Your Rainforest Mind

Support For The Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

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

64 Comments

What will it take to convince you? You’ve been reading my blog for how long and you still think that I’m writing about someone else?

Here are your arguments: I’m not a rocket scientist. I don’t remember what I read. I lose trivia contests all the time (or I win trivia contests but it’s, um, trivial). I watch stupid TV instead of reading Tolstoy. Sure, I know I’m not normal; but I’m not exceptional either. I’m too emotional. I can’t make decisions. I’m not a lawyer, or a doctor, or a neuroscientist. I don’t like chess. I was never good at math. I know people who are much smarter than me. I was in college for seven years and didn’t graduate. I’m not changing the world; I’m just changing the sheets. 

Uh huh.

It looks to me like you’re still under the influence of the mythology around what gifted looks like. You think that gifted equals high levels of achievement. Sure, rocket scientists are probably gifted. Elon Musk and Steve Jobs. Gifted. But what about all of the people you’ve never heard of?

Like Rita. Dedicated and highly sensitive mom of two teenage boys and a golden retriever. Fascinated by and very knowledgable about neuroscience, yoga, floral design, mindfulness meditation, psychotherapy, Reiki, business development and marketing, botany, painting, calligraphy, engineering, creating beautiful spaces, writing, gardening, intuition, event planning, architecture, and organizing anything. Rita didn’t win a Pulitzer prize or a scholarship to Harvard. But talking to her, it was easy to see that she had multipotentiality and a deeply sensitive, thoughtful, analytical, and intelligent way of being. She had ravenous curiosity, strong intuition, sweet sensitivity, sharp intellect, and a sincere desire to impact lives for the better. You can find little stacks of books here and there all over her house and more books, art supplies, and botanical dissecting kits in her car.

In my world, giftedness is a way of being, not a way of doing. It can include high levels of achievement but it doesn’t have to. (And what is achievement anyway? Eh??) Sure, there is a spectrum. You can be at the profoundly gifted level or you can be barely gifted or somewhere in-between. And sure, the rainforest-minded are a certain variety of gifted. Not all gifted folks have your empathy, sensitivity, and multipotentiality.

How then, can I convince you once and for all?

Today, I’ll get some help from two other psychotherapists who work with gifted clients. They are great resources if you’re looking for more evidence.

Here is P. Susan Jackson‘s description. You’ll find much more on her website. Her writing will move you. (She’s located in British Columbia.)

“Imbued with a finely tuned and advanced perceptual system, the gifted adult processes information-of-all-kinds with a voracious appetite, and stunning capacity.” P. Susan Jackson

Here is some inspiration from Imi Lo, a therapist in the UK. She also has some beautiful descriptions of rainforest minds on her website.

“Claiming your place in the world is not just a real act of courage, but also a form of noble public service. By showing up to the world as the sensitive empath that you are, you are championing not just for your rights, but also all the passionate and porous souls that come before and after you. By standing up for yourself when others call you a ‘drama queen’ or ‘too this and that,’ you are helping your soul sisters and brothers to fight against injustice. Being unapologetically honest about your emotional reality is not only personally healing, but also transpersonally meaningful.”    Imi Lo

OK, oh voracious, stunning rainforest-minders. It’s time to claim your place.

We’ll be right there with you.

________________________________________________

Thank you to the clients who inspired this post. And to Sue Jackson and Imi Lo for their important work.

To my bloggEEs: Do you still question your giftedness? Or are you starting to find more self-acceptance? Let us know. As I reread comments, I am so honored to be among you. Thank you so much. Oh, and I have a surprise for you. I’m experimenting with creating an audio blog so people can hear my posts if reading isn’t their preference or for those of you who have been dying to hear my sultry, melodious voice. Click here to listen. Let me know what you think in the comments. Your feedback will be most helpful. And don’t worry, I’ll also keep writing! I love you too much to stop!

 

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.

64 thoughts on “If You Still Don’t Believe That You’re Gifted

  1. uh huh. HILARIOUS! I hear this almost every day in our Facebook group, Gifted Adults (shameless plug). Thanks for being so wonderfully insightful, Paula; and oh…gifted.

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  2. One of the hardest things to overcome in our society is, “If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?”

    There are really deep flaws in this whole concept. We could start with the purported “meritocracy” that supposedly structures our society: that is, those who are wealthy MUST have some extraordinary quality to allow them to become so extraordinarily rich, and it is that extraordinary quality that justifies them possessing that wealth and its visible benefits. That is, wealth is (must be) directly proportional to ability-of-some-sort. We have the ‘7 habits of highly successful people,” “pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps,” “early bird gets the worm,” and a thousand other metaphors and aphorisms that tell us that success is the natural fruit of our own abilities and labors.

    This is all mostly false. Material wealth is primarily a function of inheritance (prior social position), general social opportunity, and pure, blind luck. It’s about being in the right place at the right time to be able to exploit an opportunity — a break in traffic, if you will — that opens in front of you, and not the guy behind you or in front of you. That fact undermines the idea of a meritocracy at its core, which is more than just a little subversive. It’s one of those unthinkable truths.

    The same is true to a slightly lesser extent for any other kind of “success.” You need a certain amount of ability, but you absolutely must have the opportunity to exercise that ability. I remember a movie I saw long about a young man raised in a fishing village, who had a gift for painting. The village expected him to “do his part” on the fishing boats, just like every other young man — their survival depended on it — but some recognized that years of pulling nets was going to ruin his hands for painting. The story was then about the sacrifices that everyone had to make to provide the opportunity for this young man to become a painter. Without that opportunity, he would have been a fisherman, despite his prodigious talent. Musicians have the same issue: until you are “recognized,” your talent is meaningless, at least insofar as any measure of outward success. If you aren’t in the right place at the right time, success simply never happens.

