Category Archives: Overexcitabilities

Take the Overexcitability Quiz

Overexcitabilities Quiz

Do You Have Overexcitabilities? What’s Your Unique Overexcitability Profile?

Have you ever taken an overexcitability quiz? Would you like to know your unique overexcitability profile? Do you have emotional overexcitability, imaginational overexcitability, intellectual overexcitability, sensual overexcitability, or psychomotor overexcitability? Maybe you have all five?

The overexcitability quiz takes less than 4 minutes to complete. You’ll immediately see how highly you score for each overexcitability. The results include detailed information (text and video) about each overexcitability. Your friends and family might like to take the quiz too. We overexcitable types tend to flock together.

The quiz is free to complete and I won’t use your information for any other purpose. If you have any questions, do leave a comment or book a free half hour chat with me here.

What Are Overexcitabilities Anyway?

Overexcitabilities (‘OEs’) are hard-wired traits carried in our genes. Those of us who have them tend to react more strongly to a lower threshold of stimuli than other people. Many of us only discover we have overexcitabilities (intensities) when we’re trying to find out what’s going on with our intense, sensitive children.

I first came across overexcitabilities several years ago when I was trying to support my intense children. Kazimierz Dabrowski’s model (of which overexcitabilities are a part) made so much sense of our experience that I couldn’t believe it wasn’t more widely talked about.

True to my OE (and 2e) nature, I began to dive deep into the model. I studied gifted psychology and began to specialise, in my hypnotherapy and coaching practice, in working with intense and sensitive individuals.

I originally developed the overexcitability quiz to help my coaching clients identify their unique blend of intensities. The quiz is based on my years of experience working with individuals and families with overexcitabilities. It’s not scientific, but the dozens of people who’ve taken it so far have found it helpful in highlighting their main areas of overexcitability.

Questions about the Overexcitability Quiz? Comments? Book a Free Chat

I love connecting with my overexcitable tribe so please don’t hesitate to book a free chat with me. If we decide to work together that’d be lovely, but if you get everything you need from our half hour together, that’s perfectly fine too!

Take the overexcitability quiz here.

Find out more about coaching and hypnotherapy for people with overexcitabilities here.

Do You Shriek When You’re Startled?

Do You Shriek When You re Startled - Laugh Love Learn - Lucinda Leo

You’re enjoying a moment alone, lost in the rich landscape of your mind. Pondering the meaning of life as you vacuum the bedroom, maybe, or lost among the characters of a gripping story.

You suddenly become aware of someone else in the room, just inches away.

How do you react?

Do you calmly turn to the other person and say, ‘Hi! I didn’t hear you come in?’

Or do your ears ring with startled shrieking, which only moments later you realise is coming from you?

Confession: I’ve always been in the shrieking camp.

I grew up thinking this was a character weakness.  While I wasn’t choosing to scream, I assumed other people must have more self-control than me. How else could they contain their shock and respond so calmly?

Then a few years ago – long before I knew anything about overexcitability – something happened which forever changed the way I thought about being a shrieker.

I was deep in my own world as I scrubbed the shower, when I suddenly heard a voice right beside me.

As usual, I’d jumped a foot in the air and let out a piercing scream before I registered that I was not in fact being accosted by a mad axe wielder intent on chopping me to pieces, but rather being gently approached by my husband wondering if I wanted a cup of tea.

My husband bristled at my shrieks. (Unsurprisingly. One of the evolutionary purposes of screaming is to prepare others for potential impending doom by triggering their own fight or flight response.)

It was then that I noticed the weird taste in my mouth. A bitter, acrid taste.

I turned to my husband. ‘Do you get a bad taste in your mouth when you’re startled?’

‘Er, no.’ he replied, still a bit cross (and deaf), and wondering where this was going.

‘You see, then!’ I replied, excited. ‘It’s not my fault I shriek when I’m startled! I’m having a different physiological reaction from you!’

Not  a very scientific study, perhaps, but it was a huge step in my self-understanding and self-acceptance.

Shrieking and overexcitability

I thought back on that conversation a few years later when I learned about overexcitability, the innate traits that cause some people to react strongly to things others barely notice.

When everyone (including ourselves) erroneously believes that we’re simply behaving differently from other people in the same situation, we’re liable to draw all sorts of other wrong conclusions.

In the example of me being startled by my husband, for instance, we might assume I’m lacking self-control, weak, neurotic or even hysterical.

Meanwhile, a child who lashes out physically when startled by her sibling is likely to be punished for being naughty. The problem is, punishment only adds to the child’s stress and increases the odds of her lashing out next time.

Only when we understand what’s at the root of their behaviour can we properly support sensitive, hyper-reactive children, and help them manage their intense natures.

Patience, love, and kindness reach places punishment never can.

Back to my shrieking. Once I stopped blaming myself for having poor self-control and realised that my body/mind was just having a different experience from other people, I switched my energy away from trying to control my reactions and towards finding other ways to save my family from the knock-on effects.

These days, everyone I live with knows to noisily make their presence known (cue polite coughs, humming, or loud footsteps) from as far away as possible as they approach me. I like to think I’m worth the trouble.

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A note to my kind friends who read regularly

Apologies for the long gap between posts recently. I’ve been dipping my toe into giving talks about overexcitability and rainforest mindedness, which has been hugely fun but – alongside homeschooling an intense teen and tween – rather time-consuming! Once I’m in my stride, though, I hope to use my new material and skills to record a few podcasts and/or videos to help spread the word about OEs. Thank you for hanging in with me. 🙂

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To subscribe to my regular(-ish) posts about life with intensity and sensitivity, don’t forget to leave your email in the Follow By Email box below. You can also follow Laugh Love Learn on Facebook.

{Thanks to Prawny for the cute graphic.}

Is Your Sensitive Child Also a Thrill-Seeker?

sensitive child thrill-seeker - girl jumping on skis - Laugh Love Learn

My sister couldn’t believe my son wanted to spend his birthday at Disneyland.

‘Isn’t that his idea of hell?’  Well, no – and yes.

It’s true, my sensitive and intense child hates crowds, loud noise and bright artificial lights. But he also loves thrilling rollercoasters and magical imaginary worlds.

