Exploring the Matrix of Your Brain

As someone who has tested IQs for a living for many years, I know how valuable they can be in terms of helping see patterns of processing strengths and weaknesses, but I’m also the first to acknowledge their limitations in truly understanding the depths of someone’s giftedness. I don’t really believe that there is a number, especially not a full scale number, that defines giftedness. The number also reflects the quantity of correct answers, but not really the quality of answers, especially when it comes to the verbal portion of the test. This is why qualitative information is so crucial when we look at learning and giftedness!

Exploring the Matrix of Your Brain

I was inspired to revisit this post from Jennifer Harvey Sallin on Intergifted on High, Exceptional & Profound Giftedness, which talks about levels of giftedness. While they do give numbers for general reference, it is the qualitative experience that differentiates the levels.

She talks about standard linear thinking that goes from point A to point B.


Then there’s skip thinking that jumps points and processes things faster.


Then there’s what she calls meta-thinking or matrix thinking that takes and makes complicated connections.

This got me thinking of all the complicated ways of thinking I’ve come across and I jotted down a few little notes on a post it about how different brains might work. I showed this to a student recently and he was able to point to one and elaborate on how it works for him. I thought it might be fun to share so we can think of our own matrix brains and how they work. There are infinite possibilities, but here’s a few that came to mind. Interestingly, when I “visualize” these things, I am not actually creating an image in my head - most of my own thoughts come in words, which is why I like to jot down little pictures of what others might see in their mind’s eye.

Mind Map - The closest thing I’ve come up with to explain my own brain is a giant 3 dimensional mind map that is constantly connecting seemingly unconnected things. Someone I talked to recently looked at the different images I’d jotted down on a post it and said, “well this may sound weird, but it’s like that one, only the circles are 3 dimensional.” Doesn’t sound weird at all, but it can be very helpful to articulate and have someone acknowledge it!

Venn Diagram - Another way I find my brain working is in a Venn Diagram, finding the overlap in relationships to everything. I really like the idea of the Venn Diagram, but it’s a little more difficult to imagine in 3D space. There are so many ways to group and categorize things that when it gets too complicated, drawing lines between things on a mind map becomes the easiest way to convey, but at the basic level I really like the way Venn Diagrams represent overlapping categories.

Spiral - I once had a boss who was 2E ADHD and everyone thought he was all over the place when he spoke. I began to realize though that he always got back to the point eventually. It was like he talked in a spiral and would come back to the point every time it came back around.

Puzzle - A friend once described someone as having lots of puzzle pieces but having a challenge putting all the pieces together. Another friend described her job each year as putting the pieces together in a puzzle and then having them all dumped out again. We each have different approaches to putting together the pieces of the puzzle. Some are quick right out the gate, some learn in time how to put them together and others feel like a piece or two is missing.

Tree - When I think of my multi potentiality, I tend to think of a tree. The roots dig deep to form my foundation, but when I get too many things going at once it’s like wild branches that need pruning. When I was working full time in my day job I over pruned and didn’t have any time for the enriching stuff and when I first branched out on my own (see what I did there?) I went in way too many directions at once. This year I am focusing on pruning and strengthening just a few branches at a time.

Spider Web - I see the spider web as sort of a combination of the spiral and the mind map. It’s another way to visualize making constant connections. Like real spider webs, they are never quite as neat and tidy as you might find in a symbol or graphic but can get quite messy.

3D Chess Board - When I brought this idea up to a friend and parent, she shared the idea of a 3d chess board. Not only are you navigating and strategizing on one flat plane/dimension, there are multiple plains to navigate and strategize on all at once.

Maze - One final image that came to mind is a maze where you follow one path and may come to a dead end and have to back track to find your way back.

When I do educational assessment, I don’t just look at numbers but aim to help understand what’s going on in their brains. Often times what I come up with is just confirmation for what they or their parents already knew at an instinctive level, but sometimes the numbers can help explain or justify the pattern. I recently found this imagery really handy to help someone articulate what was going on in their own brain!

