrenial as the grass’
In your own words: There is a place for everyone. Never lose hope.
RAKSHA, 19; STUDENT
‘I never really feel at home when I go home.’
My Name: Raksha
Who am I:
I’m from Karnataka, India and 19 years old. I love reading, dancing, listening to music and most importantly spending time alone. I’m still a student. I stay in a hostel and I’ve seen that I prefer hostel to home. I never really feel at home when I go home. I’m better off at hostel because I get time for myself. Nobody keeps speaking to me or expecting me to speak in hostel. For me rather than many friends, having 1-2 close friends with whom I can unwind is vital.
I think being sensitive is like being given a gift that is both very beautiful and fragile at the same time. We can notice things nobody can and that’s great but we can also get hurt and disturbed very easily. We need time to process everything and unwind. If we don’t understand this and spend time for ourselves, we will be ungrounded and agitated not knowing why.
My inspirations: I enjoy quotes and books with deep meanings. I’ve also read some books for empaths as I identify myself as one.
A life advice:
It is not necessary to be logically right always. Just do what is your gut feeling or what your heart says. Sometimes it’s better to listen to your heart than your head. It is not wrong to spend time for myself. If I don’t spend time to unwind I can’t be me with anybody and that’s not of any use.
My words to you:
It’s okay to feel angry, irritated or frustrated. Its natural. Just spend time for yourself and navigate your way out of your emotions. You are a wonderful person who can notice detailed that go unnoticed, but the details also need to be processed. Or else they become messy and of no use.
REGGIE, 65, MINNESOTA;
PSYCHOTHERAPIST, ADDICTION COUNSELOR AND YOGA THERAPIST
‘A LOT OF PEOPLE SEEM TO FIND ME A BIT TOO MUCH, OFF-PUTTING, TOO INTENSE, TOO STERN, TOO DEDICATED/JOYLESS/RELENTLESS/THOROUGH/WORDY.’
My Name: Reggie Martin (pseudonym)
Who am I: I’m from Minnesota, USA. I’m 65 now. Surprisingly, this year of turning that age has been a journey in itself. I’m a psychotherapist, addiction counselor and yoga therapist. I came into my profession late and have no plans to retire. My theoretically orientation is Adlerian. I love writing (poetry, fiction , work related nonfiction), reading (especially literary fiction and literary memoirs, but finding it increasingly hard to find any I can relate to), and spending time with family (I’m a granny, and love it). I love solitude, serenity, being in nature. Morning coffee, afternoon tea. My psychological priority is meaning/purpose and avoiding their opposites, which can make life seem like a continuous struggle.
The story of my life:
A lot of people seem to find me a bit too much, off-putting too intense, too stern, too dedicated/joyless/relentless/thorough/wordy etc. I am an INFJ, which seems to have been consistent throughout my life, so my work in counseling seems easy, but that make me more of a confidant to others than a friend, always giving but seldom getting back, and very difficult to find connection with others on the same level. I’ve been chastised by those who find solace in my presence when they are troubled, for being too negative or harsh when I am struggling myself, and that really hurts. I have been able to understand and interpret human behavior patterns from a very early age, and that has caused me to be more of an observer than a participant; and given me a negativity bias that I have to wrestle with daily, but also a bit of a hard shell that combats sensitivity. One of my college instructors once said “A counselor lives outside the camp.” That resonated. I’m deeply introverted and alone time is of extreme importance.My spiritual life is also very important to me. I’d call myself a contemplative Christian, which is my faith base; but I do feel that more Eastern ways of thought are easier for me to relate to in a way and I can learn from and appreciate other spiritual philosophies.
My inspirations: In my profession: Gerald May’s work (“Addiction and Grace,” and “The Awakened Heart”) is probably one of the reasons I became an addiction counselor. In my reading and writing: My favorite poet and memoirist : Nick Flynn (“Some Ether, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City”). Memoirs of those who struggle with addiction and mental illness, and their loved ones – such as David and Nic Sheff, Mary Karr, Elyn Saks. My favorite fiction author Elizabeth Goudge: five of her books in particular – characters and setting – make me want to crawl inside and live there,”The Scent of Water” is my all time favorite. That style of writing has disappeared and left me feeling a bit stranded. I read a lot of psychology books. Too many – but I find them interesting and enjoyable. Love your website! Love browsing many of the new food/healthy lifestyle websites, don’t have a favorite.
