Your Rainforest Mind

Support For The Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

Who Were You Before You Learned That You Are Supposed To Be Normal?


photo courtesy of Annie Spratt, Unsplash

“I have been trying to run myself on the do-your-best-to-fit-in-with-normal-people operating system. It’s not my original operating system. It’s the one I adopted when I was abused in various ways for being myself. I perfected it in school and at work, forcing myself to do all the boring and pointless things and to make myself take up less space.

What do I remember of the original proto-version? I was dreamy. I wandered in the woods. I read fantasy. I read entries in the encyclopedia. I loved puzzles and make-believe. I wrote stories and poetry. I did math for fun. I felt connected to the wild…”  ~BP

Who were you before you learned that you were too much and not enough? Who were you before you stopped singing, dancing, and asking questions with unself-conscious glee? Who were you before you learned that voracious reading instead of homework was unacceptable? Who were you before you stopped crying?

Might it be time to rejuvenate that person? Bring that person back to life? Time to say the hell with normal?

You betcha.

There is no better time. Normal isn’t looking so good these days.

So where do you begin? It might be a frightening prospect if you had a chainsaw family or if you were told that you were crazy or inadequate. Or if you experienced bullying or abandonment or racism. Or if you were told that your intelligence was hurting others or that you should feel guilty because you’re so smart or if you believed them when they called you a know-it-all and a show-off.

So, let’s start small-ish. Make a list of reminders and steps that you can take today. Here are examples adapted from one rainforest mind’s list.

~ Binge read with abandon.

~ Engage with creativity. Make things. Make music. Dance. Be bad at it.

~ It is not elitist or selfish to make sure that what I do is worthy of my precious time and energy.

~ Allow time for deep dives. It’s OK to be obsessive with my research and learning. It’s how I tick.

~ Spend time in beauty. Let nature hold the complexity; let indoors hold a beautiful simplicity.

~ Minimize boring work. Either ask for help, find better tools, or question whether it needs to be done.

~ Be kinder to myself. Stop putting everyone else first. Set healthy boundaries. Take time to rest. Take some of the pressure off. Stop burning the candle at multiple ends. Feel my gratitude in the present moment.

~ Notice when I feel the compulsion to get online. Am I needing self-soothing? Am I bored? Am I lonely? Is there another choice I could make that would be more expansive, connecting, and real?

~ Find and nourish important friendships. Tend those friendships with people who are truly supportive, are not threatened by me, and who laugh at my jokes.

~ Connect to the wild.

~ Let resentment or rage or terror be a sign that I’m being triggered. It may be an old response, borne of being a helpless rainforest-minded kid in a chainsaw world. Remind myself that I’m no longer powerless. People in authority are not my parents. Soothe and love my child-self. I have great respect for myself for the courage it takes to be in therapy.

~ Follow my weird. I must actualize the beauty and power inside me.

~ Get back to being idealistic, optimistic, funny, and intuitive. It’s time to acknowledge and open more to my strengths. I can find my particular rainforest-y way to make the world a better place.

~ Listen to the original cast albums of Dear Evan Hansen and Hamilton over and over. Sing with You Will Be Found.

~ Be dreamy. Take up plenty of space. Return to my glee. Say a fond farewell to normal.


To my bloggEEs: Did you make your own list? Can you share some of your list with us? Thank you, as always, for being here. I’m sending love and appreciation from my heart to yours. And thank you to the reader who provided the inspiration and the content of much of this post.

I think there’s still room in the Gifted Women Symposium in Denver, June 2, 2018. I’d love to see some of you there. And July 20-22, 2018, there’s the SENG conference in San Diego. Not only will I be presenting but Tom Clynes of The Boy Who Played With Fusion is a keynoter. Please come find me if you attend!



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 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.

55 thoughts on “Who Were You Before You Learned That You Are Supposed To Be Normal?

