268: Embracing the Power of Emotional Intensity with Christine Fonseca

Embracing the Power of Emotional Intensity with Christine Fonseca

This week on Embracing Intensity, we share an enlightening conversation with award-winning author and licensed educational psychologist, Christine Fonseca. In this episode of our podcast, our host, Aurora, delves into an enriching conversation with Fonseca, exploring her insights on emotional intensity, mental health, giftedness, and our inherent human complexities. 

Fonseca, a gifted adult herself, opens up about her experiences, passions, and various interests that set her apart. The discussion probes the depths of dealing with intense emotions, overcoming personal challenges, and handling burnout. The highlight of the conversation is Fonseca’s perspective on the full spectrum of human emotions and the importance of dissecting, understanding, and accepting them as part of our unique individual journeys. She also talks about the necessity of open cross-disciplinary communication within the fields of mental health and related sciences to facilitate a more comprehensive understanding of the human condition. 

Join us for these compelling insights and much more in our podcast of a treasured conversation with Christine Fonseca!

In this episode:

  • Unpacking Christine Fonseca’s journey from being an educational psychologist to an international speaker, author, and gifted adult
  • Discussion on the influence and inspiration behind the podcast
  • Unveiling Christine’s multi-faceted interests including owning a lifestyle shop and being a fiber artist
  • Emphasizing the importance of not fitting in a box and cherishing one’s unique identity
  • Navigating the nuances of social interactions and their impact on mental health
  • Exploring the connection between emotional intensity and the nervous system dysregulation 
  • Introduction to the ROAR protocol, a technique to understand and mitigate anxiety
  • Christine’s personal journey through overcoming burnout and the strategies she employed
  • Deep dive into the conversation of societal pressures, the pursuit of constant happiness and its paradoxical impact on mental health
  • The untapped power of holistic communication across different disciplinary silos in the healthcare and mental health sector
  • Embracing the beauty and complexity of being intensely human and the power of acceptance.


* Rough Transcript *

Christine: What could accomplish if we just had two seconds of amazing courage to sit in discomfort just a tad longer so that we’re giving ourselves the benefit of time for the front part of our brain to kick in and make some decisions as to what to do and for our bodies to tell us what it needs?

Aurora: Welcome to the Embracing Intensity podcast. I’ll be sharing interviews and tips for gifted, creative, twice exceptional, and outside the box thinkers who use their fire in a positive way. My name is Aurora Remember Holtzman. After years of feeling too much, I finally realized that intensity is the source of my greatest power.

Now, instead of beating myself up about not measuring up to my own self imposed standards, I’m on a mission to help people embrace their own intensity and befriend their brains so they can share their gifts with the world through the Embracing Intensity community, coaching, educational assessment, and other tools to help you use your fire without getting burned.

You can join us at embracingintensity. com.

Yeah. Yeah.

Hello. This week I share the recording of the Q and a part of our conversation with Christine Fonseca. On emotional intensity, you can find the full discussion in our guests call library or embracing intensity membership@embracingintensity.com where you can also find the neurodivergent planner club, which we launched some new content on this week.

You can join us live for free just by joining the embracing intensity community or my mailing list. And you can find access to the call recordings immediately after the call. Through the guest call library and embracing intensity membership. So you can find all those links in the show notes or@embracingintensity.com. Enjoy.

Introduction and Welcome

Aurora: Welcome everyone. I’m super thrilled today to have Christine Fonseca who just released her, what, third edition?

Christine: Third edition, yeah.

Aurora: Third edition of Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students?

Christine: Students, yep.

Aurora: Yep. But is also just generally knowledgeable in all areas, intensity, and a little, little known fact,

The Inspiration Behind the Podcast

Aurora: I was talking to her the last time we met up at a Oregon tag conference that I realized that she was the inspiration for the name of this podcast because there was a quote in one of her books or blogs that said something about embrace your intensity. And then I realized that after the fact that embracing intensity that was kind of the root of it. It wasn’t conscious, but

Christine: Hey, it’s perfect. I liked that. It resonated with you.

Aurora: Yep. Awesome. So I’m going to go ahead and let folks introduce themselves and I’ll let Christine introduce herself so you know who you’re talking to, what she can speak to, and then we’ll open up for questions. So welcome everyone.

I’m going to let Christine introduce herself and then we can open up for Q and A in the chat to start, and then we can open up for more discussion.

Christine: Sounds great.

Introducing Christine Fonseca

Christine: Well, I’m Christine Fonseca. I’m a licensed educational psychologist, trained school psychologist, which I’ve done for the better part of 30 years.

I am a gifted adult who raised two gifted now adult children who’s married to a gifted husband. So at any given time, I would say that our household is quite intense. And certainly when they were younger and certainly when we were all trying to figure it out. I’m the author of several books related to giftedness, but also just related to mental health.

