Your Rainforest Mind

Support For The Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

How Can You Be Too Much And Not Enough At The Same Time?

50 Comments

photo courtesy of Joshua Earle, Unsplash

How is it possible to be both too much and not enough at the same time?

Here’s how:

Reasons you think that you are too much:

You question too much. You read too much. You think too much. You feel too much. You talk too much. You research too much. You do too much. You know too much.

You are too intense. Too sensitive. Too empathetic. Too curious. Too obsessive. Too smart. Too geeky. Too emotional. Too self-absorbed. Too compassionate. Too introspective. Too intuitive. Too analytical. Too creative. Too idealistic. Too weird.

Reasons you think that you are not enough:

You’ll never meet your high expectations. You know how much you don’t know. You haven’t won a Nobel prize. You haven’t invented anything “insanely great.” You dropped out of college. You dropped out of elementary school. You couldn’t save your parents from their dysfunctional patterns. You have too many interests. You haven’t settled on one career. You don’t have friends. Your mother said so. You haven’t lived up to “your great potential.” You’re easily overwhelmed. Your friends do so much more than you do. Your gifted child is getting bad grades in school and hitting kids on the playground. You make mistakes.

What is the truth?

If you have a rainforest mind, which you know you do, pretty much everything about you is MORE. It’s not too much. It’s just more. It’s natural for the jungle to be more. More life. More death. More growth. More wild. More you.

But not everyone is comfortable in the jungle. And your moreness probably includes massive amounts of self-analysis, self-criticism and self-awareness.

Which leads you to. You guessed it. Not enoughness.

How paradoxical of you.

Lucky that you have a rainforest mind so that you can appreciate paradox.

And what do you do about it?

Here’s an idea from one of our lovely bloggEEs:

“…I think it’s “ok” to be too much, but have come to understand that the mainstream sometimes needs it organized, categorized, and occasionally drip-fed to be palatable. Sort of a form of self-curation, a rotation of the collections… even the world’s greatest museums don’t have their entire collections on display…”

And here’s another idea from the great rainforest mind of Maya Angelou:

“You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.”

_____________________________

To my bloggEEs: Do you struggle with too muchness and not enoughness? How do you handle it? Thank you to the reader who made the above comment and to the reader who inspired this post. Comments are greatly appreciated by all of us. Please. Show us your collection. We can handle it.

And if you’re looking for more support and strategies and haven’t read my book yet, well, what are you waitin’ fer??? And if you have read my book, thank you. Let us know your thoughts.

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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.

50 thoughts on “How Can You Be Too Much And Not Enough At The Same Time?

  1. This is me to a T! I’m always beating myself up for every one of these things. “You question too much. You read too much. You think too much. You feel too much. You talk too much. You research too much. You do too much. You know too much.
    You are too intense. Too sensitive. Too empathetic. Too curious. Too obsessive. Too smart. Too geeky. Too emotional. Too self-absorbed. Too compassionate. Too introspective. Too intuitive. Too analytical. Too creative. Too idealistic. Too weird.”

    Every one of them! My son is also gifted and I struggle not to be overwhelmed by his “too much-ness” too. My poor husband gets caught in the middle when we are both at the end of our overwhelmed ropes. I love this article so much. I’m going to share it far and wide!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think these are all the reasons why gifted people *really* need friends in their lives who can, in the words of one of your blogEE’s, ‘appreciate [our] various collections’. There are others like myself, I’m sure, who, not having enough closer friends, have basically clamped down long enough and hard enough on their true selves to the point where they feel detached and repressed. I remember once years ago a friend and I were just chatting about books (she’s passed on) and she shared with me that she just couldn’t understand why John Grisham was so popular. I just shook my head and replied, ‘I have no clue.’ We shared a delicious moment together and just smiled.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, I’m sure there are so many who’ve “clamped down” and feel “detached and repressed.” Keep looking for those friends with whom you can show more of your true self. They’re out there, Beth!

      Like

  3. Yep, most of the things on here apply to me. It’s odd, because I think most of us like this feel odd, so it’s odder still to see that it fits a certain model. (And I find that comforting!)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is me to a T. And I feel I have to apologise for it all the time. It’s accentuated by my work on my M.Ed(Social Ecology) which is forcing me to use more of all those things so that I can’t hide them away. And then imposter syndrome sets in, and I feel bad for getting high distinctions when my fellow students didn’t. And at the same time I know that is illogical and unreasonable – but that’s all OK. It’s not easy to shift from one way of being to another and find a new place to be comfortable in, but that’s what this degree is doing as it fits me so well. Love it when things like Bid Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and The Artist’s Way by Julie Cameron are required reading for Applied Imagination 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thanks for this post, Paula. Knowing too much (climate change comes to mind) and also knowing how much I don’t know (about endless topics) sometimes make me panic. Being a new teacher (with the never-ending “To Do” list) to teens who don’t always seek to look beyond their own realities (while the world is experiencing o many horrific things) makes me question if there is not something more useful I could be doing to contribute to greater good on Mother Earth. I do my best go beyond the curriculum, help students make links between subject areas, and push them to be critical thinkers, but I know that to many of them, I am just another adult who seems to tell them what to do for a few hours every week. (*insert sigh…*)

