Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

Why You Still Don’t Believe That You’re Gifted


photo by Maarten van den Heuvel, Unsplash

photo by Maarten van den Heuvel, Unsplash

People tell you that you’re super smart. They’re baffled by how much you know and how you know it. You can ace a test without studying. You can talk with just about anyone about just about anything. You’re always thinking, analyzing, imagining and empathizing.

But you’re sure that you’re not gifted.

How is that possible?

Here are some ideas:

• You know how much you don’t know.

• You think you’re normal. Doesn’t everyone obsess about Dr. Who and David Attenborough’s Planet Earth documentaries?

• Too many people have told you “Don’t get a swelled head,Who do you think you are,” “You think you’re so smart,” or “Nobody likes a know-it-all.”

• You value justice and equality. If someone is gifted, someone is not gifted. It can imply that you’re better than someone else.

• Your Aunt Mindy was gifted and she didn’t turn out too well.

• You haven’t sent rockets into space or designed something “insanely great.”

• You’re good at faking it. If people knew the real you, it would be obvious that you’re average.

• You’ve been told over and over that you can’t possibly know as much as you know. You’re starting to believe it.

• When you were in school, it was embarrassing and lonely to be the smart kid.

• You’d have to live up to it and the PRESSURE would be overwhelming and then everyone would be disappointed in you and the PRESSURE would be even more overwhelming. So overwhelming, then, that you’d have to disappear into a witness protection program and acquire a new identity and not even Sherlock could find you.

• You fear rejection from family and friends. You want to belong, to fit in, to be normal.

• You have so many interests in so many diverse areas that you flit from topic/job to topic/job instead of mastering only one topic/job thoroughly and completely for your entire lifetime. In fact mastering ONLY ONE topic/job thoroughly and completely for your entire lifetime is totally terrifying.

• If you were gifted, you wouldn’t be so anxious, so depressed, so not rich or so bad at chess.

Why does it matter? Why do you need to realize that you are, in fact, gifted?

I’m glad you asked. It’s pretty simple. If you accept and embrace your giftedness (your rainforest mind), you’ll be better able to find your authentic voice and contribute in your uniquely sensitive, intense and complicated way to making a better world. Your Aunt Mindy will thank you! (so will your kids, your friends, your partner, your pets, your colleagues, your neighbors, your trees, your rivers, your planet….) 


To my bloggEEs: Tell us, why it is that you still don’t believe that you’re gifted. Or, if you do believe it, tell us how that happened. Thank you for sharing. I so appreciate that you’re here!

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.

116 thoughts on “Why You Still Don’t Believe That You’re Gifted

  1. Yes. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  2. While all of that would describe me during my younger days, I’ve hit the point of age where I do realize that I’m not your average bear. I’m totally okay with being one of the, if not the, smartest most creative person in the room. I’m as aware of my deficits as I am my assets. Life after 40 (at least for me) makes it easier to accept and own who and what you are. I need a survival guide for the next step…navigating lesser mortals (sorry, couldn’t resist) in my mission to contribute to the world at large.

    Spend a life time being called weirdo, freak or crazy for being smarter, more creative and more perceptive…eventually you figure out that it’s not you that’s broken and you can not make your light dimmer to make others more comfortable and be your true self. I got past the anger years ago. I don’t need strategies to cope with accepting what I am or even that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. I think, possibly, that I need strategies navigating a world that doesn’t want smart, perceptive and creative me.

    I think that this is perhaps more an issue for gifted women than it is for men. Big surprise I have a gaggle of gifted children. My sons are praised for excelling and owning their accomplishments…my daughters not so much.

    Toning down my intellect to make other people comfortable was something I did when I was a teen and young adult (sometimes unconsciously some times consciously.) I’m not interested in “showing off.” I don’t want or need an audience to witness my giant brains and abilities…but I’m also not interested in making myself smaller to make the world feel better about me.

    “Don’t get a swelled head, “Who do you think you are,” “You think you’re so smart,” or “Nobody likes a know-it-all.”

    Heard them all, repeatedly in my younger days and still do now.

    Is there a game plan or play book beyond standard good manners and graciousness when dealing with the general population for us? Perhaps a “How not to scare and intimidate other people: A Smart Woman’s Guide.”

