Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


If I’m So Smart, Why Do I Need Psychotherapy? Part Two

photo courtesy of Cheryl Winn-Boujnida, Unsplash, CC

photo courtesy of Cheryl Winn-Boujnida, Unsplash, CC

Things are looking kinda crazy these days. It’s hard to know what to think, what to do, or how to be. There are so many issues worldwide that need attention. So many. What should super-sensitive, empathetic, insightful, emotional humans do?

Well. Being the obsessed-with-psychotherapy psychotherapist that I am, you can guess what I’m about to say. Hang in there with me.

What if you start. With yourself. And your family. What if you take some time to examine your very own fears, doubts and despair. What if you take a trip into your past to understand the legacy your dysfunctional family handed to you. Locate your true Self. And pull her/him out from under the rubble. Think about it. If all humans would recover the self-acceptance, compassion and creativity that was smooshed or buried or broken or clobbered during those early years, might we create a path to a better world?

Heck, yeah.

Now, I know that what I’m asking isn’t easy. It takes great courage to make this journey. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And, in case you’re wondering: Examining the multiple ways you were clobbered isn’t about blaming your parents willy-nilly or irreverently dismantling the lovely coping strategies you’ve so cleverly designed or slashing open old wounds so that you bleed for years all over your so-impractical white sofa. No. It’s not that.

It is, however, about understanding what happened so that you can put the puzzle pieces together and answer the questions that have plagued you for years. Questions about your fears and doubts and despair. Questions like: If I’m so smart, why am I scared all the time?  If I’m so smart, why are my relationships so difficult? If I’m so smart, why do I feel like a worthless crazy catastrophizing ne’er-do-well? Questions like that.

You may say: But I do understand what happened and that hasn’t changed anything. I know. That’s because it’s not just about intellectual understanding. Although that’s the place to start.  It’s also about a safe supported grieving process. An opportunity to process the sadness, anger, shame and regrets that live in your broken heart. An opportunity to find and love those child parts of you that have been abandoned and trampled.

By the way? This is a big deal.

How big? Well. You ‘re stopping the legacy of dysfunction in your family line. Handed down through generations. The dysfunction stops with you. That big.

Not only that. In a deep therapeutic process, you’re healing your portion of the psycho-spiritual web. Where we’re all connected. So it’s not even just your family line. It’s all of us.

I mean it.

And just when you thought that was quite enough, there’s more. I am not making this up. Along with the sweet child parts that you rescue from the abyss, you will be astonished by spurts of creativity and sparks of intuition. (the voice of your true Self!) Expansion of your softened heart. An even greater compassion for others. Energy and inspirations.

And there’s your path. Better world?



To my bloggEEs: If you’re wondering how to find a good therapist who understands your rainforest mind look here. If you need to help your therapist understand your giftedness, show him/her this. And if you didn’t grow up in a dysfunctional family, we still love you and you can skip this post! Thank you for reading and sharing. Please tell us your thoughts about psychotherapy and other ways you’ve found to heal from past trauma, abuse and dysfunction.


The Gifted Adult’s Guide to Finding Friends

photo courtesy of Brooke Cagle, Unsplash, CC

photo courtesy of Brooke Cagle, Unsplash, CC

You’re sensitive. Empathetic. Funny. Generous. Smart. Adorable. And yet, you have trouble finding friends.

I’m here to help.

I’ve gathered my five favorite posts on relationships here so that you don’t need to go searching for them. I’d suggest that you read them all to get my comprehensive take on this topic. You’ll be able to pick and choose from the many suggestions and you’ll see that the reason you’re lonely is not because you’re a hopeless weirdo slacker ne’er-do-well. But because you’re gifted.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started:

If I’m So Smart, Why Am I So Lonely  (This one has a link at the end to more posts on relationships written by parents of gifted children.)

Gifted? Lonely? Learn The Argentine Tango  (You won’t want to miss the quote from Maria Popova.)

Lonely? Find Your Pips  (This one has a link at the end by a different group of parents of gifted kids, also on this topic.)

