Your Rainforest Mind

Support For The Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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Change The World By Galvanizing Your Giftedness

photo courtesy NASA, Unsplash, CC

photo courtesy NASA, Unsplash, CC

There are times when you might feel an urgency to maximize your mojo. To jumpstart your juju. To manifest your muse. To galvanize your giftedness.

This might be one of those times. 

I have two suggestions for you.

Because of my psychotherapeutic leanings, these ideas are inner world oriented. There are many opportunities now for outer world activities. And these are very important. (Don’t forget to include radical self-care.)

And from where I sit, changing the world is both an inside and an outside job. I specialize in the inner realms. The introspective. The neurobiopsychospiritual. The diving-into-your-abyss methods. The facing-your-demons plans.  My theory is that by doing the inside job, you become more effective on the outside. And, yes, you can do them both simultaneously. You don’t have to massacre all of your demons before writing to your congressperson or reducing your carbon footprint. Actually, you don’t ever have to massacre your demons. This is a nonviolent blog. But I digress.

Here are two simple techniques. You can start today.

Meet Your Selves

You are a compilation of subpersonalities with a higher Self at your center. Rather than being the total impostor-slacker-anxiety-ridden lost soul that you may see in your mirror on occasion, you are instead, a human with many parts. With a deep authentic radiant Essence at your core. You might have an inner critic, a wounded child, a scared addict or a paralyzed perfectionist on your list of subpersonalities. But be fair. You may also have an artist, healer, empath, scholar, inventor, athlete, and nature-lover in your psyche. So what do you do?

In your journal, enumerate all of your many parts. Choose one and start a dialogue. The idea is that you can converse with and get to know all aspects of yourself. In this way, you become friends with your “demons” and learn what they’re here to teach you. You invigorate the parts that are your strengths. And you begin to connect with the authentic, radiant Self at your core. For details about this process, go herehere, or here.

Meet Your Mentors

I know. A good mentor is hard to find. Maybe impossible. Not to worry. Make a list of humans you admire. Perhaps they’re authors, poets, scientists, artists, musicians, ancestors or athletes. They don’t have to be living. You don’t have to have met them. They can include animal companions or spiritual guides. Select about five to be your mentors, your committee, or your backup singers. List their names and what each of them has to offer you. Maybe it’s support for your creative project. Maybe it’s a sense of humor. Maybe it’s a hug when you’re in despair. Write to them when you need help. Ask for guidance. Then visualize yourself receiving their assistance or write the response in a letter from them. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results.

With these two techniques, you’ll be better able to handle the challenges of these times. You will strengthen your insides so you can be more effective on your outsides. You’ll maximize your mojo and jumpstart your juju.

You’ll get your gifted on.

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To my bloggEEs: I’d like this blog to be inclusive and apolitical. I want everyone to feel welcome. That said, I’d like to find a way to be welcoming but not ignore the events of these times. It’s tricky. I may not be doing it very well. If commenters can avoid specific political statements, that would help. And if any of you want to share your concerns with me privately, you can contact me through the About page. Know that I appreciate all of you, no matter where you stand.


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Why You Still Don’t Believe That You’re Gifted

photo by Maarten van den Heuvel, Unsplash

photo by Maarten van den Heuvel, Unsplash

People tell you that you’re super smart. They’re baffled by how much you know and how you know it. You can ace a test without studying. You can talk with just about anyone about just about anything. You’re always thinking, analyzing, imagining and empathizing.

But you’re sure that you’re not gifted.

How is that possible?

Here are some ideas:

• You know how much you don’t know.

• You think you’re normal. Doesn’t everyone obsess about Dr. Who and David Attenborough’s Planet Earth documentaries?

• Too many people have told you “Don’t get a swelled head,Who do you think you are,” “You think you’re so smart,” or “Nobody likes a know-it-all.”

• You value justice and equality. If someone is gifted, someone is not gifted. It can imply that you’re better than someone else.

• Your Aunt Mindy was gifted and she didn’t turn out too well.

• You haven’t sent rockets into space or designed something “insanely great.”

• You’re good at faking it. If people knew the real you, it would be obvious that you’re average.

• You’ve been told over and over that you can’t possibly know as much as you know. You’re starting to believe it.

