Overview: Imi Lo is a psychotherapist, art therapist, and consultant for emotionally intense and highly sensitive people. She is the founder of Eggshell Transformations and author of the book Emotional Sensitivity and Intensity.
In this conversation, we talk about Imi’s turbulent childhood in Hong Kong and the false safety of conformity. We talk about grieving who we’re not, and learning about and embracing who we really are. We talk about how highly sensitive people, while often misjudged as weak, actually have extraordinary strengths of perception, vision, leadership and creativity. Among other things.
EP 115 SHOW NOTES, LINKS & TRANSCRIPT
Episode cover illustration: Adam Williams
“Upfronts” by Ketsa | freemusicarchive.org
TRANSCRIPT(automated transcript, formatted and lightly cleaned)
[INTRO MUSIC: UPBEAT, ELECTRONIC, INSTRUMENTAL]
Hello! I’m Adam Williams, creator and host of the Humanitou Podcast.
What I most often do here, with this podcast, is share in meaningful conversations with guests who help us figure out a little something more about our own humanity.
At its best, we share from our personal experiences and perspectives, and then you and other listeners can relate and benefit from that sharing. The idea is that we all can connect with the universal that gets shared within the personal that we talk about here.
With today’s guest, therapist, coach and author Imi Lo, I get a bit more vulnerable than I often do in sharing from my own story. Imi shares about some of her challenges, too, and a lot more that comes from her tremendous amount of professional expertise.
Imi is a psychotherapist, art therapist, and consultant for emotionally intense and highly sensitive people. She is the founder of Eggshell Transformations (which she refers to in this conversation as Eggshell Therapy and Coaching), and she is the author of the book Emotional Sensitivity and Intensity. She has a new book, The Gift of Intensity, coming out this year.
Imi specializes in emotional intensity, high sensitivity, giftedness, complex trauma and personality disorders.
And we do talk about that emotional intensity and high sensitivity. We talk about overexcitabilities and what that loaded label of “gifted” really means, and what it really doesn’t. These are all things that I have a connection to personally, in multiple ways.
So does Imi. So we hear some of her story of growing up in Hong Kong as an emotionally intense child who felt foreign and out of place in her family, school and city. We talk about her navigating and learning to balance the cultural value differences of East and West, as she also has experienced living in Australia and England.
Among other things. We talk about a lot of things that I know resonate with so many of you. This conversation is packed with a lot of terms and concepts that might be new to you. They were to me not so long ago. Maybe you’ll identify with one or many of them.
I think that it’s entirely possible this conversation offers a breakthrough kind of moment in understanding yourself and/or understanding someone close to you. A moment that, for those who need it, can lead to learning more and healing, and then from healing to thriving.
I invited Imi to join me for this conversation because these ideas have been revelatory, comforting and helpful for me. And if they are for me, then I know they are for others too. Maybe even you.
So … here we go. My conversation with Imi Lo.
[TRANSITION MUSIC: ~10 SECONDS, UPBEAT, ELECTRONIC, INSTRUMENTAL]
Adam: Imi, welcome to Humanitou.
Imi: Thank you. Thank you for having me on.
Adam: 00:02:52 I am so glad to talk with you and I’d like to start with some context, okay. Your work. How do you describe for people the work that you do?
Imi: 00:03:01 Ooh. Okay. I work with people who are, who identify as being emotionally sensitive and intense and more so the intense dimension, because only there, there have been a lots of things and articles butting up. People are identifying as being highly sensitive. Um, according to Dr. Elaine Aron’s definition of highly sensitive, highly sensitive person. And I that’s where I started to. But then with my work, there’s also a mention of intensity. Um, so people, someone might not just be emotionally intense, but also intellectually intense. And we can go into all of that later. That’s um, in a nutshell, that’s what I do. I work with people who are intense, sensitive, highly empathic. They move very fast. They have very deep empathy. They are extremely perceptive. They have a really rich intellectual in their world. Imaginative. Not some, someone may not fit all of these, um, criteria, but if they identify with most of it, then yeah, they likely someone who is intense.
Adam: 00:04:15 You have a lot of these, um, descriptors, characteristics, whatever the word might be to apply there. You’ve written so much. And so well about it on your website. And my wife, Becca pointed me to your website. I’m not sure how she came across it, but she pointed me to your website maybe a year or two years ago. And it’s something that I go back to over and over again, as a resource, especially when I’m feeling those feelings.
And so I will include in the show notes, your website, and recommend that listeners who feel something here that resonates for them and what we’re going to say throughout this conversation. Absolutely go there and, and see what more they might connect with. But if we can elaborate a little bit, there are a lot of those. If I call them bullet points or identifiers that you have on your site, um, if we can elaborate a little bit more on that, because there are just, there are many thatreally click with me and I do go back to your site, because it’s such a good resource.
You understand these things about me in a way that I am not, I w I can actually say, I’ve never encountered before. That’s why I’m so happy to talk with you today is because I feel like, well, if I feel this way, and if you feel this way, and you talk with people who feel this way, we’ve got listeners right now who also feel this way.
Imi: 00:05:40 Yeah. Yeah, I think so. I think so. I don’t know about the percentage. Obviously I haven’t done any research. People who identify as being highly sensitive, it’s about 20% of the population, which is quite high. But I think with my work, I have narrowed it down with someone who is also intense. It may be down to, I don’t know, 1% of the population even, but that is why people can feel really lonely and isolated.
Um, yes. I’m happy to expand on them if you have time. What it means to be someone who is emotionally intense. So the way I conceptualize it, I have broken that stone into five components. They are number one, emotional depth and passion. Number two, deep empathy and sensitivity. Number three, someone being highly perceptive, number four, someone who has a very rich inner world with vivid imagination or intellectual wrecker and number five creative potential. And they may experience existential angst.
00:06:46 So I can say a bit more, maybe in a bit more descriptive way. Um, someone who is got a lot of depth and passion, they may have always been called and oats. So, you know, compared to people their age, they deep think, they are a deep thinker and feeler. Um, maybe when they were younger, they found themselves feeling very different. And even the adults around them, don’t get it when they are sad, they feel like, oh, they just plunge into deep depression. They can’t control their feelings. They just feel a lot.
Um, but then at the same time, they can also feel ecstatic when they get in touch with a piece of music or art, or, you know, they are the person who, the only person who cries in the cinema maybe, or if you’re very moved by a piece of art in the museum, when other people just walk along, um, they love very passionately and they tend to give a lot, uh, they are also very empathic, so they may feel that they can feel what other people around them are feeling.
00:07:56 Sometimes they feel like they’re absorbing other people’s energies. The word empath has caught a lot of attention as well in recent years. So some of the description overlaps with the description of an empath, meaning they just walk around feeling like they’re sponging up other people’s feelings, and this can be good or bad. You know, they are highly empathic and very sensitive. So their friends come to them because they seem to just get it. But then at the same time, it can get really draining. Um, you know, they are constantly feeling things that are not them. They may also be very physically sensitive. Like I am, you know, I have to cut the tax on my clothes because they bother me. I have what they call misophonia, which is an annoyance of certain sound. I wear ear floss everywhere. Um, things like that. Yeah.