Highly Sensitive?

Back when I was searching for answers about my unusual family, I read the book, The Highly Sensitive Person. While many HSP traits rang true for us, my children had an energy – an intensity – that Elaine Aron’s book didn’t mention.

Universal Islands of Adventure Dragon Challenge Coaster - sensitive child thrill-seeker

The (brilliant) blog Happy Sensitive Kids recently posted a list of ways highly sensitive kids feel different. I was nodding along until I came to, ‘HSCs stand out because they are cautious about going down the slide in the playground and watch hesitantly as other children hurtle down with glee.’

Er – not my sensitive kids! They’d be the ones running to the front of the queue in their haste to shoot down the slide head first!

Like their parents, my children are thrill-seeking adrenaline-junkies. The higher, the faster, the more intense – the better.

Staff at Orlando’s Universal Studios once approached me, convinced I must be doing something heinous to my son to cause such a massive meltdown. They backed off when they heard what he thought of the park’s policy of not allowing 42-inch 6-year-olds to ride the upside-down Dragon Challenge rollercoaster! (How unreasonable.)

You know you’re blessed with a sensitive, sensation-seeking child when…

*  You request a booth in restaurants because your son can’t bear the noise of the other diners, or waiters clearing tables … but his own voice can be heard in the car park. To occupy himself while ‘Hunger gnaws at my belly!’  he clangs his knife and fork together in imaginary battle.

* The man sitting behind your daughter in the cinema receives the death-stare if he dares to cross his legs … while she spends the movie shuffling, stretching, rocking and kicking the seat in front.

* You’re requested (politely but sharply) to sip your tea ‘silently, please!’ A minute later the dog wakes up, startled, as your son slurps the last of his smoothie through what must surely be an industrial straw attached to a megaphone.

* He begs to go on a sleepover with his best friend. They play games and tell stories until dawn, then he doesn’t want to see the friend for another month. Meanwhile you’re left explaining to the other mum, ‘He really did have a lovely time, he’s just a bit – er –  tired this week.’

* Your daughter has a meltdown when her sister practises violin before lunch (‘Make it STOP!’). Then at 10pm the walls shake as she ‘plays’ the piano in a manner that would wake Beethoven. (‘But I have to practise!’)

Of course, OEs look different in everyone, and children with strong emotional OE and highly-developed empathy may not often exhibit these extremes.  And not all sensation-seeking, sensitive kids with OEs like rollercoasters.  Yes – overexcitabilities – and the people who have them – are complex!

If you recognise your child in any of the above scenarios, you might want to do some research into overexcitabilities before you start down the path of an ADHD diagnosis. 😉

You’re also welcome to join us at the friendly PowerWood FaceBook group where OE families share ideas and encouragement.

child playing with fidget cube - sensitive child thrill-seeker - laugh love learn
Headphones and a fidget cube: How to survive Disneyland queues when you’re a sensitive thrill-seeker


This blog is all about overexcitabilities – see my Start Here page to begin exploring.

If your child is energetic and/or talkative, you might want to read 7 Signs Your Child Has Psychomotor Overexcitability

To find out if you or your child have OEs, take the free OE questionnaire at the fabulous PowerWood site, where you’ll also find dozens of personal stories illustrating the many and varied ways overexcitability can affect family life.

Highly Sensitive or Highly Excitable? An interesting post from Aurora Remember exploring the overlap between high-sensitivity and (over)excitability.

The Sensation-Seeking Highly Sensitive Person Well-researched article on a blog all about sensation-seeking HSPs.

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Do you have a love-hate relationship with theme parks?

Does your loud, fidgety child hate it when anyone else moves or makes a noise?

Are you a sensitive thrill-seeker?

I’d love to hear from you 🙂

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If you’d like to receive my regular emails about life in an overexcitable family, leave your email in the Follow By Email box below. You can also like Laugh, Love, Learn on Facebook.

The Surprising Secret to Managing Overexcitabilities

Daffodils - The Surprising Secret to Managing Overexcitabilities - Laugh Love Learn

Have you ever felt happiness so intense, you just had to move your body? Or whoop with joy?

Most people only feel that good when they win the lottery or their favourite team beats their arch-rivals. But when you have overexcitabilities, you don’t need a big win to feel on top of the world.

Depending on your combination of OEs, everyday experiences like listening to music, skimming stones on a lake, or engrossing yourself in a story or hobby can all trigger euphoric states.

For me yesterday, it was walking my dogs on a beautiful spring day as hundreds of daffodils danced joyfully beside me in the breeze.

When you feel so good you have to skip

I’m not exaggerating when I say that my body was filled with such intense joy, I wanted to skip, dance, sing, and shout.

I smiled as I imagined what my fellow pedestrians would think if I followed my impulses. I contented myself with little bursts of jogging: ‘They’ll probably just think I’m in a hurry.’ 😉

Later, I got to thinking how children with OEs might feel:

The 11-year-old who’s so buzzing with excitement about a topic he’s researching that he can’t stop talking about it.

The 4-year-old who’s created a whole imaginary world with her toys.

The 7-year-old who wants to jump and sing and spin.

Learning to tone ourselves down

I thought about what it’s like to be a child. How would I have felt on my joyful walk if someone had suddenly demanded that I stop and sit down quietly?

I’d have struggled to comply. The energy inside me was so intense, I just had to move. If I had tried to stop, I’d have been acting against powerful inner guidance.  Maybe I shouldn’t trust my feelings? But they felt so good… Perhaps I shouldn’t trust the person telling me to suppress them? Over time, I might end up mistrusting both myself and the people telling me to tone myself down.

Managing OEs takes willpower and practice

When OEs are part of your wiring, they’re not something you can easily switch off or turn down –  at least not without a lot of internal stress.

No wonder these children ‘over’-react. When you’re using enormous amounts of willpower to contain your OEs, you don’t have much left to deal with the little upsets other children take in their stride.

As an adult, I know when it’s appropriate to tone down my intensity. And I have years of experience in doing so.

On my joyful walk, I knew to save my skipping for when I’d left the suburban street and was walking in the woods, with only my dogs to regard me quizzically as I danced and sang.