    Liked by 4 people

    • Don’t underestimate the impact you might have on those teens, particularly the ones here and there with rainforest minds! Teachers can be quite influential, even just in how they are in the world or in their enthusiasm for what they’re teaching. That said, it can also be important for you to change paths if there’s something else that would feed your soul in ways that allow you to contribute more. Thank you for sharing your experience with us!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks for your encouragement, Paula. I will keep at it for a while longer. As I gain more experience I hope to be able to do more things that have a greater impact. And I will keep collaborating with other teachers to try to make more magic happen. I definitely have several kids with rainforest minds, and one of your previous posts made me think about what I can do to serve them better. I don’t often comment, but I read and take away something from each and every one of your posts–so thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Over the years I’ve gotten used to being too much for others. I’ve also gotten used to being able to sense from others the strong feeling that I am too much for them. But what I have never gotten used to is the common assumption that my “too muchness” is symptomatic of a negative, toxic personality.

    When your basic impulse is to share the best aspects of yourself and the unique way you perceive the world through your strong abilities to analyze the old and then create the new, that hurts. A lot.

    To be sure, most of those kinds of assumptions are formed from ignorance and fear and yet somehow that makes the injustice and cruelty of it all the more keenly felt. When you merely want the best for not just yourself but for everyone else too, it takes an enormous amount of mental discipline to not let that completely destroy any positive ideas you have of yourself.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad you have us, Mark, to remind you that your muchness is a good thing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks so much Paula. (I actually meant to thank you in my comment for writing such a nice post).

        On my doctor’s referral I have a session booked with a new therapist next week, however I don’t know if this therapist has any experience with giftedness. So I re-read a couple of your other posts about choosing therapists and am taking your advice and will be carefully “shopping” during that first session. If I see any reluctance at all to acknowledge the importance that giftedness or 2e issues are when it comes to my mental health, then I am prepared to say “thanks but no thanks”, and walk away.

        Obviously that would not bet an ideal outcome, but I’ve learned a big part of self-care is giving yourself permission to say “no”.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Absolutely. Permission to say ‘no.’

          Like

          • Communication…that’s really at the crux of being “too much”, isn’t it? Because when you’re a native of the rainforest, you likely speak languages that few outsiders understand. In the rainforest you have so much to say and to share that it’s frustrating when but people don’t understand what you’re trying to communicate. That frustration gets pushed to the limit when the people who don’t understand your Rainforest dialects are doctors or therapists, especially when it keeps happening over and over again.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Well I’ve been to see the new psychologist, and just to make sure we got around to talking about giftedness, I actually wrote a letter and sent it to his office a few days before our appointment. (Is that kind of weird I did that? I’m just being thorough. Haha)

              It basically said: “It is important to me that you know that I am gifted, perhaps profoundly so. As yet none of my experiences telling therapists that I am gifted have been pleasant or fruitful. And because I have been misdiagnosed, misunderstood or mismedicated so many times, I think I am understandably being very cautious.”

              I concluded the letter by pasting your blog “What Psychotherapists Need to Know About Gifted Clients”

              When I stepped into his office he waved the letter in his hand and said “very interesting”. Then it wasn’t mentioned again. He talked about the options I have such as one-on-one therapy, but he seemed more keen on getting me interested in a group therapy program. (After reading the pamphlet at home, it turns out it is pretty much the same lengthy outpatient group program that was such a disastrous waste of time for me two decades ago. Umm, thanks but no thanks. Giftedness does not rank high on “topics we talk about in group.”)

              He concluded our meeting with the recommendation that I see their psychiatrist for more…more WHAT exactly? I didn’t understand. Frankly I was barely listening at that point because my mind was reeling due to the fact my doctor and I specifically requested in my referral that I was not interested in seeing any more psychiatrists (for the exact reasons I explained in my letter!).

              Sigh. I guess some things never change. Back to the hunt.

              P.S. Maybe I need to get a crowdfunding project going so I can raise the money to travel or move to see a therapist that knows what’s the heck is up! 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

              • Keep on the hunt, Mark. You’ll find someone. You found a good doc, right? Don’t give up.

                Like

                • Nope, not giving up! I just wonder sometimes though, that these roadblocks that keep popping up are not coincidences, that perhaps they are actually road SIGNS trying to tell me something. Pride in perserverence? Stick to my guns? Humility? Hmmm….

