Some people feel more than others.

They are often told that they are ‘too much,’ ‘too intense,’ ‘too sensitive,’ ‘too emotional.

People who feel more deeply and intensely than others are more aware of subtleties; their brain processes information and reflects on it more deeply. At their best, they can be exceptionally perceptive, intuitive, and keenly observant of the subtleties of the environment. Yet they are also overwhelmed by the constant waves of social nuances and others’ emotional and psychic energies.

The world is gradually coming to embrace the concept of neurodiversity— the idea that particular groups of the population are ‘different’ from the norm in their ways of seeing and being in the world. Emotional Intensity in itself is not a pathology. It overlaps with other traits such as being highly sensitive (HSP), being an 'empath', having thin-boundaries, and over-excitabilities. It is not only highly related to giftedness, it is a gift in itself.

Emotional intensity comprises of the following five components:


• You experience emotions to an unusual level of depth, complexity, and intensity. This makes you feel incredibly alive, sometimes painfully so.
• You have a constant stream of both positive and negative feelings, sometimes together, sometimes from one to another in a short period.
• You soar high into bliss and plunge low into gloom in rapid succession.
• You know the meaning of despair, but you also know beauty and rapture. When art or music move you, you are flooded with waves of joy, or get transcended into a state of ecstasy.
• You are passionate, even if you do not show it on the outside.
• You tend to form strong emotional connections with people, places, and things, and sometimes that makes separation difficult.
• You experience life with much tenderness and nostalgia.


• From an early age, you have a grave concern for others and the wider world.
• You may resonate with traits of being an ‘empath,’ due to your innate ability to feel and be affected by other people's energies. When others are abused or mistreated, you feel as if it is happening to you. In social situations, you can intuitively identify with others’ emotions, and you may feel that you 'absorb' their physical and mental ailment, to the point where you get overwhelmed.
• Because of your responsiveness and insights into others’ pain, you tend to form soulful and meaningful connections. You are loyal, idealistic and romantic.
• However, being naturally open and sensitive also means you are vulnerable to relational injuries from a young age. Your natural tendency to be open and loving may get stunted due to early rejections and trauma.
• Having a heightened sensory system means that you are extremely sensitive to your surroundings. You have intense reactions to sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. You may be sensitive to loud noises, strong smell, or tactile sensations such as clothing tags and rough surface.


• Being perceptively gifted means you can sense and perceive things that others miss. With acute awareness, you can see beyond superficiality, grasp patterns and make linkages.
• Insights, intuition, and the ability to read several layers of reality allow you to assess people and situations rapidly. You can sense incongruence and their intentions, thoughts, and feelings that are underneath the facades.
• You have a sense of knowing when something is about to happen, or about other people’s inner worlds.
• However, your abilities do not necessarily make life easy. You cannot help but be the one who points out the ‘elephant in the room’, but your perceptiveness may seem intimidating to those who felt ‘seen through’.
• In a family situation, you may carry the role of being the ‘problematic one’, the scapegoat, or the black sheep.
• You have an innate urge to push the boundaries of conformity, to question or to challenge traditions, particularly those that seem meaningless or unfair. Paired with a strong sense of justice, you are often frustrated with corruptions and inequality in the world.
• Although this may indicate a challenging life path for you, you also have the potential to thrive as a visionary leader.
• You may constantly feel older than others around you, like an ‘old soul’ that has somehow lost your roots.


• You have a rich inner world that is imbued with vivid fantasies and dreams.
• As a child, you might have resorted to your imagined world as a haven in times of emotional turmoils.
• Intellectually, you have a strong need to seek to understand, to expand your horizons, and to gain knowledge.
• You absorb and surge through information very quickly. You are likely to be an avid reader and a keen observer.
• You may appear critical and impatient with others who cannot keep up with you.
• You may have a constant stream of ideas, sometimes so many that you feel you cannot keep up with it.
• You tend to experience zealous enthusiasm about certain topics and endeavors. When you get excited about an idea, your mind runs faster than your words can keep up, or you find yourself talking rapidly, perhaps even interrupting others.
• You are highly capable of contemplative thinking and self-reflection. The flip side is that you may be occupied with obsessive thoughts, and scrupulous self- examination. You may also suffer from perfectionism and self-criticism.
• You are sensitive to the spiritual world or were drawn to the spiritual path from a young age. This may or may not manifest as some form of psychic ability.​


