One of the qualities that makes many performers such as actors and musicians, even some life coaches, so engaging is their intensity. But that intensity can also bring social and emotional challenges.
Most of us are not performers, with opportunities to use our intensity in such public ways.
The photo is Idris Elba and Jessica Chastain in Molly’s Game (2017), from my post Performers and Sensitivity, Introversion and Excitabilities.
Like a number of other artists, both of these emotionally dynamic and intense actors have described themselves as shy – they may really mean their experience is introversion or high sensitivity, often qualities shared by gifted and talented people.
Another example of an intense actor is Russell Crowe.
Jodie Foster once commented about him, “He’s terribly talented and an incredibly charming guy, but I think when he gets nervous he gets incredibly serious.
“He’s a very light, funny guy. He has a little leprechaun side to him. He has that glacier intensity. He is truly intense.”
[From post What do you do with your intensity?]
How can we thrive with our intense waves of emotion?
Therapist Sharon M. Barnes works with creative, sensitive, intense, intelligent children, teens and adults.
On her site, she explains her home-study program, which is designed to help people gain more emotional health:
We designed the CASIGY™ (Creative, Acutely Aware, Super-Sensitive, Intense and/or Gifted You-s) Social-Emotional ACES Home Video Program™ to help you become ACES, that is, skilled experts in the Social-Emotional arena.
You’ll learn to ride the intense waves of emotion in your life, instead of being pulled under by them.
And if you have creative, sensitive or gifted children at home or in the classroom, it’s also designed to help them ride their waves of emotion instead of being flooded by them.
Learn more about her program on a page on her site:
Social-Emotional ACES Home Video Program
Or, see the article
Emotional Health Program for Creative, Gifted, Sensitive People
Psychotherapist Belinda Seiger comments about intensity:
“People have different tolerance levels for intense people and there are many who find them annoying, ‘know-it-alls,’ or ‘just too much.’
“Others fully enjoy the experience of such enthusiastic, creative and emotional people and seek them out as reflection of themselves.”
She comments more about intensity and excitability in her article Mindful Intensity. Here is an excerpt:
If you are a person who has heard statements like, “you’re just too much,” “you think too much,” or “you’re too sensitive,” your whole life, this article is for you.
Perhaps you perceived such comments as indicators that something was wrong with you, or you weren’t even sure why people were saying these things to you.
Well, take heart, you are not alone!
It was only recently, that I myself, a therapist specializing in working with gifted, creative and highly capable people had a humorous and enlightening experience of my own.
I was having breakfast with a relatively new friend who is the mother of a highly gifted child; she herself obviously has a great mind.
She is the kind of person who, when presented with a question or problem to solve, will embark upon finding an answer with immense gusto and fervor, generating such a multitude of possible solutions and resources within a 24 hour period, that it appears that she has been thinking about the issue over many months.
She is incredibly knowledgeable and synthesizes immense amounts and types of information very rapidly.
During our conversation, I reflected on these abilities to her and described her as an “intense” person, and she was surprised.
I was surprised that she was surprised, since it seemed so obvious to me.
We were with another friend who has known me for about fifteen years and, much to my surprise, he said to me, “you know, you’re very intense too…
Developing greater control of the “volume of intensity” may lead to more relaxed or responsive interactions with friends, family and colleagues.
Continued in article Mindful Intensity, by Belinda Seiger.
Living With Intensity: Understanding the Sensitivity, Excitability, and the Emotional Development of Gifted Children, Adolescents, and Adults – by Susan Daniels and Michael M. Piechowski, Editors.
Gifted children, of course, grow up to become adults with the same characteristics they had as children, even though modified by society and life experiences.
Below is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of the book:
Emotional Intensity of Gifted Children
The emotional intensity and high level of energy of a gifted child cannot be ignored because they disturb the routine and the order of things set before the arrival of the little Energizer.
Gifted children take in information from the world around them; they react and respond more quickly and intensely than other children.
They are stimulated both by what’s going on around them and by what moves them from within.
Because they can be so greatly stimulated, and because they perceive and process things differently, gifted children are often misunderstood.
Their excitement is viewed as excessive, their high energy as hyperactivity, their persistence as nagging, their questioning as undermining authority, their imagination as not paying attention, their passion as being disruptive, their strong emotions and sensitivity as immaturity, their creativity and self-directedness as oppositional.
They stand out from the norm.
But then, what is normal?
It is of course unfortunate that something exceptional, something that is outside of the norm, is often looked upon as being abnormal, and that “abnormal” usually means annoying or bad, whereas “normal” means mostly acceptable or good.
We forget that these notions come from a statistical convention, the bell curve, which does not tell us what is good and what is bad…
Had psychology chosen life science as its model—after all, people are living beings—the concept of what is normal would not be the average, but rather what is well-functioning—that is, in good health.
Optimal, in life sciences, is often quite different from statistically average or normal, yet optimal functioning is what we hope people will strive for.
Such optimal functioning is a major thrust of this book.
Paula Prober gives a nice metaphor of intensity in her book: Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth :
‘Do you long to drive a Ferrari at top speed on the open road, but find yourself always stuck on the freeway during rush hour?
“Do you wonder how you can feel like “not enough” and “too much” at the same time?’ [From Amazon summary.]
One of her articles: How Can I Be Authentic When I Overwhelm Everyone?
Creative People Shouldn’t ‘Tone It Down’ By Cynthia Morris
Excitabilities and Gifted People – an intro by Susan Daniels