Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

“…Your Fierce and Unbreakable Light…”


If you’ve been raised in a seriously dysfunctional family or your compassionate, smart, sensitive, rainforest mind has experienced other chainsaws over the years, or both, it’ll be important for you to mend your broken heart.

The mending takes time, patience, and care.

You will likely need help on the journey. Let yourself get help. Granted, because you have a rainforest mind, you’ll have to select your helpers carefully. If you try psychotherapy, (which would be a great idea, by the way), you’ll want to find someone who is sensitive and smart, and who is on their own healing path. There will be things your therapist will need to know. Such as:

The rainforest mind is complicated. Like the jungle, it’s breathtaking in its capacity to create: Thoughts, emotions, questions, dreams, equations, mosquitoes,  theories, visions, stories, inventions, worries, beauty, more worries, and poetry. It’s intense, lush, and vast.

The rainforest mind, in counseling, needs deep, empathetic, authentic understanding of its fascinating and convoluted intricacies.

You will be learning to grieve your losses, build self-confidence, appreciate your courage and resilience, set better boundaries, choose appropriate friends and partners, raise healthy kids, take back your power, speak your truth, stop the legacy of abuse in your family line. Trust your intuition. Discover your creativity. Love yourself. Find your path(s) to creating a better world.

There are more ways to mend: Build a spiritual/meditation practice. Design a multi-dimensional approach that could include: coaching, bodywork, acupuncture, energy work, martial arts, functional medicine, binge reading, and support groups. Give yourself permission to try things and leave if they’re not right for you. (except we all know that binge reading is always right…)

There are books that will help with your healing process: Soul Collage by Seena Frost for a creative, visual, and intuitive approach. Self Therapy by Jay Earley for an Internal Family Systems approach. My book for guidance in understanding and appreciating your rainforest mind.

And, there is poetry~ this one by Anne Allanketner, poet and therapist in Portland, Oregon, USA.

The No-Fault Insurance of Love 

photo courtesy of Dawid Soboleski, Unsplash

I am writing you a policy
which covers everything,
no matter what happened to you.
You have all rights and privileges:
to receive help, to rest, to correct damage
to heal loss.

In time, you must re-member yourself
to be One with The Holy

I have experienced
your fierce and unbreakable light
which never leaves you,
even on the worst day

You are not at fault.
That old idea is a red herring
swimming towards you
to distract you
from the cluster of pearls
hidden under and behind
this recent fiasco.

Feeling completely innocent
as you dive towards beauty and truth,
piercing confusion’s thick waters and
calling loudly for help-
That is your sacred work.

In clever self-examination you may find
clues that cannot be seen
without the eyes of kindness and thus
you cannot afford to swim around
in the cloudy murk of shame.

If you did make mistakes, that too
is covered by the policy
for your heart was always true to love
and being loved.
Honor that and know
that you will be protected
from the world’s
dissonant judgments, that have rattled and echoed,
too near your exquisite, tender soul.

This journey is harrowing,
which is always the case in matters of arising
and sacred repair.
Somehow amidst the smoke and brokenness
your soul has hidden pieces of Herself
which she is even now
(and despite all seductive illusions)
retrieving from crevasses and underground caves.

You, beloved, are the sparkling gem
pressed between the rocks
your story began before, Before.
Now, we can begin to see
that what is courageous in you, and what is ever pure,
is only becoming more beautiful, more condensed and potent
under this terrible pressure
where diamonds are made.


To my bloggEEs: Does this poem speak to you? Can you recognize your “fierce and unbreakable light?” What have you done to heal from your chainsaw experiences? Are there any resources that you recommend? And, dears, if you’re feeling despair about events here on earth, here’s a gathering of poets that will inspire and uplift you, from Maria Popova.

This month marks four years since the birth of my blog. Thank you for sharing the journey with me. I’m sending you all hugs, kisses, and much gratitude! And thank you to Anne Allanketner for her beautiful poetry and radiant soul. If you want to hear the poet read this poem along with original music from musician Ron Gordon, click 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.

29 thoughts on ““…Your Fierce and Unbreakable Light…”

  1. I’ve recognized one part is learning to listen. A couple decades ago an aging neighbor, in his late ‘70’s, was harshly quizzing me about cleaning debris from a barn a wind storm knocked over. His point was that it looked messy and none of my predecessors – grandfather, great-grandfather or great great-grandfather would have left things untidy for any length of time. In the moment, criticism from a busybody neighbor that had no idea about my daily work load made me upset.

    Later that night I heard what he said in a deeper way. He was absolutely correct, all my progenitors were concerned with how things appeared on the outside to others observing them, while ignoring healing the troubles within themselves. From that point on I’ve worked steadily within myself to learn and heal, never again being concerned with how it might appear to someone else.

    As an aside, and in keeping with your metaphor, I should note that this is a neighbor who while trimming a limb from a tree, chainsawed through the one his ladder was leaning upon and meeting the ground broke his arm. So, you know, there is that.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Pingback: Most of my true friends recognise themselves in this poem. I am here for you. – Jadorechampagne's Blog

  3. Thank you so much for that poem and this post and your blog. I am that rainforest-minded gifted adult raising rainforest-minded gifted children, after having been raised in a dysfunctional, chainsaw family. I am 44 years old and can vividly remember my mother screaming, “Something is radically wrong with you!” many times at me when I was a child. I have internalized that message and now say it inside myself, even though I have not spoken to my mother in almost seven years. I don’t even need her and I still have her criticisms with me.