    Liked by 6 people

  3. Love it Paula! Thanks, as always for reminding us that Aunt Mindy had the courage to live authentically!

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  4. For whatever reason, I seem to have had the opposite experience. I do understand why “knowing” oneself to be gifted can come across as arrogant, though, and that has caused me some discomfort–especially since I talk about this openly in my own blog and occasionally off-line. I tend to deal with this in a self-depricating way, which has its own problems. I say (and this is true!) that the main reason I talk about giftedness is that I found out that a lot of challenges go along with it — challenges I’ve faced! — and that it’s good to know that these things are common to people with what I always call “weird brains” like mine. But even as I do that, I don’t really like that I’m putting myself down. It just seems the lesser evil in this case — I don’t want to claim a lofty title, so I better put myself (and everyone else who’s gifted) down. There doesn’t seem to be any good answer here, but I always like hearing other people’s takes on this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Jessie, it’s definitely tricky when figuring out how to talk about giftedness with others. A good question to ask readers: how do you talk about your giftedness to others? I don’t think I’ve really written about that other than to use the analogy. It’s a tough one. I’ll have to think on it. Thanks for being here.


      • Hi, I’m quite an introvert and have shone far less in a male dominated gifted household, my mother I think struggled in her lifetime and so determinedly programmed ‘normal expectations’ into me, why excel when you can go work in a factory? Which was fun for all of 2 weeks then utterly boring so inevitably didn’t last… ]

        One thing I learned fairly early on [I score high as an empath, something I now accept is good so long as I don’t forget ‘me’ in my empathy of others] So, I recently heard a wonderful quote from a very gifted young man which gave me the solution, and may help others to navigate the world of polite and social rules…without having to utterly conform or oppress ourselves – or others! Apparently, Einstein said that everyone is a genius at *something* – and that is true, but not everyone recognises or qualifies excelling at something genius if it isn’t at an academic level, so maybe we need to shift our focus and recognise that some we perceive to be average are only so compared to our gifts, however, we may well be average at areas they excel at [I’m overloaded with anxiety in social situations etc… whereas others seem to find this incredibly easy – that is part of their ‘genius’ or they may be fantastic in intimate relationships – I’m not, or an organised picture perfect home etc… I remind myself that whilst my eldest brother is a complete genius with computers [they all are..but he is at the next level and is one of only two people in the western world who can actually do his ‘job’! I ask my 12 year old [gifted] son every step of the way! So whilst I’m gifted at many things, when it comes to technology I’m way below average [I find it boring, ergo…I cannot muster the will to learn!]

        I find that is a balanced way of keeping humble and neither minimising my gifts, nor of belittling others as they can do some things with ease that are beyond me! =)

        This is a wonderful article for me and explains to me a lot of what holds me back! Thank you. I believe I need to read your book, so that is on my next to read list! =)

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        • I think it also helps to relieve some pressure to remember that we all have strengths and weaknesses. That just because you have a rainforest mind or have been called “gifted” doesn’t mean that you have to excel in all areas all of the time. Thank you for reading my book! It takes these ideas into greater depth and provides examples from clients that I’ve worked with.

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        • This is a really great point, and for certain discussions of giftedness, it’s precisely the right answer. All of us do have strengths and weaknesses, whether or not we’re gifted. The stumbling block I keep hitting is when I want to talk about the broad and multifaceted experience of being gifted — all that stuff that might seem “weird,” as opposed to just being totally normal but a whiz at math or something like that. That’s where my self-effacing term “weird brain” came from. And yet, it IS precisely a package that goes along with being gifted. So I’m struggling to find a way to talk about having weird cognitive patterns that other people don’t follow (who knows if it means I’m more or less intelligent than anyone else! It doesn’t FEEL like being smarter most of the time) or intensity or crankiness if I don’t get to do a creative project. Describing all that is really where I stumble — and then add the challenge of trying to get the right people to find you with a search engine, and you’re really in a fix.

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          • As you can see from this blog, Jessie, it takes many many words to explain what the rainforest mind actually might be.

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            • Oh, yes! And actually, just yesterday I finished reading your book. I’ll be giving it five stars on Amazon and plugging it in my own blog, because it does the job so well. Now I just have to work on my “elevator speech” version of the concept, so I can bring it up in conversation long enough to direct people to your book. 🙂

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              • Oh thank you so much, Jessie. Reviews on Amazon are really helpful! Tell us about your blog.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Why, thank you for that invitation, Paula! The overall theme I give to my blog is “human potential,” and one of the major topics I’ve written on there is Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration, including memoirish clips on each overexcitability, an description of what positive disintegration really is, and several blog posts exploring dynamisms. I also write a bit about gifted issues, including creativity, and a piece about my dad, who I think may have been EG or PG, and who recently died, so I have some stuff about grief, too. Mindfulness, especially in the digital age, are topics I’ve just started exploring as well. Oh yeah, and some my social/economic justice political stuff, too. I guess you could say it’s my little eclectic outpost in the rainforest…!

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      • I NEVER talk about giftedness with anyone but therapists, and even some of them can’t handle it! I try to downplay my abilities because otherwise people will get jealous and treat me like crap.

