from Healing to thriving
Roadmap for the Emotionally Intense Person
People who identify with being emotionally intense and sensitive tends to experience their day-to-day life more vividly and deeply. New research in the field of neuroscience have recognised the differences in the way emotionally intense people perceive and process information. They tend to react more strongly to physical and emotional pain in themselves and others, and can easily become stressed or fatigued duet sensory and emotional overload.
Across the lifespan, emotionally intense people face unique struggles on their journey to living fully and authentically. Apart from the struggle with emotional regulation, many are misunderstood and stigmatised for years before they come to learn about and accept their unique qualities.
The following ‘Healing Roadmap’ illustrates some of the milestones, or markers, of the process. However, these are not steps to be achieved in a linear sequence, because the process is cyclical and completely unique to you.
1. Breaking away from the old wounds
- Becoming aware of and breaking away from some of the old ‘life scripts’ that no longer serve you. These may include sensations and deep feelings around certain beliefs: ‘People will always leave me in the end’, ‘I can never trust anyone’, ‘I do not fit in anywhere’.
- Being free from the emotional baggages that come from being 'parentified' -where you were put into the role of being a parent to your own parents, instrumentally or emotionally (This is unfortunately a common phenomenon amongst emotionally intense and gifted individuals).
- Having an expanded ‘window of tolerance’, so you are not triggered into states of hyper-arousal (acute stress, rage, tension, and panic) or under-arousal (dissociating, disconnecting, feeling empty and depressed).
- Finding ways to cope when feeling overwhelmed, without resorting to avoidance or compensatory behaviours (over-eating, over spending, and other impulsive habits).
- Integrating the more vulnerable, ‘younger’ parts of yourself, rather than rejecting them.
- Minding the undisciplined, rageful and destructive part of yourself.
- Lessening the impact of your internalised shame, and the voice of the inner critic.
- Healthily mourning the lack/ loss of the ‘what might have been’: Letting go of the resentment over not having the perfect childhood, the ideal parents… etc, in order to embrace the life that is ahead of you.
Therapy/ Self-development tools that are particularly helpful for growth at this phase:
Dialectical behavioural therapy, Schema therapy, Mentalisation-based treatment, EMDR, Trauma-focused work, Emotional Freedom technique or tapping, Neuro-sculpting, Ego-state therapy, Cognitive and behavioural therapy.
2. Cultivating aliveness and authenticity
(This is particularly important, because passion and vitality are the key nutrients to an emotionally intense person! )
- Letting go of who you think you should be and embracing who you actually are.
- Healing from the wounds of being told that you were ‘too much’, ‘too dramatic’, ‘too intense’, ‘too sensitive’, ‘too…’, and being able to express and assert your needs and wants.
- Trusting the natural expression of your ‘unedited self’, preserving your natural playfulness and spontaneity.
- Allowing yourself to be emotionally moved and impacted, rather than being cut off and disconnected.
- Having the courage to feel, to love, without getting caught in emotional storms or excessive fear of loss.
- Dancing with impermanence in life: Knowing that pain is inevitable in life, and that it is human to be thrown-off course sometimes. When that happens, rest in the faith that you will be able to bounce back.
- Being ‘skilfully authentic’ in groups and relationships: Allowing your real self to be seen and accepted, without pre-maturely exposing yourself when it is not safe/ appropriate to do so.
- Finding and going where you are celebrated, not tolerated.
- Honouring your deep desires to be heard, seen and received as your true self!
Therapy/ Self development methods that are relevant to this phase:
Emotional Literacy, Mindfulness practise, Gestalt therapy, Art psychotherapy, ‘Non-violent communication’, Relational corrective experience, Systemic psychotherapy, Transactional Analysis ,Humanistic and Existential Psychologie, learning about Group dynamics.
3. fulfilling your full potential
- Living in congruence: Building a life around your values and what you believe is important.
- Being able to express yourself creatively in your chosen vocation, aligning with your calling.
- Transforming your existential angst into a sense of mission and purpose.
- Managing your deep yearning to be seen and heard as who you are, by finding the right stage for your audience, the right channel for your gifts.
Tools that are helpful in this phase: Jungian Symbol work, the Enneagram, personality inventories such as MBTI, Integrative coaching. The work in this aspect may also include practical ways to increase productivity, and to optimise your health, in order to increase creative output. This may involve learning from artists and others who have acheived success in life.
4. spiritual ALIGNment
- Having a sense of trust in something bigger than yourselves.
- Relinquishing the need to have life pan out exactly the way you wish it to be, and harnessing a sense of trust that your life is unfolding in the perfect order.
- Coming to terms with the unavoidable ‘givens’ of human existence; That things are constantly changing, life is not always fair, losses and death are part of life, and we cannot control everything.
- Developing a spiritual sense that the work is being done not ‘by you’, but ‘through you’.
Tools that are helpful in this phase: Transpersonal Psychology, Psychosynthesis, Bibliotherapy, reading of ancient and modern wisdom literature
There is no need to feel deflated if some of these themes seem unreachable to you right now. Emotional healing and spiritual maturity are lifelong paths that each of us can achieve through commitment and continuous practises. People’s lives change as they progress in their own stages of self realisation.