    Tomorrow I see a counselor – yet again – to try to undo the trauma so that I don’t traumatize my own precious children. I took time today to write out the swirling jumble of thoughts that are overwhelming me. I feel crazy with how much I overthink everything, and the biggest question in my mind is whether my personality – my perfectionism, my hyper-vigilance against real or perceived danger, my overthinking, my sensitivity, my anxiety, my perpetual melancholy – whether these things are part of my gifted, INFJ, rainforest-mindedness, or whether they have all come from the mother who probably had untold trauma of her own, who raged at the drop of a hat, and the responsibility I took on myself to keep her happy always and to deny that I had any needs of my own.

    I wonder, if I go to therapy and relieve myself from the burden of constantly being on high alert, will my whole personality change? Who will I be? I already feel that I don’t know my true Self, under the vigilance of “managers” I’ve developed to stay safe and alert. Is my true self going to be completely different? I’m afraid I won’t recognize her.

    Anyway, I just wrote out all of my feelings and thought, geez, my mom was right. Something IS radically wrong with me. And then I read this post. I struggle to be gentle with myself. I have so far to go.

    Thank you for sharing what you’ve learned with all of us. -Eileen Tully

    On Mon, Mar 19, 2018 at 11:38 AM Your Rainforest Mind wrote:

    > Paula Prober posted: “If you’ve been raised in a seriously dysfunctional > family or your compassionate, smart, sensitive, rainforest mind has > experienced other chainsaws over the years, or both, it’ll be important for > you to mend your broken heart. The mending takes time, pati” >

    Liked by 2 people

    • These are great questions, Eileen. A couple thoughts: The “wrong with you” voice is all your mother! Therapy can help you sort out what’s her voice and trauma in your family and what’s giftedness. Good therapy is a gentle process so that over time you can find your true Self; changes are gradual and as you heal, you’ll recognize your Self because it’ll feel like coming Home. And your gifted traits won’t disappear! Thank you for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

    • As Paula says, therapy is a gentle process, and your personality WILL change: you will gradually start to leave behind all the stuff that is inauthentic. What emerges will be imperfect, but authentic and thoroughly beautiful.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hey there Eileen – I thought I’d act as a ‘cyber’ cheerleader (ok, that’s an outdated term, isn’t it?!) and cheer for you on your journey of self-discovery. I highly recommend the facebook group for gifted adults, ‘Intergifted’, to you. It’s basically just a social group, but we have some interesting discussions, and there are plenty of Moms in it.

      It’s a real long process, of understanding our selves, especially if we’re gifted. At least that’s been my experience. Because we have a more layered experience of life, our responses, viewpoints, thoughts, feelings, are so much deeper than many others’. To make matters more complicated, we’re so often misunderstood, which adds to the confusion we feel.

      You ever see one of those big rubber-band balls, you know, that have like 2,000 rubber bands all tied and twisted around each other in a hopeless mess?! That’s how I feel about myself, at times. Or a rubik’s cube. Sometimes I feel I’ll never fully ‘solve’ my self. But since learning about being gifted (at the age of 54), I feel that a door in my mind has opened up, and there’s a shard of light breaking through the darkness I have always felt I was stumbling through. Hang in there!

      Liked by 4 people

      • Thank you so much, Beth. It is so helpful to know I am not alone in these feelings because it certainly feels that way. I saw my therapist today and fully expected her to say, “Whoa. This is way too much. I need to refer you to someone else to untangle this huge mess.” (The rubber band ball is a great analogy, though it seems more organized than how I feel inside.) Of course she didn’t say that. She completely validated everything and was helpful in explaining that those elements of my personality that are helpful will still remain. I’m so thankful to have found her.

        I will definitely look into that Facebook group soon. Thank you for the encouragement! 💕

        Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks for the cheerleading, Beth!

        Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been through this too! With the terrible mother and her internalized voice. Have faith in yourself and your light, your incredible ability to survive. It’s possible! Sending you hope and hugs.

      Liked by 3 people

    • *hugs if you want them*

      My mother also raged at the drop of a hat, and I also worked to keep her happy. And I also wonder how much of me is giftedness and how much is the hypervigilance.

      I don’t have any wise words to offer at the moment – I don’t have much time to write right now and I had an endoscopy on Monday and I’m not back up to speed yet. But I just wanted to say that you’re not alone and that I understand, and to offer you virtual hugs and a drink of your preference.

      Liked by 2 people


    Liked by 1 person

  5. Therapy is such a difficult process. Running into the wrong person, or receiving a type of therapy that does more harm than good, can set you back tremendously.

    I actually found this blog (again) after looking for a link to give to my therapist, when we discussed the theme he wholeheartedly agreed that rainforest minds need a therapist which understands and can keep up with them. Which is a good start.