People who have influenced my way of thinking or being: In my work: Alfred Adler, Rudolf Dreikurs, Gerald May, Gabor Mate’ on addiction (“In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts.”), Steven Stosny on attachment theory. In living life with gentleness, grace, wisdom, acceptance, and compassion: Mister Fred Rogers. Dedication to a cause: Mother Theresa. Yoga: Judith Hanson Lasater (whom I feel brought restorative yoga to the US), also Kraftsow, Weintraub, Desikachar, My most influential yoga training was with Lasater and Integrative Yoga Therapy. I think John Ortberg’s book “The Life You’ve Always Wanted” started me on my spiritual path, and John Eldredge has help me continue. Food/eating: Jamie Oliver – love his passion for food and cooking. Zero Belly Diet for helping me manage my inflammatory conditions and feel better after a long road of pain and exhaustion.
Written words that have resonated with me:
“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become,” – Carl Jung
“Every step of the journey, is the journey” – Hebrew proverb
“If you are not part of the solution , you are part of the problem,” – Eldridge Cleaver
“Never to be squandered, the miracle of another human being.” – Craig Lucas “Prelude to a Kiss”
“if your love is only a will to possess, it’s not love.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
“We don’t see things as they are we see them as we are.” – Anais Nin
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is a though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein.
A life advice:
Finding out my Meyer’s Briggs/Kiersey temperament profile has been tremendously helpful. It makes sense of who I am/ how I think/ behave and sort of gave me permission to embrace it. Plus, I’ve aged into it. If I can’t be who I am by now – I mean there may not be that much more time to be it! Plus I am self indulgent regarding my introversion and my need for quiet and solitude and nature. I make sure everyone close to me knows and respects that, or I do not have the ability to recharge. So I don’t bother feeling elfish about it anymore.
What would I say to a young emotionally intense person who is finding their way in the world:
Let your self blossom into who you are, but understand that that will change and grow as you age, so please don’t make radical life decisions too early/too quickly/too young! Changing your mind, trying on new selves is just fine! The frontal lobes, the part of the brain that makes well balanced choices and life affirming decisions doesn’t finish developing until you are around 25, and that’s only if you haven’t put too many substances into it! Wait for the big decisions until after that. And – addiction is a symptom, it’s a coping mechanism that gets out of control when it takes over the brain. Good communication skills and stress management learned early and well will help you keep from taking experimentation into addiction.
‘It was very simple but it came from the heart: “It’s going to be OK”.’
My Name: Sophia Goldern
Who am I: I am from a small European country but have lived in Japan and now the UK. I love listening to music, creating art, taking photographs, walking in nature, swimming in the pool – going to the movies, to art galleries..what matters to me most is feeling peaceful. I don’t always have this feeling – but if I don’t – I strive to get it back.
My story: It can feel very raw at times. With some people I feel all wrong – with some other people I can delight in being myself.
My inspirations: Books: anything by Dr. Carl Jung, I like books on personality profiles such as Gifts Differing, Career Match. My favourite fiction is: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.
People who have influenced me: Jesus, Carl Jung, Michelangelo, Elvis, Van Gogh, Matisse, Marc Chagall (and countless other artists)..on a personal level I’ve had the good fortune of working with some special and wise counselors
Words that have resonated with me:
‘I am the bread of life.’ Jesus. ‘Who looks outside dreams, who looks inside awakens,’ Jung. ‘The future artist is a colourist.’ Van Gogh,
A life advice: It was very simple but it came from the heart: ‘It’s going to be OK.’
My words to you : Perhaps this: tell yourself every day that you are beautiful. Simply say (internally) ‘I am beautiful.’
STEPHIEDAYDREAM, SURREY (UK); LIBRARIAN
‘The shame and guilt do not belong to me.’
My Name: Stephiedaydream
Who am I:
I’m from Surrey, UK. Born in London moved to Shropshire for my early years then back to London and finally settled in Surrey. I am divorced and have 2 boys. I’m a librarian which is the perfect job for me as I love books and people. I love photography and appreciate the deep beauty of nature, the written word and my own writing which is still in it’s infancy.
Being sensitive is sometimes almost impossibly hard and other times it’s the most wonderful feeling. It’s a rollercoaster of feelings and emotions. The vibrancy of my life experience, good and bad is intense but I don’t know any other way. This year I have started my healing journey, it’s taken a long time to get to this point but I had to wait to be set free from the relationships that, unbeknownst to me, were restricting my growth. I am learning to be me and to love and value the person I am, appreciate my highly intuitive nature and finally embrace all that I am.
Your book gave me the inspiration to accept my gifts, which I had always seen as my weirdness, to start to listen to my inner child. I belong to a Facebook support group for Highly Sensitive People and they are amazingly supportive and a mine of information.