• When you were in school, it was embarrassing and lonely to be the smart kid.

• You’d have to live up to it and the PRESSURE would be overwhelming and then everyone would be disappointed in you and the PRESSURE would be even more overwhelming. So overwhelming, then, that you’d have to disappear into a witness protection program and acquire a new identity and not even Sherlock could find you.

• You fear rejection from family and friends. You want to belong, to fit in, to be normal.

• You have so many interests in so many diverse areas that you flit from topic/job to topic/job instead of mastering only one topic/job thoroughly and completely for your entire lifetime. In fact mastering ONLY ONE topic/job thoroughly and completely for your entire lifetime is totally terrifying.

• If you were gifted, you wouldn’t be so anxious, so depressed, so not rich or so bad at chess.

Why does it matter? Why do you need to realize that you are, in fact, gifted?

I’m glad you asked. It’s pretty simple. If you accept and embrace your giftedness (your rainforest mind), you’ll be better able to find your authentic voice and contribute in your uniquely sensitive, intense and complicated way to making a better world. Your Aunt Mindy will thank you! (so will your kids, your friends, your partner, your pets, your colleagues, your neighbors, your trees, your rivers, your planet….) 

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To my bloggEEs: Tell us, why it is that you still don’t believe that you’re gifted. Or, if you do believe it, tell us how that happened. Thank you for sharing. I so appreciate that you’re here!


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How To Find A Mate With A Rainforest Mind

photo courtesy of Felix Russell-Saw, Unsplash

photo courtesy of Felix Russell-Saw, Unsplash

How does a highly sensitive, intense, emotional, analytical, gifted, creative human find another highly sensitive, intense, emotional, analytical, gifted, creative human? Can two such humans get together and manage an intimate relationship without imploding or exploding or interploding? (I just made that last word up. But you can imagine it, can’t you?) 

You’re probably not worrying about interploding if you’re partnerless. You’re wondering if that gifted mate is even out there. And even if s/he is out there, how might you stumble into him/her. So, we’ll start there. We’ll get to an avoiding interploding post later.

(This is not to imply that everyone needs to find a mate. Nooooooo. I’m just writing to those of you who are single and looking. OK?)

There’s lots of advice out there that might be helpful. I’m going to share my theory.

From my psycho-spiritual-rainforesty perspective, I think there are complicated factors at play. But first, I want to remind you that all types of folks have found mates. Even gifted ones. So there’s hope.

Next, I believe that there are three things you’ll need to do.

1. Some of you will need therapy to face your fears. In the therapeutic relationship, you practice trusting someone and being vulnerable. You learn how to speak your truth and how to repair your broken heart. You develop healthy boundaries and shift patterns and beliefs that no longer serve you well. You build self-confidence and self-love, so that you’re better able to select someone who will be a good match. (How to find a therapist.)

2. Some of you will need to explore your psyche to look for obstacles. You may think you want to find someone but your unconscious may be screaming, ” Hell no!” In your journal, explore your fears. Write to parts of yourself and be an empathetic listener. Maybe it’s your Wounded Child who is afraid of abandonment. Maybe it’s your Perfectionist who’s afraid of failure. Maybe it’s your Introvert who’s afraid of being overwhelmed. Write to these parts and build connections. Find ways to soothe and reassure them. Then, get yourself out into the world in ways that you find meaningful and fulfilling. (Writing a blog,  joining the Audubon society, or taking a class in bicycle mechanics…)

3. And last, and here’s the spiritual (some might say woowoo) part. Use your creativity to energetically call the person to you. You can use song writing, collage, letter writing, poetry, dance, painting, gardening, whatever form that works for you and is fun. Imagine that s/he will hear you when the time is right. Imagine what it will feel like when s/he arrives. Picture your first date. If that image stirs up anxiety, go back to steps one and two! If it creates excitement, that’s a good sign. Then, be like the Buddha and let go of any attachment to outcome. Just live your already beautiful, multifaceted, rainforest-minded life.

( Full disclosure: At the present time, I’m single and seeking a partner. You may have guessed?? I’ve worked through steps 1, 2, and 3 and am in the Buddha phase. But, well, if my future mate is reading this right now, um, you know where to find me. )

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To my bloggEEs: Those of you in partnerships, how did you find each other? Tell us what it’s been like. Those of you seeking, what do you think of these ideas? Those of you who are enthusiastically single, share your insights. Thank you all for reading and sharing. By the way, I hope you like the changes to my blog. Let me know your feedback. Oh, and when my person shows up, I’ll let y’all know.

