On Being "Too Much"

I must learn to love the fool in me - the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. ~ Theadore Isaac Rubin


It's an all too familiar story I've heard from many incredible women: An intense creative child is told that part of growing up means toning herself down. She tries to meet this expectation but still fears that she's "too much." In the process of toning down she learns to tune herself out and disconnects from her body and gut.

If this goes along long enough, she's likely to feel lost and/or develop chronic pain. She might push herself beyond her limits or just lose sight of who she truly is.

What she might not realize is that this "too muchness" she fears is the key to her greatest powers!

According to Kazimierz Dabrowski, heightened excitability, or above average reactions to stimuli, is a sign of positive developmental potential. This means that intensity is an asset when it comes to personal growth.

There are five types of excitability: intellectual, imaginative, emotional, sensory and psychomotor. Many people who have been identified as gifted experience one or more of these overexcitabilities.

After interviewing many remarkable women who have harnessed the power of their intensity in their lives and careers for my upcoming Embracing Intensity podcast, I have picked up on some common themes that have helped them reconnect with and direct their excitability.

Self Awareness - Being aware of how your excitablilities affect you and knowing that you are not alone can go a long way toward using them in a positive way. When you aren't connected with that part of yourself, you are likely to label some aspects that are not as socially acceptable as faults. This type of self-criticism is entirely unproductive. If you can be aware of how your intensity looks when well harnessed as well as how it looks when it feels out of control or suppressed, you can use your fire without getting burned.

Intuition - A common theme that came up was reconnecting with your intuition. Many of us get stuck in our head and stop listening to our heart or gut. David Richo describes the importance of connecting with your "inner trio," your head, your heart and your gut when making important decisions. If you ignore the last two, you are likely to follow a path that may leave you feeling stuck.

Vulnerability - Opening up and being yourself is the only way that you can really connect with the people who can most relate to you. If you protect yourself from vulnerability, you may have success on the outside, but on the inside something feels "off." You may "fit in" but to truly belong, it's crucial to have at least one person you can be vulnerable with.

Self-Care - Finally, finding time for self-care was crucial for most highly excitable women to ground themselves and decompress. For many, this involved getting out in nature. For others exercise, meditation and yoga were daily practices. Whatever you need to do to recharge your batteries, be sure to do it before they are completely dead.

So, if you've been spending your time toning yourself down or tuning yourself out, take some time to reconnect with the power of your own intensity. You may find that your greatest excesses are, in fact, your greatest assets!

25 Things Only a Highly Excitable Person Would Understand

25 Things Only a Highly Excitable Person Would Understand

If you are Highly Excitable, you pick up on things that other people don’t and respond more intensely than the average Joe.  Many Highly Excitables are also Highly Sensitive. The key difference is the presence of one or more of five overexcitabilities: Emotional, Sensual, Psychomotor, Intellectual and Imaginational. You might be just one, or have the adventure of being all five!Here are some signs you might be Highly Excitable:

  1. You have just enough OCD to keep your ADD in check. Because you notice things other people don't, you can be very particular about things, but you are also highly distracted by your environment.
  2. You get a sense of elation from getting to the bottom of your laundry pile! You can get super excited about the little things in life.
  3. When that certain song comes up, you can't help but dance or sing to it wherever you are. When you feel like dancing, you're gonna dance and when you feel like singing, you're gonna sing!
  4. Only one or two people get your jokes.  But that's what makes them so funny!
  5. You feel like everyone is more together than you.  When you see what others are doing that you aren't, you get that feeling that you should be doing THAT too.
  6. You find it hard to live up to your own standards. Being told not to compare yourself to others doesn't help, because you know what YOU should be capable of doing.
  7. You feel like you have 100 tabs open in the browser of your mind. Your mind is going a mile a minute and there's so much going on at one time.
  8. Sometimes you just want to go climb up a tree. Being an adult is such a drag sometimes.
  9. When you are into someone you are REALLY INTO them, but you're afraid you will scare them off. You just need to find someone equally intense (but not high drama).
  10. It might take you an hour and a half to pick out a lamp. You have a finely tuned aesthetic sense that no one but you gets.
  11. You must be a princess because you can definitely feel that pea!. Things others don't notice annoy the pants off of you and things that annoy others are downright painful.
  12. You can get so focused on that new project, you forgot to pee. While it is often hard to concentrate with so much on your mind, when you get excited about a project, you hyperfocus.
  13. Last week you were an avid fish collector, and this week you are all about ham radio. You have so many interests you can't possibly do them all at once, so you cycle through them with great enthusiasm.
  14. It's not enough to just make something cool, you need to make something revolutionary. You are not satisfied with "good enough," you want to do something that's never been done before.
  15. You're kind of like my broken car fan, you're either on full blast or not on at all. Moderation is not your strong suit.
  16. You have to be careful not to pick up other people's accents lest they inadvertently think you are making fun of them. You are so good at picking up other people's social cues, you sometimes start to reflect them back.
  17. You think of the exact right thing to say when it is no longer relevant. You can be quick on your feet, but sometimes you keep thinking about what you could have said that was better.
  18. Part of that conversation you were having happened in your head, so you might have to catch the other person up.  Sometimes your mind is ahead of the conversation you're having so you start in the middle of what you were thinking.
  19. You can remember Monty Python sketches or song lyrics word for word after hearing them once, but you can't remember what you put on your grocery list earlier that day. If you don't find it meaningful or fun, you probably won't remember it.
  20. You have a class clown/teenage boy sense of humor, but a sophisticated intellect.  You appreciate the finer things in life, but you also have an appreciation for the absurd.
  21. You can solve perplexing puzzles, yet this is the third time you've had to run the washer because you keep forgetting about the wet clothes inside.  You rise to a challenge, but struggle with the mundane.
  22. No matter how much you like the person you just met, or how long you spoke to them, you will still forget their name by the time they stop talking. In fact the more emotional you feel about them the less likely you are to recall their name!
  23. You force yourself to pay attention when people make small talk, but as soon as they talk about something personal or meaningful, you hang on their every word. It's all about connection.  Anything less just isn't worth your time.
  24. You compile a list of things of things you'd like to accomplish, then go play instead, and then beat yourself up for being "lazy" for not getting anything done. This makes your play time not nearly as much fun!
  25. You worry that choosing pictures of people dancing for your excitability blog post will make others think that all excitable people like to dance.  You spend a lot of time over-analyzing what people will read into your choices when in fact they are likely more worried about what you think of them.

Being Highly Excitable has it's challenges, but it can also be the root of a lot of great powers! Depending on the type of excitability, it can bring excellent problem solving abilities, supremely innovative thinking, deep emotional connection, keen sensory perception and/or dynamic energy.

If you ever feel like you are “too much” (too analytical, too spacey, too emotional, too sensitive, too hyper), remember that you excesses might just be your greatest assets!

Now it's you're turn!  Write in the comments how you know if YOU are Highly Excitable!

Excitability can be a superpower when harnessed. Sign up for my Find Your Superpower course to find your excitability superpower. 

You feel like you have 100 tabs open in the browser of your mind. ~ 25 Things Only a Highly Excitable Person Would Understand
You must be a princess because you can definitely feel that pea! ~ 25 Things Only a Highly Excitable Person Would Understand
You're kind of like my broken car fan, you're either on full blast or not at all. ~ 25 Things Only a Highly Excitable Person Would Understand

Are you highly excitable?

Have you ever felt like you are too much?

Too intense? Too sensitive? Too analytical? Too scattered? Too emotional? Too dreamy?

You might be highly excitable.  Highly excitable people have an increased ability to perceive and respond to their environment.  In other words, they pick up on things that other people don’t and respond more intensely than the average Joe. They tend to be easily excited and inspired. Other words that might be used to describe them include emotional, passionate, fiery, restless, enthusiastic and responsive.

Excitable - definition

Signs you might be highly excitable:

  • Little things bother you or you tend to tune them out.
  • You overthink everything - or keep yourself distracted during the day so your thoughts keep you up.
  • Your mind is often somewhere else creating or imagining things or you feel stifled fitting into a box.
  • You are constantly "on the go" or you easily crash with fatigue.
  • You move quickly from extreme joy to extreme sadness or you do what you can to numb yourself from deep feelings.
  • You drive yourself to do things "just so" or you put things off or not complete them because you believe you can't do them justice.

Overexcitability and what it means to me

My son has been highly sensitive and reactive since birth. On the day he was born when he finally latched on to feed, the pleased sounds of those in the room made him pop off and look around. I had to feed him in a room alone most of the time because he was too curious about people around him. I couldn't even read a book because the sound of the page turning caught his attention. He was a colicky infant and I believe it was partly due to the fact that he had so much going on in his little head and he couldn't communicate it yet or fully control his body.

