Has someone told you that you're too intense? And you aren’t sure what that means, or why it’s a problem?
Emotional intensity can be behind your failed relationships and friendships.
What does 'too intense' even mean?
It can be hard to understand why other people find us ‘too much’. From our perspective, inside looking out, we are who we are. We think what we think and feel what we feel, and to us that might make sense. Our family, who knows us and is used to us, might take it in stride.
But consider this - what if the way you think and feel isn’t the way that the majority of people do? What if what to you is normal, is to many other people simply a bit much?
Some people are different. It’s as if their emotional thermostat has a higher setting than other people’s. They feel things more intensely. You might also be called ‘oversensitive’.
What does ‘too intense’ look like?
Ask yourself if the following sounds familiar:
Do you share stories of your past and difficult things you went through with people you just met?
Do you also tend to share a lot about yourself, and often?
Have you even be told you ‘overshare’?
Do you like to be in constant contact with others?
Do you ask other people endless questions about themselves?
Or sometimes feel like you have a gift for getting people to tell you their secrets?
Can you go from happy to sad in an instant? Or get angry out of the blue?
When you are upset do you speak before thinking?
Do you yell easily, and/or cry easily?
Do you tend to rush heedlessly into romantic relationships?
Do you also form very close friendships quickly?
Have you ever got rid of a friend or partner just as fast? As you just suddenly felt differently?
Can you spend hours or even days with one person, sharing all your thoughts?
Are you easily moved by art, films, stories?
Do you tell yourself not to share so much or demand so much of relationships, but you can’t seem to stop yourself?
Why am I so intense?
Some people are just naturally more sensitive than others and more ‘feeling’ than ‘thinking’. This would be the ‘biology’ side of the issue.
Then there is what psychologists call the ‘environment’ side of the equation. Environments are the worlds we live through and the experiences these worlds provide us with.
So this means the way we were raised, and the sort of household we lived in. For example, if we had parents with intense personalities, we might have learned to share all our feelings.
It also means the difficult experiences we had as a child.
Childhood trauma and emotional intensity
Childhood trauma is a key cause of emotional intensity as an adolescent and adult.
Trauma disrupts our sense of self. We can end up with less personal boundaries than others, less ability to control our emotions, and also a habit of searching to please others.
It might be that we had attachment trauma. The person who was our main caregiver from infancy on was unable to provide us with the consistent love and security we needed. We learned to please to gain the love we wanted, by being ‘good’. As adults this can continue as a habit of being ‘interesting’, such as by oversharing.
Or it might be that we experienced neglect or physical or sexual abuse. Sexual abuse in particular can leave you with issues with controlling your emotions in relationships and might even mean you end up with borderline personality disorder.
What is borderline personality disorder?
Remember when the idea was raised that perhaps you think and feel in a way that is quite different than average? A personality disorder is just that. It means that since adolescence, your brain simply doesn’t perceive things like most people's.
Borderline personality disorder, also called ‘emotional instability disorder’, means you seem to lack to emotional defenses others do. You feel everything far more acutely, and your emotions change incredibly fast. You are happy one moment, then depressed the next.
It’s all driven by a terror of being rejected and abandoned. The second you feel you will be, you ‘act out’, such as by being mean or pushing others away first. You also worry what others think of you and assume the worst, then act impulsively despite yourself.
By Andrea Blundell