  1. Always enjoy your posts, Paula. This one is hitting home today. ::hugs::

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I have to learn to play again, just play, have fun, no need to be productive, or finish something useful, play, silly time. And it is hard. havent done that since I was three or so.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Such important points, Paula! All deeply resonates with me. The point about setting healthy boundaries can’t be said enough. THX!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ok my friend, this one hits to the core. Ouch. And so….I’m flying to the BIG APPLE today with a note to self: remember who you are. Lots of love, M

    Liked by 1 person

  5. your words are so healing. as you always say, find your tribe. ‘Find and nourish important friendships. Tend those friendships with people who are truly supportive, are not threatened by me, and who laugh at my jokes.’
    I guess this the most important thing to do, to be able to be you, feel understood, loved for who you truly are, and find bighearted friends and deepconnecting souls.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. A bit of a sad rant. Indulge me, all.

    I was out with a friend a few years ago, trying out a new scotch bar in town. I had just finished adapting a movement of my first symphony for sextet, for performance at the opening of a new wing of the local discovery museum. It turned out very nicely, with a beautiful soaring melody in the flute accompanied by harp, and I started to comment on my dream/hope/vision of maybe doing my part to turn the whole classical music scene around. It was a scotch or two down — I probably didn’t phrase it quite so elegantly.

    “How arrogant,” he muttered, almost to himself.

    It still stings.

    Not the abstract idea that I might be “arrogant.” There is an inherent arrogance in looking at a perfectly good sheet of blank paper and marring it with words, or a blank canvas with blotches of color, or filling a silence with music. Who am I to mar what is, with what might be? That in itself is clearly an act of supreme arrogance: surely my words, my colors, my music should not mar the perfect emptiness that God (or the almighty paper manufacturer) created, and if it should be marred, it should be marred by my betters. Right?

    My response to that idea is to slap my hands on my head and make extremely rude comments about hamsters and elderberries. That kind of small-minded nonsense is just part of the noise of existence. Nettles and gnats.

    What stung was the utter rejection of a vision, by someone I counted as a friend.

    It isn’t an empty dream. Classical music took a bad turn a century ago, and the reasons are complex. It involves the economics of music-making: capitalism, geopolitics, the rise of democracies and the fall of the gentry, recording technology, and a great many other factors. It also involves philosophy and science: I am personally convinced that the Heisenberg-Dirac formulation of quantum mechanics could never have occurred before the so-called “death of God,” and the music of the early 20th century is cut from much the same cloth. The Germans refer to all this as the Zeitgeist — the Spirit of the Age. It shifted dramatically at the end of the 1800’s, and the old Classical/Romantic music died in the rubble. What replaced it was — generally speaking — awful.

    There is a judgment of profound arrogance, no?

    Yes, as a musician, I can find value in some of it, but I have to listen very, very hard — usually, much too hard, and the result is at best a few drops of dry cleverness. Most people cannot hear anything at all in it. That was, in fact, the entire reason I had been asked to adapt my music for sextet: they had commissioned a work from a respected local academic composer, and what he provided was both unlistenable and unplayable. The musicians themselves revolted, and went out looking for an alternative, which is how I heard about it. He had already been paid the $5000 commission: they scraped up $200 for me, from out-of-pocket donations, I think. The music was well-received by the audience, and the musicians liked it well enough to play it at two more concerts, and later record it at the museum. If there was any arrogance there, it wasn’t mine.

    The core economics of music are changing again, as is the Zeitgeist of the world. And when the Zeitgeist changes, it is the work of individual artists, writers, philosophers, and other “softies” that shapes it. There is no meritocracy to it: it is done by whoever shows up to do the work, and by whatever catches fire. Someone always takes credit, of course, but the real movers often are, and remain, anonymous.

    So if there is arrogance there, it is the same arrogance of putting pen to paper and marring the blank page. That arrogance I will happily own.

    THAT conversation never occurred, except in my head. It had nothing to do with the comment, “How arrogant.”