    Healing is a process which must be done both inside and outside of therapy, I think. Learning to trust yourself, and learning that therapy can also mean honest listening and healthy boundaries.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hey Paula you have an amazing blog and thanks for writing such a poem.Great to read
    Do follow
    She writes beautiful poems blogs about nature and philosophy and human emotions. Do read her blog and support her by following .🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t know what to do with many of my experiences (diverse intellectual and artistic interests, intrinsic perfectionism, sensitivity, etc.)—I feel so confused! I tried to detach myself emotionally from them, often telling myself, “It’s probably nothing, I’m sure most people go through the same things, or they are normal for the majority of people in our society .”. However, self-denial, if you can call it that, doesn’t seemed to work; there were many times when I wake up with cold sensations all over my body, and a feeling that life is meaningless or futile (existential depression and sensivity, perhaps?).

    How do I distinguish giftedness from mere high sensitivity? I believe these two are the most likely culprits for many of my experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was just thinking about writing about distinguishing giftedness from childhood trauma coping strategies. (like hypervigilance, as mentioned by medleymisty) I haven’t started that one yet. I think people who are just highly sensitive but not gifted don’t have the deep and complex thinking (sometimes called over-thinking…). Maybe they aren’t starving to learn new things. Or they aren’t avid readers or researchers. I don’t want to generalize, but these might be some of the differences. Sometimes it’s easier to see when they’re younger because the gifted ones might be reading early, asking complex questions, learning faster, or loving BBC documentaries!


  8. Thank you for the response, Paula!

    Being highly sensitive does not necessarily imply that one is gifted, and the same goes for giftedness, perhaps? I’ve read some articles saying that even though sensitivity is considered a rather common condition in the gifted community, it does not necessarily mean or imply that all of them has this particular neurological trait (which is related to OE). However, would you agree that there are, probably, different types of giftedness which may affect one’s neurological make-up, and that, there are sub-groups within this unique community? (i.e. schoolhouse, creative, emotional giftedness, etc.)

    Also, I think many individuals may hesitate to call themselves “gifted” due, in part, to the common designation of the word to particular types of giftedness. Is it possible that there are many people who were not properly identified as such due to the limited or narrow scope of the identification process, the personal make-up of the individual (i.e. personality, interests, disability or condition [physical or mental] etc.).

    Rainforests minded individuals are probably a particular group of gifted people that were endowed with a unique neurological make-up which (highly sensitive?), in turn, distinguishes them from other groups of gifted individuals. It is thought that there are people in the gifted community with strong psychopathic or sociopathic tendencies. Thus, the large numbers of gifted inmates; they make up as much as 20 percent of the prison system. (Andrew Cunanan and Jeffrey Dahmer; serial killers; both has genius level IQ’s).

    I’m not sure if I would pass many of the tests that are usually used to identify certain types of gifted individuals. I have memory problems, I would be considered average or poor at math, I wasn’t a child prodigy, there are times when I am not able to express myself that well towards my psychotherapist, etc. (these are some of the reasons as to why I often doubt myself). However, I could relate to many of the traits that you’ve observed in your former students and in your patients (current or former).

    Furthermore, I’m not sure if my psychotherapist fully understands what I’m going through (which is understandable, he is not me). After all, he could simply pathologise many of the things I’ve experienced or are currently experiencing; perfectionism and single minded pursuit of my interests for an OCD, having a hard time fitting in due to my introverted personality,interests, and some other traits as oppositional defiant disorder, etc.

    Oh, may I add, that I would also be considered sensitive, both physically and emotionally (I am currently suffering from asthma, allergies, there are times when my whole body almost immediately turns cold when I think about certain things, I often have existential depression in addition to clinical depression [I think it started in the second or third grade,etc.).

    (I’m sorry if my comments or statements are becoming too repetitive. My therapist is probably getting tired of it as well).

    But, I have some other questions for you:

    Do you believe existential depression is more common in the gifted community than in the general population?

    Is it possible for intrinsic perfectionism to occur in someone who wouldn’t be considered gifted?

    Now, individual characteristics or traits, such as the sensation of being different (which could indicate being neuroatypical) does occur in non-gifted individuals. However, do you think that there is a possibility that certain clusters of traits are more likely to gifted individuals or in sub-groups within the gifted community?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Robert. There is so much controversy about what giftedness is. What intelligence is. Even within what could be called the gifted education community. The rainforest-minded person that I describe is one type. As we know, there are highly cognitively intelligent folks who don’t have the sensitivities or empathy, for example. I can’t say whether existential depression exists more in RFMs. Perfectionism can exist in anyone but I’ve defined “intrinsic perfectionism” to be the type that exists primarily in the gifted because it’s really part of my definition. A RFM’s innate need for beauty, balance, harmony, justice, and precision. And, again, it’s not so simple. All of this is multi-layered so there’s lots of room for discussion!


  9. Hello,

    My sister got me your book for Christmas and I felt right at home within its pages. I currently live in an isolated area in the high desert of Arizona and would like to work with a life coach. I’m wondering if you can recommend one?

    Thank you for your work! Angela

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Dealing with Anxiety When You Are a Highly Sensitive Overthinker* | Your Rainforest Mind

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