Does It Ever Feel Too Intense?

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"Our solution doesn’t have to be to run away from the world. To hide away in fear. We can have more faith in ourselves. We can know that we’re far more capable than we realize. That we’re building capacity. Capacity to be fully engaged in the world and experience intensity and still be able to hold it."

For accessibility and ease, you can listen to this post narrated by  Mike:


I wanted comfort. I wanted ease.

For a long time, I shied away when things got a little too uncomfortable. A little too intense.

I had a pretty low threshold for the level of intensity I could handle. As much as I wanted to limit the moments of pain and suffering, I also wanted to limit the moments of ecstatic joy, if I’m being honest. They felt overwhelming. And too much.

And I had lived my entire life feeling that too much-ness already.

I just wanted to be even-keeled. Easy-going. Which is all another way to say ‘numb.’ Less sensitive. Feeling and experiencing less.

The world felt overwhelming and full of intensity. And I was totally content with escaping for a while in Netflix binging or Facebook scrolling or some other kind of distraction.

Life felt intense enough. So I chose comfort and ease whenever I could.

Because even intense joy was—overwhelming. I might have made a million different excuses for why I never continuously pursued the things that brought me absolute joy. But the truth is that was hard to hold, too. That was overwhelming, too.

I had a finite threshold for how much I could handle. And any intense experience—even the ‘joyful ones’—asked me to hold more. To stretch.

Intense experiences always ask us to stretch.

In fact, it’s right there in the name. ‘Intense’ quite literally means “to stretch” in an etymological sense. It’s about opportunities that push the boundaries of our current container.

Can we hold more feelings? Can we hold all of our emotions? Can we hold the fear and doubt and shame of this new venture? Can we hold the joy and love and self-worth of this new relationship?

Intensity is expansion. It asks us to expand what we believed we could hold. And, through that discomfort, step into growth. Into more of ourselves than ever before.

And, like everything genius- and purpose-related, it’s subjective. What might feel like a stretch for you might feel ‘every day’ for me. What might feel intense for me might be pretty mundane for you.

Intensity isn’t something you intellectualize; it’s something you feel. It’s feeling more of ourselves and more of the world around us, and being asked to hold it all.

We talk a lot on here about containers. If you tried to pour a gallon of water into a tiny little cup, you wouldn’t shame the water for being “too much” when it spills all over the floor. You’d get a bigger pot. A bigger container.

Yet when someone tells us we’re “too much” or “not enough,” our first thought is rarely “this container can’t hold me.” Instead, we internalize it and shame ourselves.

So we talk a lot about containers. Can the containers of our life fit us?

And, most of the time, we talk about external containers. Things like our relationships and our jobs and our wardrobe and our business offerings and even our morning routines.

But we don’t always talk about ourselves. About the container we have with ourselves.

Can we handle our genius? Can we handle our own intensity? The intensity of our emotions? The intensity of our sensitivities? The intensity of our fear? The intensity of our joy?

If we’re wanting to expand into who we truly are—our full genius—then we kind of need to be able to handle it ourselves, first. We need a solid container in here before we can ever really share it with the world.

We need to realize that we’re able to handle so much more of that genius than we ever believed. More of the fear and trauma and doubts and love and gifts and desires and all of the intensity of our lives.

We need a deeper, richer relationship with ourselves. We need to believe in ourselves. And keep expanding the container of that belief.

If intensity is about stretching—about growth and expansion—then every time we feel our own intensity, we need to stay with it. Not shy away from it. Not shame ourselves and tell ourselves our feelings are “too much” or “not enough.”

We need to remind ourselves that we’re safe. Safety and discomfort are two very different things. But we’ve spent so much time running from discomfort that we tend to confuse the two.

It’s okay to feel intensity. It’s okay to not know how to react when someone’s loved one passes away. Or how to hold space for someone during an emotional breakdown. Or how to process the fear of taking this next step. Or how to handle your vulnerability in this relationship.

It’s okay not to know. We can feel things and not have a plan at the same time. The two can coexist.

It doesn’t mean we have to run away. It doesn’t mean we’re unsafe every time. It might mean that we’re just being asked to hold more of our own genius and the world around us.

We’re growing. That’s what growth feels like. It’s intense.

We visionaries already experience the world so deeply. We’re more sensitive. We’re more alive. And things may already feel intense for us. We may already feel like the world is overwhelming. Or challenging. Or “too much.”

But our solution doesn’t have to be to run away from the world. To hide away in fear. We can have more faith in ourselves. We can know that we’re far more capable than we realize. That we’re building capacity. Capacity to be fully engaged in the world and experience intensity and still be able to hold it.

We’re expanding that container. And bigger containers can hold more. More genius. More love. More joy. More of ourselves.

These days, whenever I feel like I can’t possibly feel more joy, I ask myself to stay with the discomfort and let more in. Whenever I feel intense fear, I stop myself from distracting myself and, instead, reach out for support like friends or therapy to process it. Whenever I feel like this work is way too much for me, I tell myself I believe in myself and I can keep expanding.

And something miraculous happens. Somehow just sitting with the discomfort, I do grow. I do expand. Maybe not all-at-once. Maybe not overtly. But, sooner or later, I’ll notice it.

That I can choose to sit with the intensity of my life. That I have faith in myself. That I know I can keep expanding.

Because I’m a genius, goddamnit. And I can hold more and more of that genius.


Questions for Reflection:

*Answer in a journal, in the comments right here, or take it over to the Sacred Branding® Facebook group where we can support one another:

Does it ever feel too intense?

— Does anything in your life ever feel too intense? Maybe a situation at work? Or your relationship? Or your strong emotions? Does it feel overwhelming and like you just can’t handle it?

— Do you ever wish you could feel less or be more even-keeled and easy-going? Would life feel easier if you were just less sensitive? Do you ever stop something because it feels too intense? Or distract yourself with Netflix or Facebook so you don’t get overwhelmed?

— What if intensity is about expansion—it’s about moments that are stretching you to hold more of your own genius? What if holding your strong emotions is actually how you step more fully into your genius? What if you could choose to get support to help you, rather than distracting yourself, quitting, or numbing out? What if the only path to growing into your genius is through intense, uncomfortable experiences?

Mike Iamele

Mike Iamele

Mike writes about how artists, entrepreneurs, healers, and visionaries of all kinds can actually build a life around the genius inside of them.

He's CEO of Mike Iamele LLC and Creator of Sacred Branding® and the Sacred Circle.

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