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  5. I relate in so many ways to your posts; it would seem my life, when perceived in its depth, deep within my psyche, my soul even, is the pursuit of a union between what the world demands me to be and who I really am. It’s elusive, that balance. Since I was a child I have never, NEVER placed myself above anyone, let alone used any giftedness I may have as a bolster for illusory egotistic gratification. Growing up I was made fun of, some years more so than others, and it was predicated upon my eccentric nature and ‘weird thinking’; I was called stupid consistently and in many different ways. I found it much easier to avoid the true harshness of the crowd, and the feeling of complete abandonment, by allowing people to view me as stupid, allowing the farce to live. Much like Frankenstein (metaphorically), i had given way to an entity of my own making not realizing the depth to which this internal paradigm would coalesce with the ‘real me’. To this day the internal battle rages, the sophistry endures; Me against what the world taught me to be, with all its harshness and cruelty. Then again, maybe that is the eternal struggle of mankind; the liberation of oneself from the overarching, collective conscious that wastes so much of individual life upon misdirected conditioning. Doesn’t the evolution of consciousness always kneel to radicalism, that which shatters paradigm after paradigm. From aristocracy to equality. Before i rambled i meant to say that, above all the other reasons you posted, the one i relate to the most is the implication that giftedness can mean you’re better than others; I don’t want to be better than anyone. I just want to be equal.

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    • Thank you, Anonymous, for this thoughtful comment. I know there’s a myth out there that gifted folks are arrogant and think they’re better than others, but I haven’t seen it in all my years of working with them. What I see over and over is empathy and a deep commitment to justice and fairness. I’m sure there are those who are wounded and so they need to act superior to prove their worth. But the rainforest-minded that I know are, like you, highly sensitive and compassionate. I’m sorry it was so hard for you growing up. I hope that my posts bring you some relief and some sense of belonging.

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    • You’ve written words that have deeply touched me. Thank you. I remember in grade school resigning myself to the fact that there was something hopelessly strange about me. It felt fairly natural for me to ‘avoid the true harshness of the crowd’ yet at times, I longed to be a part of the crowd or at least have a true and understanding friend. So the solitary path for me was liberating and excruciating.

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      • for me that imagery that connects with these feelings is akin to looking through a window at a scene of warmth, a roaring fire surrounded by beautiful hues, smiling faces full of love and appreciation, enjoying the pleasures of life… but I am outside in a bitter blizzard, freezing, wishing I could come in.

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  6. The term “Gifted” seems to conjures up characteristics of Prodigies in most folks. You know, those endowed with exceptional qualities or abilities as in the move Rain Man (my age showing). I have yet to meet a gifted person who can master all disciplines, we all have weakness. I personally struggle with math. As perfectionist, we seam to judge our endeavors harshly which undermines our ability to allow what I refer to as self-acceptance. In my memoir, this is an area that stopped me cold for weeks as I struggled internally, searching for that elusive answer. Do I believe I am gifted? Yes, but I still seek confirmation. Thank you Paula!

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  7. I’m in the believer camp. I was identified as a kid. And never felt like I 100% fit in growing up even though I tried to and generally well/liked/accepted.

    I had to smile reading your post because most of the things in it are considered “family traits” for my crowd. But I also have friends and family that could check these all off too, and still don’t think they’re gifted.

    In my opinion most gifted-deniers fall into the justice camp and don’t want to come off as elitest or offend others.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, a new expression, “gifted-deniers.” Ha! Thank you for writing.

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    • I love that – ‘justice camp’! Many people are becoming way too evangelistic with the word ‘justice.’ It’s actually shutting down civil dialogue between people.

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    • I think there is such a strain of gifted-deniers. I really sympathize with the desire for justice; in fact, I’m a member of an organization that’s all about advancing social and economic justice. But justice doesn’t require that everyone be the same, which is fortunate, because all of us do have different strengths and weaknesses. And I’m sure glad that it doesn’t require that, because if it did, it would be an impossible goal to reach.

      That’s one of the senses in which I actually like the word “gifted,” because it reminds me that I was given a gift, and that I can’t claim credit or status for the way I was born.

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      • There’s that expression that we’re all equal but we’re not all the same. One way to say it.


      • That is beautiful. I agree, I think if mankind were placed in a puzzle, there would be not one too many, nor one too few… everyone has an important role, sometimes we may not comprehend or appreciate, but I think the universe is fine tunes and it takes the variety to be complete. =)

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    • I am such a gifted denier. I tried to hide being smart all throughout school, but it didn’t help. And even with that, I just don’t think I’m that smart. I’m no prodigy – I wasn’t doing calculus at 6, I wasn’t playing Beethoven by ear from 7. I was just a kid who found school incredibly easy and liked to read a bunch.