I will be continuing to explore how we can befriend our own brains and figure out how to work with our strengths so we can stop working harder and start learning how we work! I believe this can be helpful for adults as well as children and am exploring tools to further explore this domain!

One thing you can explore now is how your own intensity and excitability may play into how you tick through my free Find Your Superpower course. You can access it here! I’ll be working on putting together a list of other self exploration tools soon. If you have one to suggest, let me know!

So how do you best explain your brain?

Exploring the Matrix of Your Brain

22 Journal Prompts for Gifted and Outside the Box Thinkers

My Embracing Intensity Podcast has been a wonderful tool for sharing stories of gifted and outside the box thinkers about how they have used their intensity in a positive way. Starting the solo episodes gave me the opportunity to share my own reflections, but I was missing the opportunity to share community reflections. 

22 Journal Prompts for Gifted and Outside the Box Thinkers

I decided to start sharing Weekly Reflection Questions on Patreon, based on themes from the podcast, in order to get more discussion going. These questions can also be used as journal prompts for private self-reflection. 

In order to access them all together, I have coated the first 22 reflection questions here. You can find new questions each week on Patreon

While the questions are available to anyone, Patrons can access other useful tools for self-exploration such as monthly seasonal Reconnect Retreat guides and my Ignite Your Power course. It is also a great way to support the continued production of the Embracing Intensity Podcast!

If you join us on Patreon by August 6th, you can also get additional bonuses as a part of our pledge drive! 

  1. How do you think gender expectations have affected how you express your intensity? 
  2. When have you changed yourself, or put yourself in draining situations in order to "fit in?"
  3. What things do you find better to do with other people? 
  4. What message do you need to share with the world?
  5. What activities do you find the most energizing?
  6. What helps you connect with your roots? 
  7. When have you had to shift gears to keep doing what you love?
  8. When have you felt like a chameleon? How has it affected you? 
  9. Where in your life have you felt like an imposter? 
  10. What happens when you are fully able to express who you are? What do you think might happen if you had this opportunity more? 
  11. When have you stopped yourself from saying what you thought because you were afraid it wouldn't be "nice"? Would you do things differently if you had another opportunity? 
  12. What do you feel like you HAVE to do, even if you don't have the time? 
  13. What helps you get comfortable being uncomfortable? 
  14. What aspect of your own light have you been dimming?
  15. How do you keep your inner fire burning without burning out? 
  16. How do you give yourself compassion?
  17. How do you let go of other things so you can enjoy the moment?
  18. What rituals do you have for getting into a creative space?
  19. What helps you connect with your own inner knowing?
  20. What keeps you thinking instead of taking action?
  21. Are you more of a reader or a writer? Why?
  22. What are signs for you that a relationship is positively challenging vs. diminishing?

In order to help you create a deeper self-exploration experience, I created this free Retreat Planner

You Have So Much Potential, But...

"You are so smart but..." "You have so much potential, if only..." "you just need to work harder." Are these words triggering for you? I will say they sure are for me. I totally lost my cool this week as I listened to my son get lectured on how he just needed to improve his "work ethic." 

Here's the thing I wish I understood at his age. Sometimes the things that come really easy to the average person come really hard for us. 

I remember as a kid being so proud and excited to get "citizen of the month" that one time when all my other friends got it every year. I remember almost being kicked out of the gifted program because I was not living up to my potential. 

You have so much potential, but... It's not about working harder, but knowing how you work! Free Find Your Superpower Course inside

Did that make me work harder? Heck no, it made me resent the people for whom hard work seemed to come easy. 

It wasn't until much much later in life that I finally caught on that it wasn't about "working harder" for me, but about understanding how I work. Coming up with tools and strategies to use my gifts and work with my weaknesses. 

But this did not happen for me until after I dropped out of the college where I had made my closest friends and immediately regretted it. I tried to get tested for learning disabilities, but the according to the state criteria I did not meet their qualifications (despite the fact that there was a 40 point gap between my auditory processing and working memory weakness and my other areas of strength). 

Instead of being given tools then, I was asked why I even took the tests - I got into this liberal arts college, I must be doing OK. Obviously not since I dropped out the next year. 