• You have always been concerned with the big questions of life. From a young age, you may experience existential depression and have felt grief over the meaninglessness of life, death, and loneliness.
• You might have felt frustrated that those around you were not prepared to discuss and consider these weighty concerns.
• Your existential angst may manifest as an unnamed sense of urgency, a constant impulse to move forward. You get a constant ‘niggling’ feeling that there is something important that you should be doing, even when your vision is not clear yet. You live with a feeling that somehow time is running out, and you are not doing what you should be doing.
• For some unnamed reason, you feel a weight of responsibility on your shoulder - even for things you are not responsible for.
• Your angst propels you to learn, to expand, and to advance in your life path, but it can also paralyze you. You may be prone to creative blockages such as ‘artist’s block,’ ‘writer’s block,’ procrastination, the fear of exposure or the Imposter Syndrome (the feeling that you are a fraud).
• Nevertheless, you have always known deep down that you are dissatisfied with a life that is meaningless and task-driven.
• You may be a polymath, or a ’multipotentialite’ - someone with multiple interests and creative pursuits, and not just one calling.
• When you have a strong vision or innovative idea, you can feel the split between belongingness and authentic expression— you want to express with your full, authentic self but you are worried that it means being rejected, or leaving people behind.

A Caveat: The above conceptualisation of the emotional intensity trait inevitably involves some simplification of human complexity. Any typology is necessary a simplification compared with the real, unique human being in front of us. We as a human species are both different and much the same, in a paradoxical unity. We must not forget that what always holds more weight than the theory is the here-and-now-ness of the living human beings, who are constantly changing and evolving.


Emotional Intensity is not a pathology. For someone who is emotionally intense, however, the pain that comes with a pervasive sense of being ‘too much’ is not to be taken lightly – a person can be made to feel ‘wrong’ for the most part of his or her life.

The good news is, with the right information and support, liberation from the wound of ‘being too much’ is possible. Once you have discovered the origin of your differences, you may begin a journey of retrieving long lost gifts.Suddenly, your whole life history will make sense. You realize that a lot of the shame and depression they bear come from ill-informed and uninvited commentary about your unique qualities, and people’s fear of what is unfamiliar. In fact, your high level of awareness of subtleties is not only unusual but also extremely precious.

As you step into embracing your unique qualities, you learn to trust your unique ways of relating to the world and can connect to what you have to offer. Themes such as authentic existence, the meaning of life, and purpose of being come to the foreground of awareness, and here you are, embarking on a true journey towards your full potential.

Author's Bio: 

Imi is an award-winning mental health professional, a Specialist Psychotherapist, Art Therapist, Coach, and author of the book Emotional Intensity and Sensitivity (Amazon No.1 bestseller, Hodder & Stoughton, 2018).

She sits at where art, culture, psychology, and spirituality meet, and her mission is to inspire and empower emotionally intense, sensitive and gifted individuals to rise from being the 'misfits' to being the leaders of the world. 

Imi was granted the Endeavour Award by the Australian Government, for her clinical and academic excellence; and later the Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) for her commitment and contributions to social change. She has been featured as a specialist in the field in publications including The Psychologies Magazine, The Telegraph, Marie Claire and The Daily Mail. Her work also appears on online platforms including Psychology Today, Psych Central, Counselling Directory, The Elephant Journal, Rebelle Society, The Tattooed Buddha, and more.

Imi has lived and worked in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, the USA and the UK. After gaining the Master of Mental Health, she further qualified as a Clinical Psychotherapist (UKCP), Art Psychotherapist (AThR, HCPC), Schema Therapist, EMDR Practitioner, Mentalisation Therapist, and Mindfulness Teacher (MBSR, MBCT). Combing East and Western philosophies with psychology, her approach is holistic and unique. She has worked in various settings from inpatient units to the community, served as a director for a personality disorder charity, and founded a personality disorder support group in Central London.

Combining her life-long passion and clinical expertise, she founded the psychotherapy practice Eggshell Therapy and Coaching, where she works with intense people across the world.