      And now I find myself arguing with my husband over who is and is not gifted, which is superbly dumb.

      Facebook reminds me of your postings from time and time and every time I remind myself to come back here more often because I find such internal balance by reading what you have to say. Ironically, I joined the Facebook page because I was searching for answers in trying to find out how to handle my potentially gifted children and learned far more about myself along the way.

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  8. Having ADHD can sure knock your own (and others’ ) appraisal of your intelligence and self worth down a great deal.

    Profs have said “You should be a writer”.
    I’d just think “HOW? I have a hard enough time READING books, so writing any? Ugh…”

    People say “You just need to be more disciplined. If you really wanted to do something, you would”

    Wrong. See my point about reading above. I love reading, even though having ADHD means I suck at it. It takes me weeks to read a single book, if I ever do finish it…

    I love movies, but I usually watch them the same way most people read long books: over the course of several sessions, sometimes stretched over the course of several days, and only then with the aid of my trusty rewind button that I use often to go back to the points where my mind wandered off yet again to some random thought that had been triggered by what I was watching.

    You know your ADD is bad when you daydream while having sex.

    This took me a half hour to write.

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    • I wanted to include something here about twice exceptional (2e) and gifted here but wasn’t sure how. Thanks for mentioning it, Mark. ADHD and other 2e’s can certainly make a person question their giftedness!

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      • I really am 2e? That in itself is hard to acknowledge but I guess it is so.

        One important problem I did not mention about ADHD is how it often puts the ADD’er in the cross-hairs of authority figures because ADHD is basically a form of non-compliance. That this non-compliance is involuntary (for the most part) is of little consequence to the teachers, bosses, police, doctors, or anyone else who has the power to judge, label, belittle or even punish anyone for non-compliance.

        I mention all of this not as a complaint or admission of defeat, but mainly because most of the world is heading in a more authoritarian direction, and so I feel it is important that we regain our sense of pride in ourselves and our non-compliant ways so we can be brave if the “clampdown” comes.
        ^ Clampdown being a nod to yesterday’s “International Clash Day”, and the Clash’s song Clampdown being perhaps more timely now than ever: “In these days of evil Presidentes, working for the clampdown”

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        • Eee! Thanks for that Clash reference!! That song has been in my head for days…

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        • You are so right – especially in the U.S., we’re definitely heading in a more authoritarian direction, people don’t seem aware of that, they’re too busy posting on facebook and complaining about the ‘other side’. All this to me suggests that eventually, as Orwell wrote, a person can be arrested for thought-crimes.

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          • I completely agree, it is an incredible thing that I struggle with on FB – I have found it a useful tool though to connect with family at a ‘safe minimal level’ and after giving up with FB for a few months, I returned in order to satisfy that need to help others – there is a huge grass roots movement that *do* make the use of FB relevant and beneficial [charities have sprung up, collecting funds and donations and shipping them to where needed in the world etc… ] There is a growing social justice movement that refuses to conform to the rhetoric spun for our beliefs to be formed and that is good to see and gives me great hope!

            I think that globally there is an insidious establishment of dictatorships and places like the internet and entertainment are the tools of diversion that dull the senses of people – outrage, opinions exchanged and often limited to words in cyberspace that trouble the mind no more once expressed, so it may be that by the time absolute authority is established, people will already be conditioned to accepting that is how it has to be.

            However, I also believe that the soul of man craves freedom and that no society will remain acquiescent to such oppression in the long term. The problem is, I can’t help but feel, that is part of the scheme of war mongers – the market to satisfy the drive for wealth via means of violence and civil unrest and nations taking by force wealth that doesn’t belong. A world at peace trades for the benefit of all. Whilst the masses would thrive, the desires and cravings of the wealthy, power hungry elite would be frustrated.

            We were talking about twice giftedness, yet i managed to miss that. Thoughts that take over, instead of me focusing upon what is expected of me. Is there a solution to ‘focus’? My mind never seems to be able to focus .

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            • I’m hoping that we don’t go too far into political topics here although it’s hard not to when we’re so deeply affected by recent events. That said, twice exceptionality is an important topic that I haven’t said much about on the blog because I don’t have lots of experience with it. I have had a few clients with ADHD, though. One thought about focusing is to determine whether it’s a real inability to get things done or if it’s a very active creative mind that has many different thoughts running all of the time so can get distracted easily. I’ll say more about this in a future post.