Something started to click in my last years of college and I started to learn tools. I got a job in the school system which provided structure and deadlines that kept me in check. I found a really awesome to-do list that helped me sort tasks in a way that wasn't overwhelming. I wish I could recommend it, but it's no longer being made - one of these days when I'm rich I'll hire an app developer to create one similar combined with my research on executive functioning skills. 

As I embark on this whole entrepreneur journey and move out of the safe structure of the school system, I am in the process of relearning and reexamining my own tools. As I try new things, some of which work and some of which don't, I have to remind myself that my challenges are not about how hard I work - if anything I work too hard while I find the most effective use of my time. 

This has been a good reminder to be kind to myself as I explore this process. It's an ongoing journey and I've come a very long way. I've also been able to help others find their own strengths and be kind to themselves.

On this week's Embracing Intensity Podcast, I dig a little deeper into the idea of "underachievement." 

I would love to hear from you, what strategies have helped you do the "hard stuff" that others seem to find easy?

To help you explore how you work best, I created a free Find Your Superpower Course to help you: Identify your individual areas of excitability with an excitability checklist; Customize the name of your own unique superpower; & Explore how you can harness your own power instead of suppressing it or letting it get out of control.

From Boredom to Burnout

Ironically I almost missed this month's Hoagies' Gifted Blog hop on Balancing Boredom & Burnout because of end of school year burnout. This spring was especially challenging with the perfect storm of end of year fatigue, financial stress, dog dying, new sick puppy...

And then, of course, when I'm not really capable of taking on one more thing, my brain goes into overdrive with ideas of things I can do with my businesses, both this one and our Quinn Mountain Retreat BnB. Needless to say, none of these ideas have come to fruition quite yet. 

From Boredom to Burnout - Free Retreat Planner inside

The last few months I've thought and written a lot about prioritization and self-care and I've been revisiting these the last week as school gets out (I'd say "got" out, but I still have a few reports that need to get wrapped up). 

When I think of the word "boredom" I think "what's that, I never get bored?" But that's because my brain has gotten so adept at keeping itself busy. Watching my son though, I can see how it starts. That active brain has a low tolerance for inactivity. For me, I resorted to watching a lot of TV, which I regret in later years. And now, I admit, I find myself on social media more than is productive. 

For my son, I have to get really creative to help him with ideas to keep himself entertained without an electronic device. He can do it when pushed, but I find we both have a difficult time getting started. 

The thing is though, if we are not careful, the things we do to prevent boredom can lead us to burn out - both mentally and physically. 

As summer is upon us, I'm exploring ways to keep the balance between boredom and not further burning ourselves out. Here are a few things I'm working on as we move through the summer:

  • Record ideas in a journal to inspire us when we are looking for something to do. Including ideas that are productive, creative, interactive etc.
  • Leave space in our days for stillness and quiet. 
  • Be sure to include physical activity along with our mental activity. 
  • Leave space in our days for play.
  • Keep in mind our cycles of energy so we can plan for times we know we'll be tired and not push ourselves too far. 
  • Alternate structured time with creative free time. 

What will you do this summer to balance between boredom and burnout? 

To help you take time out to rest and avoid burnout, I created this free Retreat Planner!  It includes information on: How to prepare for your retreat in the way that’s best for you; Simple, accessible, and straightforward practices to deepen your experience; A template planner;  A guide to using essential oils to enhance and deepen your healing experience; A recommended reading list; and more!

Excuse Me While I Overthink This Post

For the last few years, I've participated in the Hoagies' Gifted Education Page Blog Hops, but rarely is there a theme so relevant as this month's topic of overthinking. 

The problem is, there's so much to say on the topic I don't know where to begin. This got me thinking about how we think, especially as intense, gifted and/or excitable women. 

Recently in my League of Excitable Women Facebook group we got into a discussion about linear vs. nonlinear thinking. 

For nonlinear thinkers like myself, a description that appealed to me about the way our thinking works is like a spiral or DNA helix. It doesn't stay on one thing, but keeps coming back to it, perhaps at a deeper level the next time. 

