Your Rainforest Mind

Support For The Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

The Benefits Of Being Gifted

42 Comments

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.

_______________________________

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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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.

42 thoughts on “The Benefits Of Being Gifted

  1. Hallo Paula and my Intergifted Amazing Human friends.
    I am So Grateful for this Blog.!!! It helped me understand So Imensly more about just being Me. Zelda.
    When I read, I just shake my head about the correct description about All our abilities. Yesterday a Lovely Lady asked me, How Come U know so much?
    (I am an Artist, Musician, Micro-Biologist etc etc….
    And am NOT being bosterious about it.
    Finally, Peace and such amazing Peace decended around Me. Finally knowing, I am Not the only one being Intergifted.
    I am Grateful.
    Zelda

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, I needed this today!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You are a female and a counselor. So I understand why you feel sensitivity is an asset. However, for a male in the dog-eat-dog world of business, sensitivity is definitely something to be desired. I have to put on a tough-guy face, yet I cry when I watch a TV show.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So sorry. I accidentally hit post. I meant to say it’s NOT an asset

      Liked by 1 person

    • I know it’s particularly difficult for men to be highly sensitive. But this post is about the “good stuff.” It’s important that you also see how your sensitivity is a good thing. But I hear you! Here’s one of the posts I wrote about men and sensitivity: https://rainforestmind.wordpress.com/2015/02/05/smart-sensitive-men/ Thank you for sharing! I’ll think about how I might write more about the challenges of being a deeply emotional, empathetic man.

      Like

    • I hear you. I’m female so I don’t have personal experience understanding this, but I know my dad was sensitive and learned to dull his emotions, degrading his quality of life. I read in some paper on giftedness that it’s more common for gifted people to have androgynous traits, with women being more assertive than the feminine average/stereotype (even aggressive, at least intellectually — I know I get shamed for being intimidating and have been told not to intimidate the boys or I’d always be alone, which I decided was just fine in that case) while men are more sensitive than the masculine average/stereotype.

      The same paper noted that while masculinity is socially prized over femininity, women are more accepted when they are androgynous (which the paper defines as having both masculine and feminine attributes) while men tend to be “undifferentiated” (lacking both masculine and feminine strengths) and that this is harder than being androgynous. I thought that was quite interesting, and what you say does speak to that.

      I wonder if (if you are interested in the attention of women) if being sensitive has ever been a strength there. I find it very moving when a guy is moved enough to shed a tear. He gets major points in my book…though I’m just one quirky person and can’t make up for the whole business world.

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  4. Paula, it’s like you read my mind, as I was thinking about this topic (after reading some of your other older posts) as I walked out of work an hour ago, and came home to find this. Yes, giftedness poses challenges, but I’ve always thought that a person only has “traits,” and those traits have good and bad sides, as opposed to the traits being good and bad inherently. I know that a lot of people over the course of my life have been put off by my intensity, for instance, but…at the same time, that trait has made other people like me a lot. And while multipotentiality has been both a curse and a blessing, I’d much rather have too MUCH I want to do than not enough. The trick for me has been learning how to harness it. That’s what I’d love for them to teach the next generation of gifted kids!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. “You scare away people you’d rather not talk to anyway.” This is on my list of superpowers.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks Paula! I’d much rather have a Sensitive Dentist and a Sensitive Gynecologist! Seriously — speaking about sensitivity, our culture is so schizoid about this. Each gender has certain rules, prescriptions which are definitely NOT fluid. Men are NOT to show sensitivity in the business world, as ‘Me’ shared. Likewise for men in the military … for example a main goal of basic training is to turn men into desensitized killing machines. Then if a soldier wins a medal of honor or other special recognition, and his hometown newspaper decided to write an article about him and take his picture, it will include his wife and his child or children, everyone smiling, all is good. Be a killing machine over there, but here, be a loving father and husband. On the flip side, if you’re an artist, writer, composer or poet, your sensitivity is taken for granted, in fact it is lauded to the hilt!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve actually found one benefit to being gifted/intense and I’m holding on to it for dear life. But I haven’t yet found an honest answer for a benefit to being HSP or on the extreme end of the introvert scale. These traits are the leprosy of our extrovert/testosterone ladened society.

