Posts Tagged ‘being intense’

I love reading the comments that my readers post because they frequently get me thinking and help me along my own healing journey. That was my reaction when I read the following comment, which was posted on my blog entry entitled Channeling your Intensity after Child Abuse:

part of me is very intense too – especially when a task is to be done : 100 % . however, a person i greatly respect once told me that 80 % is good enough. when he said that another part of me felt such relief that maybe the possibility existed for us to “let up ” a little. we tried the 80 % idea and it opened up a new world for us, it allowed us to look beyond what we had previously narrowed to a fine focus point, it allowed us to step aside from black and white and – yes – it allowed us to see that trivialities are actually a significant part of life. maybe the egg-shell blue relaxes a little more than the half-white. maybe what someone had for lunch with xyz matters because it helps us to understand more about their personhood and maybe that matters because it helps us see life outside of our direct experience zone and when it all boils down to it life is about relationships and relationships can best be understood when the seemingly trivial are taken into account. Onepiece of soil is nthing on its own but many maketh the world. ~ Gracie

I have been thinking about the suggestion of downshifting to 80% ever since I read this comment. I wonder if I have the ability to do this. Then, I got to thinking about the areas in my life in which I have relaxed the standard.

I used to believe that I had to be the “perfect” parent. My therapist kept trying to get me to see that perfection was not possible or required. My son has special needs (the most difficult being attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder – ADHD), which made it significantly harder to be a “perfect” parent.

I finally accepted that being a good parent was going to have to be enough. I also had to accept that part of being a good parent was cutting myself some slack and giving myself some breaks. I am now much happier in my role as a parent since I downshifted to 80%.

I have also done a pretty good job in cutting back my work time to 80%. As a stay-at-home mom of a child with ADHD, trying to work after school hours is pointless. So, I cram in a ton of work during the hours that he is at school. I finally recognized that I deserved a lunch break just like anyone else. So, even when I am super-busy (which is most of the time), I stop and watch a TV show or read a magazine while I eat lunch. When I added up the time, it realized that it was about 20% of my non-kid time, which is working at 80% and not 100%.

I have also cut back on my professional blog at Adoption Under One Roof. I used to post every day on that blog. Now, I am only posting on weekdays like I do here. That was like cutting back to 80% as well.

So, I guess I really can do this in other parts of my life as well. Wish me luck!

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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If there is one adjective that people use frequently to describe me, it is intense. I honestly do not know how to be any other way. Shallow people who flit around and talk about meaningless topics bore me to tears. I am sure that I scare them to death!

Being an intense person has its drawbacks. I have actually been “called on the carpet” for doing too well on a job! The concern is always that I am going to burn out, and then the company will lose a good employee. I am baffled that I must justify why I meet deadlines early and do a good job. Isn’t the goal to be the best that you can be?

Over the years, friends have tried to explain why I need to rein in my intensity. It freaks a lot of people out. For the most part, I don’t care. I am not going to do a bad job just because other people can’t keep up. I am not going to waste my time talking about inane things like comparing and contrasting the benefits of eggshell paint over off-white – Who the h@#$ cares?? (Yes, I know that less intense people do, but I am absolutely baffled as to why.)

Sometimes I will beat myself up over being too intense. But then I will have a nightmare/flashback, and I will “remember” how I got to be so intense in the first place. My childhood was about survival, not paint colors.

I recently watched a biography about the fabulous Richard Gere. Throughout his biography, the word intense kept coming up, but it was not in a negative way like I hear about myself. Richard Gere is able to take his intensity and use it to create believable (and yes, intense) characters on the big screen.

That got me thinking about myself. I do that here. Goodness knows, this blog is an intense one, but it is also a very healing one for some of the most hurting people out there. So, intensity does not have to be a bad thing. It is all in how you use that intensity.

And the bottom line is that, once people get to know me over a period of time, they realize that I am not going to burn myself out. I have a lot of energy, and I channel that energy in whatever direction I deem worthy of my time. Whether that means writing blogs, teaching a class, or volunteering at my kid’s school, I am going to give it all I have. The recipients of my intensity generally respond with gratitude, not rejection.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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