Excuse Me While I Overthink This Post - Free retreat planner inside

Another member described their thinking as "logical non-linear" like reading a map: 

"I feel like my thinking is more like viewing a map and seeing the possibilities - there's the fast efficient way of getting there, there's the scenic route (maybe longer but more fun), the escape route (wtf did I do and how do I get out of it?), and of course the 5 other routes that will get you there but have no real value to add. When I overthink it's like spontaneously adding stops to a road trip, the whole map needs to be reviewed and routes need to change which causes me to rethink every other point on the map."

A more linear thinker described it this way,  "I have a very linear brain. I examine a problem carefully, from all angles, looking at all the possibilities. I plan something from beginning to end and like order and stability (sometimes too much). I can get hung up on the details, figuring out how they all fit together into the whole, and lose track of the whole."

The common thread I see among most of the women I've worked with is the tendency to look at a problem from every possible angle. A more linear thinker might internally work out the most efficient route, but possibly get stuck on the details. A non-linear thinker might need external strucrures and supports in place to contain the inner chaos and move forward because there might not be one obvious beginning, middle and/or end. 

Now I'd love to hear from you - would you describe yourself a a linear or non-linear thinker? What helps you get unstuck when you are caught in an overthinking loop?

This week I was inspired to create a short-term coaching offer called Focus Your Power to help you get clear on where to focus your energy, come up with a concrete plan of action to meet your goal and refine your plan for success. I'm offering the first 8 to sign up a discounted rate of $75. You can find out more here

This post was written as a part of this month's Hoagies' Gifted Education Blog Hop on Overthinking. For more musings on my own overthinking and thoughts on what to do about it, you can listen to this week's podcast - Overthink Much?

To help you take time out to connect with your inner thoughts, I created this free retreat planner!  It includes information on: How to prepare for your retreat in the way that’s best for you; Simple, accessible, and straightforward practices to deepen your experience; A template planner;  A guide to using essential oils to enhance and deepen your healing experience; A recommended reading list; and more!

Beyond Explanation

When I decided to break out and do some solo shows on my Embracing Intensity Podcast, I asked my League of Excitable Women Facebook group what topics they would like me to address. One of the common themes was on explaining our intensity and/or excitability to other people. 

This has been my on-going dillema with sharing what exactly it is that I do, and part of the reason I started the podcast in the first place. I've come to realize that my best strategy so far has been to surround myself with people who already "get it." It seems that if you relate to intensity/excitability, it doesn't take much for others to click and say "that's me!"

Beyond Explanation: Explaining your personal quirks to others - Free Find Your Superpower Course inside

When I describe the women I work with, I use words like gifted, passionate, spirited, powerful, creative, intense. Each of these words may be true, but some relate to different words to different degrees. 

When I start to explain excitability to someone who doesn't understand it, I can see their eyes glaze over and know they are "not my tribe."

Even within my tribe though, I once had a friend describe me as "an enigma wrapped in a riddle." 

But what if you have to interact on a regular basis with people who don't "get" you?

I guess I would start by saying that everyone takes in and reacts to the world differently.

I recently read a post about how some people have a genetic marker that makes cilantro taste like soap. For these people, eating cilantro is a very unpleasant experience. So how might this apply to excitablility? Let's start by looking at the definition of excitable according to Merriam-Webster:

Definition of excitable

1:  capable of being readily roused into action or a state of excitement or irritability

2:  capable of being activated by and reacting to stimuli excitable cells

This may look a little differnt depending on the type of excitability you relate to...

Intellectual - You might say that your brain is constantly going. Everything that comes up connects with another thought and you are constantly either jumping from one thought to another or delving super deep into something that has captured your attention. There's really very little in between. If you are only sort-of interested in something, it will not hold your attention for very long, but if you are deeply captured by something you can get lost in it for hours, or days. 

Sensory - Our sensory sensitivities may vary, but you might say that because your senses pick things up quickly, what is annoying for someone else might be excruciating for you. I once heard it described like the canary in the cole mine - sensory sensitive people notice things before others and can call attention to it. Those same things might bother everyone at some point, but the sensory excitable person will notice it sooner and be more affected by it. 