Lonely? Find Your Pips–Part Two  (This is where I get all spiritual on you.)

Single? Lonely? Gifted? Listen Up  (I’m not saying here that you shouldn’t be happy if you’re single!! Nooooo. I’m just saying that if you’re single and want a partner, here are some ideas. And this post also includes ideas for finding friends, too, so don’t skip over it.)

One more thing: When you’re clearer about who you are, you’ll be better able to spot other rainforest minds. If you’re doing something you love, at work or at play, and you spot one who has potential, be brave and initiate a conversation. Ask them questions about themselves. They will thank you! If they lead a busy life, don’t let that stop you. You may have to do the work to build the relationship at first. But if your intuition says they’re a good one, keep at it. Eventually the person will reciprocate and the relationship will be more balanced. I know that this works because it’s how I created my lovely circle of dear rainforest-y friends. But you have to be patient and persistent. OK?

One last thing: Don’t forget the online groups. Also, my book has a chapter on loneliness with even more suggestions. And, if you want to hang out with rainforest minds on a daily basis, well, become a counselor/consultant for the gifted. Start a blog. Write a book.

You’ll be so glad you did.


To my bloggEEs: How have you found other rainforest minds? How do you deal with loneliness? Thank you for being here and for opening your hearts.









The Top Thirty Reasons Gifted Humans Feel Guilty

Photo courtesy of Evan Kirby, Unsplash, CC

Photo courtesy of Evan Kirby, Unsplash, CC

Top 30 Reasons You May Feel Guilty: 

  • You aren’t living up to your potential.
  • You get impatient with people slower than you.
  • You’ve painted your living room 12 times in 5 years.
  • You haven’t won the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, or any prize except the spelling bee in third grade.
  • You got good grades in school for work that you did 30 minutes before it was due.
  • You’ve disappointed your parents because you didn’t become a neurosurgeon.
  • You’re responsible for all of the suffering on the planet.
  • You’re good at everything you try.
  • You live a privileged life in an economically prosperous country.
  • You hide your intelligence.
  • You don’t hide your intelligence.
  • You’re brighter than many of your teachers.
  • You’re competitive and always need to be right and usually are.
  • You didn’t invent the iPhone.
  • You’ve accomplished more than your mentors.
  • You didn’t have children.
  • You had children.
  • You make mistakes.
  • You’re emotional, sensitive, anxious and intense.
  • You’re not a perfect parent.
  • You’re reading a blog about giftedness.
  • You haven’t solved the problem of climate change or world hunger.
  • You haven’t gotten rid of your car.
  • You haven’t stayed in one job longer than 4 years, 5 months, 13 days, 8.5 hours.
  • You’re in therapy.
  • You’re terrified of failure and don’t try anything that might take you there.
  • You drove right by the person on the street with the sign who needed help.
  • You were born gifted.
  • You haven’t lived up to everyone’s expectations, including your own.
  • In spite of multiple signs of doom and gloom and despite the coolness of cynicism, you’re still idealistic and optimistic.

How many of these reasons did you check? You probably ought to feel guilty if you checked less than twenty.

Just kidding.


To my bloggEEs: You may have noticed that I haven’t posted in a while. I was preparing for a webinar that I presented last week for SENG. (It should be posted on the site in a few weeks.) But I feel guilty that I abandoned you. (And I missed you.) Let us know how you’re doing and what you feel guilty about!


Gifted Kids, Rainforest Minds — Still Misunderstood After All These Years

photo courtesy of London Scout, Unsplash, CC

photo courtesy of London Scout, Unsplash, CC

Way back in the later 1970’s, I was teaching in public schools in N. America and feeling the heat of the Does-Giftedness-Matter-Debate.

You know what I’m talkin’ about.

I remember the superintendent at the time saying: “There are no gifted children in our district.” Really? None? Oh boy. But schools in Pennsylvania were mandated to identify their gifted children and meet their needs. In spite of the superintendent, gifted children were, in fact, found. I had the fabulous job of teaching them.