                  Thanks!!

                  Liked by 1 person

  7. Oddly, before reading this I’d put together a blog post for the weekend about relationships, and having spent much of my life feeling i couldn’t do relationships because i am usually too mush, too serious, too intense for people….

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Hi, I’m Sharron, I just want to say I love this and I am so glad I came across this site. I know I’m ok but it’s great to feel validated and to know there are lots of others out there. Thank you so much for creating the site.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Many times I simply say I’m “too” and leave it at that. The blanks are too numerous to be filled.

    Last night I contacted my gifted teacher from elementary school and asked if I had been placed in there by mistake. If I was gifted or merely academically inclined. I am not sure that I belong anywhere.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I just need to meet you – what about the RainforestMind Connection Week every other year? So we can all save up some money to be there and we all will meet and talk and have dinner and go out in nature for hikes and just ABSORB all of it. Like in Spain. or Florida. Or Switzerland or on some island like on the Azores …

    Liked by 4 people

  11. So me! I can understand myself and why I feel these things a bit better now. This is the story of my life. Thank you for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I can’t believe it hadn’t occurred to me before that another word for rainforest is ‘jungle’!! It makes the RFM analogy even better for my family. I especially love your words, ‘It’s natural for the jungle to be more.’ I can literally feel the tension easing out of me as I say those words. Thank you, Paula.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Great post and wonderful description of the conflicting feelings so many gifted people feel. So unfortunate that so many never feel they are just right!

    Liked by 2 people

    • So true! I love how Paula describes this paradox so well known to probably every single rainforest mind. But it is a deep pain to me too to see talented teens and adults struggle and question who they really are. On the other hand, this became a strong driving force to me over time. It made me realize that we need more coaches and therapists like Paula as well as well informed (gifted) adults who spread these messages and help more members of the rainforest community realize why they are the way they are and, even more importantly, that this is perfectly all right for them just where they are at in their lives right at the moment.

      Let's spread the message everyone!

      Liked by 5 people

  14. I appreciate the phrase curated self. It doesn’t feel like I am being less to make others comfortable, but that I’m making conscious decisions about what to share with particular people in specific circumstances. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Yes, I often filter my everything so I don’t freak people out. I just started a new job a couple of months ago. I’m learning who I can be myself with and who gets overwhelmed. I’m pretty good at finding my kin. Sometimes it’s lonely, then I reach out to my folks online or just at home.
    My home is a safe harbor. While there are many gifted in the house, some are not as “sensitive” as I am and that can get me ruffled at times. I just tell myself, they don’t understand how that freaks you out. (I hate to be tickled, it feels invasive and overwhelming, and I am always told I’m too serious or too sensitive) It’s a gift, is what I say.
    I can remember many moments in my life where I realized I just raised an eyebrow with my words, nothing offensive, merely out of the ordinary, but it is an odd feeling when you realize you may have let your freak flag fly a bit too much. Find the kindred spirits in your world and hang on to each other..

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Thank you Paula…tick, tick…tick. I am too much. Not enough. Too intense. Most of that. Yet I’m not a Rainforest Mind. I’m no astrophysicist, no astounding intellectual being. I don’t get maths although quantum physics is blatantly how I see the world on a much more simplistic manner. I’m a bibliophile but not crazy clever – I’m not a walking dictionary…I’m just interested in natural health, the universe, energy healing, epigenetics, healing the cellular memory of my complex childhood trauma, unschooling, intuitve art, fermented foods, conscious parenting, stopping (well attempting to) ancestral wounds from passed on and other things but nothing complex, no rocket science here – I haven’t done anything with any of this knowledge. I’m too overwhelmed. Pitiful really. I’m not a RFM. Just a highly sensitive, intuitive, pompous (thank you mother for invalidating my world, again) person who’s wasted her brain due to laziness, uncertainty, lack of grit and procrastination. I went to a girls school where everyone was clever. I was an imposter. Definitely an alien! After years of struggle I’ve decided to write a blog. Perhaps it’s pointless. But there’s a possibility that My Truth could help someone and I’ve wondered what the point is of my pain for so long that I have no choice but to begin. My husband and son however, I think they are RFMs. Thank you for this blog – Ad Astra…Astraea Sage

    Liked by 1 person

  17. You seem alike a rainforest mind to me! Also you sound like a very intelligent introvert; have you read Susan Cain’s book “Quiet”? Quite a lot of us feel like impostors when indeed we are the real deal. I’ll be happy to see your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. In processing some past trauma and healing, today I wrote in my journal, I am not enough & too much at the same time, and this is where my heart has been wounded. I Googled that statement, and found this article. Thank GOD for this article. I am more, and that is a good thing. More passion, more love, more work-done-in-an-hour……. 🙂 thanks so much

    Liked by 1 person

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