Adam: 00:08:51 Well that reminded me of a couple of things for me that well, so my wife, she thinks, I think that this is pretty funny, but she’s also very sympathetic to this idea that if I get brushed, like, just say on my arm, I get touched or, or she, or somebody brushes against me and it’s an unexpected touch. It’s like my nerve endings just kind of go off my hair in that spot on my arm might just stand up and sort of as some sort of resistance to it.
And there’s what I’ve always looked at as a quirk that I have to — and this is the part where she thinks it’s a little amusing as she just knows, I’m just sitting there and I have to touch it. You know, I can’t, I can’t just let it go. All I do is hyper focus on that touch until I take my hand and brush it off, kind of smooth it out, calm the nerves. And I am the same way with, you know, auditory signals out there in the world too, that others don’t hear. Yeah. And so, to me, this also is a fascinating aspect that we’re not just talking about the emotions, the inner, softer stuff, but we’re talking about physicality as well.
Imi: 00:09:58 No. Yeah. If you also do identify with other traits, it’s likely that once you have is what I call or not. This is not a coin. It’s not a term that I coined, but it might be something caught censure over excitability, which happens a lot in gifted people. Um, and it goes along with other excitability is intellectually sensually, physically, which we can go into.
But that’s really interesting that that’s the way you experienced the sensitivity. Yeah. It goes into your body. It’s not just emotional. It often goes along with other traits, which brings us to the fourth component, which is that someone will have a very rich in the world. They are emotional, intense, but they are also highly imaginative. So from a young age, they feel like they have lots of fantasies and dreams. This can really be used or amplify it. If they didn’t have a happy childhood environment.
Imi: 00:10:54 So many emotionally intense people may hide into a world of fantasy and live there, which can be resourceful. Like many of them actually, because they are also very inquisitive. So they might just hide in the world of books or knowledge. And those are the, their books are their friends because they just don’t really get along with peers their age anyway.
So there is that tendency, not always. Um, and because they’re intellectually very excitable men, many of them. So they may always feel like they have a stream of ideas. They can’t sleep, they can’t keep up with it. If something wake them up in the middle of the night, they have to do something about it. Their mind may run faster than words. Um, yeah. And the final thing is creativity. So they may or may not be manifesting them, but from a young age, they feel like they have something to give, but they don’t know what to this.
00:11:49 They may feel this nameless sense of responsibility on shoulder because they can see the potential of how things can be. They can also see how things are not the way they can be, which can be really painful. So they have a niggling feeling that, Oh my God, there’s something I need to be doing to contribute to the world. But then what can I do? I’m just this young child with no skills. So that gap, that paradox can be painful.
And even when they grow older, they may feel this anxious to like, there’s this constant need to be doing something to expand, to learn. There’s not enough time, which, um, can paradoxically paradise, uh, paralyze them. And so they may have things like artist’s block writer’s block. They may also have multiple passion, a lot of intense people can’t be honed down into one thing, but that’s the way our world is though. Our world always encourages, you know, specialization nowadays. I think it’s changing now.
A book has come out called The Polymath. So people are realizing actually there are lots of value to generalists. Uh, but it’s going back to intense people. Many of them have multiple passions and they don’t know which path to go with. So again, someone may not identify with all of this, but most of them, and also maybe at the core of it is this is a kind of excitability, but, um, they may manifest in different ways.
Adam: 00:13:18 It’s interesting. You bring up polymath. Another word that I know for that — and I had not connected these dots, I had not thought about this relating to this highly intense, highly emotional person — and the word that I know is multipotentialite or multipotentiality.
And that is a struggle for those of us who feel like we’re supposed to be well from the time you’re a child, right. And everybody asks you, what are you going to be when you grow up as if it’s one thing you should already be thinking about, you should be able to identify at some point, you should be able to identify the one thing that you are going to do for a career for a life, whatever. And, you know, I, I still, and I suppose always will struggle personally with trying to narrow down. I’m interested in a lot of things, even if it’s making art, visual art, if I narrow it to that one lane, I’m still making art that comes from all kinds of different areas that, that don’t match. You know, I’m not fitting one lane within even that one lane, if that makes sense.
Imi: 00:14:20 Mm yeah. Yeah. And, but the world constantly pressure us to be more predictable though. Isn’t it? That your people who love your arts may expect certain streams, certain trends. Right. Um, but yeah, my advice to you, not that you asking for any advice, but don’t limit it, do owner or path and something will come out of it.
Adam: 00:14:45 Well, I’ll take your advice for sure. Um, now I, I started off with the context, your work and what these things mean, and we are going to talk more about it here and there. And I do want to get into over excitability because that also touches on something for me and in my family. But before we do that, I, I want to step back to your personal experience because I know, and you have shared so much, um, so vulnerably and honestly, on your website and elsewhere about your story and that this stuff that we are talking about it is you and your story as well. This is from your experience that then you came to this professional place of being able to speak on these things. So would you mind going, you know, taking us there to the background of where you started in your story started in your youth feeling this way, yourself, this intensity, emotional, um, sort of learning about yourself?
Imi: 00:15:45 How long have you got?
Adam: 00:15:50 Well, I’m happy to listen to what you’re willing to share and set the table for people to understand it. You, you really do. When I said that, it’s my story and yours it’s it really is.
Imi: 00:16:01 Oh, it’s really moving the way you put it. So I was born in Hong Kong, which is an Asian culture, society. And people think it’s an international city, but it’s my experience of it is it’s rather homogenous. Um, gosh, where do I start? I wasn’t thinking about this. So I, I was, um, I was lonely as a child. I think I’ve always felt quite different. Um, but I didn’t realize I was different.
So I would have strange, what other people would consider strange, behaviors. Um, since a very young age, I would always blurt out things that I think everyone was thinking, but they’re not seeing it. Um, and it will be really confrontational. I was bullied for quite a long time, partly because I was overweight. And, but, you know, I can also talk about that. That was because I Hmm. All these moving parts.
00:17:00 Huh. So I was very introverted. I did make friends with books because I couldn’t find much connection in my peers. I didn’t find social interactions. I think I loved people, but then I also found the hierarchy in the Catholic girls school. I found the <inaudible>, if you really were insightful about it, you know, they are just kids. Why would that be politics and drama?
Well, the thing is there were social dynamics and hierarchy from the age of, I don’t know, three, in kindergarten, the mean girls phenomenon did exist, even when you were that young. So I found that very, really daunting. And I suppose, because I was always a little bit odd, um, people bullied me. And so that was painful. And as a way of coping, I had a lot of food and snacks and I used that to cope.
00:18:10 And I also hid in the world of books and fiction to create my own little world and created my own imaginary friends. Um, so that was, it wasn’t very happy. I have to say there were pockets of happiness and there were people who loved me. Um, that was difficult. My parents are dedicated, committed. They’re not bad parents, but then they really had their limitations.