Straight afterwards, I had to take my car to the garage.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to focus while I was giddy with spring excitement, so to calm myself I switched off my music and focused on my breathing for a few minutes.

How can we help our kids learn these kind of skills?

Why children need to enjoy their OEs before they can manage them

My intense experience gave me fresh insight into how we can help children modulate their intensities:

1. Create opportunities for them to enjoy their intensity

We need to help children recognise and appreciate the joy their overexcitabilities can bring.

Kids with intense OEs get so much negative feedback about their behaviour, they can end up feeling as if they have to suppress their intensity all the time.

But when they have the chance to enjoy their OEs, they can begin to embrace their authentic natures. This is the first step towards calibrating  and managing their overexcitabilities.

We can support them by building into our children’s schedules plenty of opportunities for them to experience the joy their OEs can bring. And we can provide (physically and emotionally) safe spaces for the  expressions  intensity inspires.

2. Grow willpower, but reduce the need for it

Managing OEs costs willpower. We can minimise the drain on our children’s reserves by:

  • giving them as much autonomy and control over their schedules and their environments as possible, and
  • when they need to be calm, helping reduce the (internal and external) sensory stimulation that cranks up their intensities.

To prepare them for times when they have to use willpower to control their OEs, we can encourage children to identify and do things that increase their window of stress tolerance.

Finally, we can teach strategies for modulating their intensities, such as breathing techniques or engaging their rational brains to calm their emotions.

* * *

Bringing up children with OEs is hard work. We want our kids to become well-adjusted adults who can lead ’normal’ lives, so it’s not surprising that we focus on getting them to tone down their extremes.

But intense is these children’s normal.

So let’s help them appreciate the joy their intense natures can bring. Doing so might just be the quickest way for them to harness their awesome power – and use it to serve themselves and the world.

The Purpose of your life is joy - managing overexcitabilities - Laugh Love Learn

Do you ever skip in the woods?

How do your children enjoy their OEs?

I’d love to hear from you 🙂 

Main photo credit: LoggaWiggler,

How to Talk to Children About Overexcitabililties

Family of Giraffes - How to Talk to Children About Overexcitabilities - Laugh Love Learn

‘How do you talk to children about overexcitabilities?’ asked a friend recently. ‘What and how much do you share, and when in terms of maturity?’

Let’s start by asking whether we need to talk with kids about OEs at all.

Why talk to children about overexcitabilities?

Children with OEs know they’re different from other kids. Even if they aren’t aware of it within the family, as soon as they start mixing with other children and adults, they begin to notice.

What children don’t realise is that they’re not experiencing the world the same way as other people. So they think it’s their reactions that are wrong, which soon generalises to, ‘There’s something wrong with me’.

They wonder, ‘Why can’t I keep still at story time, when all my friends can?’

They get frustrated when their friends don’t follow the rules of the elaborate game they invented.

They’re driven crazy by the flickering light everyone else can ignore.

A story about a lost dog upsets them all day while their friends move on.

They feel rejected when no one wants to listen to them talk about their rock collection (again).

We need to let kids know what’s going on for two reasons:

1. So they know there’s nothing wrong with them

Children with OEs are different, but not broken or less than anyone else. In fact most have an even greater capacity to enjoy life than their peers.

2. To help them manage their behaviour

Talking with our children about their OEs is an important step in teaching them how to manage their extremes, especially in social situations.

Kids who don’t know about OEs are likely to internalise that there’s something wrong with them. They’ll respond by either trying to suppress their intensity completely or giving up and ‘acting out’ rebelliously.

When to talk to children about overexcitabilities

Kids with OEs are even more individual than other kids, and they usually develop asynchronously. You’re the expert on your child. You know what she can understand on an intellectual level and what she can handle emotionally. They way I explained OEs to my  with my 9-year-old son was very different from how I talked with his 10-year-old sister.

Choosing the right time to talk

Always pick a moment when both you and your child are calm and your window of stress tolerance is high. Avoid using the language of OEs to address behavioural problems in the moment, even if the behaviour was obviously triggered by overexcitable traits.

Should we use the word ‘overexcitability’?

I don’t much like the word ‘overexcitability’ (originally a translation from Polish).

I use it here because I want people to be able to find this blog, but I prefer terms like intensity, super-stimulability or just excitability.

Even ‘OE’ sounds too much like a psychological disorder or learning disability.

I’ve always used the word ‘overexcitability’ with my own children because sharing about it is one of my passions, but I see no reason to use the word when talking with younger children. As they get older it may be worth giving them the word in case they want to do their own research or find kindred spirits.

Young Children

With young children I would focus on addressing specific OE behaviours. Here are some examples, using the framework of the five overexcitabilities. (Note that each OE can look quite different from child to child – see the Children With Overexcitabilities flyer under the resources section below for a comprehensive guide.)

Emotional OE – ‘You care about animals and you feel sad when you think they’re unhappy or hurt. Your friend Saffy cares too, but you feel things extra deeply. That’s okay.’

Imaginational OE – ‘You have a really big imagination. When you play with your toys, it’s like they’re real. Not everyone can do that. When you share your ideas with your friends, they might not be able to imagine things as clearly as you do.’

Intellectual OE – ‘You wonder about everything! That’s why you ask so many questions. It’s great to be so curious. Not everyone wonders about things as much as you do. Sometimes they need some quiet time. Maybe you could write or draw your questions, so you can remember them for later.’

Sensual OE – ‘You hate the feel of scratchy clothes, and the sound of the busy train station. And you love stroking your soft bunny and listening to sea. Some people don’t notice those feelings and sounds.’

Psychomotor OE – ‘You have so much energy! You love to jump, and dance, and talk. Not many people have as much energy as you. Sometimes it’s hard for them to keep up.’

Older Children

As children get older we might want to talk about overexcitability in more general terms, showing them how their OE behaviours relate to one another.

Examples of the kinds of things you might say

‘You’re a bit more sensitive than most other people. You notice things they don’t, and sometimes people are surprised by how strongly you react. That’s because they don’t experience the world in the same way you do.’

