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What's Your Intensity Profile?

What's Your Intensity Profile?

20% of people are born with personality traits that mean we’re aware of, and have strong reactions to, things most people don’t even notice.


Psychologists have identified five types of these traits, known as intensities or overexcitabilities.


You might have one or all five, but most people have a combination of several. It’s not about checking off all the boxes, but rather how strongly you identify with any of the traits and behaviours.


Emotional Intensity

  • Sensitive, compassionate, empathetic

  • Drawn to social causes like homelessness and climate change

  • Feel things deeply and intensely

  • Can light up a room when they’re happy -  or empty it when they’re down

  • Highly attuned to others – They can pick up on minute nuances in another’s language or behaviour that the other person may not even be aware of

  • Absorb and respond to the feelings of others

  • Often suffer from imposter syndrome

  • What they hear from others - You need to toughen up. Stop being so sensitive. Why are you so intense? Get over it. Calm Down. Lighten up. Stop acting like a drama queen. You’re too idealistic

  • What they need -  Compassion. Validation for their intense feelings. Strategies to help them handle their intense emotions. Help setting boundaries. To learn to meet their own needs before others (the oxygen mask rule)

  • Mind and body - Have a strong mind-body connection, and when stressed can suffer physical symptoms like IBS, headaches or skin conditions



Intellectual Intensity

  • Independent thinkers with an insatiable thirst for knowledge and drive to understand

  • Excellent and tenacious problem-solvers, enjoy puzzles

  • Need to have things ‘just right’ – can be perfectionists

  • Deep and broad interests

  • Love research, capable of intense concentration for long periods

  • Often focused on moral concerns and issues of fairness or injustice

  • Curious, always asking questions, needing to get to the truth

  • What they hear from others - Don’t you ever take a break? Relax! Stop asking questions. Aren’t you ever satisfied? Why do you have to do everything the hard way? You’re so demanding! Why do you have to make everything into an argument? You’re obsessed with …. You’re so anal

  • What they need - Access to rich and varied intellectual challenges. The company of intellectual peers. Books, books (and more books). Time to immerse themselves in their projects. Colleagues who appreciate their high standards and don’t take their demands personally

  • Mind and body – prone to workaholism, can burn out if they don’t tune into and take care of their body’s needs. Tension headaches caused by perfectionism


Psychomotor Intensity
  • Enthusiastic, energetic, huge zest for life

  • Often fidget or jiggle their legs or feet even when mentally riveted

  • Verbally expressive – may speak rapidly and loudly with expansive gesticulations and hearty laughter

  • Can be inspiring, revitalising, uplifting company – and sometimes exhausting and overwhelming

  • Always appear busy, perhaps prolifically creative

  • Might seem driven, impulsive, or competitive

  • What they hear  Sit down. Be quiet. Keep still. Calm down. Why are you always so hyper? You must have ADHD. Why don’t you slow down? You’re always running from pillar to post

  • What they need - Outlets for their energy like sport or physical hobbies like crafting. To be allowed to move around in order to concentrate. Relaxation techniques to help them tune into their body’s need for rest. To be acknowledged for their energy and enthusiasm

  • Mind and body – can suffer insomnia because they have difficulty shutting down at the end of the day. Burnout if they don’t learn to tune into their body’s need for downtime


Imaginational Intensity

  • Creative day-dreamers with rich imaginations

  • Solve problems by putting ideas together in novel ways. Divergent thinkers

  • Love stories and metaphors

  • Often dramatic in their interactions. Tend to exaggerate

  • Rich inner lives – rarely bored

  • Often had imaginary friends as children

  • Vivid dreamers

  • What they hear - You’re so spaced out – come back down to earth. Why do you worry about everything. Where do you get all these wild ideas? You need to be more realistic.  Get your head out of the clouds. You're such a dreamer

  • What they need Outlets for creative pursuits, such as art (even doodling), music, writing (eg journaling), dance, devising inventions. Time to dream. Techniques that allow them to choose which imaginary ‘TV channels’ to engage with

  • Mind and body – can have trouble turning off their imaginations at night and suffer nightmares and anxiety


Sensual Intensity

  • Have heightened sensory awareness – see, hear, feel, smell and taste more intensely than other people

  • Can derive deep pleasure from sensory experiences, but feel intense irritation and frustration from sensory overload encounters

  • May be finicky eaters as children, maturing into adults with a love of fine dining

  • Can gain deep comfort from music, or the sound of waves, birds, or the wind in the trees

  • Heightened awareness of the sensation of touch - need to cut the tags out of clothes

  • Enhanced aesthetic appreciation – many love art or beauty in nature, but are greatly bothered by the flicker and buzz of fluorescent lights

  • What they hear - You’re so picky. Why can’t you focus? It’s not that noisy!  You’re so neurotic!

  • What they need - People to know that their perceptions and experiences are real, not imagined. Positive ways to self-soothe, like stroking pets, massage, being in nature, healthy comfort foods. Self-care kits with items like ear plugs, headphones, aromatherapy oils, cooling water spray/handwarmers

  • Mind and body – because of their enhanced sensory experiences, can be prone to over-eating and addictive behaviours

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