But there was controversy. Discomfort. Misunderstanding. Defensiveness. Anger. Hurt. Bullying. Sadness. Frustration.

And, after about 35 years, there still is. Controversy. Discomfort. Misunderstanding. Defensiveness. Anger. Hurt. Bullying, Sadness. Frustration.

A big concern is this: If some kids are gifted, then others are not. If some children are included in a gifted program in school, others are left out. And being excluded hurts. We want all of our kids to feel special and cherished.

This has been a conundrum for all of the years that I’ve been in the field.

But why label people at all? Why determine that some are gifted? Why not say that we’re all the same? All equal?

Here’s the thing.

We’re not all the same. And isn’t that grand? We have different strengths and weaknesses. Different skills and abilities. Different sizes, shapes and colors. Different beliefs and values. Different languages and religions.

But we’re all equally human. We all deserve respect, compassion, love and opportunity. To be special and cherished.

And: We all know children who are faster and deeper learners, thinkers and feelers. Kids who learn to read when we’re not looking. Who know things we’ve never taught them. Who correct our errors. Who feel our pain. Who perceive sounds or sights or textures or emotions or tastes or intuitions or patterns that the rest of us miss. Who ask questions we can’t answer. Who are wiser than we are.

What do we do with those kids?

Because their particular differences mean that regular schooling may not work very well. That the usual parenting and teaching methods may fail. That some normal life experiences may be overwhelming or disturbing or confusing or devastating.

What do we do with those kids?

First: We all need to calm down. Second: We agree on what’s obvious. That we love all of our children and want the best for them. Third: We use my people-as-ecosystems model to explain their differences and similarities. Then we celebrate all of our kids and determine what they need to thrive. Maybe they have meadow minds, desert minds, river minds or rainforest minds. All of these minds are valuable and beautiful. One mind isn’t better than another. We determine what each of them need to thrive and we give it to them.

And last: We appreciate those intense, complex, super-sensitive rainforest (also known as gifted) minds. We stop cutting them down. We let them do what they’re here to do. Be who they’re here to be.

We will all breathe easier.


To my bloggEEs: Thank you so much for your support! Let us know what you think of the label “gifted” and how you think we can resolve the controversy.













Impostor, Scholar, Procrastinator, Healer — Your Multidimensional Self


photo courtesy of Kimson Doan, Unsplash, cc

photo courtesy of Kimson Doan, Unsplash, cc



What if your multidimensionality could be divided into specific peopled-parts that you could identify, name, converse with, and learn from. What if you could bring all of those parts into a conference room and sit them down at a table for a discussion. (or for you more nature-y types to an ocean around a campfire) You may have heard of Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy. This is a version of that. Useful for exploring your psyche, processing problems and gaining insight.

Let’s say you’re stuck in a pattern of sabotaging your success. Invite the Saboteur to the table. Perhaps your perfectionism is keeping you from starting that project. Let the Perfectionist pull up a chair. Maybe you get anxious when you try to initiate a friendship. Make space for the Ruminator.

But, hey, these parts of you (also called subpersonalities) are not all neurotic or troubled! Who else is in your psyche waiting to be set free? Are you intuitive and a little witchy? Is there an Artist, a Goddess, a Weaver, or an Athlete? A Seeker? A Hermit?

Make a list of all of your many parts. Don’t forget the Traumatized Child or the Caretaker or the Couch Potato or the Shining Light.

Because you have a rainforest mind, you very likely have many parts. (Your very own inner community!) Don’t be shy. Make the list and, then, write a little description after each.

You see, this way, you don’t have to define yourself as depressed or anxious or hopeless. Instead, you get to see that a part of you is, say, depressed. And you can get to know that part and find out what it’s trying to tell you or teach you. But depressed is not all of who you are. It may feel like that on your worst days, but it’s not all of you. It’s a part that you can work with and grow to understand.

And that understanding can help you feel more self-accepting and hopeful.