I don’t think they were able to get me. I think they were quite preoccupied when I was younger. And most importantly, they were very overwhelmed by my emotions. I remember in my first year of primary school, I cried every single day. I came back and I cried for six, five, six hours. And they had no idea what to do with me, mental health. Wasn’t a thing. So no one would be thinking, Oh, why I would take this child to a psychologist, you know, it’s, it doesn’t happen back in the 19.
00:19:11 I’m going to reveal my age, but, but back in the base, um, in, in Hong Kong, so it didn’t happen. So that was that. And it was, and the storm, the storminess sustained throughout until my teen years, I have to say it as a teenager. I was also very strange. I was constantly infatuated with people around me with, with huge amounts of passion. I know it’s normal for people to be infatuated and have passionate love, but then the way I did it was just really quite extreme. And it’s all, I don’t quite know how to describe it, but I just knew it was different. And it was, it was different to what other people experienced. So I think I really had my breakthrough when I left Hong Kong, which I did when I was 16 to go through a creative art school, um, and had my first taste of freedom.
00:20:08 And I think going into, uh, I was first in Australia and I was on my own free from all the cultural confines and my family and all the feeling of miss fitness, because I was actually a foreigner, you know, being a foreigner, a real forerunner actually made me feel really liberated because I suppose what happened was I’ve always felt like a foreigner, even in my hometown. So being an actual foreigner was actually really liberating. And I think that’s when I began to find myself and find my footing and found my love for arts and psychology and read Freud.
And I read Alice Miller and things began to make sense. And later on it’s, as late as 24, I discovered the description about gifted people about multipotentialite it’s about overexcited abilities. And that’s when things really, really made sense alongside I have a longstanding career interest in working with people who are emotionally intense and some of them are diagnosed with something we call borderline personality disorders. So if that is a clinical diagnosis, I’m certainly not making light of that. Um, but then I began to see this overlap between, um, what I see as intensity and what I see in the people that I work with. So it’s complex to explain, but I think in the end, I just try to integrate and conglomerates or these components or these moving pieces together. And I created a actual therapy and coaching.
Adam: 00:21:49 I want to ask you about, you know, you mentioned your parents, I know, um, from things that you have shared and what you did just share a little bit of is that there were challenges there in that relationship and with where they stood with their own mental health at the time, and trying to work with you when they didn’t necessarily understand your intensity, but you’ve also referred to a good relationship with your grandfather. Do you mind sharing about him and what that relationship was and what was it that you found there that, that maybe felt more like some of that love that you might’ve really been longing for?
Imi: 00:22:28 That’s really interesting. What, when did I share that? Did you hear it elsewhere?
Adam: 00:22:33 Either, if I did not read it on your website, then it would have been in another podcast, a conversation that you had where you referred to it, but you didn’t go into depth, which is why I’m, I’m asking you to know.
Imi: 00:22:44 Uh, yeah, cause I don’t recall sharing it publicly ever, and I don’t mind and it actually, it, it, it puts me in a strange memory plays, gosh, I might cry. So he has passed. Um, it’s my, it’s a grant that on my mom’s side, um, let me think. I think he, he didn’t get intimidated by my intensity now, granted, he only sees me a couple of, you know, he’s not my, my actual parents, so it’s always easier for him, you know, to only handle me for a couple of hours a day, but he really enjoyed my creativity from a really young age. Like I would, um, I would create mini restaurants at home and force him to pay a dollar for some random stuff that I created. Well, I wouldn’t make drawings. And then say, I’m an artist and you have to buy my drawings.
00:23:38 And he really creates a, he really celebrated that. I really saw that. Another thing is I think he offered, um, what psychologist, a psychologist called the, when the courts, uh, describe us. I don’t remember the exact term, but he described this thing where for a child is really precious. If you have someone who quietly witness you, you and I think my granddad offered that quiet presence where he was not necessarily intrusive, but he was witnessing me play and be me. Um, I mean he would interact with me. So yeah, I mean, it’s not a hundred percent perfect. No relationship was. Um, but most of the time I think it was, I don’t know. I just, I just feel well, he saw something in me and he wasn’t putting it into words and neither was I.
Adam: 00:24:42 Okay. Well, you, you mentioned presence, which is special and important. You know, it sounds like in a huge, huge city where you felt like you were a foreigner in the place where you were born, he was someone, one person who allowed you space to be comfortable and be you.
Imi: 00:25:09 Yeah. There’s also this sweet spot balance of he. Cause he absolutely did not parentified me, meaning he didn’t treat me like a little grownup, but then he didn’t, he wasn’t condescending either. It’s as though he saw me as a bright child. So, and he interacted with me as such and I think in a turbulence, lonely childhood, he was, um, a lifeboat, but there were times where I was irritated and there were certain things he said that accidentally hurts me. So it was not always happy, happy that’s by and large. I, I am grateful to have heart his love. Yeah. And even now, when I feel frustrated outside of like, Oh, I’ll scream at the sky, you know, not that I necessarily in the religious way, believe in any afterlife or whatsoever, but I wouldn’t imagine his presence. And I’m like, what the fuck can we just, can I swear, just cut that off if I can’t and I’ll, I’ll, we’ll be, I’ll be talking to him. Not, not in a crazy way, but I would imagine his presence still. Yeah.
Adam: 00:26:22 Nice. I, um, I was very, very young when my grandfathers died. We’re gone. We’re not part of, I was too young. They were not a presence for me particularly. So my memories are extremely few if even that many. Um, but I did grow up with my two grandmothers and so have special memories from that. So I can really appreciate, um, that space and in the memories that seems like that just took you back to you.
So thank you for sharing that. And now I want to go to Australia with you. Um, just because when you said you were 16 and you went there and the word you used was freedom. And I’m curious for someone who feels like they didn’t fit in, they were bullied. There were these challenges, that word freedom. Well, I wonder what, what you mean by that, what you, how you felt that and expressed it engaged in it. I mean, cause I’m thinking for me in my youth that would have probably included some wildness in trouble. I’m not trying to put that on you, but what I mean is what is your version of what freedom was as a 16, 17 year old living in Australia away?
Imi: 00:27:44 Yeah. And I was on my own as well. Um, don’t get me wrong. I did get into my kind of trouble, probably not the typical drug and drinking kind. Um, I just felt really dysregulated, um, towards the end and my life became quite messy. Um, the freedom it’s hard to describe. First of all, I was finally able to study what I was always passionate about, which was art and freedom. I don’t know it’s it’s this, I’m sorry. I’m really struggling to describe it. It’s a sense of liberation where when you walk down the street, you feel like you’re more yourself.