‘You might be bothered by things other people don’t notice. But your sensitivity also means you can enjoy things more than other people. I know you really love the taste of chocolate ice cream, for instance! And cuddling Milly (the dog) makes you feel really good, doesn’t it?’


Older children might relate to more complex metaphors.

My son has most of the OEs, including psychomotor. We talk about how his engine runs faster than most people’s.

‘It’s like you’re driving a Ferrari and they’re driving a Ford. Because you have such a powerful motor, it’s going to take you a little longer to learn to handle your energy.  Sometimes other people can’t keep up with you, so you might want to slow down for them sometimes. You could even do a few laps on your own first.’

OE brings advantages and challenges

We can talk with older children about how OE is a difference which has its upside and its difficulties:

‘You love learning all about the things you’re curious about, which brings you lots of enjoyment. But you sometimes get frustrated when other people aren’t as interested as you are. They might not have time to answer all your questions.’

‘You feel what other people feel, which makes you a kind and thoughtful friend. But sometimes you give yourself a headache worrying about other people.’

Talking with children about these challenges is the first step to helping them learn how to manage them. (For instance, by finding positive ways to deal with anxiety.)


As they get older, young people may be interested in finding out more about the personality theory OEs are a part of.

According to Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration, individuals who have certain traits (including OEs) are capable of coming through life’s crises not only stronger but as more of their best, most authentic selves.

Adolescence can be a pretty intense time, so knowing about TPD might help young people reframe the challenges they’re facing, or at least give them hope that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

This article is a very accessible place to start:

‘Positive disintegration is what happens when a person lets go of the way he or she previously made sense of the world and rebuilds it in line with what s/he determines to be his/her own authentic values.’

Introducing Dabrowski’s Theory by Jessie, CounterNarration

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Have you ever spoken with your kids about overexcitabilities?

Do you have any tips to share?

I’d love to hear from you!



Children With Overexcitabilities – click on ‘Download the latest OE info flyer by PowerWood’ for this great resource. Email me or Simone de Hoogh at PowerWood if you’d like a free colour copy of the flyer.

Living With Intensity by Daniels & Piechowski – book with chapters about children and adolescents with overexcitabilities

Children’s books about overexcitabilities

The School For Gifted Potentials by Allis Wade. My daughter and I loved this 2 book fiction series.

Laugh Love Learn articles about each of the overexcitabilities

15 Things your child with emotional overexcitability might say

7 Signs your child has psychomotor overexcitability

6 Things you need if your child has intellectual overexcitability

The ups and downs of imaginational overexcitability

What is sensual overexcitability?

Theory of Positive Disintegration

Introducing Dabrowski’s theory (CounterNarration website)

Perspective for the highly able: Dabrowski (PowerWood website)

Finding Treasure in Ruins (Aurora Remember website)

Are you bringing up children with overexcitabilities? Don’t forget to leave your email address in the Follow By Email box below to receive my regular posts about how to enjoy life in a sensitive and intense family direct to your inbox. You can also like Laugh, Love, Learn on FaceBook.

Finally, I’d love you to share this post with your friends on social media. Let’s help spread the word about OEs. 🙂

Image by Sponchia

34 Ways To Nourish Your Intellectual Overexcitability

nourish your intellectual overexcitability - woman reading in nature - laugh love learn

Ironic, isn’t it?

Raising kids is the hardest and most fulfilling thing most of us will ever do. Yet at times it can be head-bangingly dull.

I used to neglect my intellectual needs. I could see that good mothers needed to take care of themselves physically and emotionally. But spending time doing something just because I enjoyed the mental challenge felt self-indulgent.

Then I read these words at a PowerWood workshop about overexcitabilities:

Get your intellectual, practical and emotional needs clear and find practical solutions for meeting your own needs.

Simone de Hoogh

 For the first time since I’d become a mother, I felt validated for even having intellectual needs!

We’re better parents – and happier people –  when all our needs are met. So let’s make time to nourish our intellectual selves.

34 Ways To Nourish Your Intellectual Overexcitability

Hit the books

1. Audiobooks used to be a luxury, but with a family Audible subscription, they can cost just a few pounds each –  much less than the print or kindle edition. If you’re a fast reader you may need to train yourself to listen, but it’s worth the investment. I love listening to books while walking the dogs and folding laundry.

2. Start a book group. When a friend suggested we set up a group, I didn’t think I’d have time to read a fiction book each month as well as the piles of non-fiction I love. But I’ve managed somehow, and life has been richer for it.

nourish your intellectual overexcitability

3. School squeezed the joy out of the classics for many of us, but you can enjoy the great works of literature much more when you read them on your own terms and after some life experience. For tips on where to start, check out The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had.

4. If your reading time is very scarce, take a look at James Clear’s excellent reading lists for people who don’t have time for unimportant books.

5. Read thought-provoking longform articles at websites like Wait By Why or Brain Pickings.  This one blew my mind.

Tell your own story

6. Get that novel that’s been in your head for years down on paper by joining in NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNoWriMo.

7. If you don’t feel up to writing a whole novel, how about a short story? Find inspiration here.

8. Maybe poetry’s more your thing? There’s a place for you too.

Anais Nin quote - nourish your intellectual overexcitability - laugh love learn

9. Find readers, feedback and encouragement by joining a writing community.

10. Share your passion and connect with kindred spirits by starting a blog. You needn’t spend a penny and can have your blog up and running within minutes by creating a WordPress hosted site. Find dead easy instructions here.

If you’re more serious, invest in ProBlogger’s Guide To Your First Week Of Blogging, which I read before starting this blog.

Make a game of it

Whether you’re hanging around outside your child’s dance class for a few minutes, or you have an hour to enjoy with your kids, there’s a game for you.

11. Words With Friends (Scrabble-type game). Let the app match you with an opponent, or play a friend. My mum lives three hours away but that doesn’t stop us playing WWF every day.

12. KenKen – arithmetic logic puzzles. We love the app version.

13. Grid logic puzzles – remember when they used to sell books of these? I loved them when I was growing up. You can now find them online, together with a handy tutorial. My son and I love working these puzzles together.