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              • My mind is always bouncing off in different directions, and sometimes I have to withdraw completely for awhile to let the tides subside, which s not good. So I really look forward to your article, to be able to bypass some of the things which utterly overwhelm without feeling a sense of direct responsibility would be amazing too. Often my nights are restless due to wondering how I can help change things, which is illogical as this world and all the problems are bigger than the shoulders of one woman =) but it doesn’t stop my mind from searching regardless!!! And yes, in fact, it is lovely to find a space where discovering new ways to ‘frame’ me in a more positive light is priceless and I’m sure that everyone feels the same. A haven of hope – that is what this space represents for me. Thank you.

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              • “ One thought about focusing is to determine whether it’s a real inability to get things done or if it’s a very active creative mind that has many different thoughts running all of the time so can get distracted easily. ”

                Yes, this is always on my mind (excuse the pun). I have been tested twice for ADHD, both times inconclusively. However my current psychiatrist insists I do indeed have ADHD, although to his credit he is breaking ranks from his profession and is no longer trying to “fix” me with medications. He now accepts that I am highly creative and that this may be where the roots of my focusing difficulties lay.

                Sorry to bring politics into my post, it is merely my experience that the more authoritarian a person or organization is, the less tolerant they are of divergent thought. I believe this is a serious problem, not just for me or others like me but for society as a whole. With some of the dangers facing us, we’ve painted ourselves into a real corner because we’ve pathologized so many of the creative thinkers, rebels and healers who may have kept us from continuing down this dangerous path. It is my fear that if authoritarianism continues to rise those dangers will rapidly increase.

                There was a period of around a century when it was believed that suppression of all forest fires was logical until we eventually learned that forest fires are not merely destructive forces, that they are also creative life-giving forces. My hope is that one day we will look back at a similar time period where the systematic suppression of divergent thought and non-compliance via psychiatry and other institutions was also illogical.

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                • Sounds like you’re working with a good doc, Mark. And I do appreciate hearing your thoughts!

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                  • Thank you Paula. Yes he is a good doc (as is my GP — the two went to med school together and are good friends), but he openly admits his “toolbox” as a therapist is limited. The two of them have said several times that I should leave this place because being such a square peg here is not helping me, and I would if I could, and will when I can.

                    I am grateful that these two doctors care enough to keep my hopes and sanity up knowing what a long, journey through the system it has been for me, and that I ended up even further from recovery as a result. But I am essentially now on my own to overcome my issues, and some days I feel up to the task while other days I feel so far out in the woods…or even adrift in the ocean on a raft.

                    I know my giftedness is real. My creativity is real. My talent is real. My doctors help me remember that. But the biggest questions remain: to what degree is my ADHD, anxiety and depression self-imposed, and is one person capable of overcoming all of their unconscious roadblocks on the way to recovery without a therapist? I must say this has all been quite a test, so I often wonder if it is all by design. Spiritual Boot-camp perhaps?

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              • Oh! I would love it if you did write a post about the active creative mind and all the different thoughts in it! I have a challenge where one thing will remind me of another thing will remind me of still another thing and pretty soon I’m off on some other project. And this is how I get creative projects done, but it takes a lot of self-discipline and self-awareness. I did at first wonder if this was ADHD. I’ll look forward to hearing your thoughts on the difference between the two, Paula.

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        • Thank you! this is my son, he can’t help it at all but he got so much pain from his experience in school I now homeschool him, and to get anything on paper is virtually impossible [he prefers the ease and speed of online learning environments] and even in the midst of his online learning, he will switch out and read other things, come tell me, then need help to refocus. “Did you manage to complete x,y,z… ?” Fortunately I have the same problem of sticking to one task so I get it. However, my husband once he sets his mind to something, wont even stop to eat or drink until he has completed a task – so he naturally struggles with what he perceives to be chaos and laziness.

          I am helping him to self teach [he loves that most of all as it is truly a reflection of what he is capable of] in order for him to also be self employed in whichever capacity appeals. I don’t honestly think he could cope with conventional employment & I’d hate to see him in misery trying to settle for a job that demands routine and rigid discipline and ultimately facing the viscous cycle of either leaving employment of being fired!

          I know my husband will also agree with every word you wrote, so I am going to share this insight. Thank you!

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          • There’s also the possibility of different learning styles. Some people are sequential linear learners and so they can stay on one task until it’s finished. Others who are random learners (sometimes, more creative) work on more than one thing at a time. So it looks like they aren’t finishing or are distractible when, in fact, they’re just random learners.

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            • Oh this is wonderful for our family, my son especially, he can be involved in quite a few different activities, running them simultaneously & absorbs an extraordinary amount of knowledge [not all useful – but, alll important to him] Just this statement alone, is enough for me to feel comfortable in not trying to contain his energy and mind into focus of one task, he does everything well, and enjoys the multi layers of tasks and factual as well as fun facets of spending his time.