And I think that sense of being a foreigner that I said earlier was significant because when I was back home, people assumed a certain way about me and that was never what they thought. And that discrepancy caused a lot of pain and people would always ask me like, why are you not this way? Why are you strange? When I was alone in Australia with not much connections, people just assume that I was strange because I was foreign. I sustained that foreign identity all the way until now. You know, I, I, after Australia, I moved to England and although I consider myself pretty well to a degree integrated. There’s still that foreignness. But I think it liberates me in many ways.
Adam: 00:29:31 When we can move somewhere and no one knows anything about the story or the expectations, at least our D like we’re allowed, you know, here’s something I tried to use actually, as I don’t know how well I’ve succeeded at it, but as a practice, when I go say to, uh, in the past, when I’ve gone to a new company to work, and when I go to a new place, be weird early and often, and no one will expect anything. Otherwise is sort of something I’ve tried to tell myself is which, and what I really mean by that, and by weird is go ahead and be who you want to be because there aren’t those preconceived boxes and boundaries necessarily that you might’ve been living with for the past years when everybody already decided who you were and who you were supposed to.
Imi: 00:30:18 Yeah. I also think a huge, important factor really is that east-west cultural value differences. I think in my bone, I’ve always been quite westernized. It’s strange, even before I left home, even when I was as young as nine or 10 people used to call me <inaudible> which in my, in Hong Kong, it means foreign girl. Um, it’s strange. Like I was never abroad. I wasn’t speaking English as well. And for some reason they just spot this foreign this in me.
And I think perhaps my natural temperament and personality has always been more westernized. If that makes sense. I just, I value individual opinions, um, openness, openness to experience. And there are good things about Eastern values too, but I think that need to be the same as everyone and people by and large conform and they value harmony over individuality. That hurts me and up until today, I mean, I’ve completely learned to cope with it and even sometimes enjoy it, the kind of sense of group mentality.
00:31:36 But then I think in my bones, I really struggled with that. So when I was in the more westernized culture, I just felt weak and people here value, um, intellectual rigor about many other things too. Then I just finally got to meet people who enjoy the kind of things I enjoy and don’t believe that everyone has to be doing the same things. I mean, even at my current stage, my friends are not doing what I’m doing. And my older friends have 95% of them has chosen a particular path that is not the one that I’m going down. That’s to be explicit about it. They’re all married and they have kids and I still constantly face the pressure of being a woman at my age and single. So, yeah. And when I am in England, I don’t feel that pressure as much.
Adam: 00:32:42 Okay. Talking about East and West, uh, the collective and the sense of individuality, you know, I can look at things going on, you know, I’m here in the U S I can look at things going on and I say, I sure wish we had more of that care for the collective. Yes. And of course, then I can, I can understand I’m hearing what you’re saying and I can imagine, well, wow. How repressive that might feel if you’re trying to have, or you just feel naturally that you have your own thoughts. Yeah. But they aren’t wanted, they’re shut down there. It’s considered, uh, a negative. So I wonder with you having lived years in, in these different systems, uh, to, to use a word, I guess, um, cultures perspectives, do you see, say strengths or pieces that you pull from this way? You know, the collective as, okay, this is a positive, I want to hold onto this and hear about individuality. How, how do you piece that together? Um, because you have a unique perspective that way.
Imi: 00:33:53 Um, I’m not sure about unique, but personally I have certainly come to a point where I am trying to enjoy size-up of, and I see what you see now. I mean, when I was a teen, I think even all, all the way up in my twenties, I just felt really repulsed by other collectivist values and all my life. It was all my earlier life was about breaking through from that, from that collectivist culture, from that conformance in need, the OU you know, immersed, dynamic. Um, but then now in, into my age, I I’ve come to appreciate the warmth, the caring aspects of Eastern culture.
And I actually went back to Hong Kong to in my therapist would do a piece of work of reconciliation with my parents, my home, my culture. I do think I’ve come to a place of balance where I can see the good and bad in both. It sounds easy to see the good and bad in both. Of course it’s like a truism thing, but it’s, it’s about maturity. I think I watch how, like, mine always like to hide in black or white concepts because it’s easier and more simplistic. Um, but the truth is it’s complex. Yeah. Until now I don’t know where my home is. I don’t feel I can call anywhere completely at home. So it’s somewhere in between, but I can see all the moving pieces moving around me and be at peace at the center.
Adam: 00:35:34 Okay. I’m going to make an awkward transition to go back to overexcitabilities, because this is something that I really want to talk about with you because it does touch me and in my household. This was a new word to me only, um, a few years ago. Now I have two sons. They’re now eight and 10, but one of them in particular, I think experiences overexcitabilities. And I suspect I have that experience too. I just didn’t know the word. And I didn’t know some of the context for it.
And when I encountered this word, it came from the school psychologist where he was in school at the time a few years ago. And we had wondered about the potential of an attention deficit disorder, something like that. We were seeing some things that seem to mimic and I’d have to admit, felt some relief when, because we weren’t looking for a diagnosis, we were looking to understand.
00:36:39 And the school psychologist said, well, no, no, no, this is often misdiagnosed. Here’s what it is. And she mentioned these overexcitabilities and she pointed us to a website and I went and read on the website. And I am not. Um, you remember which websites? No. Uh, you know, what, if she did not point specifically to a website come to think of it. It was, it would have been the name that I Googled. So it could have gone either direction for me just doing my own research, but it’s what she pointed us to as, as the concept and my typical response to things, despite my intensity and emotions, uh, is not to cry. But as I sat and read the stuff on the site, I did cry because I was thinking about the things that I had misplaced misjudge misunderstood about my son and might’ve parent.
00:37:32 I mean, there is no might. I parented him in ways that did not take those overexcitabilities into account because I was ignorant of them. Okay. So now I have this concept of overexcitabilities in mind. It’s something I have to keep remembering, uh, in how I work with him at times. And so this is part of your work, part of your expertise, your knowledge.
And I would just like to talk about that overexcitability and what, what that means, how it ties into these things we’re talking about with intensity, and then how people like, for example, listeners who might be listening to this and saying, I still have no idea what you’re talking about, but as they recognize them and, Oh, I have somebody in my family who might experience these, I would hope that we can learn how better to give space and compassion and work with people who do experience these. I know that was a mouthful, sorry.
Imi: 00:38:36 No, no, no. Have kids been tested, um, for their intelligence?
Adam: 00:38:38 One, one of them I think, was tested because he was old enough at that point, the school they were at was a school for gifted students. Yeah. Um, and so there was a correlation with the staff having awareness and knowledge of these things in a way that maybe not all teachers do, I think.
Imi: 00:39:00 Well, it doesn’t exist in where I am, where I was. So I think in a lot of countries in the world, apart from America, and in fact in America, the USA is probably the only place. Well, no, that’s not true. It’s not the only place. America and some places in Europe, but by and large, in most countries, there’s no awareness whatsoever. So yes, talk that makes sense. Um, unknown to many people, it’s actually a characteristic for gifted children and adults. And in many people’s immediate reaction is to cringe when they hear the word gifted, because they have all sorts of low the associations with it. It’s seems to insinuate superiority when actually really is not the way I describe it. It’s just like, you know, some Theresa Paula in nature, does that make them superior? I don’t think so. It’s just a thing. It’s not like it makes life any easier. Either people think, Oh, you have it easy. You’re so gifted, but it doesn’t, it just comes with another pockets of trouble.