    The comment was a “social leveler.” It was a signal to say, “You are making me feel uncomfortable, so knock it off.” Or more simply, “You should shut up, now.”

    It was the last time I went out with him for a drink.

    I think what I’m saying is that, even after you’ve reconnected with that person you were before you learned “you should shut up, now,” you have to keep protecting and nurturing that flame. You have to go back to the source of the fire, and, like the Phoenix, take light and begin to burn again.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Rant on, Themon the Bard! Thank you. Yes, protect and nurture. Burn again.


    • ” There is an inherent arrogance in looking at a perfectly good sheet of blank paper and marring it with words, or a blank canvas with blotches of color, or filling a silence with music. Who am I to mar what is, with what might be? That in itself is clearly an act of supreme arrogance: surely my words, my colors, my music should not mar the perfect emptiness that God (or the almighty paper manufacturer) created, and if it should be marred, it should be marred by my betters. Right?”

      I feel this so intensely. I thought it was something that was ‘beaten’ into me through the public school system. Keep every thing clean and nice and in good shape for the next student. Don’t mark your books. Don’t mark your desk. At the end of 9 months there should be no sign that you were ever here. And so on. I carries even into relaxing games. I don’t know if anyone here has ever played minecraft, but for the longest time I couldn’t damage the landscape, every structure I built was hidden away so as to not mar the initial creation. While this can be amazingly stimulating in a house design that blends with the landscape, ala Frank Lloyd Wright, it’s not how the game is intended. Still the blank page is more than just an empty canvas and your words strongly resonate with me.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Thank you, KtCallista. I love how bloggees interact with each others’ comments as you resonate with each other. So much depth and sensitivity. Many times I can’t even respond to the content because I’d be reading and thinking and responding for days on end!!


  7. This post is incredibly meaningful. Thank you. Such good reminders and suggestions for remembering who we were “before.”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. One of the things on my list is to “forget how old I am!” I’m currently obsessed with a K-Pop boy band… and most of the fans are young enough to be my grandnieces! But I am learning so, so much! About gender, gender expression, fandoms, unconditional love, the value of authenticity… and I’m writing a serial story about a boy-band on my blog, so it’s all research! And I love feeling like age isn’t a limiting thing–If I get excited, if my interest is piqued, that’s what matters! 🙂

    Thanks so much for this post and for inspiring all of us! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Beautifully stated, Paula. So many people learn to suppress and hide their excitement and energy at an early age. They conform to what school, peers and society expect, but have lost a part of themselves. Thanks for the reminder that we all need to reconnect with that true self!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I remember feeling like I was supposed to be somethung other than myself in kindergarten. I know I’m not the only one, it’s just such a very long time to feel different.

    There are many articles on compulsive Internet usage, so this may not make sense. But if there is a gifted spin on that topic, I would love to read that post. This is a huge issue for me, because it’s an easier way to feel connected to others and/or tune out overwhelming stimuli. At the same time, it then blocks out time spent on more productive pursuits, as you know. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Maybe some others can comment on the internet usage dilemma. I do understand that introverts and sensitive folks can definitely benefit from the contacts online. I know that I do! But it can also become a compulsion or an addiction or just a time suck. I haven’t read anything specifically on rainforest minds, though, in that area.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Me too! Very timely post as my inner kid was reminding me just this morning that I used to take better care of her. This post triggered some healthy mourning for the person I used to be. She’s still there and hasn’t given up completely, thank goodness. The goal is to be her full time again (as if I was ever allowed to be her full time…) .

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This is an excellent post – one I plan to share with my 12 year old daughter who is currently struggling with the emotions around finishing high school early (next week) and starting college in the fall. She is struggling with taking up too much space, being told that she’s a know it all, trying to be bright and dull all at the same time. Wondering if the Gifted Women’s Symposium would be good for her. What do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m thinking that she might be a little young. Even though the content will probably be relevant, she might feel awkward when everyone is so much older. It might be better to find some programs for gifted kids in your area.


