Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

If I Can Do It, So Can You — Finding Your Purpose(s)


photo courtesy of Chaz Harding, Flickr, CC

photo courtesy of Chaz Harding, Flickr, CC

I have the best job ever. I love deep meaningful conversations with one person at a time. The human psyche is fascinating to me. I’m an introvert. I believe that healing is possible when humans embark on the courageous journey of deep introspection. I want to make a difference in the world. I’m a psychotherapist. It’s the best job ever. For me.

Not only that. I specialize in working with highly sensitive, insightful,  empathetic, super-smart humans. I spend my days with them. It never gets dull.

I get paid to do this.

Today, was a typical day. For example: (Details changed to protect privacy.)

Jenny, in her 40s, is a musician/composer. She’s courageously grieving a history of abuse in childhood, the traumatic death of her mother and a divorce while raising a gifted teen. She’s sensitive, compassionate and determined. Today, she was sharing her experiences of fragility and vulnerability and wondering how to navigate through such unstable terrain. In a moment of insight, she realized that she was finding her voice through her art; that her pain was turning into beauty through the music. And this would empower her and touch everyone who experienced her sound.

Then, I met with the parents of a highly gifted twelve-year-old. These parents, Mary and Craig, are the parents you wish you had. They’re sweet, articulate, smart, devoted to their kids, and kind. Since their daughter entered school, they’ve had to stay involved in her education to be sure her academic needs were met. It hasn’t been easy. Their girl, Stacy, is extremely intense and emotional. A perfectionist. Highly creative. A voracious learner with extraordinary empathy. When I met her parents, they were frustrated and sad. Stacy is highly verbal, full of ideas and worries. She tends to feel overly responsible and has a highly developed social conscience. She’s way ahead of her peers in every subject area. Some teachers love her. Others don’t.

Mary and Craig sympathize with the challenges the educators face, and yet, all they want is for Stacy to be intellectually stimulated and to maintain her motivation to achieve. Arrangements were made to allow Stacy to read advanced material in an independent study program. Not ideal, but a beginning. Stacy was excited and enthusiastically began reading. Sadly, administrators changed their minds and put Stacy back in the torture chamber uninspiring class. Mary and Craig were struggling with what to do next. I was able to encourage them and to remind them that Stacy has a right to an education that meets her needs.

This is what I do all day. (Oh, yes, and I blog, too.) If I can find my purpose in life, so can you. And there’s no better time than the present. We can no longer wait for the perfect moment or for the kids to grow up or for the next iPhone. We can no longer wait for lightening to strike. The planet needs its rainforest minds. Now.

No pressure. Well, maybe a little pressure. OK. A lot of pressure.

If you’re wondering how to begin or how you’ll know you’ve found it, here are some ideas. Remember it’s a process. (In my case, there were years of psychotherapy and other types of inner work.) I write about accepting and showing your rainforestness here and here. I write about how psychotherapy works here and here.  Career paths here and here. Parenting, here. And I suggest some books here. Maybe you spend time in Nature or you read Pema Chodron or you start a mindfulness practice. Maybe you influence educators at your child’s school. Maybe you turn your pain into art.

Make the time to quiet yourself and listen to your heart.

When your heart sings.

You’ve found it.


To my blogEEs: I mention “purpose(s)” because you might have more than one purpose over your lifetime. Share your thoughts, feelings and questions here. What makes your heart sing? Let me know how I can help. Thank you for reading and sharing.

Author: Paula Prober

I'm a psychotherapist and consultant 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 rainforest to describe this population. Like the rainforest, 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 first 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. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists, was released in June 2019.

23 thoughts on “If I Can Do It, So Can You — Finding Your Purpose(s)