00:40:06 And the traditional definition of giftedness is often associated with IQ and yes, oftentimes there might be a correlation, but then there are actually many other forms of extraordinary abilities. And I don’t think I Q is at all an adequate measure of what we can call giftedness. And I also think, because the word gives them, this is so low that, um, most DVA shy away from it. And even I don’t use it very often because I know how it burns people and make them go away. Um, so, but then I asked you because you know, that makes sense that your kids already in gifted school, so overexcited abilities now you don’t have to, well, I said that because I don’t want people to think, Oh, if I have not, if I don’t have a high IQ, then I must not be gifted. And therefore I must not be overexcited.
00:40:57 That’s not the case. Um, there are many kinds, many forms of gifted as many ways of being gifted. If anything, nowadays for me to tell if someone is intense, overexcited, it’s not about their IQ. It’s more, um, it’s more a personality trait thing. You know, his sense of being an unconventional or independent thinker or a bit of a rebellion spirits. That’s actually more telling than anything else. Thoughts going back to overexercitabilities, um, the world over, I think if the wrong impression that something is not good. Okay. So actually the better translation or the original translation was super stimulus. Let’s see. Yeah, I think so all these are actually going to be in a book that’s coming out. Um, that’s I have written a tiny plug here.
Adam: 00:41:56 Yeah. Yeah. Great. Do you have timing or a name or anything on that that we also should know about or we’ll just keep an eye out
Imi: 00:42:06 Yes. And, but yeah, it’s called, um, The Gift of Intensity. Okay. So my last book is called understanding sensitivity and intensity, and it was more angled in between sensitivity and intensity. This one goes all the way in and talk about the intensity. I feel I am a lot, I feel a lot more nervous about this one because it feels a lot more exposing for me. Um, I am a lot more direct and some might think confrontational, uh, in this newer one, but yeah, we can come back to that. I’ll answer your question about <inaudible>.
So there are five forms of overexcitability, and if you weren’t so interested, they can certainly go online and there will be information, uh, information, including my websites. There are all sorts of good information about overexcitability. These five realms are psychomotor, sensual, imagination, uh, imaginative, intellectual, and emotional, and they all have specific traits, strengths, and qualities to all of them. They want me to go into them maybe briefly.
Adam: 00:43:21 Uh, yeah, if there’s, if there are a brief descriptions there that I think maybe people might resonate or recognize, Oh, Hey, that, that sounds like me. And you start finding comfort in that I think, or in the case of not only like for me, but will I have a son and, and this might explain some things about what goes on in the dynamics of his behaviors in our relationship. And so, yeah, I mean, a little bit, I think could be helpful.
Imi: 00:43:43 Sure, sure. It’s hard to do just a little bit. I would do my vast intellectual excitability is like a constant search and hunger for knowledge and truth. So someone who is intellectually excited might be, they’re always trying to learn problem, solve, analyze, and reflect. Um, it doesn’t always correlate with the science field. Someone can hone in on say literature in English literature, and, you know, be really overexcited about that too. They’re immensely curious. They’re always curious about the world when there is a question why, um, they can’t stop until they find the answers.
So as parents, this can be quite difficult because your child will be like, why, why, why? And they will be challenging the around them. They don’t take an easy answer. Um, they were challenged to adults around them, which can be really difficult. I really do want to emphasize, it’s not just about IQ.
Imi: 00:44:42 It’s more about a need to understand the unknown and the love for the truth. So that love for truth. Part is also difficult for parents because a lot of things are not, um, you know, the truth is not always that easy to explain to a young child because the world is full of complexity and gray areas, but they might have a fixation for that. Yeah. Imagination though, overexcited abilities is about someone’s mind imbued with highly creative and fantastical ideas. They may think in terms of images and metaphors, they may like poetry and visual language. Um, they may have imaginary friends when they were younger. Lots of daydreaming, emotional overexcitability is really what I work with a lot of the time. So it does overlap with a lot of things that we have been talking about. Like someone being highly sensitive, hyper empathic, they may be capable of a wide range of emotions, like the big ups and the big downs.
00:45:42 Um, so yeah, includes both ends of the spectrums. They are constantly attuned to the emotional States of other people. They can be overwhelmed by the amount of information they’re absorbing. They may also just fall into the role of being an emotional caretaker for others without realizing, okay, a psycho Moser over excitability might be things like they talk fast, they move fast, they feel a need for constant motion. They may have ticks like tapping, nail biting, or even verbal texts.
So these are the, you know, the twitches and things may be taken up and misdiagnosis ADHD as your kids might have experienced. Yeah. Cause it looks like ADHD, um, sends you over. Excitability would be what we were talking about earlier about a clothing tags and your fixation with sound and my misophonia. But then you know, this all, not all bad because for example, I think my at a young age, I, well, even now I love food. I really love food. I really enjoy it. It makes me so happy. I mean that, that ability to get so much enjoyment from color and sensual, you know, I love a good massage to, um, a good piece of music. And we seem to be able to get a lot of enjoyment from these things that others may consider mundane. So they’re hugely pleasing.
Adam: 00:47:12 It occurs to me that a lot of these things, there’s a lot of nuance and complexity like you’ve mentioned. And I suspect that an awful lot of us live life with the assumption that we’ll, we’re all more or less the same. And then for anybody who in any way different, well, they’re just strange that are weird. That are crazy. That are whatever, you know, negative words we might apply. But really there is just a lot, like you said, it’s not black and white. There is a whole spectrum here. That’s, it’s fascinating. And I, and I just wonder how people are really to connect with understanding even about themselves in, in these way. That’s where I’m hoping that there are people listening right now, even just one person to this conversation that this is some sort of real light shining on something for them, because these are things that I just continue to learn. Like I said, it was only a few years ago. I learned about these overexcite abilities, but I think that there are some of them that really apply to me, you know, and, and will, how have I lived 40 plus years? And I didn’t know myself in this way. Well, you know, it’s ongoing learning.
Imi: 00:48:23 No, I know. I know. I, as I told you, I didn’t go for a day when I was 24. And that felt really late. Like, Oh, what the fuck with is all these years of suffering? If only I knew there was a name to why I was different. And it’s the ugly duckling story. Like until you have found the proper name for it, you just, children would probably naturally assume it was their fault.
Adam: 00:48:48 There’s an awful lot that makes us feel that way. Right. And if we go back to the idea of conformity, anytime we step outside of that, we’ll right. Conformity sort of reinforces itself through people who are kind of the, the police people for it. You know, the, the, the they’re policing it to say, you have to act like me. You have to do it in the way we all do it. And so of course we feel, we feel on the outs. If we’re not just going along, it doesn’t matter if it’s the quote right. Or good way to go, conforming becomes the way just for its own sake. So you avoid feeling like you are that ugly duckling, right? Yeah.