Emotional - I remember feeling when I was younger like my emotions were a roller coaster. The range of feelings experienced was extreme, so while I was capable of high highs, I was also capable of low lows. In my case, it is not to the degree of a diagnosable condition (except for possibly ADHD), but it does mean that I have to take extra time to ground myself emotionally - especially if I'm dealing with other people's intense emotions, which I pick up as well. 

Psychomotor - For me, this can best be described as a sense of restlessness. I am often fatigued, but it's a kind of "wired but tired" feeling. My body is being constantly overstimulated, which often leaves me feeling drained. 

Imaginational - This would be my lowest area of excitability, but for those I know who are high on this area, they have a very active imagination that is constantly going. In this blog post on being quietly spirited, Carissa Reid, who is highly imaginationally excitable, described herself as feeling like "a universe in a box, waiting for the flap to open."

On this week's Embracing Intensity Podcast, I explore further how myself and others describe our intensity/excitability. I would love to hear from you on how you describe your own!

To help you explore your own unique gifts, I created a free Find Your Superpower Course to help you: Identify your individual areas of excitability with an excitability checklist; Customize the name of your own unique superpower; & Explore how you can harness your own power instead of suppressing it or letting it get out of control. 

Two Words - Be Yourself!

This week I get to share with you an interview with Jennie Friedman of the See In ADHD Podcast

When asked what was the best advice she was ever given, Jennie said, "Be yourself. My mom and dad used to say that all the time and I still hear the voices saying that. It didn't seem like a good answer when I was younger and I think I spent many years fighting being myself. I wanted to actually be anybody but me for a very long time, and you know now - I mean, you don't have a choice right? You have to be yourself. But to be yourself and be really good with that and really love being yourself - you know, embracing that... I mean, be yourself is two words but the meaning is just a lifetime of that journey of being yourself and hating it and then having no choice but to be yourself and learning to love it. So it's the best advice - just two words, so powerful!"

Two Words - Be Yourself! Free Find Your Superpower Course Inside!

This seems to be the journey of so many intense and/or gifted women! Even when our parents accept us for who we are, we are told by the world that we just don't quite fit so we often try to shift into a mold that isn't well suited to us. This is why it warms our hearts when we see older women who are unapolagetically free to express themselves as they wish. 

But why wait until you are older to be yourself?

In a previous interview with Leela Sinha, she said, "if you, quote, toned it down and found yourself a place where you sort of fit, as your toned down self - the odds are as you approach 40, you're going to get sick of it and you're going to bust out of that box and everything that you thought you built is going to come crashing down around your ears and your gonna have to start over. So, the less time you spend building yourself into a false reality, the better off you are."

I think some of us get way past 40, but I agree with her sentiment that the sooner you get comfortable in your own skin the better. 

This is not to say that we do whatever we want without empathy or good communication, but that we look at the internal motivation for our choices. Doing things simply for approval or to "fit in," will certainly become draining, while doing things that are motivated by joy and deep interest will energize us. 

So think about what parts of yourself you feel like you might be holding back and how you might express that part of yourself in a way that feels good for you. Who knows, you might find connections with others when they get a glimpse of things they might be holding back in themselves. 

To help you explore your own unique gifts, I created a free Find Your Superpower Course to help you: Identify your individual areas of excitability with an excitability checklist; Customize the name of your own unique superpower; & Explore how you can harness your own power instead of suppressing it or letting it get out of control.

Do You Suffer From Paralyzing Abundance?

Whenever I get a new member in my League of Excitable Women Facebook Group, I always ask the question, "What are you intensely passionate about," which is also ask all of the women I interview on my Embracing Intensity Podcast

One thing that has become evidently clear is that intense, gifted, excitable women rarely have one passion. There are many names for this - multipotentiality, polymath, scanner, rainbow person (vs. specialist in one thing). 

I believe this, along with our propensity for perfectionism, is what leads to feeling like scattered overachievers, or gifted underachievers. I can say that I, personally, have felt like both at the same time. 