I’m an international speaker on topics related to mental health and giftedness and education. Have worked as an educational consultant.

Christine’s Multifaceted Interests and Passions

Christine: I also write fiction because Why do one thing when you could do 50 things over our COVID shutdowns here in the United States. My children approached me about starting an Etsy lifestyle shop, which I crazily said yes to.

So, I also am a small business owner of a lifestyle shop. Don’t ask me why. My contribution to that shop besides the business part of it is I’m a fiber artist, which just means I like to play with yarn. My particular yarn that I play with is more in the form of macrame, which is what’s on our lifestyle shop, amongst other things.

Our household’s super nerdy, so we have all kinds of nerdy stuff on there as well. But yeah, that’s a little bit about me. So when I hear you guys saying you’ve got multiple Potentialities and you’re passionate about a variety of things. That is me too.

Christine’s Unique Perspective and Self-Identity

Christine: I’ve never been one who’s been comfortable fitting in a box or fitting in a specific niche.

That’s just not how my brain rolls I can compartmentalize pretty darn well I have learned some very good linear thinking skills and so I can mask as though I am quite linear but I’m, I’m a little bit different than that also. I lovingly refer to myself as a zebra, or excuse me, as a unicorn in a sea of zebras because why would you want to be a zebra if you could be a unicorn?

So yeah, that is me. I don’t think I left anything out of her.

Aurora: Awesome.

Opening Up for Questions

Aurora: So if anybody has any questions, you guys can go ahead and put them in the chat. And I know sometimes it can help to like to start with a few on my end. So I’ll start with one. And you guys, like I said, feel free to put any questions in the chat and I’ll circle back to that.

Strategies to Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Body

Aurora: But actually tying on something that was said in the introductions I thought that the whole concept of getting out of your head and into your body, and I would love to hear from you if you have any thoughts on some good strategies to get out of your head and into your body in a way that’s not overwhelming or less overwhelming.

Christine: Yeah, I like that you reframe that to less overwhelming. First off, that is a perfect statement for what I think people need in general, right? To get out of our heads and into our bodies a little more and to really kind of come to life from this mind body Place. I think gifted humans, neurodivergent humans and humans impacted by trauma, which there’s lots of research to suggest that’s its own form of neurodiversity.

Really, really have a hard time doing that. We get very, very stuck in our brains. We’re very comfortable in our brains and we’re not particularly comfortable in our bodies. And we’re certainly not comfortable in our bodies when our nervous systems are dysregulated, which can happen easily and often.

Both on our own accord and from kind of absorbing the world around us and kind of what that’s doing to our nervous system. So a couple of things, that I think are really effective that we can do.

Understanding Anxiety and the ROAR Protocol

Christine: So there’s a protocol that I have that’s called ROAR, R O A R. I use this a lot with my clients, and myself by the way, when i’m feeling anxious like thoughts and they’re kind of really becoming all consuming.

So that first R stands for relax because we really can’t do anything when our amygdala is busy firing off and we’re just having this very anxious kind of feeling. And so we start off with some deep breathing or kind of, coming centered into your You’re thinking about yourself and really just trying to embrace a relaxed state.

The O stands for Orient, and that’s really to help us anchor into right here and now. Because see, anxiety is this really interesting thing. It actually doesn’t exist in the present moment. And I know any of you who have felt anxiety, you’re thinking, yeah, yes it does. I’m feeling it right now. What do you mean it doesn’t?

But it doesn’t. If you took a look, if you use that big beautiful brain of yours and took a look at what you’re actually thinking about. You’re thinking about something from the past, or you’re worried about something about the future, but almost never are you thinking about anything right here and now.

And so in that regard, really doesn’t exist in the present. So if we can orient ourself to right now, and I find one of the easiest ways to do that physically is to pay attention to what my body’s feeling in the moment. So for example, I’m sitting in my office, I’m sitting in a chair, I can feel my, my Physical body connected to my chair.

Breaking Down the Steps of the ROAR Protocol

Christine: I can feel my feet on the floor. And if I really focus on those things, all of my thoughts about things that are not right here and now start to fade away.

So we’ve relaxed. We’re oriented to here and now. And now I can ask myself what I really need in this moment. What do I need right now? Am I hungry?

Am I thirsty? Do I need the world to stop for a few minutes? Do I need things to be very quiet? Do I need, what do I need? A lot of times we as, as gifted, neurodiverse humans don’t ask ourselves that. We’re too busy filling all of the obligations of everybody around us. And we’re not always good at just asking ourselves that simple question.

In this moment, right now. What do I need? And then that last R stands for release, which I find to be the hardest part for anyone to do, and that’s to just let go of the attachment we have to those feelings of anxiety or nervousness or panic or whatever it is that’s coming up. So that’s one quick protocol trick.

