Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


35 Comments

The Many Faces Of Giftedness — Beyond Sheldon And Sherlock

photo courtesy of Science in HD, Unsplash

Pardon me while I rant.

I just saw a preview on TV for a show that is highlighting “elite gifted athletes” and showcasing their particularly astonishing abilities. Oh boy. Then, I thought, how do we honor intellectually gifted folks on TV?

We don’t. Or we think we do because we watch people on Jeopardy competitions to see who has memorized the most facts. And we think, these are the smartest people. They know lots of trivia. Or we watch characters like Sheldon on Big Bang Theory or Sherlock on PBS. These people, we say, are what gifted looks like. Argh. Grrrrr. Expletive! (Note: I haven’t actually watched much of The Big Bang Theory. You can correct me in the comments, if you must.) 

Rant over.

I spend much of my day with gifted humans in my therapy and consulting practice. I will tell you what I see. 

Gifted is–

Suzanne, college junior, perfectionist and extrovert. Suzanne was bullied in elementary school because she was outspoken, an enthusiastic student, and a fast learner. The years of bullying and her inborn capacity to think of many options, choices, variables, and catastrophes combined to generate disabling anxiety. Her intensity, complex thinking, and extroversion left her frustrated and lonely. Conscientious about completing assignments with at least 120% effort, she got bogged down in her need for quality and accuracy. In therapy, understanding that the source of much of her self-criticism came from years of rejection from peers and misunderstanding of her own rainforest mind, Suzanne began to feel more self-compassion. She was determined to learn tools to calm her anxiety, ease her depressed moods, and find a way to make a difference in the world. 

James, 35, was overwhelmed by his many interests and abilities and unable to choose a path forward. He had a construction  job that was paying the bills but his heart was in music, composing, electronics, art, design, writing, philosophy, sailing, and more. He longed for a deep connection with a partner and for intellectual discussions around literature, spirituality, and life’s meaning.  He was an avid reader and researcher and loved diving into philosophical exchanges. As a child, his sensitivity, creativity, and curiosity were overlooked and misunderstood. In counseling, James worked to understand how his family of origin influenced his choices in relationships and his difficulty with decision-making. Learning about multipotentiality and giftedness gave him some relief and direction. He was open to exploring many healing modalities to address his complex inner and outer worlds. 

Tenisha, 29, was a profoundly gifted introvert. She excelled in most everything she tried including academics, art, music, dance, and writing. Schooling was frustrating and disappointing because she did not experience the level of intellectual stimulation she needed. It was hard for Tenisha to be with friends and family because she could sense what they were feeling and thinking. And, in turn, they were uncomfortable around her. She longed to find someone who would debate with her or who knew more about a topic than she did. She never felt truly seen. Health problems in her early 20’s confounded her doctors. After doing her own research, she diagnosed herself, correctly, surprising her practitioners, as she had no medical training. Even among the gifted, she felt like an alien. Tenisha had a strong sense of ethics and was deeply troubled by the lack of integrity she experienced in her workplaces. She lost jobs because she was outspoken. Tenisha wondered if she would ever find a career path where she could be herself and contribute to improving life on planet earth. In counseling, she found relief in that she could finally talk about her gifts without fear of rejection or judgment.

These are some of the faces of giftedness. Some of the highly sensitive, empathetic, creative, analytical, perfectionistic, deep thinking, complex, intuitive, intelligent, socially responsible, spiritual souls that I am privileged to work with.

This is what giftedness looks like.

(With apologies to Sheldon, Sherlock, and Jeopardy winners and fans everywhere.)

____________________________________________

To my bloggEEs: How do you describe giftedness? Do you relate to any of these profiles? What are your questions, thoughts, feelings, and curiosities? Your comments add so much. Thank you for being here. Sending much love. And thank you to the clients who are described above.

And if you need more evidence of why we need to understand giftedness, what about this article on the all-girls Afghan robotics team?

Or this short film. Made about loneliness in quarantine. Created by an obvious rainforest mind. Watch it even if you are not alone. It is funny and uplifting.


33 Comments

When Crying Is The Right Answer — High Sensitivity, Despair, Overwhelm, And Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

photo courtesy of Anthony Tran, Unsplash

Some days it is just too much. Some days it is all too sad. Some days your optimism gets crushed and left to rot under the sofa. Some days you wonder about human nature and if greed, rage, hatred, and fear are written somewhere in the genetic code. Some days you realize you came to the wrong planet.