There are resources where you can find out more about this technique. You can find it in books about journal dialogues or in the book Self Therapy. You can get the therapy theory in the book by Richard Schwartz, the originator of this model.

One more aspect to IFS, perhaps the most important, is this: Schwartz says that we all have an Essence or a big Self or a Divine Self. That is who we really are. The subpersonalities are how we most often deal with the world but at our core is our True Nature. The goal is to live as often as we can from that Self. You might be familiar with this if you’ve read Carl Jung. It makes so much sense but isn’t easy to achieve.

Knowing your Essence is an on-going process. When do you feel peaceful? Joyful? Deeply compassionate? Chances are, at those times, you’re in touch with your True Self. Make a list of those experiences. Are you painting, writing, meditating, singing, gardening, hiking, blogging, running? Practice deepening those moments as you gain awareness of your body-mind-spirit. Notice when a subpersonality shows up. Welcome him/her. Sit by the fire for a chat.

Getting to know all of your selves along with your Divine Self is one way to better navigate your rainforest mind. And to live as the fully complicated, adorable, multidimensional being that you are.


To my bloggEEs: Some of you have asked for more specific resources and ideas. I hope this helps. Let us know if you try it and what you discover. Thank you from my Blogger self. Big hugs and kisses from my Essence!

14063786_10208929148198523_1648417606332075114_nThis post is part of a blog hop via For more posts on the topic of Community click here or on the image.


Managing Your Smartness — A Guide For The Underwhelmed And Overwhelmed

photo courtesy of Jakob Boman, Unsplash, CC

photo courtesy of Jakob Boman, Unsplash, CC

You’re capable. You’re fast thinking. You draw accurate conclusions when everyone else is still lollygagging. You’re at the finish line when others are just leaving the starting gate.

Your coworkers would benefit from your insight if only they could realize that it’s insight. But they don’t understand your leaps and you’re tired of filling in the blanks. So you sound unreasonable or outlandish.

You’re thorough. You’re deep thinking. You analyze the complicated ramifications when everyone else is preoccupied with, well, shopping. You’re scuba diving when others are water skiing.

Your friends and family members would benefit from your perceptions and sensitivity if only they could realize that it’s your rainforest mind and not an obsessive compulsive disorder. But you’ve been labeled dramatic, depressed and delusional so you’re the one in therapy.

Sound familiar? Am I in your head?

Well, then, of course, you feel like a weirdo, like a freak, like you don’t belong. You’re underwhelmed and overwhelmed.

This is especially true if you were a little tyke in a dysfunctional family. At an early age, you had extra amounts of empathy and intelligence. And you probably felt the weight of responsibility.

You still do.

So, here are some ideas that might help.

First, remind yourself that just because you have lots of skills and abilities and you can solve others’ problems, doesn’t mean that you have to step in and rescue them or take that terrible job or say ‘yes’ to every request.

Do you hear me? Reread that paragraph again, please.

It’s great that you’re so capable but it’s important to have boundaries and limits and to take time to nourish yourself. If you take care of yourself, you’ll be better able to help when the situation is appropriate. Practice this phrase when someone (including your child) asks for something : Oh. Interesting. Let me think about it and I’ll get back to you. Then, take a breath and think about it.

If you’re frustrated at your workplace and looking for support, get a copy of Rebels At Work and join their community. The authors, Medina and Kelly, write and talk about ways creative, complex thinkers can work to change the system. You’ll see that you’re not alone and you’re not delusional.

If you’re a parent, it’s especially important that you know your limits and take time for self-care. The parent bloggers here and here offer great advice.

If you’re introverted, Susan Cain‘s book and community provide support and suggestions. If you’re extroverted, you may be particularly distressed. Because you have greater needs for interactions with humans, and because rainforest minds can be hard to find, you may feel extreme underwhelmedness. Look for activities that appeal to you through Join an online group such as Start your own meetup group, book group, astronomical society or online community.