Grounding Exercises and Techniques

Christine: One hack, if you will. The other one is something as simple as a grounding exercise. So whether it if you’re sitting in a chair, put your feet flat on the ground and really feel the earth underneath you. as a way to ground you. You can also do kind of a 1 check in with yourself. So look around the room and name five things that are red, you know, four things that are blue, three things that are green, two things that are white, one thing that’s black, or any colors you want.

The idea is, again, to get yourself out of your thinking brain. Oriented to right now, get yourself really well grounded and then check in with your physical body. There are additional things that we can do once we’ve learned to get into our body that help move those emotions that get stored in our nervous system out.

For those of you who really like to like do your own deep dive or self study. study on things. If you were to look at up polyvagal theory, or you were able to look up somatic practices, you can find a whole host of things that can help you move energy through the body, move energy through your nervous system.

Understanding and Managing Nervous System Dysregulation

Christine: Oftentimes when we as neurodivergent humans are having a reaction to the world, it’s actually because our nervous system is dysregulated in some way. Either our part of our nervous system that does fight or flight is over activated, in which case we’re engaging in fight, flight, or freeze in a really big degree.

That’s our sympathetic nervous system, or our parasympathetic nervous system is triggered and overactivated. And in that case, we’re withdrawing completely from the world. That’s our kind of our rest and digest system. And both of those are kind of, if you conceptualize ’em, they’re on a teeter-totter, right?

So they can get dysregulated, either hyper or hypo regulated. We always wanna try to keep it all right in the middle so that we learn to flow with whatever’s needed from us at the time. Hopefully that answers it.

Aurora: Awesome. No, that’s some great strategies.

Addressing Burnout and Finding Restful Activities

Aurora: Another question that came to mind, we talked a little bit earlier about burnout and I know we’re both very familiar with that. And one of the things I’ve been exploring lately is like, Do you have any tips or strategies that have helped you to find rest that’s actually restful as opposed to, you know, scrolling or those things that aren’t restful.

So I’d love to hear from you, your thoughts

Christine: on.

Yeah, that’s been a challenge.

Christine’s Personal Journey Through Burnout

Christine: So I was telling Aurora at the beginning before people hopped on, I am an author by that’s what I do. That’s my passion. That’s part of my artistic. And I experienced some really intense burnout about five or six years ago.

And interestingly enough, it came as a result of some grief that kind of had morphed into traumatic grief. I had lost my mom in 2010 and my mom was Absolutely everything to me and I stopped writing for a short period of time after that but really I have great friends who are artists and writers who got me back writing really quickly and so I was able to be actually extremely productive for a couple of years, wrote what I would consider my absolute best pieces of fiction.

They were not received necessarily beautifully by the world and so I like that I absorbed all that and I didn’t. Have a really healthy perspective around that as many artists this happens to a lot of artists, right? And so it kind of caused a slow burnout to occur after that and then through several years of overwork that burnout really kind of permeated and I had to do a lot of work over the last three four years to try to Push through that burnout Finally finished up the book that just released Emotional Intensity and Gifted Students, the third edition.

Here’s a funny thing about that. That third edition was not a huge lift or change from the second edition on purpose, but it, my burnout was so significant, it was still very, very hard for me to get that finished.

Strategies for Overcoming Burnout

Christine: What I think finally helped with the burnout, Was interestingly enough, our entire previous conversation, it was getting out of my head about it and getting into my body about it and figuring out where my stressors were living in my nervous system and doing some real acceptance work around it.

So I too, in my self discovery. ROAR acronym.

The Struggle with Release and Acceptance

Christine: I was struggling with release. You know, I can teach it beautifully, but living it sometimes is a little bit challenging. And so I was struggling with my own form of release. I was having a hard time releasing my attachment. to my own difficulty, which I think a lot of us can probably relate to.

And so for me to achieve actual rest and for me to move some really difficult energy through my nervous system, two things had to happen. One, I had to build a better tolerance for feeling very, very uncomfortable. And as tolerant as I was, it wasn’t enough for what I needed to move through my system. And so then I kept dissociating, that’s a I do that with work.

So I would dive into other projects, or dive deeper into work, or hold myself to a ridiculous standard with the day job, or whatever. as a way to avoid some of those feelings. The other thing that I was doing a lot of was rationalizing, using that big beautiful brain of mine to rationalize everything I was doing, feeling, and masking.

And I just had to come really clean with me about all of that.

Prioritizing Self-Care and Embracing Creativity

Christine: I prioritize sleep. I had some sleep disturbances, which I medically worked on to solve. And for me, you know, it meant wearing my CPAP and just different kinds of things that I needed to do for my own capacity. I got very comfortable with my size and my body itself.

Cause I have some body. Issues that go way back to my childhood and get super comfortable with all of that, and just be willing to sit in that space, you know, and that the imperfectness of all of that before I could ever get some actual rest. Once I did that, though, it is surprising how quickly everything else started to come into place.