Some days you have macaroni and cheese for dinner and strawberry rhubarb pie for dessert. And breakfast. Some days you need to tell the world Happy Motherf*ckers Day. Some days you fall off the cliff, collapse into a heap, and are grateful for nothing. Some days your pile of cool books to read just depresses you. Some days your playlist is out of tune. Some days your cozy chenille emotional support animal sweater makes you sweat. Some days you think maybe you should have chosen a husband, two and a half kids, and a picket fence. Some days humans’ vast neediness is terrifying. Some days you can not tolerate another person unwilling to examine their own ignorance. 

Some days you notice the guilt you feel for your despair when your life is full of privilege and you have a great job, can afford to pay your bills, and can buy strawberry rhubarb pie whenever you want, so you are probably contributing in a big way to the problems yourself. And, in this moment, you. do. not. care.

You just need to cry.

And cry some more. 

Join me.

We will have a crying party. 

I’ll bring the pie.

_____________________________________________________

To my blogEEs: Can you tell what I am feeling right now? I am glad that I can share it with you. Sometimes crying, giving up, grieving and falling apart is a way to find your path, your next steps, your creativity, and your spiritual guidance. And sometimes, it’s just crying. Sending you much love and appreciation for your willingness to feel and to deepen your self-understanding and your purpose here on this planet, even if it’s not the planet you thought you were coming to. Let us know how you are doing. And for those of you who are struggling with Mother’s Day because your mother was inadequate or depressed or abusive or alcoholic or sadistic or neglectful or not there, this is my favorite mothering song. Much love to you all.


35 Comments

Now Would Be A Great Time To Start Appreciating Super Smart People

photo courtesy of Dave, Unsplash

Today I am sending love and light to all of the super smart people in the world. We need our visionaries, empaths, scientists, healers, researchers, seekers, philosophers, perfectionists, intuitives, and overthinkers, now more than ever. Don’t you agree? We need the people who stand up for justice, honesty, and integrity. Who can compassionately and intelligently articulate the complex challenges and opportunities of our times. The artists and journalists who seek out and speak the truth. The kind, sensitive souls who strive to create a better world. 

Now would be a great time to start appreciating these humans. 

But I don’t have to convince you. You are aching to find them and experience their brilliance. Because. You are lonely. You are one of these super smart people. We might even say you are gifted, although I know you still feel awkward using that word. So, I am sending love and light to you. Because, at the very least, we need you to start appreciating yourself. To see who you really are. To identify why you struggle. To allow yourself to love your depth, sensitivity, and your extraordinarily active, fascinating mind.

It would be a good place to start.

As you may know, I am a big believer in introspection. It is one of my favorite pastimes. Facing your fears and doubts. Understanding the roots of your despair and anxiety. Gaining clarity about how your gifted mind works so that you stop misdiagnosing and misunderstanding yourself.

Many of the rainforest-minded souls I meet have been ridiculed or rejected because of their layers of complexities. Your passions for learning, books, research, libraries, bookstores, meaning, purpose, justice, and knowledge. For starters. Maybe you were the child who was rejected for their questioning, effervescent curiosity. And now you are the adult who feels guilty and confused because you can master most things you try but have not found a career path that is satisfying or a college curriculum that feeds your soul. 

And then, to make matters even more complicated, many of you grew up in homes that were neglectful or abusive. You were not safe in your own home. And, to cope, you may now minimize the impact or explain how others had it so much worse. Perhaps, you have been told you should just put all of that in the past and move on. After all, aren’t you so smart? Can’t you think your way out of it? 

Ugh. It’s just not that simple.

Of course, I have written a lot about the benefits of psychotherapy. You can find some of the posts here.

And now, now that we are in a pandemic, you may feel like you are back in trauma territory. You may feel those fears, doubts, despair, and anxiety rising up all around you, and in you. An event like this, in itself, is frightening and disturbing for many reasons. But it can also trigger old unconscious memories of being out of control, unsafe, and threatened. 

You may feel extra hypervigilant, overwhelmed, and exhausted.

What, then, can you do?

Well, it depends on your circumstances. You may only have the energy and resources for basic survival strategies right now. If that is the case, I am sending you extra love.

If you can do more, here are some ideas:

Give yourself permission to be introspective. To be deeply curious and to investigate your own patterns and family history. Journal. Do art. Try Soul Collage. Read. Rest. Develop your spirituality. Deepen your connection to Nature and the larger, loving, invisible world. Trust the guidance you find there.