Michael Jordan quote - nourish your intellectual overexcitability - laugh love learn

14. Download a cryptic crossword app or grab a pen and try a few clues in your favourite newspaper. Most are available online if you prefer not to stress yourself out reading the news – see the Guardian, for instance.

15. Depending on how old and how competitive your kids are, board games may – or may not! –  improve your wellbeing. If my baseline is high I love playing chess, Ticket to Ride, Mastermind or Carcassone with my family.

16. Board game apps – Did you know you can play board games like Ticket to Ride, Carcassone and Splendor on your phone? (I’m totally addicted to Ticket to Ride.) The tutorials are great if like me you love complex games but hate reading instructions. And we introverts can enjoy a fun mental workout without the drain of interacting with another person. 😉

Study at Yale while nursing your baby

A generation ago, taking a course meant showing up (child-free) at a regular place for at least an hour every week. Not something busy mums can easily commit to.

MOOCs (massive open online courses) have changed all that. There’s never been an easier time to learn something new, on a schedule to suit you. Here are a few of the many MOOCs on offer:

17. Coursera has a huge selection of courses from the best institutions around the world. Fancy learning about Magic in the Middle Ages? Taking Yale’s Introduction to classical music? Or perhaps you’d prefer Animal behaviour and welfare, or Photography basics: From smartphone to DSLR?

Ghandi quote - nourish your intellectual overexcitability - laugh love learn

18. Here are some FutureLearn courses that caught my eye on a brief scan: The politics and diplomacy of cooking and hospitalityMyths and realities of personalised medicine: the Genetic revolution, The Earth in my pocket: An introduction to geology, Elements of renewable energy, and Antiquities trafficking and art crime.

19. At EdX you can learn, among other things, about the Greatest unsolved mysteries of the Universe, Japanese culture and art, and The ethics of eating.

20. Not all Udemy‘s courses are free but their regular sales mean you never need pay more than £15 for dozens of hours of training. (Bonus: paying incentivises us to complete a course.) Here’s a small sample of what you can learn at Udemy: How to be a yoga laughter facilitator, How to teach your children to be financially wise, and The part-time entrepreneur complete course.

Wrap your tongue around a new language

Not only does learning another language improve your communication skills, it also boosts memory, problem-solving and decision-making capabilities, and makes you less susceptible to dementia. A second (or third) language will also increase your options after your kids have grown.

21. Duolingo I started learning German from absolute beginner level four years ago. As an experiment, I’ve done nothing but one five minute Duolingo lesson a day on my phone. Apparently I’m now 37% fluent! More importantly, I can find the chocolate cake on an Austrian menu, and impress my husband by not needing the subtitles when we’re watching The Man In The High Castle.

haruki Murakami quote - nourish your intellectual overexcitability - laugh love learn

22. Fluent Forever – I highly recommend this book if you’re serious about quickly becoming fluent in another language and enjoy using memory systems. The author is passionate about languages and his website is filled with tools to support you learning 32 different language options from Arabic to Cantonese. I’m learning Italian and brushing up my Spanish with the Fluent Forever system.

23. Listen to an audio language course  in the car or while you’re cooking dinner.

24. Fancy learning a classical language? Peter Jones’ Ancient Greek and Learn Latin are a quirky and fun way to get started.

Become a master crafter

Would you like to try a new craft but you’re not sure what? Think back on how you liked to play when you were growing up. I used to take photos with a pinhole camera and make my own magazines. These days I still love photography and writing.

Or try one of these:

25. Crochet or knitting. Once you’ve mastered the basics, try inventing your own patterns or even new stitches.

26. Research your family history or the history of your local area.

haruki Murakami quote - nourish your intellectual overexcitability - laugh love learn

27. Grow your own food. You could even follow the example of one of my friends in the PowerWood Facebook Group who studies permaculture and is creating an edible forest!

28. Nourish your family as well as your intellect by learning to cook a new dish or even a whole a new style of cuisine.

29. Make your own organic cosmetics and sun screens.

Get smarter together

Nourish your intellectual overexcitability alongside your kids:

30. Watch a BBC  documentary like Orbit Earth or anything with David Attenborough.

31. Teach them to play chess.

32. Tune into a TED Ed talk together.

33. Make music. When we started homeschooling, I had very little time for myself.  For two years my daughter took group guitar lessons then came home and taught me what she’d learned. I’m taking my grade 7 exam soon.

34. Watch an It’s Okay To Be Smart video on YouTube.

Extra resources

Why learn a foreign language? Benefits of bilingualism, The Telegraph

10 Hobbies worth pursuing for your curious mind, Shout Me Loud

* * *

How do you nourish your intellectual OE?

I’d love to hear from you!

* * *

This post is part of a series on using our overexcitabilities to nourish our souls. See also:

14 Delightful Ways to Use Sensual Overexcitability to Nourish Your Soul

6 Eclectic Ways to Use Imaginational Overexcitability to Nourish Your Soul

How to Use Emotional Overexcitability to Nourish Your Soul

If you’d like to receive the final part of the series – how to use your psychomotor overexcitability to nourish your soul – direct to your inbox, just leave your email address in the ‘Follow by Email’ box below. You can also like Laugh, Love, Learn on Facebook.

Talking About Overexcitability on the Embracing Intensity Podcast

Embracing Intensity Podcast

7 March 2015 was a big day for me.

It wasn’t just the day I finally learned why my son was so different from other kids.

Nor was it only the day I discovered that my daughter’s passion went  hand in hand with her empathy.

It wasn’t even ‘just’ the day  I felt fully understood for the first time ever.

No. At that workshop nearly two years ago, I stepped into a whole new world.

A world where quirkiness is cherished and supported. Where I no longer feel like a bad parent. Where I don’t feel anxious that my kids and I are too much, or too sensitive. A world of kindred spirits who understand my struggles and celebrate my joys.

The Embracing Intensity podcast

One of those kindred spirits is Aurora Remember Holtzman, the delightful woman behind one of my favourite podcasts, Embracing Intensity.

‘Each week, Aurora interviews a strong, creative, and sensitive woman who embodies what it means to embrace intensity in order to show you how to embrace life in its fullest. Listen to unlock ways to unleash your fire – without getting burned!’