My creativity I found flowing back, and although it wasn’t in writing, it was in other Art forms. I just embraced all of that. I said, okay, I’m going to take creativity wherever it’s living for me right now.

Setting Boundaries and Embracing Joy

Christine: I set better boundaries around work. I really recognized my own pattern. So I am a huge media buff.

I love all forms of media, books, movies, TV shows, et cetera. And I will binge hardcore. And some of that is Very escapist and I just had to get really clean on that but also give myself permission for that if that is what I really needed in the moment. I just had to put a few limits on it because I could waste quite a bit of time binging something fabulous and, you know, call that research for a book really easily, which it wasn’t, but I could do that.

And then I just, once that started getting really comfortable and I wasn’t going to overwhelm my nervous system by adding anything to that, then I just really prioritized the somatic work and I have a really good somatic coach that I use. And I. I only engage in activities that bring really good energy into my space.

I have enough things in my day job and in my obligations that bring energy into my space that’s more taking energy, right, take stuff, something away from me. So I, on my own time now, I’m only going to fill it with things that actually bring me quite a bit of joy or bring me a lot of energy, like doing this, for example, today.

This brings me really good energy and brings me all sorts of joy. So that’s just kind of how I’ve chosen to prioritize my time.

Doubling Down on Relationships and Listening to My Body

Christine: I doubled down on relationships that were important to me, recognizing that connections is a great way to break through periods of burnout. So Prioritizing all the physical stuff, right?

What I eat, what I spend my time doing, how I sleep, all of that. Really listening to my body without guilt and shame. So when I’m finding that I need a break, recognizing when I slip into a shame response around that, then making some decisions about that.

Understanding and Managing Discomfort

Christine: And then tolerance, tolerance, tolerance, tolerance for the craziness that is life.

Aurora: Awesome. And I think that’s so like that key about you know, bringing things that bring joy into your life and bring energy. And that’s something that really like reframed the way that I look at you know, for so many years having chronic pain and fatigue since I was in my early twenties, like, you know, I beat myself up for a long time about, I got to eat better.

I have to do this more and I have to do these health things are the things that I have to do to feel better. But feeling like I’m, it’s a responsibility and I have to do things made them inherently draining. Instead, I focus on the things that bring me joy, that bring me energy first, then I’ll have more energy to deal with.


well, yeah.


Navigating Food and Health with Mindfulness

Christine: food such an interesting one, right? Because we know that if we eat in a certain way We can balance out our nervous system better and we can feel better And if you also happen to live with chronic pain or any of the inflammation disorders Like, you know how important food medicine is but when we put ourselves Pressure to do that.

Now we’re having a shame response. So any benefit we would have gained from good food We’ve just blown because we’re having a whole different set of things. I have learned to change all of that It’s taken. You know a better part of my life to learn that because I had an eating disorder when I was young and so there’s all kinds of things around food.

I’ve had to really heal but for me what i’ve learned is again What do I need right in this moment? You know what? Sometimes I actually need coffee. I need coffee the way I fix it and to sit in my chair and to just enjoy my ding ding cup of coffee without grief, right? Or without guilt or without shame.

So sometimes that’s exactly what I’m going to do, but it’s taken me a long time to get there. So

Aurora: looking in the chat, there’s a couple things here. One Oh, that’s awesome. There’s a, there are interactive tool to help figure out what you need and tips for hard days. That is you feel like shit. com.

Christine: I love it.

That is the best URL ever.

Aurora: That’s great. And then I found interoception based yoga helpful and only do a few minutes at a time. So it’s not much. Yeah. Yeah. Even just a little bit. It’s great.

Building Tolerance and Resilience in the Face of Discomfort

Aurora: Our culture is also poor in terms of allowing for normal human grief that allows for new growth.

Christine: Correct. We, yeah, we just, we, our conceptualization of what grief is and what grief isn’t is just wacky. Right. And our conceptualization of traumatic grief is also wacky and are just, again, probably the most, you know, I work with kids all day, every day. And I work with adults all day, every day. And what I’m finding is we just have a real problem worldwide with our tolerance levels for discomfort internally.

We just have a problem with it. And that is disconcerting to me because you do not. develop resiliency skills from a state of calm and balance and whatever. You practice those resiliency skills from states of when you are dysregulated. And if we, the number of people that I see making decisions That are solely based on getting them out of a feeling of discomfort and not necessarily based on something that’s moving them towards a different healthy space or whatever is concerning to me, because that’s got a short.

Shelf life. And that’s not sustainable. And so one of the things I regularly do, both with the children that I directly work with, as well as any adult who will listen to me, is working on building that tolerance.

The Importance of Tolerance and Resiliency

Christine: How do we build tolerance? How do we last one second longer in that feeling of discomfort before we take action?

How do we last two seconds longer? What could accomplish if we just had two seconds of amazing courage to sit in discomfort just a tad longer so that we’re giving ourselves the benefit of time for the front part of our brain to kick in and make some decisions as to what to do and for our bodies to tell us what it needs?