You may have heard about the.holistic.psychologist on Instagram. She does a fine job explaining the way childhood experiences influence your sense of self and she provides tools for her community of #selfhealers. You might also look for a therapist in your town through the Psychology Today therapist directory

And, finally, send love and light and appreciation to all of the super smart people in the world.

One of them looks a lot like you.

___________________________________________________

To my bloggEEs: How are you managing during this pandemic? I hope you are staying safe, healthy, and employed. Let us know where you are in the world and what it is like. What are the ways you are coping and finding hope and meaning? Are you noticing old anxieties resurfacing? What ways are you allowing yourself to be introspective? How are you taking care of yourself? How are you getting help? Your comments make my blog so much richer. 

And, by the way, writing to you is surely sustaining me right now. In addition to my chenille emotional support animal sweater, I have you. Thank you so very much for being here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


6 Comments

Understanding Your Rainforest Mind or I’m Not Gifted, I’m Just An Overthinker — The YouTube Video!

Screen Shot from Video (apologies for blurriness)

I spoke to a group of 100 gifted folks in the Netherlands last week. On Zoom, of course. Thanks to Femke Hovinga-Tiller for sponsoring the event and recording the 60 minute talk. (See below.)

Issues and Resources in the talk include:

~ Anxiety, Intensity, Existential depression

Living with Intensity by Daniels, Piechowski. The HeartMath Solution by Childre. Full Catastrophe Living by Kabat-Zinn. Books by Pema Chodron. Insight Timer, Calm, and Buddhify apps. The work of Tara Brach and Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

~ Relationships / Loneliness


The Gifted Adult by Jacobsen. Gifted Grownups by Streznewski. (Those two books cover all topics.) Books by J. Welwood. Rebels at Work by Medina & Kelly. The School of Life website. The work of Esther Perel. The work of Dr. Sue Johnson.

~ Multipotentiality


How to Be Everything by Wapnick. Refuse to Choose by Sher. puttylike.com.

~ Social responsibility, Justice issues

A New Republic of the Heart by Patten. The Parent’s Guide to Climate Revolution by DeMocker. The More Beautiful World That We Know is Possible by Eisenstein. This Changes Everything by Klein. Soulcraft by Plotkin. TheGWord film. The works of Rebecca Solnit & Van Jones.

~ Perfectionism, Expectations, Procrastination, Impostor Syndrome

Procrastination by Burka & Yuen. The War of Art by Pressfield. The Gifted Adult by Jacobsen. The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women by Young.

~ Sensitivity, Empathy, Intuition, Spirituality

Belonging Here: A Guide for the Spiritually Sensitive Person by Blackstone. One Mind by Dossey. Riding the Windhorse by Noble. Institute for the Noetic Sciences, Sounds True. The Shift Network. Susan Cain’s work. highlysensitiverefuge.com. Tara Brach’s work. self-compassion.org. Pema Chodron’s work. Soul Collage by Frost.

~ Schooling

The Boy Who Played With Fusion by Clynes. Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults, by Webb et al. Bright Not Broken by Kennedy & Banks. ghflearners.org. nagc.org. davidsongifted.org. my-little-poppies.com. onlineG3.com. thegwordfilm.com.

~ Parenting

Smart Boys by Kerr. Smart Girls in the 21st Century by Kerr. Smart Parenting for Smart Kids by Kennedy-Moore. Raising Your Spirited Child by Kurcinka. The Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children by Neihart et al. Bright, Talented, and Black by Davis. Giftedness 101 by Silverman. drdanpeters.com. brightandquirky.com. withunderstandingcomescalm.com. coachingthegifted.net. guidingbright.com. drdansiegel.com.

And, of course, my books!

Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth and Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide For Gifted Adults And Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists.

And here is the video. Enjoy!

_________________________________________________

To my bloggEEs: Let us know your thoughts, feelings, questions, and concerns. If you were wondering what I sound like and look like in action, now you know. Eek! One correction in the video: Due to a misunderstanding, my first book will not be translated into Dutch. So sorry, Dutchies! Thank you all for being here, as always, and for being your highly sensitive, intense, curious, introspective, magnificent selves. Love to you all. Stay safe. 


