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Easily Irritated By Clothing Tags? You're Probably More Talented

Do you cut the labels out of your clothes as soon as you get them home? Can you think of nothing worse than the feeling of them scratching and irritating your skin? It may seem irrational to others but you’re not alone.

If this is you, then you may be subject to overexcitability. This term was coined by Polish psychiatrist and psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski who identified overexcitability as intense feelings within us that are caused by a heightened response to stimuli. This means you can become easily irritated by anything from repetitive or loud noises, textures of fabrics on the skin, to not liking certain foods because of texture or taste.

Of course, this can be more apparent in children – sometimes deemed fussy and particular when it comes to food or clothes – but can go on to develop into adulthood.

In children, this can mean the child can come across as difficult and challenging to teach and parent because they have an increased awareness, sensitivity, and intensity. If you think this perfectly describes you or your child then there is a positive side to these strange traits. There is a link between overexcitability and being highly gifted and talented especially in creative fields such as art, language, and music.

It seems overexcitability is a heightened excitability of the nervous system which fosters intensity and sensitivity in gifted people. So if you are identified with the irritability of clothes tags then this could include you.

The Five Types of Overexcitability

Dabrowski identified five different types of overexcitability in people, with gifted children and adults thought to exhibit one or more of these.

1. Psychomotor Overexcitability: The constant need to move and often portray their emotions through physical movements. These people may suffer from tics or nervous habits.

2. Sensual Overexcitability: This is the most common and refers to the people who need to cut the tags out of their clothes straight away, don’t like certain foods because of texture and taste, and generally have a heightened awareness of all senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste.

3. Emotional Overexcitability: These people use their emotions in an extreme way both negatively and positively. It is more likely that people with emotional overexcitability will suffer physically from their emotions such as anxiety headaches.

4. Intellectual Overexcitability: Mostly found in children, this shows up as a love of learning, a deep curiosity and always seemingly lost in thought.

5. Imaginational Overexcitability: These people have amazing imaginations and it usually manifests with vivid dreams and also a love of music and drama. Negatively, it can cause ideas of worst-case scenarios and general fears.

What To Do If You Are An Overexcitable

If you’ve identified with any of the five overexcitabilities then fear not. The most common is sensual overexcitability which can involve both heightened pleasure and displeasure and experience a far higher sensual input than the average person. On one hand, you can get lost in music, art and have a particular talent for languages but the problem with this increased sensitivity, is sometimes feeling uncomfortable and over stimulated at times that can be distracting and cause immense irritability.

Here are some ways to minimize these negative reactions to stimuli:

  • Acceptance and appreciation are the two things that gifted people want the most and receive the least. This is especially prevalent in children so accept and appreciate yourself and others.
  • Create a safe environment that limits the amount of offensive stimuli and your exposure to them.
  • Be open about your overexcitability and don’t feel like you should be boxed as ‘fussy’ or ‘hard to please’.
  • Focus on the positives with these being self-aware, creative, curious, loyal, energetic and enthusiastic.
  • Celebrate your contribution to diversity and don’t feel isolated by other people’s opinions that your actions are not normal.

Overexcitability is an inborn trait and isn’t something you can reverse. So instead of focusing negatively on the things that stress you out, focus on the positivity of your thoughts and reactions. The fact that you are more likely to be highly gifted and talented is a great positive in itself and should also be recognized, celebrated and nurtured in anyone including adults and children.

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