Embracing Intensity

Over the last few months I’ve enjoyed listening to Aurora chat with some of my favourite women. She’s interviewed Your Rainforest Mind author Paula Prober, My Little Poppies blogger and podcaster Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, and InterGifted founder Jennifer Harvey Sallin, among many others.

And last week it was my turn!

Here’s how Aurora describes a slice of the episode we recorded together, Kindred Spirits Welcome: Intense Women Raising Intense Children:

  • Explore the differences in the use of the word “Gifted” in the US and UK.
  • See how Lucinda decided to leave the Law and embrace a more creative career in cognitive hypnotherapy.
  • Hear Lucinda’s desire to show parents how to enjoy parenting more.
  • Experience along with Lucinda her journey in uncovering her son’s Giftedness, only to discover she was gifted herself!
  • Learn how excitability manifests itself in an introverted sense.
  • Discover how to appreciate who you are to propel you to who you can be!

I’d love you to listen along!

A podcast about raising intense and sensitive children?

Speaking of podcasting, I’m thinking about recording  my own podcast. I’d share bite-sized stories about family life with intensity and sensitivity.

Do you listen to podcasts? Would you like to listen along?

What would you be interested in hearing me talk about?

It’s a bit strange talking to oneself in front of a microphone, so I’d love to know there are a few friendly folk out there I can imagine I’m chatting with. 🙂

* * *

Don’t forget to leave your email address below to receive my regular posts about life in an intense and sensitive family direct to your inbox. You can also like Laugh, Love, Learn on Facebook.

6 Eclectic Ways To Use Imaginational Overexcitability to Nourish Your Soul



People with imaginational overexcitability have creative minds that need regular feeding. If we don’t get enough stimulation we can feel unfulfilled and bored by life. On the other hand, if we get too much stimulation we can have trouble switching off to relax and sleep at night.

And when we let our baselines get low, our active imaginations can create runaway anxiety, generating bleak scenarios in which our kids never make friends or learn to do anything except play videogames.

Here are 5 eclectic suggestions for how you might use imaginational overexcitability to nourish your soul:

1. Creative play

As busy parents we can find it hard to make time for our own creative needs, but doing so not only nourishes our souls but also shows our children that creative play doesn’t have to end in childhood.

If you’ve lost touch with your creative side, think back on what you used to enjoy before you had a family. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Art – Paint a picture, make a collage, draw a sketch, work a sculpture or try art journalling

Write – a story, poem, song, skit, blogpost, journal entry, or letter to a friend

Craft – flower-arranging, embroidery, woodwork

Design – a menu, garden, room, outfit, photo collage or app

Move – choreograph a dance, plan a workout or yoga sequence

2. Visit imaginary worlds

If you’re not in the mood for creating your own, let your imagination roam in someone else’s art by losing yourself in a story, watching a movie or play, or immersing yourself in poetry.

3. Solve problems by asking powerful questions

We can solve problems and work towards goals by asking powerful questions.

In his book, Secrets of Productive People: The 50 Strategies You Need to Get Things Done, Mark Forster writes, ‘At the heart of the questioning attitude is the simple psychological fact that once the mind has been asked a question it tries to answer it.’

Ways to use the questioning technique

Ask ‘Why?’ questions and follow up with ‘How?’ questions


If your child keeps having meltdowns at his gymnastics class, you might ask,

‘Why does Sam have meltdowns at gymnastics?’ then

‘How can I help Sam stay regulated during gymnastics?’

Repeat questions

Ask the same question repeatedly over several days, without looking back on your previous answers. ‘Whenever a question is repeated it tends to start of a new train of thought in our minds,’ explains Mark Forster.

Use questions to generate ideas

Ask questions like, ‘What are my five best ideas for encouraging Ella to practise writing?’ or ‘What are my five best ideas for next year’s family holiday?’

‘In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have taken for granted.’

Bertrand Russell

Read more about how to use powerful questions on Mark Forster’s blog here and here.

4. Guided visualisation

We all know about the benefits of meditation, but if you have a busy imagination you might find your mind wanders too much to be able to meditate in silence. One solution is to engage your imagination with a guided visualisation.

You might imagine walking down a beautiful path in nature, or by the sea, or exploring a lush garden. Either make up your own, or listen to a recording.

Guided visualisation resources

WebsiteRelax For a While lets you stream visualisations for free or you can pay to download MP3’s

YouTube:  See 7 Best YouTube Guided Meditations  or search for ‘guided visualisation’

Apps: like Headspace or Buddhify

Family visualisations: When my kids were younger we loved Christiane Kerr’s delightful enchanted meditations CDs

Books: Creative Visualization, Shakti Gawain (a classic that got me started down this path more than 20 years ago)

Relax Kids: The Wishing Star, Marneta Viegas

5. Improve a relationship with the meta-mirror

If you’re experiencing conflict in a relationship, try using this meta-mirror NLP technique to free up your thinking and help you get unstuck:

(1) Describe the problem from your point of view

(2) Imagine stepping into the other person’s shoes. Describe how they would view the problem (use ‘I …’  statements)

(3) How would an impartial observer watching this problem describe it?  What would they see? (again, use ‘I… ‘ statements)

(4) Reflect on how these perspectives could help resolve the conflict

6. Play the ‘What If?’ game

This is a fun game you can play any time, any place with your kids. All you do is take turns asking and answering ‘What if?’ type questions.


‘What would you do if you had the power of invisibility?’

‘Where would you go if you could time travel?’

‘What do you think the world will be like in 2050?’

‘What would the world be like if cats were in charge?’

* * *

How do you use imaginational overexcitability to nourish your soul?

I’d love to hear from you!

* * *

You might also enjoy the other posts in this series:

14 Delightful ways to use sensual overexcitability to nourish your soul

How to use emotional overexcitability to nourish your soul

Next in this series, I’ll be reflecting on how we can use intellectual overexcitability to nourish our souls. Leave your email address in the box at the bottom of the page to be sure of receiving that post direct to your inbox. 🙂  You can also like Laugh, Love, Learn on Facebook.


