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23 'Habits' of People Who Experience Emotional Intensity

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I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Feelings come and go.” This motto can be reassuring for someone feeling emotional or overwhelmed by uncomfortable feelings because it lets them know those feelings are only temporary. But for someone who experiences emotional intensity, this phrase might not bring much comfort.

Experiencing emotions with such intensity can be exhausting. It’s tough to control your emotions and even tougher to control the intensity of which you feel them. Some people cope with their emotional intensity through distraction (“I can zone out and create my own little world”), while others are thankful for this ability (“I love to feel emotions truly and deeply; this is what makes us alive”).

We wanted to know how those with emotional intensity react or cope with their emotions, so we asked our mental health community what “habits” they may have because they experience emotions so intensely.

Here’s what they shared with us:

  1. “Dissociation. I get so overwhelmed with emotions I literally go numb and my brain shuts down.” — Leena S.
  2. “Because I feel things so deeply, I take on the intensity of other people’s emotions. If they’re anxious, scared or nervous, I absorb it until I can feel it physically.” — Jody M.
  3. “I often get sucked into games on my phone, I can zone out and create my own little worlds. It distracts me from my emotions so I don’t have to deal with them.” — Dianna M.
  4. “When my emotions are intense, I spend money on things I don’t need.” — Amanda S.
  5. “I obsess way too much. I meet up with someone and days later, I’ll still be analyzing the details of the day, like the little things they did and said to see if they had given me any hidden insults or disapprovals over my behaviors that day.” — Melissa A.
  6. “I can sleep for hours after something that was emotional draining for me. Or if it is a deep conversation with someone, I will need to nap.” — Leesha K.
  7. “Meditation. But I love to feel emotions truly and deeply; this is what makes us alive.” — Nadine H.
  8. “Overthinking and isolating myself.” — Jolene E.
  9. “I scratch my head. Once my emotions and thoughts get going, I make my head itch and it’s always the same spots. I can scratch for awhile before I realize what I’m doing.” — Jordyn O.
  10. “Emotional eating, isolating myself, shutting myself down and not talking. If it happens when I’m around people, I’ll hide in the bathroom or somewhere else away from everyone.” — Natalie V.
  11. “Silence. I shut myself off and keep quiet so I don’t have the chance to overreact. Music and my headphones are my best friends.” — Juniper R.
  12. “When I’m nervous or anxious, I pick at the skin around my nails. I also can’t stop bouncing my right knee up and down.” — Meagan B.
  13. “I tend to think everyone’s going to leave me. When it comes to expressing my interests, I tremble and find it hard to articulate words.” — Genkidama K.
  14. “When I get bursts of anger, I become very sensitive to any noise, even if it’s just the sound of the TV. I have to sit in a room in complete silence in order to calm down.” — Lisbet F.
  15. “Fear. Because of my own intense emotions and being empathic and feeling others’ emotions so hardcore, it scares me. I can’t control the feelings and it gets far too overwhelming.” — Phaedra M.
  16. “I shut down and go numb. When I can get out of the situation, I break down and cry.” — Emily H.
  17. “I have to disengage from situations and conversations, sometimes abruptly. It can appear rude. But if I don’t walk away I can lose control and let my emotions carry me away.” — Mary C.
  18. “I have established grounding locations. When I feel super intense emotions, I drive there and wait it out. It gives me a good routine and a safe place to let my emotions wind down.” — Clara S.
  19. “I can’t watch regular shows or most movies. I watch mainly documentaries with a monotone narrator. Shows have too many emotional ups and downs, characters, etc., and it’s too stressful and upsetting for me.” — Christina M.
  20. “Crawl in bed, stay under the blanket and sleep.” — Michelle B.
  21. “I isolate myself. I can’t handle interacting with people because I take on their emotions as well. Mine are overwhelming enough without anyone else’s being thrown into the mix.” — Sara-jayne S.
  22. “I have to physically distract myself to prevent outward expression.” — Hailey T.
  23. “I feel like I can’t trust myself, or at least my emotions. I tell myself, ‘This will pass,’ but in the meantime, I feel like I’m drowning in a deluge of feelings.” — Lauren S.

Whatever habits you may have because of your emotional intensity, just know that you’re not alone. Your emotions, as intense as they may feel, are valid.

GettyImages via KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Originally published: November 30, 2018
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