34 Comments

Music To Soothe Your Worried Sensitive Soul

photo courtesy of Leio Mclaren, Unsplash

I have discovered playlists. I know. You are rolling your eyes. I realize that playlists have been around for a while now. But you must understand that I was alive when TV was the newest thing. I am that old. But, playlists. OMG. All of my favorite songs in one place. Over and over and over. Maybe playlists will replace therapy. OK. Maybe you will still need therapy. Let’s hope you will still need therapy. I need to have a job, after all. 

I used to have a thing for Broadway musicals. I still do. In fact, right now I’m Defying Gravity. (For those of you not in the know, that is from the musical Wicked.) “My future is unlimited…Flying so high. I’m defying gravity. Everyone deserves the chance to fly…” 

And what does all of this have to do with your rainforest mind?

I am glad you asked.

You are highly sensitive. Empathetic. Deep, complex, smart, analytical. Imaginative. All of which might cause ruminating tendencies. (not to mention the effects of childhood trauma) I suspect that this pandemic experience has you seriously discombobulated. Your ruminating (not to be confused with overthinking) may be taking over. For so many good reasons. And, smart person that you are, you might feel pressure to do something monumental. Which does not help. (although you are welcome to do something monumental if you want)

What, then, can you do about these ruminating tendencies?

In addition to using all of the tools that you already know about such as: slow breathing, yoga, meditation, journaling, self-talk, calming apps, time in nature, spiritual practices, warm baths, getting an emotional support animal, intellectual stimulation, self-compassion, and, of course, reading my blog, why not create a pandemic playlist?

What songs might you include?

Maybe Breathe In Breathe Out by Mat Kearney.

“There is a light in your eyes. In your eyes…Breathe in and breathe out…” 

Maybe Courage by Pink.

“Rain it falls. Rain it falls. Sowing the seeds of love and hope…” 

Or “You Will Be Found.” from the musical, Dear Evan Hansen.

“Have you ever felt like nobody was there. Have you ever felt forgotten, in the middle of nowhere…let that lonely feeling wash away, maybe there’s a reason to believe you’ll be ok…even when the dark comes crashing through…you will be found…”

So, my darlings, start defying gravity, breathe in and breathe out, and, I guarantee, you will be found.

_______________________________________________

To my bloggEEs: What songs are on your pandemic playlist? Share some of them with us! Sending you all love. And hope.

 


32 Comments

A Quick Guide To Living With Uncertainty For Super Smart Overthinkers, Perfectionists, And HSPs

photo courtesy of Nathan Dumlao, Unsplash

Maybe you think that since you are gifted, you are not supposed to freak out about this global pandemic. You may also think some of the following:

You are not allowed to be anxious, confused, or unproductive. You ought to be using all of your time at home creatively while organizing your kitchen utensils, cleaning out your garage, and finally reading Anna Karenina. You should be patiently homeschooling your super excitable children with elaborate science experiments. It is your duty to call your neighbors to see who needs toilet paper. You must order meals from your local restaurants to keep them afloat. You should have gone to medical school like your father wanted so that you could find the cure for this virus because, after all, you are so smart, and you feel so much empathy for the medical professionals who should be you. You ought to be grateful that you have a home, enough food, and a 4.2 GPA and not be crushed because you can not walk at your graduation and all of the important activities you planned for the next months have been cancelled.

Am I in your head?

Meanwhile, your heart is breaking for the humans all over the planet who are dying. You are up nights imagining the implications and the connections and the possibilities that no one else is seeing. Feeling out of control is triggering your childhood trauma so you find yourself repeating old self-deprecating phrases that you thought were long gone. Friends are proposing simplistic scenarios about what is happening that enrage you. You ache for the human touch that you have not felt in weeks. You are anticipating even more complications from the effects of the climate crisis that everyone seems to have forgotten. You are ready to implode from the debilitating combination of boredom and loneliness. You feel helpless, irritable, frightened, and responsible. You are embarrassed to admit that you are secretly hoarding hair gel because just in case your future boyfriend finally appears which is well near impossible considering that you aren’t leaving your house, you have to have your hair under control.

Something has to be under your control. Right?

How about this:

Kindness. Generosity. Love. Light.

“…Our kindness is a light. The more we extend it, the brighter it becomes and the more darkness we illuminate. We can give without any expectations until goodness flows from our depths, presents new possibilities, and expands our sense of purpose…” Jean Houston

You have plenty of that Light. Perhaps you have been hiding it because you were shamed when you were young for glowing too brightly. Perhaps you do not believe in yourself because you were criticized for your enthusiasm for libraries, mycelium, the universe, and everything.