People who have influenced me: Crystal Mary King
Some written words:
I am standing in the wreckage of my life. I am hurt and angry and sad.
The people who helped perpetuate the myth that is me are gone.
I cannot tell them how it feels to be broken and deconstructed.
The anger is immense.
I don’t want to feel angry. I want to refill my heart with passion and joy and love.
To reconstruct myself from the inside out, I can choose who and what I become.
Where do I start; my head, my heart or my soul?
My soul, my very essence.
I begin building.
BIt by bit, I become, me.
A life advice: I am worthy of my own love, time and attention. The shame and guilt do not belong to me.
TARANGIRESUN, 46; ACTRESS AND WRITER
‘I’M A ROCKSTAR! YES, I’M AWARE OF HOW EMOTIONALLY INTENSE I CAN GET BUT I’M ALSO A FREAKING ROCK STAR.’
My Name: tarangiresun
Who am I:
I’m a 46 yr old female, originally from Portland, OR although w/ my love for travel and desire to escape and seek out new lands my geographical footprint has sent me all over the world. I’ve lived and worked in San Francisco, New York, London, Dublin, Sydney and have traveled all over the globe. I’m happiest with one suitcase and a an address in a new city. I got a degree in theater (acting performance), sang opera/musical theater but earned a living as a secretary. When I retired from performing I took up writing, I enjoy writing personal essays and funny online dating profiles. I adopted a pug dog who has been my lifesaver. He actually led me down the path to discovering the meaning and purpose of life and what lies hereafter. He’s the love of my life. Self expression, in all forms, matters the most to me, without the 1st Amendment (American) I’d wilt to nothing. Also, I’m a truth seeker and injustice fighter. I’ve been writing rant letters to greedy corporations since I was a teenager and have been fighting for the underdog since I was a kid.
Psychology has always intrigued me but why all the therapists I’ve seen in the past two decades NEVER brought up HSP/empath disappoints me greatly. If I had known this decades ago I could have been a rock star (metaphorically speaking). I wouldn’t have let rejection (or perceived rejection) and fear of set me back, I would have known to ‘chill out’ when getting over-emotional about things and I would have stood up for myself. This is who I am and I’m a gift! I have gifts! I wouldn’t have let the world and it’s people hold me back or single me out for being ‘different’. I’ve been labeled and attacked as ‘over dramatic’ a ‘drama queen’ (I literally have a degree in acting!), too sensitive (“It’s just a joke!” not the way your body language, tone of voice reads it), ‘too emotional’ (because we women are crazy, hormonal, lunatics), paranoid and insecure (“I need to date a woman who’s not insecure” no….I sense you are cheating on me and turns out I was right because I’m highly intuitive and can sense things!). I started seeing a therapist last year to help me deal with emotionally abusive siblings. I came across an article on HSP/empath and my jaw dropped “Oh my God…this is like my soul speaking back to, telling me that this is who I am, the good, the ugly, the bad and the really beautiful”. I brought it to the attention of my therapist “You don’t know me but this is me! Help me!” All he said in return was “Well, it’s not in the DSM (manual of mental disorders), and I once dated a colleague who thought she was highly sensitive.” I never went back. All the therapists I’ve seen are worthless, so I did the work on my own. I studied this, read books on it and I keep a print out. Every time I get ’emotional’ I reference that print out and it reassures me that although people may never understand why I do and think the way I do…I do. I understand and I’m legitimate. I’m a rockstar! Yes, I’m aware of how emotionally intense I can get but I’m also a freaking ROCK STAR. I knew this stuff as a kid, I always knew I was different but special and moving forward I’m going to embrace who I am, whether you appreciate it or not.
This website and book has been the best source I’ve come across. I have it printed out. Gone With the Wind, that I read as a teenager. Scarlett O’Hara (quite dramatic herself and no apologies!) gave me the confidence to get up on stage (“Think Scarlett” is what I told myself being a shy person). Running on Empty: Overcoming Your Childhood Emotional Neglect, Jonice Webb. This book was incredibly helpful it legitimized what I went through growing up in a home that provided every single thing I needed but with an emotionally absent father and a sibling who has emotionally abused me since I was a teen. Animals inspire and console me. I’ve wanted a pug all my life and finally adopted one a few years back. Just being in his presence calms me. Hearing him chew, snort, snore comforts me. Cuddling, touching, petting…just the sound of his paws against the hardwood floors reminds me I’m not alone. I’d strongly urge you to look into a pet. He’s been a lifesaver.