Imi: 00:49:33 Well, but it’s a false safety because I always say, if what has fitted in is a false facade, then you just, you don’t feel belong because that was the false self that has filtered in not your true self.
Adam: 00:49:47 It’s interesting to me that you’ve used the, the word, um, misfit to describe how those of us who are intense, you know, highly emotional experiences over excited. We all these things, right. That we’re, we’re misfits in society because we just, for me personally, it’s like, well, I, I sure have always felt very much alone on this very much. Not understood.
Imi: 00:50:13 Yeah. I had a discussion with my therapist last night about this, funnily enough. And because we were discussing, I was tell, I was, I’m panicking about the fact that there won’t be a Marcus for my book. I was like, no one is going to be able to read the one that’s going to read it now. You know, people may, yeah. I was just going into a little, my own little panic and we were estimating the percentage of the population who may resonate with it. And he said, at 1%, I was like, Oh my God, that sounds really small. So one in a hundred. Okay. That sounds better.
00:50:54 So I don’t know, honestly. Um, and also I am biased because I’m, I’ve created this Excel therapy and coaching, and I spent many hours a day talking to people who come to me because they identify as being intense and sensitive, which by the way, I just so enjoy. And they’re so grateful, um, for having created this bubble. But yeah, when I walked down the streets and then look around it is difficult. And I think people experience it when they start dating. And when they start online dating and how hard it is to find someone who seems to resonate with these traits, but they do exist. One in a hundred is not that bad.
Adam: 00:51:43 Sensitive people like us are portrayed as you have written or mentioned elsewhere. I think as being fragile as being weak as being to this, in that, in society too dramatic, too emotional, too, over the top to deal with. And, you know, I feel that especially, I’m going to assume that you also have, uh, conversations with people who are men who experienced these things besides the fact that I’m sitting here saying this with you, but to add, to have anything that makes me feel that much more fragile or weak in a world that expects my masculinity and testosterone to always be at level 10, you know, ready to go toughness all the time. Um, also makes that feel to me, extra challenging. Is that something that you also, I would assume encounter with men who talk with you about these things as man, this is an extra layer that really hurts.
Imi: 00:52:50 Yeah. Yeah. Our society is still by, in launch. Don’t like seeing vulnerabilities in men and they do really struggle. Um, you can probably say more about this than I do, which is a shame because sensitive men are wonderful creatures. And I say, we need more of them.
Adam: 00:53:19 You’ve also talked about that in what you have learned, I think through your own experience, but then probably also through your professional work that this really is misplaced this concept of weakness, rather that they’re strengths in being this intense, sensitive, feeling, perceptive person in the world. And so I would love for you to tell me about all these strengths that we have.
Imi: 00:53:48 I think they are, they are here to be the leaders of the world. Even, you know, the world needs a new kind of leadership. People want to be led by empathy, not force. I think for the last few decades, our world has been driven by the concrete information. We have been so ambitious and driven and stressed out. We were human doings, we’re not human beings, and that’s not working anymore.
People want to be more attuned. They want to be heard. You know, even in the corporate space, we hear more and more people saying things like trusting your gut, follow your intuition. You know, I’m sure you might be aware of Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability or Susan Cain’s book, Quiet. So these are all pointing to something that the world does want something more sensitive and intuitive, authentic, and transparent. Okay. It’s human to feel so creative, sensitive, intense people. They’re like cannot always in the go go co mind. You know, they do pick up, they do have the forest site. Um, and they all are the visionaries. Many of them,
Adam: 00:54:59 You mentioned being introverted. I also, um, use that to identify things for me as well. Uh, I mean to, to do this podcast in general, to have conversations with people, even if it’s to go meet over coffee or something requires energy for me is something I’m capable of. I think there’s a misunderstanding about introverts as being people who are just wallflowers afraid to engage in conversation. And I don’t experience it that way,
Imi: 00:55:28 That misunderstanding annoys me so much. It’s really just a way of describing how you gather your energy. That’s it really it’s. It’s as simple as that, it doesn’t mean anything more. It doesn’t mean you warfare. It doesn’t mean you don’t like people.
Adam: 00:55:45 I liked that expression of it. that phrasing, how you gather your energy. That also is what Susan Cain’s book Quiet was speaking to. She, if I recall, is, or was, a successful lawyer, maybe still is, but as an introvert. Right? And so to function in that career field, and then she writes this book and just everything else, I’m sure that’s around it. I don’t recall enough of the details, but what I do remember now that we’re on this, this thread is, yeah. That’s what that was about was introverts. Aren’t who you think, who you think they are. And okay.
00:56:24 Back to my question on that, though, as you mentioned, you, uh, being an introvert, I also identify that way. And here we are talking about the intensity. Is there a particular correlation that you have come to understand between? Cause I don’t know what the ratio of introverts to extroverts or if there’s a spectrum there.
Imi: 00:56:41 I don’t know. And that, those really, I think there are more introvert than extrovert actually, because a lot of people, I, again, completely non-scientific okay. Um, there are certainly a lot of extroverts too, who are gifted and intense and sensitive. Um, but most of them are introverts. I just think it may ties into the need for a lot of processing time, a lot of thinking time. Um, so they do need a lot of time to themselves in order to process all these things in their head and hearts. That’s my impression completely non-scientific and extra, further intensive, or have their own manifestations and have their own presentations.
Adam: 00:57:28 Well, and it would, it sounds like it would be completely inaccurate for me to then jump from, Oh, maybe there’s 1% who really are these intense, highly emotional people. And to make that as a correlation, well, if you’re an introvert, then you’re also intense. That’s not, that’s not fair and accurate at all.
Imi: 00:57:46 No, there are so much more there’s so, so, so many more introverts than there are intense people, I think.
Adam: 00:57:53 Well, so this leads me to a thought for me, which is, you know, so many times I have, um, because I do happen to be at that cross-section I am saying here now, I, I feel both I’m I identify as an introvert and I feel the intensity. Okay. I don’t know what it’s like to not be me. I don’t know what it’s like to just be an introvert who is not also this passionate, intense person. Um, it’s just, it, that has been something for me that has been a challenge for all these years where I don’t know what it’s like not to be me with. Uh, my mind is always on how, how could it not be? How could, how could your brain not yours, that the proverbial your a person’s brain w if it’s not on all the time, if it’s not analyzing, if it’s not being curious, if it’s not trying to process every little thing constantly what to doing. Okay.
Imi: 00:58:51 Are you blessed with parents who are also like that?
Adam: 00:58:55 I, I think at least one is. And I, and I can’t say very well. I don’t, this is not exactly a topic where I’ve had this conversation with them.
Imi: 00:59:06 Um, it’s good for you that you have one parents who share similar traits. Um, are you still shocked when other people seem different or you just don’t see it
Adam: 00:59:18 It’s possible that I still get, for some reason, a little surprise when people still don’t get me, even though I would totally just say, Oh yeah, people just don’t get me.
