Your Rainforest Mind

Support For The Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

The Case for the Metaphor

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Do you see ecru, beige, sand and eggshell when others see white?

Chances are, you see more, feel more, smell more, hear more, intuit more, read more, think more, analyze more, well, you just ARE more. Right? Not that more is better. It’s just MORE. Like the rain forest, there’s a lot going on. A LOT. You may not  think of yourself as gifted because you haven’t discovered the theory of relativity or the iPhone. You haven’t sent a rocket into space and designed a Tesla. Stunning achievements are one way to describe giftedness but they aren’t the only way. And even Einstein is quoted as saying, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” If you’re concerned about justice and equality, which you probably are, then you may avoid the label altogether.

OK. You haven’t invented something “insanely great.” You may still be gifted. And yet you cringe at the word. Can you agree, then, that you have a rainforest mind?

And why does it matter?

You need to know this about yourself so you stop pathologizing your sensitivities, your intense emotions, and even your perfectionism. You need to get why you’re so darned lonely and what to do about it. You need help choosing your career paths and not thinking you’re a dilettante because you can’t choose just one. You need to understand who you are so you can live an authentic meaningful life. You see?

Just yesterday a client asked me if all super smart people are gifted. I don’t know. It appears that not all cognitively adept thinkers have empathy and sensitivity. In my definition of giftedness, depth of emotion, compassion and social conscience are included. Some people who’ve studied giftedness would agree with me. Others, not so much. Talking about intelligence is tricky. There are lots of theories out there.

Can you see me getting nervous? What was I thinking, starting this blog? Maybe I should get out while I can.

But I digress. Let me just say that I’m speaking from my experience as a counselor and former teacher, working with children and adults who think fast, feel deeply, love learning and care about the planet. I call them people with rainforest minds. And they are gifted. And if you’re still reading, I bet you are, too.

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Author: Paula Prober

I'm a psychotherapist in private practice in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in counseling gifted adults and consulting with parents of gifted children. The label "gifted" is often controversial and confusing. I use the metaphor of the rain forest to describe this population. Like the rain forest, these individuals are quite complex, highly sensitive, intense, multi-layered, and misunderstood. They're also curious, idealistic, highly intelligent, creative, perfectionistic, and they love learning. I've been an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I've written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, and Advanced Development Journal. My book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, was released in June 2016 by GHF Press and is available on Amazon or at your independent bookstore.

6 thoughts on “The Case for the Metaphor

  1. You are writing to me! And to my daughter.

    I wasn’t classified as gifted at school; once I was told my IQ, which landed me in the very bright category. Perhaps on another day, another test might have scored a few more points to qualify me as gifted. However, over the years I’ve developed an appreciation for Howard Gardner’s nine types of intelligence.

    I was always told I was too emotional, too sensitive, too intense. I was told I changed my mind too much and would “never finish anything,” which was considered failure. I changed my college major five times before settling on psychology. Eventually I finished a BA and then an MA and earned a license as a professional counselor in Texas. Then I gave that up in a move to California and created a different life.

    I began making all types of art when I was almost 40. I write poetry. I knit. I blog. I read voraciously. Having a child is awesome in part because I get to live anew and explore the world again. I took to calling myself a Renaissance woman because of my multifaceted interests. My daughter, who is six, is an intense, spirited, strong-willed, perceptive, precocious, inquisitive, and opinionated soul. We recently had evaluations done to help rule out certain issues (or get support if any were identified) and learned that she officially is gifted. I knew this. She has great verbal gifts, above average spatial intelligence, and strong inter and interpersonal intelligence. At times being her parent is daunting.

    So I’ll be curious to check in and see what your blog says. I like the metaphor of the rainforest mind. And if you’d like you are quite welcome to meander around my blog.

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    • Hi Kathryn. I’ve known a number of people who were obviously gifted to me but weren’t identified for gifted programs in their schools. Sometimes, the more highly gifted kids don’t follow the rules and don’t achieve academically so teachers don’t think they’re so smart. I’m glad your daughter is “official.” I hope my blog will help you see your own giftedness and give you more insight into your daughter. What’s the name of your blog? Thanks for writing.

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  2. Hi Paula, I maintain an “average IQ.” Conversely, my parents (as well as other family members) were intellectually gifted (father oxford scholar, mother close to it). My quandary is the haunting question (over 50 years now) of why I have not inherited my parent’s intellectual giftedness. Thoughts, ideas? ;(

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    • First, I wonder, might you actually be gifted. How do you know that you aren’t? IQ is only one measure. People who don’t test well or who are extremely creative or who don’t speak English as their first language or who grew up disadvantaged in some way, don’t always score well. Sometimes the circumstances of the test setting are the problem. Maybe you were sick that day. There are multiple reasons why the test might not be correct. Do you relate to what I’m saying in the blog? Do you have the characteristics of the rainforest mind? If so, consider that you may, in fact, be gifted.

      I suppose that giftedness isn’t always inherited. I don’t know what the research says about that. How much is nature? How much is nurture? Then there’s the question of achievement. Perhaps you’re gifted but not a high achiever. If your parents are scholars but you chose a different route, maybe you feel ‘average’ when it’s just that you don’t have a PhD. People equate giftedness with achievement but that’s not necessarily correct. Could that be it?

      These are some quick thoughts. I hope they’re helpful. Thanks for the question!

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  3. I don’t know who you are. But your posts got me in tears. I don’t completely comprehend what you are saying, but I feel I do. My mind is always making connections and I cannot explain it in words. Most of the time I’m bad at explaining myself/my thoughts because I don’t know where to begin or something. One of ur articles refer to feeling pressure to do well so u give up..i dropped out of high school with a 4.0. I’m doing well in college, because I’m not making that mistake again…
    Anyways, my father always said I dont finish things, and deem me as lazy. Maybe I am. Or maybe it’s what ur blogs are talking about. Either way, I definitely know I sometimes don’t finish things because I lose interest/feel I have to get it right. There’s too many possible explanations. I can never fully agree with one side of a story or argument. I usually have a hard time because my mind starts to say “well yeah I get that but look from this perspective..” And time moves so fast to me…I don’t know my point in saying all this. I cannot even organize my thoughts, it’s blank and buzzing at the same time. Maybe I’m crazy, and maybe it’s human nature to want to believe, but I hope ur right. Even tho it makes me sad, at least it tells me why.

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    • Anna, It certainly sounds like you have a rainforest mind. Like you’re gifted. So you’re sensitive and a deep thinker and many other things. (so it can be hard to put things into words) If my blog is speaking to you, I think you can assume that this who you are. I’m glad you’re here.

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