              It could bring a lot more harmony in our home, even my husband, just from reading a few posts is getting used to the idea that he can be more lenient & accept his beautiful mind as it is! Thank you Paula.

              My name is lisa btw. [Umm Yaqub means mother of Yaqub =) ]

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    • Oh geez, did I just write this? I can’t remember…. look! A chicken!

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  9. This is so eye-opening: ” You have so many interests in so many diverse areas that you flit from topic/job to topic/job instead of mastering only one topic/job thoroughly and completely for your entire lifetime. In fact mastering ONLY ONE topic/job thoroughly and completely for your entire lifetime is totally terrifying.” I never connected this struggle to my giftedness and I’ve been using it as evidence that I’m NOT so gifted. In fact, I’ve been torturing myself for a lifetime over this perceived major failure. I feel a weight lifted and my perspective shifted. This is much food for thought.

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    • Oh, taj. Go to my homepage and type into the search engine “multipotentialite” or “multipotentiality” and you can read more about this. It’s absolutely a trait that comes with a rainforest mind! Thanks for commenting.

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      • I never knew, like so many others here, I thought that was proof of abject fail! I have encountered absolute anger and rage by people so affected by my inability to see things through, or because I have not pursued the career paths they considered I would be amazing in, or because the idea of earning wealth doesn’t motivate me, whereas the actual benefit of the job for others especially has. I need to know more!

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    • That portion hit me too. I’m 44 and was never able to finish college. I froze in choosing just one thing and felt stupid because I was surrounded by smart people doing ‘smart people things’ like working on their degrees and dsicsussing deeply that ine thing they were focused on. I panicked at not being able to choose, HOW do you choose when there’s SO MUCH to choose from and you don’t think you could do just one thing and what if you choose wrong?

      I too have been using that against myself all these years, though I didn’t discover my giftedness until I saw it in my son and had him evaluated. My brother was too, though he was given the eval and I wasn’t, because I didn’t demonstrate it with high achievement and in other more obvious outward ways – he is extrovert, I’m introvert. I felt stupid growing up because I wasn’t ‘smart’ like my mom and brother, and those high achieving kids in school.

      While learning about giftedness and it’s many expressions for my son, I broke down in tears for myself as I saw my whole childhood and young adult life in a completely different way and was finally able to understand WHY I never really fit, why I dumbed myself down in attempting to fit in and was always met with those remarks and attitude when I demonstrated among ‘friends’ intelligence, knowledge, justice and equality, or any compassion or sensitivity.

      I dumbed myself down so much I forgot who I was and instead of growing and flourishing, I stalled.

      Music and art gave me outlets of expression and solace. Singing was the one thing I could do effortlessly and well, though I couldn’t accept that my singing was really worth the response I got until later.

      I have been told derisively that I think too much, analyze too much, feel too much and too deeply, I’m a social butterfly, when explaining to a friend my depression she said I brood too much and should be more sociable, I read too much, too intense, not intense enough – being an introvert is difficult enough but I twisted myself into knots thinking there really was something wrong with me, trying to be what others wanted so I could FIT and once I could fit Inwould be fixed. Misery was my best friend until I moved to a city heavy with gifted musicians, artists, and creatives of all types and those that support them and finally realized it wasn’t me that was wrong.

      Using my experience to help my son understand his gift, to accept he is different and will always be different and that it’s a good thing has been, well, a gift.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Welcome Taj! A word of caution if I may. As your intellect begins to beckon, you may need professional guidance. Stepping from that gifted closet into the light of one’s true-self can be challenging. Remember your not alone, there are millions of undiscovered intellectually gifted persons out there waiting to be discovered. Once again WELCOME!

      Liked by 2 people

  10. My son is gifted. He is 8 years old and can easily translate Winnie the po to swedish. He do the same maths as his 12 year old sister. His mind is fabolouse.

    But I cant accept being gifted myself. I learned how to read at the age of 4. I hated school since I already know it all. I went through lawschool with good grades, a baby at home and yes – as a single mom. Today I work as a lawyer and often find myself boared when I have to do things like normal people. Did I say that I also study leadership at the university and works in homesales in my sparetime? But I havent invented anything. I havent started any company. I am just a single mom with two kids. And noone expects that extra from me. I feel like Im just an ordinary person. But my brain tells me something else. I believe women needs appreciation for their brains to really feel it.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Still feeling like a fraud writing this, but you described me to a T. I have a better half who also does not believe he’s gifted due to a mediocre IQ score in HS (obviously wrong), who is the very definition of a polymath–multiple graduate degrees in different fields, including a PhD, all before he was 30; published research in diverse subjects, he’d just follow the funding and go down the rabbit hole. We’re both constant learners: I binge watch The Great Courses Plus online and read abstracts for fun and academic journals instead of magazines; he spends his leisure time mastering Beyesian statistics software and editing a literary journal. Having grown up with a quirky, over achieving dad, and being around super high achievers (national and international leaders in politics, business and academia) I can recognize giftedness, but I don’t share any of those accomplishments. What they do, I just read about (incessantly). I think my partner and I get along because neither of us knows the secret handshake for “normal”. Everyone functions better than we do in the real world. But, we’re happy being the quirky aunt and uncle living our off beat lives.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I suggest the people should be encouraged to find their authentic voice with or without this business about gifted. The average person let alone the average gifted person is already egotistical enough