Time to shine anyway. Trust in your Light. See where it takes you. 

Here is an idea: Get quiet and tune into yourself. Breathe slowly and then feel into your body. Imagine that your Light is there. It may be hidden underneath the fears, anxiety, shame, and old dysfunctional family beliefs. Maybe you see/feel it, maybe you don’t. It is there. Believe me. Ask your spiritual network to help you. They are waiting to be asked. Feel your Light glowing. Let it soothe you and speak to you. Draw or write in your journal what you discover.

Now is our time. Our time to shine. Let’s do this.

_______________________________________________

To my bloggEEs: What is your Light saying? How are you doing? How is this pandemic affecting you? Can you be kind to yourself as you feel anxious and overwhelmed? How might these times inspire you to create more meaning, purpose, and direction in your life? Sending much love to you all and healing songs if you or someone you love is ill. And shall we share examples of Light in the world? Here’s one. (Playing for Change) And, don’t forget about Maria Popova, Brain Pickings. And here is more emotional support. I’m thinking about how I might reach you all in other ways. Maybe video? Will let you know when I figure something out. But I won’t stop blogging! 


57 Comments

Finding Emotional Support During Difficult Times

My chenille sweater is my other emotional support animal.

These days we all need emotional support. I mean, really. Just when you thought politics and the climate crisis were enough, along comes the coronavirus. Seriously? A pandemic? Now? I try to avoid expletives on my blog. But this moment really requires several WTFs.

I am sure you are reading articles from all of the people trying to put a positive spin on this. Me, too. And, I do hope and expect there is a longer term positive outcome or two that we can’t imagine in this moment when the tension is so high. Did you read the one about how Issac Newton understood gravity when he was working from home because of the plague? This did not soothe my worried soul. Although, you smart people might want to think about it. (No pressure.) Because you have lots more time to think right now. Unless, of course, you have children and they are not in school and you are desperately looking for ways to entertain them. Unless, of course, you or someone you love is vulnerable or has the virus. Then, none of this is very funny. (Apologies, as I try to be funny.)

I know that some people are saying that this is part of a much needed awakening for humanity. Kind of like the breakdown before the breakthrough. The caterpillar becoming the butterfly. I like those ideas but do not particularly look forward to being the post-caterpillar goo. That does not sound appealing. That said, here is a potential positive outcome not yet mentioned in the news: People who have been avoiding therapy for years may finally realize they need it. The anxiety could be great enough to overwhelm their resistance. And this could mean that more dysfunctional families are healed. That deep-seated ancestral patterns of abuse get interrupted, processed, and released. That your neurotic Aunt Nellie is no longer offended when you don’t eat the lime jello mold with marshmallows that she always brings to family functions. This would clearly be a positive outcome. 

So, in the meantime, in the immediate stress of it all, I have some advice. Get yourself an emotional support animal. It can be an actual animal. Or, as in my case, it can be a blog. Blogging is my emotional support animal. Since I found blogging (six years ago!), I have come here for meaning, purpose, creativity, humor, companionship, and love. And, if that is not emotional support, well, what is? 

For those of you who don’t blog or are allergic to dogs, cats, and the like, what gives you comfort? Lately, I have been wearing my soft, cozy, black chenille sweater. (See photo.) I have been wearing it every day hoping my clients don’t notice. (Of course they do. They notice everything.) Do you have a chenille sweater? Music you love? Friends who make you peanut butter cookies? A spiritual practice? Partners who make you laugh? Angels who sing to you at night? Books you long to read? Devas in your garden? A therapist who reminds you that your light shines even when you are frightened?

Get yourself some emotional support. 

And if you want to understand gravity or some such thing while you are at it, please do.

_______________________________________________________

To my bloggEEs: These times are getting stressier. (future word for the urban dictionary) How are you taking care of yourself and others? Where are you finding emotional support? As usual, please try and stay supportive and compassionate with each other. I am sending you big hugs and much love. 

While I am confined for these next weeks, I am seeing clients online and am available for consultations. So get in touch if you want a session. I’m also thinking about how I might provide some video support for you all. If I did that, what kinds of things would you want me to talk about? 

Below you will find a link to my interview from last week’s Evolved Empath Summit. Take a listen! (recorded in January 2020)

This interview is part of the Evolved Empath Summit, a free online event featuring how to turn your empathic gifts into your greatest strength. For more information, please visit https://evolvedempathsummit.com. This recording is a copyright of The Shift Network. All rights reserved.