So it’s never about excluding, kind of looping it back into an earlier conversation. It’s never about excluding our brain from the whole dynamic. It’s about recognizing that there is a partnership between the two that needs to occur. Absolutely.

Aurora: Let’s see.

Understanding and Processing Emotions

Aurora: So question, how do you know that you’ve. You have processed enough emotions that you’re ready to do calming activities because doing those activities straight away can be another way to hide from tough emotions.

And then saying, I’ll finish this part and then. Oh yes, not wanting to be just uncomfortable ever also gets in the way of so many important cultural issues, whether it’s mental health issues or complex societal issues.

Christine: Absolutely. 100%. Nobody likes feeling discomfort, which I mean, if you make sense, right, who does, but it’s not about liking it.

It’s about being willing to sit in it long enough to get somewhere. So I love the premise of this question, right? Like, how do you know if you’ve processed enough emotion before you engage in calming? I think these are, I think we’re looking at this as a binary black and white thing when it’s not. You can engage in calming activities while you are processing, especially as things are bubbling up, to help you have the capacity to sit with that emotion a little bit longer.

And have that not be the same as bypassing. Because really what you’re talking about is bypassing the processing altogether in lieu of whatever this calming activity is. It feels really different.

Techniques for Calming and Emotional Grounding

Christine: So, for example, when I’m in the middle of sitting in a big emotion, a big wave of emotion that I’ve gotten, I really like tapping and so I’ll often tap or do bilateral tapping on my arms.

That’s when you roll your, you know, wrap yourself in your arms and then tap on both sides in a rhythmic fashion. That is a calming strategy and it will help root me back into my body really, really fast. Because for me, When I am bypassing, I’ll cut off brain from body. That’s one of the very first things I’ll do.

I’ll dissociate. And so this helps root me back and keeps me from dissociating. Same thing with feet, because I’ll often like, you know, one leg over the other, sitting on one leg or whatever. I often won’t have both feet flat on the floor. Deliberately putting both feet flat on the floor, sitting up straight, wrap my arms around myself, and do a little bit of bilateral beats allows me the capacity to sit in the emotion a little bit longer to learn what it’s trying to teach me.

Because I always look at this as any kind of response like this is always an opportunity for growth, right? Somebody, something in my body is trying to tell me something, something in my mind or my emotions are trying to tell me something and I’m ignoring it. And so it’s kind of calling me to action in that moment.

And so that’s what I would do. That’s different than bypassing. Bypassing is when we put a mask on and say, we’re fine when we’re not. Right. How many times do somebody say,

Introduction to Emotional Intensity

Christine: how are you? Oh, I’m fine. Right? I am that person with my colleagues that I says, really? ’cause your face says something different.

So I’m gonna ask again, this is a safe place. How are you ? Or I’ll say things like. How are you? Oh, I’m good. Hmm. Do I believe you? Am I supposed to believe you right now? Because if I am, I will back off. Usually that’s what I get. Okay. Well, no, actually this, this, and this. Do you want help with that? No, I really don’t.

Okay, cool. You want to just hang in here and like feel miserable for a little bit? Cool. Hang in here and feel miserable for a little bit. This is a good spot for it. And so those are like typical conversations that I’ve had on any given day with people, myself included.

Understanding Emotional Bypassing

Christine: That’s different, right?

That’s bypassing. And we do a whole lot of bypassing, and we live in a culture that celebrates positive psychology, but it celebrates a toxic version of positive psychology, where somehow the message that we have a wide array of emotions didn’t get out, but the message that we’re always supposed to feel positive absolutely got out, which is completely unrealistic, right?

It’s silly. That’s just silly talk. It doesn’t even make logical sense. Of course, we have a full array of emotions. And of course, sometimes they are not positive. Period. They just aren’t. That’s okay. I’m not supposed to feel all happy, happy, joy, joy if something big, yucky happened. Like, so yeah, there you go.

Enough of that.

Aurora: Totally.

The Role of Humor in Emotional Expression

Aurora: Just in the chat Or what I also tend to do, especially with people I don’t know well yet is using jokes to hide how I’m really doing. Yeah. I was joking of sandwiching. It was like, joke, joke, get serious. The joke, like sandwich

Christine: it between jokes.

I’ll tell you something. If we’re using jokes.

It’s because of our discomfort, right? And so that is a, and it doesn’t mean don’t do it necessarily, right? If that’s what gets you through the day, that gets is what gets you through the day. I got no problem with that at all. But use that awareness to know that you do that as a way to say, okay, I am uncomfortable sitting in X emotion because I use a lot of jokes around that.

At some point, I have to decide it’s okay for me to look at that. and get a little better at tolerating that discomfort or sticking with that conversation for a little bit longer does not mean you need to change anything right now.

