Time for another installment of the positive aspects of emotional intensity. I’ll be honest, it was a tad harder writing this article this morning. See, my own intensities are running wild at the moment, and finding the positives in the midst of the angst can be a real challenge. But, as my writing partner reminds me – I can do hard things. And I can. Like seeing the upside to things even when I am feeling less than “up”.

In the last post I tackled the attributes of perfectionism, continual worry, and stubbornness. Today, let’s look at excessive questioning (also seen as defiance), being bossy, and being rigid. If you are like me, you know the more negative aspects of these attributes all too well. But each one has a positive side too.


We all know this one – the questions that seem to come nonstop from our gifted kiddos. Sometimes there are so many we wonder if they are questioning our authority, looking to point out any flaw they can find, or worse. It can be a nightmare! But, there is a silver lining. This kind of questioning is NOT a negative thing, nor is it a sign of defiance, though it may feel like it at times. Actually, this type of questioning is related to curiosity.

And curiosity is a GREAT thing.

Curiosity spurs us to look for deeper meaning, hidden answers. It is a catalyst behind innovation and creation. It helps us refuse the status quo – all good, important things.

For me, the need to question has enabled me to develop deep philosophical beliefs, delve more deeply into my spirituality, and develop that aspect of myself. Questioning has led to my writing, and the creation of the stories that now provide such a needed respite for me. Sure, this type of questioning has drawbacks – at times I never feel satisfied. And that can be a drain on me and my relationships. But it isn’t that I feel unsettled or such, it is just the constant need to question, to explore, to discover. And what could be more necessary than that?


Ah, yes….Bossiness. We have all experienced this – either with our kids or ourselves. As gifted individual we have a lot of information in our heads and at our disposal; information we tend to share too readily. And in sharing, we come off bossy as we quote the rules, insist we know more, and refuse to back down when we think we are right – which is most of the time. It is a curse.

Or is it.

That trait of being in charge, taking command, knowing the answers, is also a type of leadership. People come to expect that we will have the answers. And due to some of the other aspects of giftedness, we will take the lead at times. Many gifted individuals are natural-born leaders. We see the paths not taken, the risks and potential gains in multiple situations. It’s just how our brain works.

But here’s the thing about being a leader – it is often a lonely road. That’s the part most people don’t realize. We alone shoulder the weight of our decisions and the impact of those on others. This is not a bad thing, it is just another aspect of our natural leadership qualities, and something vital in the world.

As a child I was accused of being bossy most of the time. I always had an answer for everything – and trust me, it was seldom appreciated. Over time, I learned to temper that aspect of me. It isn’t that I took less of a leadership role in things, it’s more that I no longer “needed” to be right. There was room in my life for other points of view. I learned to enhance the leadership qualities and inspire others to their own greatness. I learned to subtly lead.

Some have interpreted that as weakness. I see it as a strength. I still have strength behind my convictions, and I am no less silent on these than I was as a child. But I have come to learn that there are many paths from point A to B – and all of them have a measure of merit. I have learned that the world is far more grey, not simply black and white!

Bossiness and leadership – it is a fine line that divides the two. In fact, I would argue that they are the same trait in different forms, separated by maturity and nothing more.


This is a lot like the stubbornness I talked about last week. Though this time, I am particularly referring to the difficulty gifted people can have when then need to multi-task, or switch from one activity to another. It is something I run across often, that task stubbornness that prevents a gifted individual of moving forward. I see it in myself when I start a new project and struggle to move forward until the first thousand or so words are “just right”.

But getting stuck is only one side of the rigidity coin. The other side is really task commitment – being able to see a project through to the end. Sticking to something until it reaches its conclusion. This is something sorely needed in our day of  quick answers and short-term memories.

Gifted people are tenacious and willing to stick to things, no matter how difficulty they can become. And man, we need more of that in our world!

So there you go, a new way of looking at just a few of the more problematic aspects of giftedness. What do you think? Any positive aspects of these traits I’ve left off?

9 thoughts on “The “Up” Side to Being Intense – Part 2

  1. I went to my 20 year college reunion at a small liberal arts college filled with gifted folk this weekend and truly enjoyed chatting up the intensity topic regarding parenting and adults. For adults, I noticed a trend for people to research an interest to the point where they knew enough to be an expert. Simply by breastfeeding, a mom intensely engaged the topic enough to become a lactation consultation. The alpaca breeder now knows so much about vaccines that the vets call her with questions.

    Then there were the parenting stories. How similar our children were! How many hid behind legs when spoken to then the next minute danced with carefree joy. I watched one child follow her parents to the dining hall whilst reading an Ivy and Bean book. Truly adorable. We all chuckled knowingly.

    But here is my favorite story:
    One little kindergartener was really really into the Titanic (the ship, not the movie) and knew alllll about it. At school, on the playground, he said to his friends, “Let’s play Titanic.”

    They said, “No. Let’s play house.”

    He said, “No. Let’s play Titanic.”

    They said, “No. Let’s play house.”

    He finally said, “Okay.” Then he turned to his teacher and said, “What they don’t know is that they are all actually on the Titanic.”

    Isn’t that awesome???? We need to develop more narratives of creative coping to inspire our kids. Any stories out there to substantiate Christine’s ideas on resiliency?

  2. This reminded me of when my daughter was in middle school. She had a pin on her backpack that said, “I’m not bossy. I just have better ideas.” (It was probably true most of the time…or maybe I’m biased?

    When this same daughter was in preschool, I wanted to get her a T-shirt that said, “…But what I really want to do is direct!” (I guess you kind of have to grow up near the film industry to fully appreciate that one…)

  3. Thanks for the accurate analysis. It was helpful. I’ve never read the aspect of stubborness put that way. I can be stubborn in a variety of ways, but I definitely am in that way, and I didn’t realize that it was a characteristic of giftedness.

  4. I love this post! I was accused of being confrontational in my medical residency whenever I had questions that my attending couldn’t answer, or accused of not being a team player when I disagreed with someone directly over me in the chain of command (or is was that the food chain??)~thankfully I am long past that phase of my life. Now I have a gifted DD to keep me on my toes. When she was four, and “ordering” her little brother and me around, I jokingly said to her “Where did you learn to be so bossy?”. Not missing a beat, she said “From you.” **sigh** We prefer the term “directive” in my house now.

  5. Here are some more characteristics of gifted children (Clark, 1988). These are typical factors stressed by educational authorities as being indicative of giftedness. Obviously, no child is outstanding in all characteristics.

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