On Being “Too Much”

On Being "Too Much"

I must learn to love the fool in me – the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. ~ Theadore Isaac Rubin

It’s an all too familiar story I’ve heard from many incredible women: An intense creative child is told that part of growing up means toning herself down. She tries to meet this expectation but still fears that she’s “too much.” In the process of toning down she learns to tune herself out and disconnects from her body and gut.

If this goes along long enough, she’s likely to feel lost and/or develop chronic pain. She might push herself beyond her limits or just lose sight of who she truly is.

What she might not realize is that this “too muchness” she fears is the key to her greatest powers!

According to Kazimierz Dabrowski, heightened excitability, or above average reactions to stimuli, is a sign of positive developmental potential. This means that intensity is an asset when it comes to personal growth.

There are five types of excitability: intellectual, imaginative, emotional, sensory and psychomotor. Many people who have been identified as gifted experience one or more of these overexcitabilities.

After interviewing many remarkable women who have harnessed the power of their intensity in their lives and careers for my upcoming Embracing Intensity podcast, I have picked up on some common themes that have helped them reconnect with and direct their excitability.

Self Awareness – Being aware of how your excitablilities affect you and knowing that you are not alone can go a long way toward using them in a positive way. When you aren’t connected with that part of yourself, you are likely to label some aspects that are not as socially acceptable as faults. This type of self-criticism is entirely unproductive. If you can be aware of how your intensity looks when well harnessed as well as how it looks when it feels out of control or suppressed, you can use your fire without getting burned.

Intuition – A common theme that came up was reconnecting with your intuition. Many of us get stuck in our head and stop listening to our heart or gut. David Richo describes the importance of connecting with your “inner trio,” your head, your heart and your gut when making important decisions. If you ignore the last two, you are likely to follow a path that may leave you feeling stuck.

Vulnerability – Opening up and being yourself is the only way that you can really connect with the people who can most relate to you. If you protect yourself from vulnerability, you may have success on the outside, but on the inside something feels “off.” You may “fit in” but to truly belong, it’s crucial to have at least one person you can be vulnerable with.

Self-Care – Finally, finding time for self-care was crucial for most highly excitable women to ground themselves and decompress. For many, this involved getting out in nature. For others exercise, meditation and yoga were daily practices. Whatever you need to do to recharge your batteries, be sure to do it before they are completely dead.

So, if you’ve been spending your time toning yourself down or tuning yourself out, take some time to reconnect with the power of your own intensity. You may find that your greatest excesses are, in fact, your greatest assets!


Comments (9)

  1. Great points about the effects of intensity and excitability, and the importance of learning how to manage the effects it has on the individual.

    • auroraremember

      Thanks! I hope to gather more useful informations as I proceed with more interviews of intense and excitable professionals.

  2. I wonder how to get my children to have self-awareness about their OEs, so that they can anticipate issues better.

    • auroraremember

      I’m still working on this! As a school psychologist, and formerly teacher in a behavior disorder class, I find it’s much easier to do when the children are not your own. With my own excitable child, my personal tendency to pick up on his emotional roller coaster kicks in so I have to work on managing myself as well as giving him tools. He’s finally at an age though where he can start to talk about his feelings so I’ve been trying to communicate that it’s OK to feel intensely, but it’s not OK to take it out on others. Still working on the tools he can use instead such as breathing, and some calming tapping techniques such as EFT (jury is still out on that one).

  3. Love it! I would like to hear more about how you integrate David Richo’s work into gifted identity development. How do you manage adult giftedness in a self-responsible way? What aspects require a time period of exploration, followed by time on the back burner, and what insights require consistent focus and vigilance?

    • auroraremember

      Thanks Bob! Outside of the inner trio concept, I’ve also used David Richo’s 5 As for mindful loving (attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection and allowing) by turning it inward to look at how we provide those things to ourselves as well as our loved ones. His work is all about taking personal responsibility for your needs, so it ties in quite nicely with NVC, which I use a lot in my work. For me, managing intensity is not so much about toning it down or tuning it out, but about stepping back from it to get an objective view and make decisions with a clear head. Excited to see what more I pick up from future interviews!

  4. I love that you’re doing interviews, Aurora. I look forward to hearing more of the results. I’m curious about the disconnection from body and chronic pain that you’re learning about. Great work!

    • auroraremember

      Thanks Paula, looking forward to getting more interviews lined up once my wedding plans are solid and I get some tech issues out of the way. You are definitely on my list!

  5. It’s so important to embrace and learn to manage OEs as adults, and to figure out what works for YOU as an individual. Thanks, Aurora!

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