Posts Tagged ‘intense personality’

On my blog entry entitled Awakening to My Anxiety Issues, a reader posted the following comment:

I have at times had people tell me I come off as anxious or intense. It really pisses me off when someone tells me that because I am not aware of feeling anxious at the time, and although I know what intensity looks like when I see it in others, I do not feel like I am coming off as intense when people say this to me. It is like I am trying to figure out how not to appear anxious or intense, even if I am on the inside. ~ Elaine

Elaine’s entire comment really resonated with me, but I want to focus specifically on this part of the comment for this blog entry. As I read her comment, I just nodded my head in agreement because I feel like that a lot of the time.

At my core, I am an intense person (as you probably picked up on based on the content of this blog!). I can joke around and have fun at times, but that is not my baseline. I am an intense person because I have endured intense things, and healing from those intense traumas is equally intense.

Like Elaine, I have found myself in uncomfortable situations when I “freaked out” other people by my intensity, and I was completely unaware of being intense in the moment. One example was with a couple of close friends. We were talking about our parenting when our children were babies. I thought I was just sharing how much more uptight I used to be about making sure my child got enough vegetable, etc., versus now. Apparently my sharing was far too intense for either of them. One friend got up and said she needed a few minutes to breathe. I looked at the other, truly puzzled. She said that I got way too intense there. The message I take away from these incidents is that it is not okay for me to be myself.

Like Elaine, I can recognize intensity in others but not in myself. When I see someone who is more intense than I am, I think to myself, “You really need to breathe, dear.” Quite frankly, most people are more laid back than I am, so whenever I view someone else as intense, I know that they are really tightly wound.

I don’t like having to pretend that I am not who I am. I am an intense person. I try to match my behavior to the situation, but I always want to be me. For example, out of respect for the members of my Sunday School class, I will refrain from using foul language. I am still myself: I am just being respectful of who I am with. However, when it comes to friendships, I need my friends to be able to accept “me,” and who I am is intense at times. In fairness, both of the friends in my example have been there for me through intense stuff. I apparently just caught them off guard in this situation.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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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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