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hear your concern, William. And yet, my experience with the rainforest-minded is that they aren’t egotistical. They’re often quite the opposite. Full of empathy, sensitivity and justice concerns. And they need to understand their giftedness so they stop pathologizing their traits. Of course, there are people who are “egotistical.” And that’s unfortunate. But more often, I find the people I work with need help accepting that they are highly intelligent. And that level of intelligence has its benefits and its challenges. The purpose, then, is not to create arrogant individuals, but to truly help the rainforest-minded self-actualize and contribute to society. I appreciate hearing from you.

      Liked by 2 people

      • You see, that is it right there, I came here, and am digesting the term ‘gifted’ and am beginning to accept that it fits, but, the moment you say ‘highly intelligent, I feel the fraud. I’ve always laughed when people say I’m so highly intelligent, because I can’t see what they are seeing. And just that expressing of not only intelligent, but ‘highly intelligent’ made my stomach drop, and tears come. I can’t even begin to explain that. My childhood was a time spent being very much rejected for being me. I wrote poetry at the age of 9yrs at school and my teacher told me to show my mother. I didn’t, but she found it in my book and accused me of plagiarism, I kept all poetry hidden from then, and in recent years stopped writing completely. The same with art, my art teacher at 9yrs [change of school so perhaps the new teachers saw through fresh eyes?] was so amazed by a leather print tile I created that she left the classroom to show the head teacher. In upper school, my art teacher desperately wanted to get me into art polytech but my mother refused saying I needed to get a ‘real’ [factory] job.

        I was so convinced of my being a non talent, that even in college I handed in an essay about marxism, and couldn’t accept the grade I got, so I went to the staffroom to speak to the tutor to make sure he hadn’t made a mistake. He let me know that not only did I deserve the distinction, but that it had also been marked by another member of staff as policy does not allow for a distinction to be given without being verified by head of dept. Then he said my work was at university level way above what they even needed at college level. I found that utterly confusing!

        I don’t know how to overcome me. I do though, know I need to. I’m studying currently, and been identified as a top student, which has limited my progress. I can’t explain why, but it has disrupted the routine I managed to create and I make excuses to avoid classes I love! =(

        Liked by 1 person

    • William, I really like your comment. You see, I thought exactly the same way. I still do on some level. To some, giftedness does take on a sort of ‘feather-in-the-cap’ exclusivity.
      All said, I have recently allowed myself from time to time to to believe that just maybe I’m like the people that Paula describes so well – I fit the description after all. I despise labels and listicles, but this is different. For the first time in my life, I’m suddenly an ‘average’ person (relative to the crowd) in an above-average crowd. This is key; in these moments I am no longer pressured to be any more than I am. I simply relax into being without trying. The pressure of trying to live up to being smart is crazy-making. Accepting this as a sort of identity does the opposite of what you suggest it does – at least for me. Being an average person in an above-average crowd makes me get on with being authentic and not focus too much on what the label is.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks for this perspective, Anonymous. I suspect that others will relate. I hear so many gifted folks who are struggling with living up to being smart. I recognize that there surely are greater burdens but, that said, my job is to give the rainforest-minded a place to be themselves.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. “Multipotentialite” what a fantastic tag/word!! And imposter syndrome, both of these hit the center for me, my goodness. Just discovered your blog from the gifted/2e homeschoolers group on Fb and I feel like I’ve unexpectedly stumbled into a cozy coffee shop with a generous arm chair waiting just for me. Thank you for writing and making space for us. My husband an de our 2 kids are all highly sensitive, our kids are both 2e, and I suspect my husband and I are as well; this post really shines a light on that.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. This is what we called “Word of Encouragement” This is really helpful to everyone to improve their self-confident.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Part of why I have trouble believing it is because one of my gifted parents told me I was stupid when I was younger and the other wasn’t proud of me in any way unless I was perfect.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. “You enter the forest
    at the darkest point,
    where there is no path.