Photo credit: Jill Wellington

14 Delightful Ways to Use Sensual Overexcitability to Nourish Your Soul

autumn leaves - how to use sensual overexcitability

The modern world can be a stressful place for those of us with the intense sensitivity that sensual overexcitability brings.  We share a planet with more people and machines than ever before, and we spend less and less time in natural light.

On the other hand, those of us blessed with sensual OE can feel more intense pleasure in a single moment than our less sensitive friends might feel in a lifetime.

So let’s not take our gifts for granted. Let’s use our sensitivity by making time every day to enjoy simple pleasures that make our hearts sing!

14  Ways we can use sensory overexcitability to nourish our souls

Sensory experiences are deeply personal. Something that delights me could leave you cold or even trigger you, so I asked my lovely friends at the PowerWood Facebook group to help me with this list.

I hope you find something here that inspires you.

1. Light a fragrant candle

What is it about the stillness of a candle flame that gently calls us to the present moment and melts away the cares of the day?

Candles - how to use sensual overexcitability
Photo by Skeeze

2. Stand at an open window at sunrise

What colour is the sky? How does the air feel against your skin? Can you hear the sweet chorus of birds celebrating a new day?

3. Luxuriate in a hot bath or shower

Space NK bath oils - how to use sensual overexcitability

A generous friend gifted me a set of these mini Space NK bath oils many years ago. I’ve used them to enhance bath times ever since.

4. Hug a tree

Find a big old tree and wrap your arms around its trunk, rest your cheek against its warm bark, and feel the power of its primordial energy flowing  through you.

I do this most days. I like to bring a little laughter into the days of my fellow dog-walkers!

5. Cuddle up with a pet

Girl cuddling kitten and dog - how to use sensual overexcitability

6. Absorb the power of the ocean

Sign A walk on the beach is good for the soul - how to use sensual overexcitability

Many of my sensitive friends mentioned the sea as a favourite source of sensory pleasure:

‘I love the sea in every single possible phase… I need its stillness. Its wildness. Its power…. there aren’t enough words really. It comforts me on a level that I can’t begin to explain, raw and deep.’

‘It deals with all the senses in calming and exhilarating ways.’

‘I love wild crashing waves.’

‘Smelling ozone.’

7. Massage your cares away

Give yourself a mini-aromatherapy massage by smoothing on some scented body lotion.

8. Nurture a garden

When my friend Hannah signed up for an allotment (community garden) to give her kids the benefit of growing and nurturing food from seed, she found benefits she hadn’t foreseen:

‘Being there resets my self… The combination of fresh, clean air, wide open skies, mud and pollen is a powerful and rejuvenating thing… it’s not just the seedlings that are nurtured and nourished.  It is us – as a family, as individuals.’

Flowers - how to use sensual overexcitability
Photo by Hans

9. Indulge in the sensory pleasure of food

However much you enjoy cooking, when you have to provide nutritious family meals day after day, food can become more of a chore than a pleasure.

But If we’re mindful, food can be a wonderful source of sensory delight. It doesn’t have to be complicated – for me, the vibrant hues and fragrant aroma of freshly sliced watermelon are quite heavenly.

Watermelon - how to use sensual overexcitability
Photo by Condesign

If you also have emotional OE, you might find inspiration in The Emotional Cook recipe book.

What food nourishes your soul?

10. Hug someone you love

11. Get comfy

Slip out of all those buttoned and zipped-up day clothes and pull on your pjs. Even if it’s 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

12. Play your favourite music (loudly)

One PowerWood friend loves ‘listening to classical music … strings …  in the car while driving in the dark.’

Another said, ‘I love music. Especially in the car. Something euphoric with a strong baseline… Loud.’

I’ve found myself driving round the block a few times at the end of a long car journey, just to hear another song or two!

13. Brew a cup of fragrant tea

In a teapot if you have one. Or treat yourself to a proper cup of coffee and bask in its rich aroma before each sip.

‘I let the tea seep as I dream and breathe. Each sip is a celebration of health, vitality, and serenity. I am quiet with myself. I have faith in Being.’

Christine Ford

14. Feast your eyes on fine art

If you can’t make it to a gallery, explore online using an app like Art HD.

Claude Monet Jardin à Sainte Adresse - how to use sensual overexcitability

Do you have sensual overexcitability?

How do you nourish your soul?

Leave me a comment and I’ll add your favourite sensory experiences to this list. ❤️


What is sensual overexcitability?

PowerWood Facebook Group (a place to share ideas, information and encouragement about intensity, super-sensitivity and hyper-reactivity (OEs))

4 Self-care habits every woman must embrace (blog post)

My senses, my gifts (blog post)

The art appreciation blog

Art HD (art gallery app)

* * *

For more ideas about how to use your sensitivities and intensity to nourish your soul, see my other posts in this series:

How to use emotional overexcitability to nourish your soul.

6 Eclectic ways to use imaginational overexcitability to nourish your soul

How to use intellectual overexcitability to nourish your soul (coming soon)

How to use psychomotor overexcitability to nourish your soul (coming soon)

To receive my regular posts about how to enjoy family life with intensity and sensitivity, leave your email address in the Follow by Email box at the top of the page. ? You can also like the Laugh, Love, Learn Facebook page.


How to Use Emotional Overexcitability to Nourish Your Soul

emotional overexcitabiity

Self care is a necessity, not a luxury, for those of us blessed with parenting differently-wired children.

Raising and advocating for our kids in a world not designed for them can take its toll, especially if we have sensitivities of our own.

Most of us are all too aware of the challenges overexcitabilities bring, but let’s not forget that OEs also allow us to experience the good things in life more intensely.

This post is the first in a series looking at self care through the lens of each of the OEs, starting today with emotional overexcitability.

Soul-nourishment for people with emotional overexcitability

We folk with emotional overexcitability feel things intensely.

Even a short errand can leave us feeling drained after we see a homeless guy begging outside the supermarket and a frazzled mum shouting at her toddler in the checkout line.

We’d love to be able to give the homeless man a warm bed for the night and to scoop up that toddler and tell her it’s not her fault her mummy yelled.

We can’t right all the wrongs in the world in one day. But by being compassionate with ourselves we’ll find ways we can make a difference – even if it’s just by being the kindest, wisest parents we’re capable of being.

