One great conversation over the holidays centered on people who are just “too much.” Typically that means they are too much for other people to deal with. They might be too loud, too peppy, too emotional, too aggressive, too confident … fill in your word of choice.

This was my daughter’s phrase and I asked her if she belonged to this tribe. We laughed because Karen describes herself as a “big feeler.” The gift of this is her ability to be in a conversation with anyone no matter how challenging the topic. She doesn’t deflect or change course when encountering heavy emotional territory, she steers fearlessly for the eye of the storm, allowing others to express and consequently move beyond the “touchy” places.   She comes by this honestly, apparently, because her sister and her mother are also tribe members from time to time. (Okay okay I admit to crying during commercials.)

There is a downside to being “too much.” People give you messages either directly as in “You’re too much!” or ” Stop being so emotional” or indirectly by backing away, averting their eyes or other non-verbal messaging. This holds true for people who are too loud, too friendly, too assertive but some of the tribe are immune to other people’s responses. Others in the tribe end up feeling that they don’t fit in and this can cause them to withdraw, act out or alter their behaviour.

It occurred to me that Hans Christian Andersen’s tale ‘The Ugly Duckling” captures the alienation we feel when we aren’t like others. Trying to conform may seem like the prescribed solution, but ultimately it doesn’t work if it results in feeling like you are abandoning yourself.

Here are three suggestions for anyone who feels that they are “too much” at  times.

  1. Accept yourself just the way you are. I’m not implying that you might not wish to change some aspects of how you show up to others. Perhaps you’ll change or maybe you won’t. The truest way to have change happen naturally is to start by looking at “what is” and simply being okay with that. If you force yourself to adapt you may end up in resistance and further embedded in “too much” as a result of undue stress.
  2. If there is a person or group of people in your life who give off messages that they don’t accept you as you are, think about what you want to do about that. Letting people constantly criticize and judge you is a recipe for stress. It is okay to outgrow friends, colleagues even lifestyles. They don’t need to be blamed or made wrong. It may simply be the time to move on.
  3. Develop a practice of being a neutral yet compassionate observer of your behaviour. Notice those “too much” episodes without judgment. “How fascinating!” “How interesting” “Look at this dynamic”. This simple mindful habit (skill), anchored in acceptance, is one of the most powerful contributors to change.

Good luck to any fellow ducklings! I’d love to hear how this fairy tale scenario holds true for you.

Category: Communication / Perspectives
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