Do you suffer from paralyzing abundance? Free Find Your Superpower Course inside

So, when you are passionate and talented at so many things, how do you choose what to focus on? This week I broke out of my usual interview format on my podcast to explore this further - On Paralyzing Abundance

Obviously you are not going to focus on just one thing for the rest of your life, or possibly ever, but when you have too many balls in the air, your effectiveness on each thing can diminish.

For example, over the summer and early fall I launched multiple things along with my new website and tried to start a local in-person talk series at the same time as I launched my podcast. I rapidly found that trying to do both at once, I could not give them both the energy they deserved. For this year, I decided to discontinue the live talks and focus on my podcast, which has grown considerably since that time and reached a wide audience of people around the world who need to hear my message. 

When I start to feel an excess of abundance, there are a few questions I ask myself to help decide where I should focus: 

Is it energizing to me? This has been a big one for me recently, as my work load in my "day job" has been draining enough that I've prioritized the things that energize me in my business life. 

Is it in line with my purpose and vision? In the grander scheme of things, if it doesn't energize you or move you forward toward your life vision or goals, consider if there is something else you could be doing that would be. 

Is this the most effective use of my time? There might be many different things that could potentially move you toward your purpose and vision, but they might not be the most effective use of your time at the moment. This is why I decided to focus on the podcast rather than the live events because while they both energized me and moved me toward my purpose, the podcast had a greater reach and would therefore get my message out more. 

As a multipotentialite, these things may shift over time. Some people are more effective at juggling multiple projects at once, while others do better rotating through and focusing on one or two at a time. Whatever your preference, if you start to feel exausted or overwhelmed by all the things you want to do, it might be a good time to step back and reexamine your focus. 

This has been a part of the Hoagies' Gifted Education Page Blog Hop on Multipotentiality

To help you explore your own unique gifts, I created a free Find Your Superpower Course to help you: Identify your individual areas of excitability with an excitability checklist; Customize the name of your own unique superpower; & Explore how you can harness your own power instead of suppressing it or letting it get out of control.

Is There Really Such a Thing as Balance?

In this week's interview with Nikki Petersen, we talk about finding balance as an intense, gifted, passionate woman. We use the term "work-life balance" all of the time in our vastly overscheduled culture. Add to that the intense pursuit of our interests and the tendency to get so abshorbed we miss out on the basics of life and finding balance seems even more elusive. But is balance even possible?

Something really stuck with me when I read The On-Purpose Person by Kevin McCarthy. He said, "Balance is a myth. Forget aobut it. Instead, integrate your life through your purpose so you're on-purpose."

But what exactly is integration? Kazimierz Dabrowski has a theory called Positive Disintegration, which asserts that before you can integrate at a higher level you must first disintegrate by dismantling your exising internal structure. This process eventually brings us to our conscious self, or a state of harmonious wholeness. 

Nikki puts it quite eloquently in her blog post called Dabrowski's Sweater. She describes the process of knitting a sweater with yarn our parents gave us and built on patterns from our parents and the enviornment around us. When we disintegrate, we unravel the sweater and then we integrate by using the same yarn and shaping it into a pattern of our own. 

To me, the word balance brings to mind a perfectly even scale, or a waiter perfectly balancing plates or trays. It conveys the idea of symetry or perfect equality of all the important parts in life.

Perfect balance is not only almost impossible to maintain, it can also be quite boring!

Imagine a sweater with perfectly even and symetrical blocks of color, or a piece of music with the same consistent rythm and balance of notes throughout. Not very compelling right? Definitely not very intense. 

I still use the word balance sometimes because that is what people relate to who are trying to find some way to integrate their lives, but the word that rings more true for me is harmony. Merriam-Webster defines harmony as a "pleasing or congruent arrangement of parts." 

When we have a sense of purpose and greater understanding of ourselves, we can make decisions that foster harmony rather than discord. 

Part of my purpose is to help passionate gifted women find harmony by prioritizing things in their lives that are in line with their purpose and bring energy so that they can share their gifts with the world! Contact me if you would like to set up a free 1 hour session to move into the new year with a greater sense of direction and energy!