And for you, dear readers, struggling with recent events, here’s an older post that might help. Sending all of you love.


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Tango With Your Despair

photo courtesy of Konstantin, Flickr, CC

photo courtesy of Konstantin, Flickr, CC

Despair.

Not your favorite emotion. Not how you want to spend your day. Not helpful when your cranky teenager wants the car keys. Not the most uplifting part of your memoir.

But here it is. Dancing the tango. Dragging you around the dance floor. It’s got you in its arms; holding you close. Singing its mournful melodies. You’re vulnerable, barely breathing. Dressed in black. Mesmerized by despair’s mystique. You want to escape the embrace. But there’s something about this tango. This dance partner. Impossible to resist.

Like every good tango dancer knows, the connection is everything. You must tune into your partner’s beating heart. Become one body with four legs. Unity is the goal. Reaching it is just a little joyful. Maybe a lot joyful.

Joy? Despair? What?

Stay with me on this.

Imagine that you can tango with your despair. Rather than push it away or pretend that it doesn’t exist, dance it. Embrace it. Listen to its song. Cry. Rant. Write. Make art. Feel its power in your body as you stride around the dance floor. As your feet connect with the earth beneath the floor. Tango with your despair.

Imagine that in the heart of despair, you’ll find your Self. As you become One with despair, you expand, you deepen, you open to possibilities. If you soften into it, rather than resist it, your dance will improve. You’ll find a way through. Perhaps a creative direction will appear. Maybe your intuition will speak. You might notice a burden lift.

Maybe you’ll even feel a little joyful.

“ Joy doesn’t betray but sustains activism. And when you face a politics that aspires to make you fearful, alienated and isolated, joy is a fine act of insurrection. ” ~ Rebecca Solnit

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To my bloggEEs: Sensitive rainforest-minded humans need a little joy right about now. (By the way, this process can work with other painful emotions. Here’s a resource for more ideas.) Thank you for being here and for your compassionate sharing.

Oh, and I’m working on some restructuring of this blog/website. So don’t be surprised if you see some changes soon-ish. It’ll still be me, sending you my love notes.


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If I’m So Smart, Why Do I Feel Like A Failure?

photo courtesy of Vanessa Bumbeers, Unsplash, CC

photo courtesy of Vanessa Bumbeers, Unsplash, CC

Was this you? You were told repeatedly that you were so smart; that you had a high IQ. You were the top student. Your parents and teachers praised you often for your abilities and achievements. School was easy so you could get high grades without studying. You won awards. Teachers said that you were gifted. Your parents said that you’d do great things when you reached adulthood; That you could do anything you wanted. Expectations were high. 

And so was the pressure. But you didn’t realize it at the time. Until you got to college. Suddenly, you were surrounded by smart kids. You were no longer the star. Not only that. Some of your classes were hard; studying was required. Studying? What’s that? You got your first “C.” You loved psychology and philosophy but you’d never faced a workload like this. No one else seemed to be having trouble. You started procrastinating, as usual, but last minute finishes didn’t work anymore. It was confusing and overwhelming. Your identity was crumbling; you became anxious and depressed.

In your mind, it became clear that you’d been faking your smarts all of these years. You weren’t gifted. Never had been. You’d gotten by on your charm. Now charm wasn’t enough. You were a failure. Every little mistake, every question you couldn’t answer. Failure.

Is this you? Or someone you know?

Let me give you a hug and an explanation.

Kids who are gifted are often told, repeatedly, how smart they are, by well-meaning adults. High grades and other achievements may be praised excessively. This can lead children to believe that they’re loved because they’re “so smart.” Their identity becomes dependent, then, on their capacity to continue to show their advanced abilities and on the praise and attention they receive.

This can lead to unhealthy perfectionism: fear of failure, avoidance of activities that don’t guarantee success, impostor syndrome and procrastination. It can lead to anxiety and depression. Being smart becomes a static thing. You either are or your aren’t. And because you’re used to learning many things quickly, you think that’s the way all learning should be. If you don’t get it fast, well, it just proves that you’re not gifted. Not gifted? Not lovable.

