Has someone told you that you're too intense? And you aren’t sure what that means, or why it’s a problem?
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’.
Ask yourself if the following sounds familiar:
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 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.
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 defences 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.
It can feel as if you’ll never be able to control your racing emotions if you have BPD. But there are actually types of therapy designed just to help those who have emotional instability. These include:
Ready to learn how to control your emotions and stop overreacting? Find a therapist who can help now.