Living with Gifted Extremes

Extreme.  Intense.  Sensitive.  Hyperfocused.

These are the kinds of words that describe the everyday experiences of gifted adults. Whether it’s the swing of strong emotion, or the desire to perfect everything we do, or the need to have things move 10 times faster than they are, extremes are often the way we live.

Having high sensitivities in general means that we  perceive the world in way that appears more intense that the way the rest of the world does, so that by itself creates a separation between us and a lot of other people we know.  Add to that the active inner world we experience and living with extremes is part of our daily life.

Extremes for us in and of themselves aren’t bad.  They provide us with a way of looking at the world that is varied, rich and unique, and when you’re gifted that’s a pretty good thing. The hard part comes when we have to interact with others.

We tend to come across far too strongly for everyone else.  They don’t understand why we’re ‘so emotional’, as they might put it, or why so many things ‘bother’ us.  They simply get bowled over by our overwhelming needs and expressions.

The first step in dealing with this situation is just recognizing that it exists. If we can’t understand that others don’t see, hear, feel and know the world the same way we do we’ll get very frustrated with them.  The gap between our perceptions and theirs becomes a gap in our relationships if we aren’t careful.

So if we live with extremes and so many other people don’t how do we cope?  We learn to notice the ways that we respond that are uncommon to others.  Then, with this awareness, we tone down the way we express ourselves to others.  Not shut off our emotions, because that creates a whole new set of problems, but to share them with a little less intensity, kind of like turning down the volume on the radio.  That way we can still say what we need to without stressing everyone else.  This takes some time and practice but we can do it.

But turning down the volume can’t be done without another step – finding people to connect with where we can be fee to be ourselves in our fully-intense form.  If we have to restrict ourselves all of the time for the sake of others we”ll find too much building up inside us that we can’t express and that will be way too damaging for us.  So we need an outlet, or even several of them, that will allow us to be truly and fully who we are.

So in what ways can we be fully expressive?

Through:

  • connecting with other gifted adults
  • writing, or making media productions
  • finding challenging work that allows expression
  • finding focus groups that permit expression in a specific way (e.g., art, drama, skydiving)
  • spending time alone doing freely what we love to do
  • enjoying and appreciating our exciting inner world
  • dancing (even if no one is looking)
  • participating in sports you love

and…

What have you found that works for you?  Share it here!

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