Your Rainforest Mind

Support For The Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

Perfectionism’s Twin Sister

26 Comments

Now that we’ve dealt with the elephant (see my last post Gifted Shmifted) and you’re contemplating the possibility that you just may be g-g-g-gifted, we shall continue on our trek through the jungle–your wild, fertile and colorful rainforest mind.

I want to get back to perfectionism. The good kind. Yes, there is a healthy perfectionism. It can still drive you and your coworkers, friends and relatives a little crazy. It can still stop you from starting a project. Or stop you from finishing. But it’s not something to discard, destroy or disregard. It’s an inherent part of your nature. You were born with this.

Simply stated: You strive for beauty, balance, harmony, justice and precision in all things. (Well, maybe not ALL things. Maybe it doesn’t apply to your garage.)

Am I right?   P1050340

I might add that this means you have extremely high standards and expectations for yourself.  I say this with confidence because I’ve seen this intrinsic perfectionism in practically every rainforest-minded person I’ve ever known. And I’ve been hanging out with them since the mid-70’s. That’s a very long time. That’s a lot of people.

Tell me: Are you often obsessed with an idea? Driven? Researching incessantly? Do you keep raising the bar when you reach a goal? When you were a child, did you fail to turn in assignments when they didn’t meet your standards, even when you knew you’d get an “A?”

See? What did I tell you?

What about this: When you see perfection in an ocean sunset or in a star-filled night sky, when you hear perfection in the music that you adore, when you taste perfection at that restaurant in Paris, does it take your breath away?  Or when you find the exact word for the story or when all of the elements of your experiment line up just right, or when the poetry of the mathematical equation sings to you, is there a sense of satisfaction that is deep and unmistakable?

Yes? Good.

Here’s the problem.

Other people don’t get it.

It looks neurotic, dysfunctional, excessive, and OCD to them. Maybe to you, too. It’s not. But it can get you kicked out of graduate school because you don’t hand in your poems on time. It can mean that your colleagues don’t invite you to join them at happy hour. It can mean that your taxes are four years overdue.

Did I mention that this might be a problem?

P1030451

How, then, do you keep your vision, your idealism, your capacity for creating mental, emotional, spiritual or actual cathedrals and still do your taxes, maintain friendships or stay in school?

First, recognize that intrinsic perfectionism is part of who you are and it means that, with you, beauty happens. Quality is expected and produced. And this is a good thing.

Second, look for other rainforest-minded folks and appreciate their high standards. Invite them out for happy hour. Get feedback on your work from people with similar expectations and abilities so that you respect and believe what they’re telling you.

Finally, prioritize. Find the projects and activities that really don’t need to be exquisite or comprehensive or ridiculously awe-inspiring. Excellence can be enough. Good enough can be enough. On occasion. For the less important things. I mean it.

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Note to blogEEs:

1. Thankfully, none of you have complained to me yet about the fact that my blog is totally anecdotal and not based on hard data and double blind studies. I’m quite open to your questions and concerns but just want you to know that I know that some of you may object to my nonlinear undocumented broad conclusions.

2. Along those same lines, I’m fully aware that the rain forest is incredibly diverse. So are individuals with rainforest minds. That said, I’m describing common traits and issues that I’ve seen in students, clients and friends over 30+ years. You may or may not share these traits and issues. You may or may not agree with me. I’m good with that. It’s what I love about you.

 

 

 

 

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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.

26 thoughts on “Perfectionism’s Twin Sister

  1. I identify with 95% of the traits you describe. I don’t see then all as negative while most of them are seen as negative by the “g-g-g_gifted”and those who know intellectually gifted or creative individuals.

    I’m sure there are plenty of common traits among the population you cab describe but I’d love to read your professional opinions about those of us who feel we have a “need” to correct logical mistakes. Used to call out the answers in class in school, challenge what our teachers and/or professors believe to be true, introduce a perspective that not discussed by the professor but one that made students question the professor’s perspective or ideology, and other annoying things like that because we are bored and seek intellectual stimulation, feel students should not be indoctrinated but taught how to think critically, or just because we’ve lost respect for our professor because instead of saying we don’t know for sure due to limited information– or something like that, they get creative and lie and you know without a doubt they are lying.