    I know that the intent of this post was to focus us on the positive things that our rainforest minds bring us. The truth is that I am honestly searching for those things to be thankful about. But just saying “yee haw” and lying to myself is not helpful either. I’ve been told so often, “Oh you are so lucky” but it’s been said by people who have no clue.

    And to answer the question that was asked earlier, “are women drawn to sensitive men?” I think that most women say they want a man to be both sensitive and strong. But usually they get turned off by a man who cries. So really, they don’t want a sensitive man.

    Anyway, keep up the good work here Paula. I don’t want to rain on your parade of joy. Please rejoice in your victories with your rainforest mind–I’m still actively looking for the positive part. But I’ll get there I promise.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No doubt it depends on the woman. And there are plenty of women (and men) out there who say they want one thing and find out they really don’t. I’m sorry you keep running into that. Me, I was always a sucker for smart men, smart men being in short supply where I grew up. 🙂 And then I met smart AND sensitive men … I have to admit, I was astonished to find such a creature existed. And I got lucky enough to marry one. And he, poor guy, still thinks he was lucky to marry me. God help him. Two gifted adults in a household with two twice-exceptional kids is no picnic. (Well, I’m 2e myself as well, but my husband would never claim the label, and I honestly couldn’t pin that on him. Just gifted.)

      I do hope you find the right someone, one day. I expect she’s in a very startling package and going to be a very surprising person, but hopefully well worth the wait. She’s probably as introverted as you are, and wondering a lot of the same questions.

      I’ll agree, it’s hard to find the bright spots most days. And harder for you than even me, no doubt, because you have to deal with ‘the real world’ while I do have the good fortune to be a stay-at-home homeschool mom and scout volunteer and a lot of other wacky things that let me choose how to interface with the world and when I need to hide from it to heal. (I deal with chronic illness, so this is necessary for me, but I know it also helps emotionally.) It is ten zillion times harder for my husband, who (even though we chose this path together) doesn’t really get a choice about having to face the work world each day. He has to tough it out. But there ARE bright spots to be found, even if few and far between, so please don’t give up hope.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I so appreciate hearing your views, Me. Thank you for being here and for sharing your responses, thoughts and experiences.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your encouraging words, Kristen. Interesting to hear your story. Sounds like you’re in a great relationship.

      Like

    • Oh, my…I really sympathize. And when you said “usually” (in regards to women being turned off by such a man), well, it might well be true the vast majority of the time…but usually isn’t always. So on that note, I just had to share one story that I love to share. I’ve only ever dated two people, and that includes my current highly gifted shnoo (now of 2.5 years). I have a story from December 2014, when we had been dating for about half a year. I wanted to adopt a second cat, so he came with me to pick up the kitty from the Humane Society. The kitty was very scared (he has some emotional problems of his own), even on top of the ordinary feline fear of cars, and he cried all the way home in his cat carrier.

      My Shnoo was holding the cat carrier in the passenger seat. I looked over and saw that tears were dripping down his cheeks, because he was so affected by the little cat’s fear. I thought, wow, this guy is a special guy!

      He gets a little embarrassed at how much I love to tell this story, and puts on a tough guy act. But he got points for it in my book. It’s just luck that we found each other, and not everyone gets that kind of luck, I know. But…I wish you that kind of luck.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, I too have yet to meet a woman who was pleasantly surprised to find out that I was actually a lot more sensitive than she originally thought.

      Being smart, creative and talented are turn-ons only so long as worldly success and monetary gain do not seem so far off in the future. (I have also not yet met a woman who did not claim that my poverty wasn’t an issue, only to find out that it always was…I even had one potential future father-in-law sit me down and give me a speech on why I needed to “get that fire in my belly going” and start turning all that talent into money so that I could afford to raise his future grandchildren.

      Give me a f***ing break.

      Now when a woman expresses interest, I just shrug it off. NOT interested. Even though I’d rather fall in love with someone BEFORE the catnip of success really attracts the wrong kind of people, I just can’t put myself through that kind of heartbreak again.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this, Mark. There’s the sensitivity and then so many other factors that create challenges in finding partners.

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        • Thank you Paula. I’m not so sure I’m adding anything of value here, though in my defense it is not my intention to merely rant about my shabby love life or poverty.

          I see some of my own bad experiences as symptoms of a bigger problem, which is that people have lost their ability to see value in anything or anyone unless it has a price tag or title attached to it.

