Is Being 'Too Intense' A Bad Thing?

by Paloma Vita / Apr 17, 2015 / Comments

If there’s something I've heard over and over in my life, it’s; “You’re too intense!” So after having been told this for the millionth time, I thought: “Intense! Hmm... What do they really mean by that anyway?” What is the true meaning of “intense,” I ask? Let me turn to my trusty dictionary for clarification:

“\In*tense*\ adj 1. Having great or extreme force; 2. Present in a very high degree; 3. Very strong; 4. Overpowering as in intense light, intense feelings.”

Okay, let’s take a look:

1: Having great or extreme force – well that can’t apply to me, not physically anyway; I’m only five feet tall.

2: Present in a very high degree – isn't that what we all aspire to be? You know... "Be Here Now" and all that; I must confess that as much as I try to be present at all times, I am known to lapse into temporary awareness coma when I surf Facebook or watch "Project Runway” so this couldn't possibly be the reasoning.

3: Very strong – same as the first, though I wonder if inner strength is part of the picture.

4: Overpowering as in intense light, intense feelings – aha! I think I might be getting somewhere with this one...

The idea of “overpowering intense light” evokes the image of a blinding experience that somehow exceeds the sensing capacity of the eyes. 'Overpowering intense feelings,' compared in the same manner, would point to an experience that exceeds the sensing capacity of the heart. But how could we accurately measure this? It seems relatively straight-forward to gauge how much light the eyes can be exposed to before blindness occurs, but how can we gauge the feeling capacity of the heart. What would “heart blindness” look like? And how widely would one heart vary when compared to another?

For the one who feels intensely, what’s so terrible about that? Well, I guess it would depend on the feelings. I am reminded of a parable; A man goes to see a Zen master and asks: “How can I become a great painter?” “It’s easy,” replies the master, “To become a beautiful painter, first become a beautiful person… then paint naturally!” If we apply this small parable to the subject at hand, we get something like this: "In order to live intensely without going nuts, first become a beautiful person… then live naturally!" What you feel may still be intense but you would feel intense joy, passion, tenderness, compassion, love, pleasure, etc. and even a few splashes of righteous anger here and there just to keep you energized and on the path. Being intense is not the problem then, only what we’re intense about.

So here’s a word to the wise, if you meet a “feeling endowed” person out there, check out what they’re intense about. If it’s happy, dive in! You might just experience a heart expansion. And here’s to intensity! I know I won’t apologize for it anymore and I won’t try to shrink my heart to please anyone. I’ll stick with it and continue to learn to live with it… naturally!

palomavita's picture
The Contributor

Paloma Vita


A perfectionist word-nerd with a three-crosswords a day habit, I correct every misspelled sign and text I encounter (in my head!) and read dictionaries for fun. I have a true passion for language and communication. I love making sentences pop by removing any ambiguity and repetition as well as enhancing the specificity of their words. I am also a digital artist, a herbalist and an energy work practitioner.