Imi: 00:59:30 Yeah, yeah, no, I, I understand like, like the way I describe my childhood as well, the way I was so strange and blurts out the truth that everyone was thinking, but wasn’t naming it’s because I thought that’s what everyone would do. I thought I’d run. It would be honest. I thought this is, this clearly is something that we all thinking, why are we not seeing it? I thought we just wanted the truth to be out. Yeah. Um, so that, so personally, I think it was through a lot of hurtful experienced. I’ve come to realize the world operates that they sing a different song.
Adam: 01:00:09 You have also used the phrase fast brain, right? So I’m, I’m, I’m connecting these ideas here, right? Because I feel like if my brain is always on, if it’s always thinking it’s always going in, somebody else’s sitting, they’re not analyzing everything to death, not thinking about something constantly. And I have encountered this idea. I don’t remember where, but some years ago that brains move at different paces. They process differently. It’s like having different. It will I, in my mind what I’ve made them, you know, the metaphor is if we have two computers and one just has a faster processor. Yeah. Um, but what does that really mean? Cause again, the question for me still is, well, if your brain’s not working the same as mine, what does that mean? What is your brain doing? And I’m also possibly sometimes jealous because sometimes I would like it to just rest.
Imi: 01:01:02 It means they are difference. It means their focus is elsewhere. It means they are not interested in the deeper layers of things. And they are quite content with what they see as what they get in the MBTI, Meyers-Briggs personality typing. Are you familiar with it? There is a difference between sensor and intuitive and that’s a very good, I don’t know if I used to work metaphor or parallel, um, cause most intense people I know are intuitives there are also some senses. So I don’t want to draw the link and say that that’s definitely the case, but the discrepancy in there is analogous to what you’re describing. So well it means that they are different and it means that neither of us are right or wrong and we need to learn to live with each other and celebrate each other. It’s really, really difficult. It drives me crazy too. Especially if someone is close to me, um, they don’t seem to be interested in the concepts, the ideas, you know, we w what would hurt my feelings is we would watch the same movie and I will be focusing on the ideas and the political agenda behind it. And they will be focusing on something else, like the narrative or the happy ending.
Imi: 01:02:27 It drives me crazy, but I really have to learn to say, there’s no right or wrong. Um, neither I only this better or worse. And the world really needs that diversity in all this operates.
Adam: 01:02:40 I think for me, the, the, it’s not a question of whether to regard each other well and, and give space for each of us to bring our own diversity to the bigger picture in the conversation. It’s that I feel like I suspect there’s a lack of awareness of what this neuro-diversity is in the world. Is that okay? That’s fair on my part to think, which of course then creates more communication issues, understanding issues, compassion issues.
Imi: 01:03:11 They’re just, and I dare say, majority of the world is not you, from what you’re describing. I think most people don’t operate the way you do. They are not as fast. They don’t go as deep. They’re not interested in similar things. They are more content with the concrete that these house and the mundane. Um, yeah. Does that make sense? What I’m saying?
Adam: 01:03:35 Oh, it makes sense. No, it makes sense. I think what I’m realizing is that you’re confirming what I’ve just thought my whole life.
Imi: 01:03:44 Well, yeah. And I think with that, it’s a, it’s a painful realization. Is it liberating? And then you have something to grieve as I am still grieving what I am not now, many people don’t have to grieve. They just happily. They just have to be them. I do, because I have many years of cultural conditioning telling me I should be something else. So still look at my friends who are not me and feel really jealous. And this is not all of me. That’s jealous is a part of me that was young, that wanted to fit in that wants to belong. That is still hurting from being so different and misunderstood. It’s a daily struggle.
Adam: 01:04:31 I think this brings me to a good place here to ask about how you talk about moving from healing to thriving then. Okay. We’ve, we’ve talked quite a bit about, these are our experiences. This is our perspective and our feeling of life and things in the world. And I don’t think it’s going away anywhere, right? I mean, this is who we are. This is how we’re living. And we don’t outgrow it. So then how do we just own this? How do we move as you have expressed? Um, I, I have read and or heard from healing to thriving.
Imi: 01:05:12 Hmm. Well, I think the grief that I was talking about earlier, it’s actually a part of it is not the most pleasant, exciting parts, but I think it does start from grieving. The light grieving, who you are, not in order to embrace who you really are. It starts with understanding, building awareness, researching, buying books, reading, coming across materials, like your stuff and mine, and websites and books.
Um, they learn to become their true self. They learn to see that, wow, it would be nice to be a part of the crowd, but if that’s not me, I need to own who I am. Otherwise the pain of living a false life is eventually going to get to me, it’s going to end up with an existential crisis. And oftentimes it is some existential crisis that brings people to the point where they start researching who that’s yourself is.
01:06:13 The healing parts would involve learning to get to know their true self learning, to manage the intense emotions, because whilst we honor them, it’s also good to learn to be with them. Most of us has a default to push them away or demonize our own strong feelings too. So learning to honor and celebrate our emotions and manage them. There might be some pieces of what we have to do with our own family of origin. If they have been scapegoats as being the bad one, though, the one that’s always too much. And there’s a piece of forgiving and well, not necessarily forgiveness because that’s not always viable, but reconciliation with the reality as it is releasing the past. And then they can launch a fry by being them and allow the lights to attract this tribe. So it, it all sounds very vague because everyone’s path is really different.
Imi: 01:07:12 Um, for all the nitty-gritty details, I encourage you to go and look at my new book, the gifts of intensity. Well, I do talk about, um, I do break things down and give very specific ideas about how to survive a workplace when you’re different, for example, um, what happens when you grow out of people that you grew up with and how to find love whilst being you? So these are some of the topics that’s I try because it’s a complex subject. I will have to write a million books and also answer all the questions raised by everyone. That’s, um, we do our best in our own space.
Adam: 01:07:58 It is tough work that we each have to do individually to dig in there into those scary places, those dark corners of our stories, our experiences, the things that we’ve maybe tried to shove aside and hide, forget. Right? So yes, you of course had to necessarily answer that more broadly because every person has their own experience and story they’re bringing to it. But ultimately I think the answer then has to be, we all have to put in that work to go ahead and uncover, peel back the layers, figure out what we’re dealing with in there that we’ve been trying not to deal with.
Imi: 01:08:37 Yeah. And they really need to learn to wake up to the fact that your intensity is not the fact it’s not an illness. It’s quite the opposite. Being intense means you have very unique qualities and they’re not just related to the fact that you’re gifted. They are your gifts. And if you have been oppressed misunderstood, there is a piece of healing that you have to do, but you can look around you right now and see that. Well, these things once hurt me. When I was a child, there were authorities that want to overpower me. There were people who were envious of me, who tried to attack me. You know, my parents didn’t get me. They framed me as the black sheep, but they are not here anymore. And you have the freedom now to celebrate who you are, your success, your glory in your own way. Yeah.