    Where there is a way or path,
    it is someone else’s path.

    You are not on your own path.

    If you follow someone else’s way,
    you are not going to realize
    your potential.”
    ― Joseph Campbell, The Hero’s Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life & Work

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I’m afraid of being labelled and I went to private schools most of my life so they never had any gifted programs. I was always that kid that did well, but did not have to push myself except for in art class. I did not want the expectations that I knew would come with being gifted, however I do wish I had the opportunities to be placed in higher level classes that would have pushed me. Alas that is private religious schools for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I’ve recently been diagnosed.
    Of course, I don’t believe it. I’m that person who failed at school when everyone thought I could do great.
    I was sure I was stupid or abnormal for so long.
    And now, what am I supposed to do if that is even true ?
    I’m so afraid to fail again..
    Your rainforest inhabitant from France.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The fear of failure can be so paralyzing, Audrey from France! If you’ve had experience with failure, it can be something you work hard to avoid. It becomes hard to try or to take intellectual risks. Sometimes it helps to take baby steps and to imagine what’s the worst that could happen. Often the “worst” isn’t so terrible so you can take the next step. I’ll be writing more about it in the future. Thanks for the comment. (first step…believe that it’s true that you’re gifted)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you Paula.
        My very first baby step was to seek for help with a psychologist specialized on the question.
        It gives me hard time, I know the road to acceptance will be long.
        I hope to read more about it then 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  19. Terrific question! I’ve come to embrace my giftedness through time on the planet growing into comfort with my own skin – along with hearty doses of self care through inviting the energy of the Divine Feminine into my life. Encouraging other beautiful souls to embrace their own giftedness goes a long way toward helping me to see this reflected in myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I nodded throughout most of this list, but I really chuckled at the second point.

    I never even heard the term “gifted” as anything but a jokingly disparaging remark until my son was in grade 1 — his best friend was taking the gifted testing offered by our school board starting in grade 3.

    When I was growing up, we had smart, average, and not-so-smart kids; the smart kids either did extra class work that was always readily available or read books when we were finished our work. Both of my brothers skipped a grade, but they had stopped doing that when I got to grade 1. I loved school, even when it was boring. I attended two post-secondary institutions, still not managing to finish a BA. My oldest brother’s grade 3 or 4 teacher once told my mom, “Oh, he’s our encyclopedia; if we don’t know something we ask him.” (Both his ex- and current spouses think he has some Aspberger’s going on.) None of the three of us ever had any real social issues, we were just shy at times; if you’re smart, you’re smart — that’s just the way it is. It’s what our parents were used to and expected, and it’s who we were.

    My son didn’t want to be identified as “gifted” — he saw it only as more work, a different school, riding an early bus, etc. He scored HIGH on the reading and maths tests because he couldn’t *not* do it; he totally flat-lined the cognitive abilities portion because he could. Even his teacher at the time was dumbfounded. He’s a 13 year old, generally happy kid who has loved Dr. Who since he was 5, can identify individual Lego pieces by what set they belong to, reads Stephen King and S.E. Hinton, was completely bored in coding class (“I can do all that at home.”), has movie scripts memorised after just one viewing, knew and explained the entire history of Mario & Luigi by the age of 7, could recognise Beethoven pieces at the age of 5, loves West Side Story, cries when he watches Inside Out or Big Hero 6, has no idea how he knows the things he does, wants to do the least amount of work possible in school (“I don’t want them to think I’m smart.”), is bored in French (his teacher said it’s because he’s better than the other students), and found his grade 7 science class so disinteresting that he just barely squeaked by with a 52%. I am at a loss as to how to keep him engaged in/with learning, because it sure isn’t happening at school. Not being identified as gifted has limited his opportunities in our school board, but being identified and staying in our home school (which would have been his choice) would have been just as bad or worse (the resulting IEPs are barely worth the paper they are printed on).

    Sorry for rambling, just weighing on my mind as we approach grade 8!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Do you know about the parent bloggers at and You could find lots of support and suggestions there. You might start with Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley or Celi Toce Trepanier. Thank you for sharing with us.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, I’ll take a look. Funny thing, he was adamant that he should be homeschooled when he was in grade 1 — I thought 1) I didn’t have the patience, 2) I didn’t have the knowledge/ability, 3) it would get better at school, so we didn’t do it. Also, he was actively enrolling all his friends, as well!

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Reblogged this on IcyPineapples & Co. and commented:
    Hey, y’all! Today, instead of our regularly scheduled program, I’m reblogging a really great article. This is for all you gifted kids out there. Peace Out, Icy.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Pingback: Parents of Gifted Children — Who Needs the Counseling? | Your Rainforest Mind

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