  12. When I was everything I wanted to be, it was so out of sync with the rest of the world and the way most people need relationships to be executed that it was havoc on the important people in my life. If there were no repercussions to anything, I would not be a human being. I would be a human doing. But that is not supportive to my friends and family. Losing my best friend was the last straw (and I still have no idea exactly what I did, other than being generally unavailable); I re-prioritized. Since then, I have been a human being. I could not fix all of my old relationships, only some of them. I have new best friends. Mostly, ones who need less attention. My friends and family are more secure in knowing that I care now. I love them crazy much, but somehow, still not enough. I guess I have an upper limit.

    It’s been maybe eight years. I still revisit these choices all the time. I haven’t swung back the other way yet. I know I will eventually. I’m just not sure when that will be. So basically – if I made an honest list and started checking things off, there would be huge consequences and I am not ready for them. So I just keep small lists, that say things like “have a glass of wine with dinner;” “start feeding birds;” “practice listening to French.” Once in a while I throw a bigger, but still short term item onto the list, like a bucket list vacation. Everything else has to wait. And wait and wait and wait. I’m good at spotting temporal patterns. The time will come. Although sometimes I doubt that it will. Waiting is a hard to skill to master.

    Being me without any consideration of how that affects everyone else turned out to be selfish.

    I try to balance.

    So for now it’s a matter of… gaging how long it will take until the scale needs to be recalibrated and rebalanced.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Balance, yes. Absolutely. I hope I didn’t give the impression that I’m saying ‘be yourself no matter how it effects others.’ Eek. Not what I intended to say!


    • I love your term ‘human doing’! I know what you mean about having an upper limit when it comes to friends–that can be tricky.

      I was always a human doing from the time I started school (and now I see that my relationships and sleep habits suffered); every day there had to be an after-school activity until at least 5pm when my mom finished work, so I joined a lot of the school clubs. I did love learning, so I would just keep doing when I got home (mostly making tree houses, creating art and my so-called ‘invention’ prototypes on my bedroom floor and reading until I was forced to turn the light off–hello, flashlight!). It was rare to be allowed to go to a friend’s house and my dad hated having company at the house, so I spent a lot of time alone, but I was fine with that. We moved to another country, but that didn’t stop my doing, which I perfected in high school; I was an efficient, high-achieving ‘human doing’ who looked successful, but I felt lonely as I didn’t have close friends at school.

      I was always busy and continued ‘doing’ on exchange in Mexico (where my brain was so content with the added challenge of learning Spanish). I didn’t truly realize that constant doing is not normal until that year; there is a different pace of life in southern Mexico and at first, I couldn’t fall asleep during the siesta time because I wanted to keep doing (but I learned…). One day an older friend said: “You know, your friends want to spend more time with you and get to know you better, but you hardly have any time for them.” Initially I didn’t know how to react, and I secretly felt a bit insulted, but I later understood what she meant and that good friendships require investing time, so I ended one of my major commitments.

      Come university, I was back to being a human doing–but I felt that I had experienced ‘the other side’, so I tried to be more social (but found it hard to forget about my to-do list and just relax with friends; perfectionism tendencies for classes were also a problem). I also began my ongoing battle with procrastination, which I learned in Mexico (“Hasta mañana…”). I was so lucky to do another exchange and work abroad, and I always thought that being a ‘human doing’ was a North American cultural norm that I had learned. I didn’t think that maybe I am the weird one in the equation, even when people called me ‘crazy’ in different languages–usually in a friendly way (although that is not how it was said when I was growing up); this blog has helped enormously (thanks, Paula!). Cultural norms are surely part of the equation, so being friends with people from different cultures and societies, especially indigenous ones that tend to function in much more communal ways, reminds me to check in with myself about what I want my life to be like and who I want to be as part of a community.