Adam: 01:09:27 Yeah. It takes a lot to let go of some of those stories though, doesn’t it?
Imi: 01:09:33 That’s why people go into therapy and coaching.
Adam: 01:09:36 So that’s what I was just, just thinking. Yeah. That’s the value of having that help.
I want to ask you about, uh, something that I did see in here that you talked about on another podcast, but I love your tattoo that says amor fati. it’s Latin, while some might be familiar with that Latin phrase, I’m amor fati. I I’d like to, to get into that a little bit with you and what that means to you and to have that daily reminder that you were.
Imi: 01:10:08 I wish it is an effective thing in mind. I clearly need it. I probably need to have another 10 tattoos on my body, but, um, so my absolute favorite book in the world is Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. He’s a stoic philosopher. I think stoicism is getting a lot of traction in Silicon Valley and, uh, due to the work of Ryan Holiday and et cetera. But, um, I love it. I love his work. His thinking is what I adore. He didn’t coin the term. Um, it comes from Nietzsche, I think, or even earlier, but it’s an essential idea in the book, Meditations.
What it means is a love of fate or love of one’s fate. It just means committing to loving the reality that you have. It’s not the reality. That is the problem. It’s your job as a human to learn to love it the way you can. So that is very useful when I am meeting with daily irritations, like queuing up when I don’t want to or traffic jam. Um, but it’s also very useful on a much, much deeper level of dealing with all the cards that the universe has endowed me with in this lifetime. Yeah. It can get really complex to what meets you called eternal recurrence, but I’m not going to get into that for me. It’s just a daily reminder to laugh while I have to love reality. Like Byron Katie says, love life as what it is.
Adam: 01:11:51 Yeah. Yeah. That is beautiful. And I appreciate the reminder of, um, of your tattoo, but no, it’s, those things certainly serve, um, it just as reminders, right? They don’t take away the work.
Imi: 01:12:08 Hmm. Yeah. And to love your suffering as Nietzsche would say.
Adam: 01:12:14 Okay, understanding that we all are still learning. Everything can evolve. We are growing constantly as we learn more. What do you feel like you have learned so far about humanity? About, I know that that’s a huge question. So it’s however you interpret it, but it’s, what do you feel like you’ve learned maybe about a common thread of the human experience.
Imi: 01:12:40 Wow. You really should have prepared me for this bar. Um, well, I have learned about humanity is that everyone is hurting. Everyone has their hurts and their packages and people do things because they are hurting. People, hurts people because they are hurting. Things do get projected outward. I find the psychoanalytic ideas about say projection and projected identifications, very useful. Most people don’t see them. They only see the surface and they don’t know what’s really happening underneath when actually this kind of strange toxic dynamics happens in our daily life all the time and this, because everyone are hurting. And to have that perspective helps me to understand what’s going on and to have compassion for myself and for what’s going on. And for others, that was what came to mind. I’m sure other things Kate will come into my mind later on. Yeah.
Adam: 01:13:46 Yeah. It’s of the moment for sure. Anything in these conversations I think is it’s about the organic flow and where we are in this moment, which is why I also set up that incredibly difficult question with understanding the answer will change.
Imi: 01:13:59 Yeah. Yeah.
Adam: 01:14:01 You mentioned compassion and I wonder so many of us have a hard time feeling compassion maybe in general, but I would say almost, especially for, yeah.
Do you find it easier to have compassion for that other person when you can have that thought in mind? You know what? They’re probably hurting. They didn’t mean to lash out at me, you know, in line at the store or whatever.
Imi: 01:14:26 It takes a while. It’s not an immediate switch. It’s not like there’s a compassion button that I push and everything magically goes away. Um, it takes time to breathe and allow the anger first. See, there’s one thing I feel quite strongly about is spiritual bypassing. I think a lot of people use the whole talk about compassion to bypass their anger and that’s not healthy.
So it’s like, Oh, I shouldn’t be angry because everyone is hurting. That’s the last thing I want you to take away. You’ve need to first get angry. You need to first scream and shout and swear in your head. I’m not suggesting anyone to be aggressive. Um, they need to allow an anger feeling to go through them before they move to a place of compassion. And it’s the same with minor irritations. Like the ones that we are talking about, it’s also the case with bigger things like relationship with your parents or loved ones. Anger needs to be honored first before you can move to a place of true forgiveness and compassion.
Adam: 01:15:31 Now I want to find out, as we wrap up here, you do have a book that you published a few years ago called emotional sensitivity and intensity. And I will include a link to that page on your website. And people can, can do a lot of reading on your website, but you’ve also, of course, in this conversation mentioned a new book. Do you have, I think it sounded like timing is uncertain right now. So is that something that people also suggest go back to your site?
Imi: 01:15:59 Yes. It’s likely going to be this year. I, I don’t know if you can pre-order it now, but it’s called the gift of intensity. It’s actually on Amazon with a cover pending. So I don’t know when your forecast comes out. Things may change by then, but, um, yeah, if you do resonate with things that we have talked about in the podcast today, I hope that the book will offer something valuable. You may not resonate with everything in there, but even if you just pick up one or two pieces that would make my day.
Adam: 01:16:32 It gets those special moments for sort of breakthrough and feeling connection. And that’s like, I started this conversation saying, MEI, I go back to your site over and over again, because there are things that do resonate. And I do it when I’m feeling kind of a need to, to be reminded. There’s somebody out there who does understand this intensity.
Imi: 01:16:57 Thank you.
Adam: 01:16:58 I appreciate your work and your writing and your sharing of your story. And thanks a lot for talking with me for the podcast, Imi.
Imi: 01:17:05 Thank you so much. I really liked the work you do. Um, I went on your website to look at your pieces, your art pieces and all the other things you do. You clearly are a multipotentialite. And I really enjoy being on here and I’ve done other interviews. This one is really in depth and you are really able to pull out truthful vulnerable pieces in your yes, I think that’s your gift.
Adam: 01:17:32 Well, thank you very much. That means a lot. Thanks so much for talking with me, Imi.
Imi: 01:17:37 Well, thank you for allowing me to have a voice here. Thank you.
[TRANSITION MUSIC: ~10 SECONDS, UPBEAT, ELECTRONIC, INSTRUMENTAL]
That was my conversation with therapist and coach Imi Lo.
You can learn more about Imi in the show notes published with relevant links and get the episode transcript on my website, at humanitou.com.
You also can connect with Imi and go deeper into the topics we talked about today on her website: eggshelltherapy.com.
If something you heard in this conversation today especially resonated with you, I would love it if you take a moment to rate and review the Humanitou Podcast on your podcast player, if it’s one that has that functionality.
I also always appreciate when listeners spread the word on their social media pages, and by word of mouth with their family, friends and everyone else.
Because it’s together that we can shape a more creative, thoughtful and hopeful world.
I’m Adam Williams, creator and host of the Humanitou Podcast.
Thanks for being here.