What can you do?

Understand that your worth as a human isn’t due to your accomplishments. Your worth is about who you are, not what you do. It will take time to really believe this.

Make a list of your values. What do you appreciate about others? Compassion? Generosity? Sense of humor? Can you admire these values in yourself?

Imagine your life as a work in progress or as a form of artistic expression. Focus on the journey or the process instead of the product or the outcome.

If you’re in school, design a plan for studying and completing assignments. Break projects down into smaller steps. Look for resources online about dealing with procrastination, perfectionism, expectations, and fear of failure.

Learn about Dweck’s more recent work on mindsets. Even if giftedness is the way your brain is wired, that doesn’t mean it’s an all or nothing phenomenon. You can still have strengths and weaknesses. You can make mistakes and still be a lovely human. You can have high standards and not be perfect.

Make a list of your thoughts and beliefs about your “failures.” Are they rational? Replace your irrational beliefs with what’s actually true. If you’re really struggling, try this book. The book includes ways to self-soothe and calm your anxiety.

Read biographies of eminent people and make note of their struggles, mistakes and failures. Elon Musk and Steve Jobs failed multiple times.

If you’re a parent, avoid praise. It’s often meaningless. Instead, encourage your children by giving specific feedback and asking questions. “I noticed how kind you were to that boy.” “I’m enjoying the details about the characters in your story.” “How was it for you when your team worked so well together?”

If you’re a parent, encourage your child to engage in activities where they need to struggle. They will learn how to deal with mistakes, failures and set backs and will form a stronger sense of self.

And finally, hold on to your dreams!  Even if you feel discouraged and anxious some of the time, or a lot of the time, there is love in you. There is beauty in you. You can do this.

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To my bloggEEs: Thank you to the reader who inspired this post. Share your thoughts, feelings, questions and dreams here, please. We all benefit from your experiences!


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The Benefits Of Being Gifted

photo courtesy of Rowan Heuvel, Unsplash, CC

photo courtesy of Rowan Heuvel, Unsplash, CC

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m focusing on all of the many challenges that can exist when you have a rainforest mind. What about all of the good stuff, you might ask. Are there benefits to having a rainforest mind and, if there are, can you acknowledge them? And not feel guilty?

I imagine that you experience, on a daily basis, how it’s not easy being green gifted. But many people assume that it’s a perfectly fabulous life of great achievement and private jets that fly you to your second home mansion on your personal island paradise every other weekend. Maybe you also believed that, and so, because your life isn’t perfectly fabulous, you assumed that you weren’t gifted.

And it may be hard to speak about your actual strengths and accomplishments, without being seen as arrogant, conceited or insensitive. Without feeling guilty. That you don’t deserve these abilities and achievements. That it was a fluke that you got that award or that promotion. And it’s weird that people keep asking you how you know so much. When you know how much you don’t know.

How, then, can you identify your strengths, accept them, and be comfortable in your intense, emotional, supersmart, sensitive skin?

For starters: Here’s my handy dandy list of ways your rainforest mind is beneficial:

Sensitivity: Makes you a better parent, healer, therapist, colleague, cook, artist, political activist, dancer, musician, teacher, spouse, medical professional, realtor, electrician, plumber, neighbor, everything. You see? Whatever you do. Being sensitive makes you better at it. You’re perceptive. You notice things others don’t. You have deep emotions. You care. Think of it this way: Would you prefer working with a sensitive dentist or an insensitive one?

Intensity: You’re passionate, mysterious, and fascinating. You can get a lot done in a short amount of time. You scare away people you’d rather not talk to anyway.

Fast, deep, and wide learning; Curiosity: The world needs more people who actually know something, think deeply, ask questions, seek answers and analyze possibilities. When things get dull, you can always captivate yourself.

Sense of humor: You are fun to have around in uncomfortable situations. People will overlook your quirks.

Creativity: Whether it’s art, music, inventing, problem solving, designing, filming, synthesizing, rocket launching, brainstorming, writing, parenting, teaching, knitting or something else, your creating is medicine.

Perfectionism: You have the intrinsic driving need to create beauty, harmony, balance and justice. If you’re a surgeon, you’re very popular.