          I am thankful that I have learned to recognize and appreciate my gifts and talents, and that I have not given up on the belief that I can use them to affect positive change in the world.

          Liked by 2 people

  8. i have all that…but i have let it cripple me rather than give me wings. as a child & young adult, my extreme sensitivity & empathy resulted in my absorbing all the negativity that was heaped on my by family & boyfriends until i had internalized that i was worthless. now, at age 46, i am working to learn how to make the most of my gifts and to thrive rather than hide. my biggest hurdle as of now is a fear of success/happiness (not success in a money-fame way, but rather success in that i am able to do what i love and make the most of it). it’s a long journey. i have read that people like me are orchids instead of dandelions–we need ideal care to thrive and cannot just pop up anywhere in any situation. i am now trying to figure out how to give myself that care as well as how to only invite nurturing people into my close circles.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. What an uplifting post, Paula – thank you!

    The sentence about scaring away people you don’t want to talk to made me smile especially. It reminded me of something my 13yo daughter told me yesterday. She’s been diving deeply and intensely into music and playing guitar, and she told me she’d googled, ‘Do boys like girls who play guitar?’ (‘You know, not because I really care, but just for fun.’)

    Apparently the answer was that boys prefer girls who sing or – if they must play, it should be acoustic rather than electric guitar. My daughter went ahead and bought the electric guitar she’d been saving up for, because, ‘I had this epiphany. I realised I wouldn’t be INTERESTED in any of those boys who don’t like girls who play electric guitar!’ My heart sang. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Hey Paula, great question. I can tell you from personal experience you can be born into poverty, orphaned as a child, have no formal education yet go on too create successful businesses, raise two collage grads, have a loving forty year marriage to a great wife (anchor person), etc… Although, that being said, let us not forget giftedness cuts both ways! Thank you! Richard

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Dr. Leta S. Hollingworth wrote:
    “The highly intelligent child will be intellectually capable of self-determination, and his greatest value to society can be realized only if he is truly self-possessed and detached from the influences of both positive and negative suggestion. The more intelligent the child, the truer this statement is.”

    Thoughts?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not sure where to start on this. I guess I react to statements where people say something “can be realized only if….” Even if it is Leta Hollingworth who said it. What does she mean by “self-possessed?” What do you think, DiDahDit?

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      • I see what you mean, Paula. “Doctor Leta” was promoting gifted education to “society” and made many conditional statements (“if-then”) in her books and speeches to do so. Sorry for providing the quote out of context! This was written in the section of her book about “self-determination”, and she felt her “gifted” subjects had a greater capacity for self-determination. (“If” one is “self-possessed” and can remain free of “both positive and negative suggestion”, “then” a greater capacity for individual freedom may be more possible.)
        My favorite Emerson quote might have been better on this topic: “Being yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
        For example, Lucinda Leo’s daughter and Richard’s bio sound as if they’ve “succeeded” in realizing their “greatest value to society” by being themselves, despite external pressures (positive or negative).

        To strictly follow “Doctor Leta’s” statement, it doesn’t matter what she thinks is “self-possessed”.
        What’s valuable is to identify, clarify and address the core issues and intense feelings associated with those issues, whether you do so with non-judgmental guidance from others or by identifying which are most important within yourself (or both). You and those who have commented here identify, clarify and discuss the issues, especially what must be overcome, in order to “be yourself” (Emerson) and achieve their own “self-determination” (Doctor Leta).

        To me, some comments identify the greater personal costs a Rainforest Mind has to pay in society, but other comments seem to indicate the capacity to succeed with greater rewards than a non-Rainforest Mind could hope for.
        Isn’t that a possible benefit?

        Liked by 2 people

        • Thank you for the clarification. You’ve given us a lot to think about. Thanks for the Emerson quote, too. Is this issue something that you’re personally grappling with?

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          • First, I don’t think I actually live in the “Rainforest”. I’d guess I’m more of a tourist there than a resident. (I don’t expect you to remember, but You and I chatted about this via email a year or so ago.)
            I “grappled” (not still “grappling”) with these issues from ages 6 to 9 when I read Doctor Leta’s book and the works of Emerson, which is why I mentioned them. Then, I stumbled across the works of ee cummings.

            Like

  12. Not sure if I’m gifted but the personality traits you mentioned as part of the rainforest mind seem to reflect my own. Thanks for reminding me about the good aspects of myself. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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