Get Out of Your Own Box!

A year and a half ago or so, I interviewed Melissa Opie for my Embracing Intensity Podcast. She said something in that interview that still sticks with me today, "I like to help people see that this is just a self-imposed box that you're putting on yourself, let's get out of there and be free!"

It may start out with other people telling you what you can and can’t do, or what is right and what is wrong, but as we become adults and take ownership of our own life and decisions we tend to internalize those messages that may no longer be relevant today.

Some of them are self-protective in our attempt to gain approval, but as Amy Pearson says in an earlier interview, it’s not until you stop chasing approval from the neutrals and haters that you will be more likely to find your tribe.

We also may set limitations on ourselves out of our fear of failure.

One box I put myself in for years was the belief that with my inattentive tendencies, I could never be self-employed. I needed the external pressure and deadlines of a J-O-B to keep myself in line. In the last few years I’ve proved to myself that, while I may not be as productive as I would like to be, I can get a whole heck of a lot done when I’m highly motivated by my work!

As Melissa also says, “for people who really have found that thing that really lights them up, it gives them a reason to wake up in the morning… when people have found that I don’t think there is any danger of them not doing anything.” I have found this to be definitely true for myself.

Now does that mean I’m productive all of the time? Heck no! I’m still working on my process moving from the excessive structure of the school system to the complete lack of structure of entrepreneurship, but I’m motivated to find a way to make it work and be as effective as I can be.

I haven’t stepped completely out of that box yet, as I give myself the space to grow organically and at my own speed, I maintain a few days of my day job to help make ends meet. For many though, I don’t think it’s even about quitting a job or creating an entirely new life.

It’s about finding that “thing” that lights you up and allowing yourself to run with it.

So what self-imposed boxes have you been putting yourself in? How can you allow yourself to step out of that box - even if just a little bit at a time?

Your Needs are Not an Afterthought

When I first started my Embracing Intensity Podcast journey, I was connected with the accomplished J.J. Flizanes as an ideal guest. I made contact, but then when the project got delayed, my communication fizzled out. Last week when I got the chance to share in a podcast group we are both in, she said she really related to it, so I asked her for an interview and got one with her that week!

J.J. is a gifted woman if I ever met one! She described her experiences of feeling "different" growing up and coming off as too intense when she met new friends. She threw herself into her work - first acting, then personal training and now wrapping it all up together with lots of personal empowerment work including a best-selling book and a 6 day a week podcast!

Like everything she does, she dove into her business with intensity and drive. She pushed herself into adrenal fatigue and cycled between burning the candles at both ends to burning out and taking an extended break. She finally came to a point where she realized she needed to incorporate self-care into her everyday routine in order to maintain equilibrium and not keep pushing herself to the brink. 

Two key practices she uses to help with this include a daily grattitude practice and the use of Nonviolent Communication as a tool to connect with her own feelings and needs. This is a tool that we have both found extremely useful both for communicating with ourselves and being able to communicate our needs to others. I use the acronym STAR to remember the steps in the process:

Stop - Stop and observe the situation. What are your feelings? What needs are or are not being met? (you can find great lists of feelings and needs here) What judgements are you having about this situation?

Think - What strategies can you think of that might meet your needs? It is important to understand that there are many ways to meet the same need, and avoid getting stuck on one particular strategy. Get creative!

Act - Once you've found a strategy that you think might work (and doesn't violate the needs of someone else), act out your strategy. 

Request - This may come before or after you act. Think of who can help you meet your needs and make a request of them to help out. Be sure that you are clear that they can say no so it does not feel like a demand. People respond much better when they come from a place of empathy rather than a sense of "duty."

I think we both find this tool so valuable for self-awareness because intense and sensitive people so often push themselves and put other people's needs before their own that their own needs become an afterthought. When you do that continually though, you have a tendency to burnout. You can keep living in that burn - burnout cycle, or start taking the time now to get clear on your needs and take care of them as you move forward. In the end, this strategy will make you more effective when you do feel the need to push. 

This post is a part of the Hoagies' Gifted Education Blog Hop on Emotional Intelligence