People who have influenced me:
Before I share this, I’m not a ‘princessy’ woman. All that Disney princess garbage doesn’t appeal to me but Princess Diana has inspired me all my life. I loved her not because she was a princess, beautiful, and the most photographed woman in the world…I remember at age 10 getting up a 4am to watch the royal wedding on TV. I grew up with seeing her on TV and on the front page of magazines. Even being across the pond she was everywhere. I’ve always been drawn to London, UK even as a kid. I always felt I had a past life, many past lives there. I ran off to London after college and worked under the table in a pub. I went back again on a work visa in 1997 and I remember in vivid detail the moment I heard she was killed. What an emotional week. I stood by with millions of others and watched her funeral cortege thinking “I’ve always wanted to meet her, this is the closest I’ll ever get”. I loved her NOT because she was a princess but because she was sensitive. She truly cared. She had empathy for human beings that royals and even ordinary people would shun. I remember when she visited an AIDs patient and held his hand. This was earth shattering news back in the day when AIDs victims were seen as monsters. She held his hand because she had empathy, she truly cared. She was sensitive to the pain of others. Look at what one simple gesture did for so many suffering. Ditching the evening gown and traipsing thru landmines knowing a picture is worth a million words. Pouring her heart and her vulnerabilities on national TV. Suffering from bulimia and a cheating husband because even a princess doesn’t believe she’s a princess. “Oh god…Diana is a disgrace to the monarchy” I heard so many Brits say “She’s too emotional”. Yup….she was TOO emotional. That’s what bonded me to her. I got her. I only knew her from a distance but I KNEW her.
Some written words:
I was consoling a friend who desperately wanted to get married, have kids. I myself have heard “Oh my gosh I can’t believe you’re not married” all my life. I always had the sense I’d be going it alone and nearing 47 looks like I sensed right on that. I told her “You and I aren’t salt, pepper, sugar…not even sage or thyme. We’re not the kind of spices that everyone has stocked in their kitchen cupboard. We’re more like saffron. We’re different, unusual and rarely sought after. Eventually will find somebody who wants to flavor their dish with something exciting”
A life advice: If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all – Thumper from Bambi
My words to you:
People would scoff at me for getting a college degree in of all things theater. Well, I know I’m award winning actress in real life because all my adult life I’ve gone with the motto “Fake it to make it”. I can fake my way through anything from job interviews to relationships. Acting is believing but many times along the way I’ve gotten too much into character and forgotten or hidden who I truly am. Be who you are unapologetically because being empathetic is what separates us from the animals, from the lion who takes down and kills a wildebeest on the Serengeti while the herd just chews on. It is a gift, a blessing.
Samantha, 21, Michigan
‘Half of me thinks that the world is too much for me and the other half believes that I’m too much for the world because I’ve always felt my emotions very intensely.’
My Name: Samantha
Who am I:
I’m 21 and I was born and raised in Michigan. Unfortunately I don’t have a hobby or anything like that because I have a habit of trying new things but never sticking with them long enough to get good at them. I like to dabble in different things that pique my interest; although one thing I’ve always been very interested in is the unknown and “supernatural” things. I don’t think it’s completely legit but I think astrology is very interesting. I love learning about people and I want to know what makes them the way they are. The human mind and humans as a whole is incredibly fascinating to me. I also do a lot of DIY/pinterest things but of course they never come out how I imagined lol.
Half of me thinks that the world is too much for me and the other half believes that I’m too much for the world because I’ve always felt my emotions very intensely. I remember being in middle and high school and always taking personality disorder, mood disorder, and any tests like that to try to figure myself out but I don’t think I ever did, but finding this website will surely help me understand myself. I felt that feeling things so intensely was a negative, scary, and odd thing about myself. While it is something different, I think I can learn to embrace it and turn it into a positive and progressive thing. I crave intense relationships with others but at the same time it’s very hard for me to connect with people. I want intense love and passionate anger and if I don’t feel like I’ll get that with someone then I won’t pursue them. I need to be drawn to someone. I’m not sure if that’s an immature way of thinking but I’m still young and I have a lot to learn. In a perfect world I would find a partner and try to make it last as long as possible (I don’t believe in marriage), maybe have a kid or two, and explore countries and cultures and seeing what we can learn and challenge.
In my own words:
Learn yourself and ride the waves of emotions, especially the negative ones. Suppressing them might seem like an answer but I promise it’s only a temporary one because they will come back like a flood. Explore all different kinds of healthy coping mechanisms. Keep an open but strong heart and mind and do not feel embarrassed or ashamed if you want to see a therapist. We’re not the type of people that can contain these emotions in a bottle
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.