  1. Hi Paula, I love reading what you think. I hope I can meet you when I get to Eugene. I noticed on your book cover, the link to homeschooling. Do you find yourself teaching also?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful article. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes beautiful…..I wish you were my mother so I could have a cuppa tea and a chat with you every week 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a beautiful post. Thank you for all you do, Paula. I’m so glad you found your purpose.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. and of course many of us are late bloomers (I’m 51). I am struggling to put the words together for my assignment on Ecopsychology. My mother was suddenly diagnosed with a nasty brain tumour and there was no way I could focus on grieving and supporting and maintain my focus on my uni work. I have my extensions for the two assignments still due, but now I am finding it quite a mountain to climb to pick up the threads of my thinking. Yet, in the middle of all this, while working on a bit more of the introductory section, I wrote a paragraph that I knew couldn’t stay there. I had to cut and paste it in a new document. It reads: “My particular area of interest is how one might shift the way nursing sees itself environmentally. There is much focus on the health benefits of nature and the role of wilderness in mental health, however, it seems very little is said about the relationship between the nurse or healing professional and the natural environment as related to professional practice. This is the area that underpins how we practice healing with the wider world and community of all creatures in mind.”
    My current studies are Masters level. I gave the paragraph a title – Doctoral Thesis. Maybe one day I’ll get there – but only if I stop writing here and continue picking up the pieces of my assignment! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Beautiful. And so nice to virtually connect with a kindred spirit. Thanks for putting my own thoughts down on paper! That first paragraph should be my new tagline. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Paula, I have noticed you tend to cling to the warm and fuzzy side of intellectual giftedness. You know, for those who vacation in a your beautiful Rain Forest accompanied by a trusted guide such as yourself, opposed to the majority whom also unknowingly live under the same dense dark canopy. For those, life can be racked with dangers as they are unaware of ignorant social Tigers unintentionally stocking them, or those career crushing pythons that dine on those that appear different, wounded or alone. Studies by credible institutions show the majority of intellectually gifted persons aren’t aware they live in a Rain Forest mind. Instead, they wander along the same old conforming path (a gifted persons kryptonite) carved by the millions of undiscovered intellectually gifted persons that came before. For those undiscovered geniuses, feeling trapped within a dark cold jungle opposed to a beautiful Rain Forest, you may want to consider discussing the Utilization of Intellectual Defense Mechanisms as a coping aid. Its not warm or fuzzy but has produced positive result in clinical studies. Thank you for your offering! Richard

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Richard. I’m really writing this blog to help the “undiscovered geniuses” find themselves! In using the analogy, I’m hoping that individuals who might not see themselves as gifted might relate to having a rainforest mind and, thus, understand that they’re gifted. Make sense? Do you have a link to what you’re calling the “utilization of intellectual defense mechanisms” aid? I’d like to check it out and maybe readers would, too. I’m not sure what you mean by the “warm and fuzzy side” because I do write about anxiety, loneliness, depression, perfectionism, career challenges (the “crushing pythons”) But I also know that my writing style is probably warm and fuzzy…! I appreciate hearing your feedback. I’ll think about the “cold dark jungle” and the dangers and see what I come up with.


  8. Thank you Paula, Advances in Psychology by Uwe Hentschel, Gudmund Smith and Wolfram Ehlers, I believe to be a excellent resource. I have additional articles I will forward. As you know, intellectual giftedness cuts both ways. For the majority, giftedness is an undiscovered insidious condition that inhibits social, educational and career opportunities (those darn Tigers and Pythons). On the other hand, for those, acknowledged early, and in benefit of your guidance, a gift! Forgive my focus on awareness, as sometimes my frustrations leak from my old intellectual containment area. And please forgive the mechanics of my responses, as I am void of a formal education. Keep up the good work. Richard

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Will do Paula, but for now your readers may enjoy simply searching “Intellectualization” as a general subject matter and then “defense mechanisms” as a secondary or advanced clinical technique. In summary, persons can avoids uncomfortable emotions by focusing on the facts and logic behind the event, something that has worked well for me. This not a new concept or theoretical and was first introduced by Dr. Freud in 1926. I assume it may work well for others who seek logic and reasoning by nature (gifted folks) opposed to an internal stress based or emotional response. Just food for thought only, I certainly bow to your expertise and credentials. Thanks for the opportunity!

    Liked by 1 person

    • One thought is that there are gifted folks who are more strongly logical/reasoning types and the ones I’m calling rainforest-minded are the more emotional/ creative/ sensitive types. All are intellectually advanced but have different preferences and strengths. So, perhaps, my blog would be frustrating and too “warm and fuzzy” for the more logical-reasoning-linear type. (even though rainforest minds are capable of logic, analysis, etc.) At least that’s one way to explain it!


  10. It may depend on the level of one’s intellectual prowess. Highly gifted folks seem more linear in general and therefore able utilize intellectualization more effectively, but I do see your point, I think. Sorry for the “warm and fuzzy” thing, your blog is an excellent resource even for we “linear types”. Have a great day Paula!


  11. Paula, you are utterly delightful! You are a woman after my own heart, and I’ve been highly recommending your book to my clients. I’ll be writing you via email shortly. Thanks for sharing your torch of light with the world!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hello,

    I looked up this site on the recommendation of Dr Wilkes from summit center; I am very glad I did ; I connected immediately and feel a nurturing sharing and guidance I crave right now.
    I am certain to return often and follow some of the issues and links to more in depth perspectives suggested.

    Thank You for creating this site and thank all the wonderful people that express themselves here …I feel like a dimensional filling of a void in my soul is taking place.


    Liked by 1 person

  13. A connection of a spiritual nature.

    Liked by 1 person

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