The Power of Self-Awareness

Christine: It means the first step is always witnessing kind of who we are as humans from this total nonjudgmental.

non biased space, right, where we could just witness what it is we do. You know, I’m a ridiculously curious, some might say nosy, human but really it’s just curiosity.

The Fascination with Human Behavior

Christine: I’m fascinated by human beings all day, every day, all different kinds of human beings. I just think we’re an incredibly fascinating species.

and have dedicated my life to studying humans because I’m so curious about them. And so part of this is being willing to say, wow, wow, that was a weird way to respond. What’s making me do that? I don’t know. Let me pay a little more attention. And it doesn’t mean you have to change anything. There are plenty of weird things that I do that I have made it.

conscious intentional decision not to change at all. Like, it’s just part of what it means to be Christine Fonseca. And, but I will usually warn other people, right?

The Importance of Emotional Tolerance

Christine: Like, so I’ll tell people, you know, if I’ve had three weeks of non stop presenting, I’m probably going to be really grumbly when you catch me in a non presenting time.

So if I get grumbly with you, It’s probably because I did not take some downtime and I’m also very naturally an introvert, so if I do not have that downtime, I will get grumbly. That’s just what happens. And so I do try to, like, I’ve warned my family. She has her own, my grumbly version of me has her own name.

I said, you’re welcome to call me out and just say, mom, do you need a break? I think you need to go disappear. And my kids did when they were younger and they were living at home. They would absolutely, we’d all kind of call each other out on this stuff.

Aurora: Absolutely.

The Paradox of Constant Happiness

Aurora: I even heard from a psychiatrist about how trying to be happy constantly, ironically, can cause depression. Yeah, I can see that.

Christine: 100%! Yes!

Aurora: Well, one of the times I felt the most happy was when I was figuring out what worked for me to regulate, etc.

That make sense? Yep. Seeing bad situations, examples to learn and experiment from also helped me a lot to deal with bad stuff, especially since I did study biology, and so I like that approach. Also helps to be more curious about about your own body

Christine: sensations.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

The Role of Biology in Emotional Understanding

Christine: That background in biology is extremely helpful for some of that, just because when You know, sometimes, here’s one of the beautiful things about having a big, beautiful, curious brain.

Sometimes you can tolerate more than somebody who maybe doesn’t have a big, beautiful, curious brain because of your courses of study that you’ve had. So you kind of just put on your CSI worker hat, right, for a little bit, and now the puzzle, instead of some other puzzle you’re solving, you’re just going to solve the puzzle called you for a little bit.

And that gives you the capacity to witness in a different way.

The Complexity of Human Nature

Christine: You know, we are everything we need simultaneously, right? We are the wisest version of ourselves. We are the most playful version of ourselves. We are the darkest version of ourselves. We are the most light version of ourselves. We are the most grandiose version of ourselves.

And all those aspects of self coexist all day, every day. It’s a matter of tapping into the voice of that, that you need in the moment. And I think sometimes we forget. That human beings are like that.

Aurora: Awesome.

The Power of Polyvagal Theory

Aurora: Oh and then I did study mainly animal biology, ecology, so not about humans, but learned a lot about polyvagal theory. Yes. Lately and which even helped me to read body signals much better.

Christine: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. For sure. The work around polyvagal theory is actually really, really fascinating and the work around just your parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, you know, that’s something I’ve been interested in anyways, just because of the whole introvert extrovert conversation and a book called quiet kids that I wrote related to that years and years ago.

But then tying that into some of the polyvagal work, like, it’s just, I find the whole darn thing fascinating.

Aurora: Well, and it’s funny. When I first started the course that I did was kind of focused around self regulation and it was inspired by some of the things that we do in schools, right?

And at the time it was something that was used in school settings, but like no one knew, like no one even really heard the term self regulation. And what I’m realizing is I feel like through the pandemic and like TikTok and people People coming out, verbalizing their neurodivergent experiences more and more.

I feel like we’re coming to a place now where people are more aware of these things. And, you know, I have a very narrow part of that, which is one of the reasons why I love having other speakers come and come talk about About nervous system regulation coming up. She’s a massage therapist does Thai massage.

So I’m excited about that, but yeah, it’s just, it’s fascinating to me how the language popular language is just now sort of kind of catching up with what we’ve been talking about

The Evolution of Emotional Research

Christine: for years.

Decades and decades. Well, you know, and for those of you who may be in education besides myself and Aurora, like there’s this weird thing in education we talk about all the time, which is there really isn’t anything new.

You’re just recycling it, dressing it up in a different language and a different box, but it’s the same thing that we do. And we did a really long time ago and I know like with the book Emotional Intensity, when I first published that book, it was written in 2009, published in 2010. The research wasn’t there on giftedness and the way in which a gifted brain was different.