Remember: It’s normal for you to be both underwhelmed and overwhelmed because of your effervescent, multi-dimensional, perceptive rainforest mind. Managing your smartness isn’t easy. All of those mosquitoes, monkeys and tangled vines. It’s a very very busy place.


To my blogEEs: Do you often feel underwhelmed or overwhelmed or both? Do you tend to volunteer to help when you’d really rather not? Do you take on too much responsibility? Is it hard to set limits with others? What resources remind  you to take care of yourself? And thank you for reading and sharing. I love hearing from you!


How Can Sensitive Souls Change the World?

photo courtesy of Teddy Kelley, Unsplash, CC

photo courtesy of Teddy Kelley, Unsplash, CC

“We stand on the threshold of a great unknown. Individually and collectively, we launch into an uncertain future—at once, both perilous and saturated with possibility. Our accustomed, culturally-determined roles and identities are inadequate to navigate the sea change of our time. Our collective journey requires a radical shift in the human relationship with the community of all life—a cultural transformation so profound that future humans might regard it as an evolution of consciousness. Safe passage requires each of us to offer our full magnificence to the world.” ~Animas Valley Institute

How do you offer your “full magnificence” to the world?

Because now would be a great time to do such a thing. Don’t you agree?

I have a few ideas:

You have to believe that you have magnificence.

Yes, I know. That won’t be easy. Maybe it feels impossible. But I know that you’ve got it. I’m sure of it. And somewhere, buried deep inside, you know it, too. You’ll need to find a way to dive into your heart or into your soul or into wherever your magnificence lives, and touch it. Gently. Tenderly.

All you need is to get a glimpse of it. For starters. A teensy weensy glimpse.

Perhaps you can find it through yoga or mindfulness practices or painting or dancing or music or acupuncture or martial arts or excursions in nature or prayer or shamanic journeying or poetry or journaling or reading or gazing at the night sky, or Reiki, or running, or watching your child sleep, or psychotherapy or bungee jumping. Or some combination of these or other things.

It could take a while. But it’ll be worth it. Trust me on this.

Once you get a teensy weensy glimpse, you’ll want to expand your connection. To do this, you’ll need to understand that: Your magnificence is something you are, not something you do. And: recognizing your magnificence is not the same as conceit or arrogance or self-centeredness or grandiosity. It’s actually the opposite. It’s finding that place within you that’s all about love. Love and compassion. Love for yourself: your mistakes, your failures, your successes,  your disabilities, your persnicketiness, your idealism, your sensitivities, your intuitions, your overexcitabilities, your obsessions, your perfectionism, your loneliness, and your bad hair days.

And love for your family, your community, your world, and your planet.

I know. I’m asking a lot.

If you’ve grown up in a dysfunctional family with chainsaw relatives, for example, you might feel less than magnificent.

If you were bullied in school or teased for being too sensitive or too curious or too everything, you might feel less than magnificent.

If you don’t fit into the “acceptable” ethnic group or race or sexual orientation or body size or religion or personality or age, you might feel less than magnificent.

So, here’s another idea. This comes from an exercise shared by Jean Houston in a workshop I attended many years ago: Take a quiet moment and create an image of your Wise Self (some people call it your future self). Write and/or draw and describe him/her. In detail. Then feel into him/her deeply with all of your senses.  Picture him/her standing in front of you. What does s/he have to tell you? Then step into him/her and feel that Wise Self in your body. Breathe slowly and deepen your connection. Use all of your senses. Stay with the feeling and notice if s/he has any more messages for you. Know that you can reconnect with your Wise Self at any time. It will get easier with practice.

Once you’ve met and believe in your magnificence (remember this is a process!), I’m betting that it will tell you how to share it with the world. But we can talk about that in a future post!


To my bloggEEs: Let us know your thoughts. Your comments make this blog so much richer. We all appreciate hearing about your feelings and experiences so please share! What did your Wise Self tell you? And for those of you who’ve met your magnificence and are offering it to the world, please share your strategies and guidance with us! And thanks to Animas Institute for the beautiful quote.

Oh, and, if you’re reading my book, let us know how it’s going.