10 Ways to use your emotional OE to nourish your soul

(1) Take 5 minutes to meditate on an uplifting emotion

Choose a positive emotion – fun, peaceful and playful are among my favourites. Slowly repeat the word to yourself, enjoying the memory of times you felt that way. You might be surprised at how the word – and the feeling – pop up at random times later in the day.

I do this before I get out of bed every morning – before any negative momentum has had a chance to get going.

Bonus: List as many positive emotion words as you can and make them into a word cloud. I felt wonderful after making the one above!

(2) Spread a little joy by performing an act of random kindness

Research shows that kindness makes us happier, boosts our immune systems and improves our relationships by elevating our oxytocin levels.

The random element is important here. People with emotional OE are drawn to helping others, and when our reserves are low we risk draining our own resources in the process.

By looking for opportunities to be randomly kind, we introduce an element of playfulness that shakes away resentment and rewards us with a healthy hit of feel-good chemicals.

(3) Tap into the healing power of animals

Spend time with a loyal pet, do a google search for ‘cute baby your favourite animal’ images, or watch an OE-friendly nature documentary with your kids (ie not one where the baby gazelle gets picked off by the cheetah).

Even watching cat videos boosts energy and positive emotions, with studies showing that the emotional payoff outweighs any feelings of guilt over time-wasting.

Being mindful of your intentions is key here. Cleaning out the cat litter or hamster cage doesn’t count, though brushing or walking the dog might.

(4) Tune into the good news

By most accounts the world is a safer, better place now than it ever has been – but you wouldn’t know that from the mainstream media.

When you need reminding of all that’s good in the world, turn off the TV and spend five minutes looking at the heart-warming stories over at The Good News Network.

(5) Drop through negative emotions

When you feel overwhelmed by negative emotions, try this exercise I use with my therapy clients:

First ask yourself, ‘What’s the name of the emotion I’m feeling right now?

Don’t think too hard – whatever comes to mind first is okay. Name the emotion out loud.

Then ask, ‘If I were to drop through this emotion, what’s the emotion underneath that?

Close your eyes and imagine yourself physically dropping through the emotion. Repeat these two questions until you find relief.

I’ve had clients drop through layers of emotions for between 5 and 45 minutes. Eventually they always get to the feeling of peace that is at the core of who we all are.

(6) Keep a list of positive aspects

Make a note of nice things that happen or that you appreciate in a List of Positive Aspects. Mine includes entries like, ‘Ate the first tomato from this year’s plants’, ‘Nice email from C’s French teacher’ and ‘Beautiful autumn trees’.

Both the act of writing and looking back over my list help nourish my soul.

(7) Make a regular date with your partner

When you have kids, it’s easy to find your life running in parallel from your partner’s. A few months ago my husband and I decided to get intentional about spending regular quality time with one another. (Quality time as in, not slumped in front of the TV together after a busy day at work.)

Every Sunday morning we now walk our dogs together then have coffee at an outdoor cafe. (A treat for me because my husband doesn’t really understand the point of having coffee out, so I feel loved just by him being there with me!)

We chat about each others’ weeks, the children, and then once all that’s out of the way we usually find ourselves talking about something completely different and really interesting, which reminds me why we married each other and makes me feel excited about sharing the rest of my life with this man.

smiling couple in autumn woods - emotional overexcitability

Bonus: Take a selfie on each date. Did you know that taking selfies can increase happiness and gratitude, decrease stress and deepen connections?

(8) Watch an episode of your favourite comedy show

The Big Bang Theory, The Middle, Modern Family, Friends… Writers of these shows are paid big bucks to activate our feel-good systems.

I challenge you not to feel better after watching an episode!

(9) Connect with an uplifting friend

If, like me, you’re an intense type who’s inclined to spend every moment you’re not with your kids being ‘productive’ (working (paid or voluntary), doing admin, organising the home or practising cello), you may have a tendency to let friendships slide.

People who have emotional OE have the ability to enjoy deep, lasting friendships. Be sure to make time for the uplifting people in your life – and be willing to let go of those who have the opposite effect.

(10) Feel awe

When I posted this photo on Instagram, I captioned it: ‘Sometimes I feel so full of awe at the magnificence of nature. I feel at once tiny and insignificant and yet extraordinarily loved, as if nature is putting on a spectacular event just for me.’

beach at sunset - emotional overexcitability

Later I discovered that psychologists consider awe to be ‘one of the most pleasurable and motivating positive emotions’ (Jane McGonigal, Superbetter).

Awe also changes our perception of time. When we feel awe for a moment or two, we feel we have more time for our own goals, are less impatient, and are more likely to volunteer time to help others.

The good news is that we don’t have to wait until we happen to see a beautiful sunset or magnificent waterfall to feel awe – we can also enjoy the effect by watching videos of things we find awe-inspiring, or by writing a few sentences about a time we experienced awe.

Resources and hat tips

Top 3 tips to up your energy and resilience level (if you have emotional OE) PowerWood (article)

5 Side Effects of Kindness David Hamilton (article)

Watching cat videos boosts energy and positive emotions The Independent (article)

The Good News Network (website)

SuperBetter Jane McGonigal (book)

How taking selfies and these types of photos can increase happiness and gratitude, decrease stress and deepen connections Hey, Sigmund (article)

Living With Intensity Susan Daniels and Michael Piechowski (book)

Your Rainforest Mind Paula Prober (book – see my review)

What are overexcitabilities? (article on this blog)

* * *

Do you have emotional OE?

How do you nourish your soul?

I’d love to hear from you!

* * *

This post is part of a series on how we can use our overexcitabilities to nourish our souls. See also:

How to use imaginational overexcitability to nourish your soul

14 Delightful Ways to Use Sensual Overexcitability to Nourish Your Soul

34 Ways to Nourish Your Intellectual Overexcitability

How to use psychomotor overexcitability to nourish your soul (coming soon)

* * *

I’d love you to join me learning how to have fun in a sensitive and intense family. To receive my weekly posts direct to your inbox, leave your email address in the Follow by Email box at the top of the page. 🙂


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