    I’m aware that I can be seen as amusing or annoying by my colleagues. Most if the time I don’t care how others see me do long as I get my point across or learn what I’m there to learn. But for the sake of my children, it’d be nice to know that there are others as amusing and/or annoying as me out there.

    Thanks for the blogs. I had to re-link a few of them to my Facebook wall. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve had clients talk about how disappointed they were with professors who were making errors and who were defensive when asked tough questions. I would think that they’d welcome critical thinking but it seems that in some cases, their insecurities flair up, and they don’t respond well. I hear what you’re saying about the need for intellectual stimulation. A client told me it’s as important to her as air and water. You are surely not alone. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Anna.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think I get what you are saying. I do this stuff also but feel it does break friendships and connections w professors. Somebody said its a matter of time living and being rolled around so that our corners get rounded

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      • That sounds good, billy. We should all get our corners rounded!

        Like

      • I folded my corners with certain professors, especially my female professors. – There’s only room for one queen in the hive. For some reason male professors missed me when I wasn’t in class. I’m a talker when I’m interested in the topic. And for some strange reason I don’t always share the same perspective as my colleagues. Politically I’m at the center.

        I found an easy going philosophy group on FB where I’m able to share my perspectives with others. I might not always agree with them, but I understand where they’re coming from. That’s all seek, understanding.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I had no idea that I was being annoying…but come to think of it, looking back, that expression I’d fleetingly see on some teachers faces wasn’t happiness! =) I think I just pretty much carried on and let my mind wander and my answers/questions blurt out – especially when clearly others weren’t getting any ideas or had any onterest. Interesting! Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish there was an edit button so we can edit our post before they get approved.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a great post, highlighting something that often gets overlooked or cast in an unfavorable light. I’m this way, I achieve a goal and within seconds I’m on to the next one. As I get older I make myself take a little time and savor the moment, but not too long! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, savoring the moment can be an important part of “living in the now.” That said, if your gifted mind is running at full speed and excited about the next thing, there may not be too much room for savoring!

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  4. Paula, I love this! (I love your whole rainforest mind metaphor). I really fell in love with my own perfectionism after reading Mary-Elaine Jacobsen’s book, The Gifted Adult, when she reframed perfectionism as fulfillment of “wholeness” or “entelecheia,” not necessarily that there’s one perfect way to be… but that I can consummate and harness all my lovely traits and gifts towards an intended goal.

    There’s no way for me to tamp down all this drive… but at least I can direct it somewhere really freaking cool.

    Thanks again for a wonderful article and website. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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  6. These blogs make me wonder just how much I chopped down and destroyed of my own rainforest in order to better fit into the world… in order to be ‘normal’.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: If I’m So Smart, Why Was School Such A Drag? | Your Rainforest Mind

  8. How do you harness your drive and feed your need for intellectual stimulation without turning into a jerk? I’ve seen the jerks and looked down on them. I’ve been the jerk and felt awash in guilt and humiliation. I’m not overfond of annoying people, but I’m always imagining that it’s happening…is there a place for social sensitivity of this kind, or does it simply get in our way?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi DC. If I understand your question correctly, I’d say it’d be great if more people were socially sensitive. And yet, at the same time, it can be hard to not lose patience with people if you’re always having to slow down for them or explain yourself and your ideas. One thought is that you can practice kindness to others while also being sure to find people and situations that keep up with you and are intellectually stimulating so you feel that your needs are also being met. It’s often not easy to find these situations but it’s important to have balance in your life. You may feel people being annoyed with you when they can’t follow your train of thought. Or if you’re moving too fast for them. Social situations can be very challenging for people with rainforest minds. I hope this helps. If I didn’t read your question correctly, let me know.

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  12. Reblogged this on helenjnoble and commented:
    I love this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I like to think of that moment of appreciation of ‘perfection’ as one of crystallisation, such as in a scene from nature or a piece of art, where everything seemingly ‘falls into place,’ or ‘balances out.’ Where questions are answered and (tacit) knowing is present, in a felt-sense-sort- of- way.

    Liked by 1 person

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