      Right now, I am not a human doing, but I really miss the absorbing creative pursuits that I used to have (though I still play music, I miss art and writing), and generally ‘being in the zone’. Congrats on making it through 8 years–that is such a long time! I feel the urge to start a big creative project, but I am holding back, partially because of work, but mostly because I am not granting myself that freedom and space as I am not sure what will happen or what I will be capable of…I know I will get there and it will be gratifying, but I am still deciding what it is I want to start and then I will take the plunge.

      Bon courage pour vos études de français, CallunaTook. C’est une langue vraiment belle.

      Liked by 1 person

      • So many complexities to navigate and balance. When does the gifted person’s doing become too much? For them? For others? What does balance look like in the life of a rainforest mind? How is it in different cultures than your own? Thank you for sharing some thoughts, cmd1122. I’d be curious to hear where people are from so we can understand their comments within a cultural context!


        • Yes, to cmd1122! And thank you. I miss the doing as well. (Le Francais est tres difficile pour moi, mais j’apprends) Part of the frustration in being instead of doing is that ideas and desires for projects and studies are rampant despite having prioritized my relationships, so my to-do-list gets infinitely longer. I am getting better at cultivating friendships that are more in-line with my own relationship style and even with my desire to be more active than social and that will help in the long run, but that option does not exist for relatives and old friends (they get grandfather claused, ha).

          My younger sibling is flowering into a human doing right now, and it is beautiful to watch. I am standing by with great intrigue (and occasional babysitting), wondering if they will be able to pull it off better, or more brazenly, than I did. The fact that they are a single parent with a child is further intrigue as to how things will work out. Maybe I will learn something from them. This more “being” lifestyle has its allures and pitfalls for me as well. In some ways the lifestyle is highly annoying, in others, weirdly addicting.

          To Paula, for my part, I am in the US. Apparently I like too much “doing” for even American culture, at least in my region. Nobody told me I was crazy as cmd1122 experienced… but there were eye rolls, confusion, judgment, and people pressuring me to do less and socialize more because they believed that what I was doing was not healthy. Oh. And there was also one person who disowned me because they suddenly decided my art and side jobs were amoral. But anyway. Despite all this pressure for loved ones to slow down for health reasons, I am much less healthy now that I am moreso mimicking the common lifestyle. Age also plays a factor in health decline, of course, but I feel it is lesser in impact when compared to lifestyle. When I am a human doing, I am more physically and mentally active, consume less of my diet for social reasons, and have less day-to-day stress, than I do as a human being.

          And weirdly… I love laid back cultures, and slower life styles. But it has to be slower with a purpose; slow for quality; not slow just because “relaxing is good for you,” and regardless of pace I’d rather it didn’t have much structure that is imposed from the outside (structure I create is fine; cuz double standards, I guess!). The juxtaposition I suppose is that if the cultural lifestyle is slower, the personal life style can theoretically have more flexibility. Less time at work or bustling from this to that or making social obligations = more time for projects. With the act of fitting seamlessly into a bustling culture, fulfillment must somehow be found within said culture and all of its busy trappings, because it leaves little room for else.

          Regarding finding the right balance, I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot lately. There is one possible notion that balance would be: give my priority relationships everything they need, then with the time I have left, fill in with my own prioritized activities. But what if those priority relationships are ever-hungry? Then the idea is 50/50 time split when not at work. But that doesn’t leave much afterwards for deep dives or big projects. And when I need time to re-orienting from work, do chores, or recover from time with others, the time left is next to nothing, although it was a good idea in theory. Another idea of balancing one’s needs with society’s needs is to block out one day each week, or a weekend a month, or something. But some things are just simply difficult to learn or accomplish this way, and I don’t do great in spaced out fits and starts. I recently heard a discussion about balance on the Embracing Intensity podcast, which discussed the notion that balance for an excitable person is probably different than balance for a typical person or the 50/50 that would normally spring to mind; that perhaps balance for an intense person may be as simple as going into an endeavor at 90% speed instead of 100%. I have no idea what this would look like to that person’s relationships or life in general but it apparently works for the people on the podcast.