Empathy: See sensitivity. It makes you a better everything. You understand and feel the hearts of humans, animals and plants. You’ll probably never start a war.

Multipotentiality: You can change jobs easily when things get dull. There are countless ways that you are useful. Your children will appreciate how entertaining you are. Your memoir will be a bestseller.

Social conscience: You need to make the world a better place. And because of your sensitivity, intensity, learning capacity, curiosity, sense of humor, creativity, perfectionism, empathy and multipotentiality, you will make it so.

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Thank you to the bloggEE who requested this topic. I’m open to other topic suggestions as well. In what ways do you appreciate your rainforest traits? Make a list of your strengths. How have you and others benefitted from your giftedness? Your comments, questions, and ideas are most welcome!

 


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Your Gifted Child And School — Ten Suggestions For Parents

photo courtesy Pixabay, CC

photo courtesy Pixabay, CC

Eight-year-old Bobby wanted to be Richard Feynman for Halloween.

Could he be gifted? Hm?

There were many other signs: Enormous enthusiasm for learning, especially history, science, and language; emotional intensity, difficulty maintaining friendships with children his age, trouble with motivation in school, writing insightful poetry and detailed stories, stacks of books he longed to read, advanced verbal ability, over-thinking tests so that he misunderstood simple problems and scored poorly on exams, great interest in mathematics but not arithmetic, high sensitivity and empathy, frustration with the slowness of handwriting, distressed by the repetition in school, extremely active and curious mind, quirky sense of humor.

I’ve known many gifted children with similar characteristics. Like Bobby, they’re often misunderstood. Their sensitivity and big emotions are mistaken for immaturity. Mediocre test scores are interpreted as average ability or laziness. Loneliness is seen as lack of empathy. Intense curiosity looks like arrogance.

School personnel didn’t recognize Bobby’s rainforest mind. Is this scenario familiar?

If so, here’s what you can do:

— Explain to your child what it means to have a rainforest mind.

— Ask your child to create an imaginary container for his emotions to use when it’s not safe to express them in public. (Bobby used a coconut reinforced with diamonds that was “as big as a truck.”) One resource for helping with anxiety, depression and intensities is Charlotte Reznick‘s work.

— Find a specialist in gifted education who can test your child if the school needs proof of giftedness so that your child’s anxiety and creativity will be taken into consideration as her test results are interpreted.

— Request persistently and repeatedly that your child be matched with the more sensitive, creative and flexible teachers who, ideally, have training in gifted education. Did I mention, be persistent? Convince administrators that this is an easy solution, because it is. Understand the pressures that educators are under and provide support where you can. Bring bribes caffeinated beverages to overworked teachers. Let difficult administrators know that you have superpowers and you’re not afraid to use them. Remind yourself that when you speak out for your child, other gifted kids will benefit.

— Teach your child social skills, if needed, through role playing. Rainforest-y kids can be bossy and impatient because they don’t realize that other children don’t think as fast or don’t have the same interests. (Explain this to them.) Invite children over for play dates and provide guidance, if needed.

— Share this post with educators. It offers simple teaching techniques that work in the classroom along with inexpensive practical resources for teachers.

— Problem solve as a family. Brainstorm ideas. Your children will come up with creative solutions to assorted problems and they’ll appreciate your trust in them. Remember that healthy limits and consistency are important, especially if your child is testing boundaries. Take time to nourish yourself.

— If you have a rainforest mind and had difficulty in school, find ways to process your feelings through journaling, coaching or counseling. This post might help.

— Read about what other parents are doing and, if needed, look into homeschooling. Join a parenting support group in your town or on Facebook. Attend a SENG or NAGC conference.

— Work to change the system. Join innovative educators like Jade Rivera, the educators at NuMinds and organizations like 4pt0.org.

All of our children, in fact, the entire planet, will benefit if our gifted kids are provided with a stimulating, compassionate and meaningful schooling experience.

I’m sure Richard Feynman would agree.

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To my bloggEEs: Tell us about your schooling experiences or about how your kids are doing in school. What frustrations did you have? Was there a teacher who made a difference for you? How? Thank you for sharing. My blog is so much richer because of your comments. See you in 2017! Let me know if there are topics you’d like me to cover in future posts.