It wasn’t. We were extrapolating from other research and saying this makes the most reasonable sense to also be true. for the experience of what it is to be gifted based on a lot of anecdotal information. By the time 2016 rolled around, the second edition came out in 2016, was written in 2015, and there was research to back it up.

And then now, with the edition that’s come out now, that was finished in 2023, comes, came out this year, you know, there’s even more research around what it means to be neurodivergent and what that includes and what is it when you have multiple aspects of neurodivergence all wrapped into one human.

The Future of Neurodivergence and the Need for Labels

Christine: And I have a feeling, you know, God willing, this book is still around in another five, six years. What’ll come out then is that what we already know, which is all humans are actually quite neurodivergent. The idea that we are the same, there’s actually. Not as much of that as we may have thought. And if we could come just reframe our entire experience of trying to lump humans together instead of trying to lump them into categories, we’re accepting people where they are and just have these incredibly affirming environments in which we all could work.

Yeah, some of the, some of the need for some of the labels won’t be as necessary to get our needs met. They’ll still be necessary for us to understand ourselves, I believe but hopefully we’re moving towards a place where they won’t be as necessary as they are right now just to get basic needs met.

Aurora: Absolutely. And the funny thing about research catching up.

I remember 20 years ago looking into like the connection between my ADHD traits and my fibromyalgia stuff. And like, I knew there was a connection. I knew it was like obvious to me. I’m like, why is there nothing out there that talks about the connection now?

The Importance of Cross-Disciplinary Communication

Aurora: There definitely is a lot of connections between physical and neurodivergent stuff, but it’s Interesting to me how long it takes.

Christine: Well, it’s funny that you say that. So I just have to share this really quick story. So I can’t think of what year this was. It had to be about 2012, 15, somewhere in there. I did a keynote at the education school at Baylor university at their educational school.

And while I was there, I got to hang out with a whole and I did a whole bunch of academicians, which was just amazing and fun for me and I loved it. But here’s what surprised me so much because I, while I am very academically oriented, I would, I am not an academician, I am a practitioner and like all practitioners, we tend to pull from lots of different buckets to come up with what we want to do.

And then we, you know, put it into practice. What was fascinating with listening to people who are working on, like, in the beginning stages of working on dissertations and, you know, they’re heavily influenced by their mentors who all have their doctorates and whatnot, is they were felt very confined to specific schools of study.

So one of the things that really came out in my conversations with them, and the example that I often use is this idea that trauma. lives in the body, right? And we know from trauma research with neuropsych, psychs. So in the neuropsych end of the building, we know that trauma is impacting certain things in our brain.

It’s disrupting lateral and vertical communication in our brain, which is then changing some of the ways in which we process information. We know in the social psychology end of the house, at the same time, we also know that this little thing called social emotional learning, that when we explicitly teach other humans, especially baby humans social emotional learning skills, we develop new neuropathways that improve communication that is lateral and vertical in the brain.

Okay, so we got this one thing that’s cutting that level of communication and disrupting it and we have this other thing in a different side of the house that’s solving all of that. Why don’t these two people have a conversation and then put out some stuff, right? This is what I’m thinking as I’m listening to different people talk and I’m like, see, this is the problem people.

What’s it been like 2016 now that I’m thinking about this because I went back home and at the time I was working for a very dynamic educational consulting firm. We’re always looking to disrupt kind of the status quo, and I went right up to my boss and I’m like, this is what we need to do. We all need to pick a house that we’re going to read the tier one latest greatest stuff coming out really good research and then we need to come back to this table, and we need to workshop it all and we need to come up with the solutions and push those out to practitioners and schools.

Everybody looked at me like I was nuts. I’m like, no, seriously, like this is what needs to happen. Never quite got off the ground the way I wanted to, but I still stand by that.

Aurora: Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s true of like all the different facets of like, medical, you know, there’s just like, you have these little silos.

And if you actually communicate across them, you could actually maybe solve some of these problems.

Christine: Yes, I can connect anything to everything. Amen. 100%. Yes. Yeah, so true. I know that feeling.

Aurora: A great book is called The Brain That Changes Itself. Yeah. Where there are great examples of people who cite.

With a scientific background who combined different things one quote from the that was I can connect anything to everything.

Christine: Yeah. Yeah. 100 percent Yes, like, and it’s really around and some of that’s no right because our own confirmation bias is going to see connections where they’re not. I’m fully aware of all of that.

I call myself out on it all the time. But I, I’m also a firm believer if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck and talks like a duck, maybe just maybe it’s a duck and it was all supposed to go together. And I think we’ve gotten overly niched in several industries in several places, including our science world at the moment.

And we just need to do a better job talking. That’s why I like certain tier one universities better than other tier one universities. It’s the degree to which people from multiple different disciplines are coming to the table on a rather regular basis to have conversations.

Aurora: Well, and I think too, when people dismiss stuff as, you know, not being well researched enough or whatever, if it works, if it’s working, it’s working.