          Philosophically, and more back to the initial topic, aside from how much of “me” can I be without hurting others, there’s also the question of how much of “me” can I be and still be me? If I have to “balance out” my me-ness, is that still an authentic me? I’d say probably yes, because the balancing act comes out of a sincere desire on my part to do good by others (so that part is definitely me), but in practice, it often doesn’t *feel* like me, despite the fact that I reserve some things for myself and rarely go all-out in this cultural and relationship normalization. Maybe this project is where I do the aforementioned 90%. Maybe this is what 90% looks like.

          And back to cmd1122: I think I may have succeeded at my 8 years because I approach this as a project in and of itself, just as I would have tackled any major project as a human doing, complete with short term and long term goals, shifting focuses, problem spotting and troubleshooting. After all this time, I am still doing that. (Relationships being good for right now, the current project phase: learning to use nutrition, genetics, and physiology in order to hedge negative repercussions of the cultural norm lifestyle). Truthfully, it is one of my longest-running projects ever, short of maybe dancing or yoga. At this point it is getting both harder AND easier to stick with it!

          Liked by 2 people

  13. Reblogged this on The Arty Plantsman and commented:
    I am currently working through Paula’s wonderful book and absolutely loved this post.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Beautiful post.greately started.a message to pass on.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I wish I could come to the Symposium. I could really use it. Flights from Chicago then to get to Westminster…maybe a Super Shuttle. Are there any rooms blocked in a hotel around there to get a special rate?

    Margie Sutherland

    Liked by 1 person

    • Margie. It’s a small conference. Probably about 50 people. So we haven’t created a hotel rate. Sorry! And it’s only one day, so coming from Chicago might be too far?? The San Diego conference is 3 days and they have a special hotel rate!


  16. Great read Paula. I have to thank Darren for introducing me to your blog. Apparently our son seems to have some similarities. I should get my hand on your book. I bet my hamster brain would enjoy it.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. In the summer of 2016 when I discovered I am 2E one of the very first things I did was to try remembering what my behaviors were as a young child. The problem is no one, including me, has a memory with any certainty about my thoughts or behaviors from childhood. Too many decades have passed.

    The only thing we can recall is that my first day of Kindergarten was a sad apt metaphor for the rest of my time in school. It was the bus drivers first day he wasn’t really sure what he was doing. We had a flat tire half way through the route. Arriving at school after unloading kids at all the other school buildings I was alone, except for the driver, and late getting to school.

    Any suggestions on how I might get back to where I was before I had to be normal?

    Liked by 3 people

    • You don’t need to remember childhood to get back to your self! Some people don’t remember or their memories are painful or traumatic. It could be that you start by tuning in to what you love doing now. What makes your heart sing? What fills you with gratitude? How do you play? When are you having fun? Maybe start a meditation practice or a journal. It’s likely to take some time to find your true self again. This would just be the beginning.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Perfect. Thanks! Your suggestions are the very sorts of things I started doing when no clear memories were showing up. Considering topics you mentioned helped me fill a written journal for the first time and I now have a rich and varied daily practice before I begin work. I had a nagging frustration when I couldn’t remember anything. Now I see I don’t need them in the way I thought I might. No need for that frustration anymore.

        Liked by 2 people

  18. Absolutely wonderful and music to my own heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I am working on writing a piece of dialog between a writer and their editor. The editor is trying to get the writer to loosen up and stop worrying so much about hurting or offending people, saying:

    “You are not a scientist, analyst, journalist or educator.
    It is not your job to produce concrete, unambiguous data.
    It is not your job to guide, coddle, or reaffirm previously held beliefs.
    It is not your job to make people feel better.
    Your only job is to make people feel something… ANYTHING.”