Over the years he has become a bright and engaging boy. He has the ability to express great empathy but at other times likes to do his own thing without thought of how it might affect others.  He also reacts to things in a very extreme way, both positively and negatively. I was doing some research based on his challenges adjusting to the behavior expectations of school this year and I came upon the concept of overexcitabilities. It not only hit the nail on the head with everything I saw in him, but explained so much of my own life.

What you see as your greatest excesses may in fact be your greatest assets!

Those who are highly excitable both perceive and respond to the world in qualitatively and quantitatively different ways.  According to

Kazimierz Dabrowski, "one who manifests several forms of overexcitability, sees reality in a different, stronger and more multisided manner."  Excitabilities are also associated with high "developmental potential," so what you see as your greatest excesses may in fact be your greatest assets!There are 5 excitabilities he identifies:


- Heightened awareness of the senses.

Since I was young I've been highly sensitive to my physical environment. Little things bothered me so I learned to tune them out. Eventually I could no longer tune them out as I experienced the chronic pain of Fibromyalgia.  Over the years I've tried many things to help but very little stuck. The last few years I've been able to pinpoint a few things that really made a difference and stuck with them in a way I never thought possible for me before. I also lost and kept off 40 lbs in the process.


- Increased intensity of thought.

I was almost held back in kindergarten for asking too many questions. When I was evaluated by a child psychologist, he said, "she's not a smaller apple, she's an orange." This became my mantra for much of my schooling. I was tested twice for giftedness and  learning disabilities and while I was never identified as learning disabled, I never figured out how to work to my full potential in school until my masters program. Now that I can focus my areas of further learning on things I'm passionate about, I can excel in a way I never could if my heart wasn't in it.


- Vivid imagination.

I was definitely a daydreamer in school and even tend to be so at work.  I can stay on track for a bit, but my mind is often somewhere other than where I am in the moment.  Before I had a child I could indulge my creativity outside of work hours, but since then I've lost much of my outlets for creative expression.  Without this outlet my mind tends to wander even more so I am making more of a priority to create in my life.


- High activity.

From the time I hit puberty, every spring I would fall into a mild depression and fatigue. The stress of school built up for me so that I needed the full summer break to recover.  A few years ago I was tested for adrenal fatigue and it turned out my body produced excess stimulating hormones and not enough calming. Ironically, my chronic fatigue was due to an excess of energy.  I went into a job in schools because I knew I needed the time off. Only recently did it occur to me that I went right back in to the very system it took me months to recover from every year. Now I'm cutting back my school hours to explore my passion helping others explore theirs.


- Exceptional emotional sensitivity.

While some kids like to pick up stray dogs, I tended to pick up stray people. Our family took in several friends who were having a hard time. As an adult, a few especially stressful living situations ended up leaving me with a significant physical cost. I used to value in myself my ability to get along with challenging people. Now I realize the test is not how well I can get along with everybody, but how well I can take care of myself.Throughout my life, I've been an extremist. I would joke that I had just enough OCD to keep my ADD in check. I had high standards but impulsivity. I would dive into something, then throw the baby out with the bath water. I sought a partner who compensated for me rather than complemented me. Therefore he saw the same faults in me as I saw in myself. After 5 years of managing a home as a single working mother, I'm now with someone who doesn't love me despite my quirks, but because of them.

Harness your power!

Harness Your Power!

When excitability is harnessed, you may experience life with great passion and joy.  If not well channeled though, it can lead to overwhelm, anxiety, fatigue and even chronic pain.  It can also affect our personal relationships if we are perceived as "overreacting" to things and our productivity can suffer when expectations don't match reality and priorities are placed in things we "think" we should do, instead of things we love to do or need to do.The problems arise when we either suppress our excitability, or let them go out of control.  To really get the most out of our energy, we must learn to harness our power.

Think of the movie Frozen.  It has been very popular lately, partly because it breaks the damsel in distress mold of the standard Disney movie, but also because it addresses a very real issue in many people's lives.  When Elsa looses control of her powers, she hurts someone she loves.  In an attempt to control her power, she tries to suppress it.  In the process, she isolates herself and her sister and ends up loosing control all together.  This is true of many of us when we try to suppress an essential part of us.  Either we feel isolated or incomplete, or we leave ourselves vulnerable to an explosion of suppressed power.  It isn't until she learns to control her power and use it when and how she wants it that she is able to fully realize her potential.

When you get a clear picture of your own powers, you can better recognize when they are suppressed or getting out of control.  My goal is to help those who are highly excitable find ways to use it to their own advantage so that they can reach their highest potential.

Sign up for my free Excitability Checklist here to find your own unique Excitability traits. 

Photos courtesy of Guy Holtzman Photography