 And then I think we need to get the research to catch up with it, not dismiss it because there isn’t the research to back it up. If it’s being observed as working,

Christine: then we need to.

And then what is it about that, right? What is it about that that’s working? Is it sustainable? Is it duplicatable?

Because that’s important, right? Can we generalize this to anything else? That’s what innovation is all about.

Aurora: Awesome. Well, I feel like we could be a good time to transition to let open up for letting others share their, their thoughts outside the chat if you’d like.

So before we transition to more of an open discussion, do you have any final thoughts or any things you want to make sure to to share about emotional intensity.

The Power of Accepting Emotional Intensity

Christine: No, just other than as an intense human, that idea of tolerance, you know, that’s even more important, right? Cause we don’t feel little things. We feel big things. Everything’s big. Compared to other people. And so, the sooner we can be very comfortable with our own intensities, and the sooner we just recognize that as neither good nor bad, it just is and if we need to, because we’ve been shamed by society a lot into thinking it’s not, and getting messages like mentioned at the beginning where he got a message to, you know, be less intense, basically.

I mean, not what was said, but that was basically it. Yeah, no, I’m not going to be less intense. First off, that would imply that I think being intense is bad. I don’t. And so I warn people all the time. I am a lot. I know that I am. I am not everybody’s cup of tea. That’s 100 percent fine. If I’m your cup of tea, great.

If I’m not, there are a million other people in the world, quite literally, somebody else will be. And I take no offense to that whatsoever. So I do warn people, so that later when I am a lot, And they look at me like, dude, Fonseca, you are a lot. I can say, I did warn you. You’re right. Because I’m just, I’m unapologetically me.

And that’s, you know, when I work with clients, adults or children, that is what I want for any of my clients, to get to a point where they can be unapologetically, whoever they are on this planet, recognizing that’s exactly who they were supposed to be. That’s why they’re here. That being said. I do fully understand that I work in a very diverse world with people who cannot tolerate me at times.

The Balance Between Intensity and Communication

Christine: And so I have learned how to read a room, and I have learned how to take my intensity back a notch. I’ve learned when I need to be virtual, like in this kind of a format, because my energy won’t transfer and harm others in the same way that it will be when I’m live. And so I’ve learned how to do all of this.

That’s all part of my natural regulation. Not because I’m not fully accepting of who I am, but because I am honoring those I am with. And because wanting to be heard is oftentimes more important to me than wanting to be right. And you seldom can be both. That’s all.

Aurora: Absolutely. That’s so true. And I think you know, both working in the education system, that’s something you really have to learn because it’s not about, you know, being someone else, but it’s about, yeah, that wanting to be heard is the key thing with communication.

It’s like you want to push for what’s right, but also if you’re always. You know, aggressive,

Christine: well, in education is a really good example, right? Because it’s a very specific structure and in the roles that you and I have served in education, we don’t have control over that structure and we don’t have control over the purse strings and we don’t have control over the yes.

We can tell them what they need to do, but we don’t have a lot of control over much else. And so in that environment, what’s most important is that the people who do have control over the purse string, who do make those decisions, can hear me. And if I Come off in a way that shuts down that communication because of my own intensities about it, nothing’s going to get done.

And since I care more about things getting done and the system getting better, that’s what you need to do.

Aurora: Absolutely.

Final Thoughts on Emotional Intensity

Aurora: our time and we’re kind of getting to that wrap up time, so I’d love to hear Christine if you have any, now having had the discussion part, if you have any final thoughts observations. Words of affirmation.

Christine: Yeah, I think so. So here’s here are my final thoughts, right? Let’s all collectively agree. We’re going to give each other like give ourselves a break real, you know, revel in our own perfect imperfect imperfection and realize that in that imperfection is the most beautiful piece of all of us. And that we are all on a journey and that journey is ever changing and never ending.

And the journey is everything. The destination is irrelevant. Actually, the journey is everything. All things and through that journey, we get to connect with other humans. Look at the beauty of today. We got to connect with different humans going through very human stuff. And how fabulous is that and how fabulous it is to know that we are.

Doing this collectively. That none of us are actually doing this alone. So that’s it.

Aurora: Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for joining us. I’m so glad that we had this conversation

Christine: Me too, me too beautiful.

Looking forward to sharing.

Thank you.

Aurora: Looking for ways to embrace your own intensity? Join our Embracing Intensity community at embracingintensity. com, where you’ll meet a growing group of like minded people who get what it’s like to be gifted and intense and are committed to creating a supportive community, as well as access to our courses and tools to help you use your fire without getting burned.

There’s also a pay what you can option through our Patreon, where you can increase your pledge to help sustain the podcast or Or join us at a rate that better fits your needs. You can also sign up for my free Harnessing the Power of Your Intensity, a self regulation workbook for gifted, creative, and twice exceptional adults and teens.

All links can be found in the show notes or on EmbracingIntensity. com.

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