    At first I thought this was good advice but upon further thought I got stuck there because it brought up some competing ideas. Not just regarding whether the artist has a responsibility to their audience – both their intended audience and the unintended audience – but in the bigger picture of how all of us humans interact with each other, and to what degree if any we are responsible for each others’ feelings.

    The crucial question is: do we actually “make” each other feel anything? Or do we merely create stimuli with which everyone else is entirely responsible for how they react to it?

    I think this gets to one of the roots of how some of us learned we are “supposed to be normal”, because clearly some of us are a lot more capable of inducing emotional reactions in other people, and that knowledge (perhaps combined with sensitivity and empathy), has made many of us gun-shy about being ourselves and “bringing out the big guns”.

    Please discuss.

    Liked by 3 people

    • People often say things like: ‘You make me so angry.’ Or ‘That makes me so sad.’ But really, that’s not accurate. I agree, Mark. No one really has that power, even though it can feel that way. On another occasion, the same situation might not ‘make’ you feel that way. So, it’s really more like, ‘when —- happens, I feel angry/sad/frustrated…” You don’t make someone have an emotional reaction, even though you may do something that they react to. It’s tricky but a helpful concept to understand.

      Liked by 1 person

      • In case it isn’t 100% obvious, both the writer and editor are really just me having an internal dialog, even though it wasn’t originally intended that way. The dialog comes from a story that is part of a project I am working on, and how it gives me so much dread.

        Thanks Paula, those are wise words. I’ll try to pass them on to that scared little kid hiding behind the curtain who keeps saying “NO!! Stay here, don’t do anything to expose us to hurt!” 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

        • One thought, Mark. Validate the little boy’s feelings, You understand why he’s scared. Life was scary for him. Find ways to help him feel safer. Then, the adult you might find it easier to be vulnerable. (this is all easier said than done…)

          Liked by 1 person

          • Indeed I know from experience it is easier said than done.

            When I first entered therapy, the only other men I encountered were recovering alcoholics, drug addicts and survivors of suicide attempts. Back then I was the only one who had voluntarily entered therapy BEFORE I’d hit rock bottom (rock bottom for me would come soon enough thanks to some damaging misdiagnoses).

            Over the course of my life I’ve done many things most people would think impossible or would be paralyzed with fear to even attempt. And yet despite spending my entire adult life being dedicated to being more honest, open and vulnerable, I have yet to convince myself that people do not pose a threat. For years I was convinced this was because I am a terrible, cowardly patient who steadfastly resists learning new skills and ways of thinking.

            But if I must be fair to myself and truly validate my feelings, then I must question whether that really is the case?

            Not to disregard your advice nor to plead a case for failure or for giving up, (I do not readily admit defeat), but maybe it is inevitable that some of us end up becoming recluses. Maybe it’s not because we don’t get it, but because we really DO get it. Perhaps we are open, honest and vulnerable to such an extreme that in order to validate and respect our own feelings, even in the face of all wisdom and guidance pleading with us to continue striving towards a more well-adjusted existence, the best choice remains withdrawal.

            I do not pretend to know this to be a fact, but after decades of failure, (if we can call it that), I must at least be open to considering it.

            Thanks as always Paula.

            Liked by 3 people

  20. What a wonderful discussion! Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Paula, can you say more about the Gifted Women’s Symposium. Is it just going to be lectures, or will there be other activities also? I’m considering making the 4-hour drive. I’m looking for connection and support, more than information. Thanks. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s definitely connection and support-based. I “present” in the morning but it’ll largely be discussion, sharing in pairs, and some journal writing (plus music and humor). Linda is in charge of the afternoon and has planned some work with our inner critics and more pairs activities. We’re hoping that participants will find new friends! Size of the group is limited to 50. I’d love to see you there. See what your intuition says.

      Liked by 1 person

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