    But perhaps more importantly, “success” in our society has a very, very narrow definition. It’s been noted by many that narcissism and sociopathy are marked assets in many businesses and professions, and that “successful” people are not necessarily the most pleasant people you’ll meet in your life. “Success” is a remarkably one-dimensional metric, canted at a strange angle pointing away from empathy and compassion.

    And by the way, I work with rocket scientists — of a sort — and I can tell you with some authority that RFMs are not that common among them. Rocket scientists are generally very intelligent and industrious: that’s the criterion by which they are selected and retained. But as a RFM, I feel nearly as isolated among them as I do in a public crowd at a bar.

    (And, RFM-like, I am currently turning over whether it is “a RFM” or “an RFM”, which depends on whether you implicitly expand the acronym as you read….)

    Liked by 5 people

    • Very helpful, as usual, Themon. Financial wealth. “Success.” Important to look at these and understand how they don’t really relate to giftedness in actuality! Thanks, too, for the tip about rocket scientists. I think I need to continue to be clear about how RFMs are a particular type of gifted.

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    • I’m with you there with regards to success and how we have practically been trained to think about it. There are a lot of “success gurus” out there whose empires would collapse were they to ever admit that luck plays an even minuscule role in success, because that would undermine everything they are selling, which is mostly bullshit.

      Which of course gets my rainforest mind thinking. The key question that constantly turns over in my mind is: Why is so much of what we value actually built on a mound of bullshit? Is this natural? (no organic-gardening pun intended)
      Is it natural for me to be disturbed by this, or am I, my attitude or my perception of things the actual problem?

      This question exhausts me. Please help!!

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      • That particular issue has (mostly) stopped disturbing me.

        The root of it, I think, is our internalization of the meritocracy. To the extent that we still believe in it, we think it’s like a soccer match, with referees, and we see lots of instances where the ref made a bad call — as in, a stinking, I cannot believe, is-this-guy-blind bad call. So I’ve gotten past the meritocracy, or even the idea that it SHOULD be a meritocracy. It just isn’t. You can try hard, have lots of talent, and fail. You can try, try again, and still land on your face. You can be passed up on the gravy train by complete hacks, and die poor. No referee will blow the whistle. There is no referee.

        So I think there are two opposite ways to handle this realization.

        One is the cynical approach, which we see so much of in American politics these days. Just go full sociopath on the issue. Me and mine. Screw everyone else. Do whatever it takes to get to “the top.” Lie when it’s more convenient than truth. Make alliances that favor you, then break them when it’s in your best interest. Abandon people who are no further use to you. Keep your eye on “the prize,” whatever you have conceived that to be. It’s a cold, cruel, brutal world, and no one is looking out for you except you.

        Whew. There is so much life-loathing in that approach that I feel a little dizzy just having written it.

        The other is to recognize that, perhaps, the purpose of your life was never about “success” in the first place. Oddly, I’ve found quite a lot of value in reading about past-life regressions. There are a million books on this out there, and I have no fixed ideas on the truth of the matter. But the value in these tales for me — be they fact or fiction — is that they provide a different way of looking at our lives, a broader perspective. It puts our entire life into the kind of encapsulated context we would put, say, a speech we give in front of the Rotary Club, or a piano recital. Catastrophe can strike in the middle of the speech or the recital, failure and humiliation, but it’s only part of a much larger lifetime. Some people do get hung up on that one bad speech they gave in high school — I always think of the “you made me play second base!” scene from the Steve Martin movie, Parenthood — but most of us lick our wounds, adapt, and move on. Thinking a bit about past and future lives places our entire lifetime into that kind of context. That changes things quite a lot, and offers me a route out of the meritocracy.

        Long answer, above. The short answer: I’d say it’s a matter of perception.

        Liked by 4 people

        • Interesting to think about what is real wealth, what is real success. How do we examine our own perceptions and perspectives within the context of the larger society and through our sense of our own self-worth? The rainforest mind wonders about these things. And more.

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        • I know this is not a meritocracy and will likely never come close to being one in my (current) lifetime.
          In the context of the theme of this post, I know this to be true because I have come to acknowledge that I am very gifted, that I have many talents that one might assume should have made achieving success quite easy. (The chief reason I gave up on psychiatrists and most other therapists is because they cannot get past that very assumption).

          So, my confusion is not about success or even its definition so much as it is about effort, and specifically where to apply it.

          It’s like walking around with a powerful magnifying device but not knowing where to aim it. Do I use this tool as a telescope pointed out at the stars or do I use it as a microscope aimed at the smallest thing imaginable? Do I use it to magnify the outer world, or do I use it to look inside myself? Am I to use it merely to gather data, or do I use it to illuminate something more profound?

          I really don’t know.

          But I do know this: my magnifying tool sure is good at detecting bullshit. Perhaps that’s a start. 🙂
          Thanks for your reply.

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          • It’s a great start, Mark. Love the analogy!

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          • What I’ve come to realise, at least for myself, is that when thinking about where to aim your talents, a gifted person might have to sign out of the usual framework that works for most people, and create their own. So a non-gifted person might comfortably buy into the idea of “following your passion”, and fit perfectly like a piece of a puzzle in the education pathways offered and the existing professional circles. For a gifted person it’s more about following multiple passions, that are quite original, that require education not offered in any institution, to create a profession that maybe didn’t really exist before, or that in some way offers quite significant alterations to existing ideas of what to do.

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            • Or I should say “way of life” rather than profession.

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              • So I think it’s incredibly important for a gifted person to learn how to focus themselves and work hard on defined goals, but you really can be quite creative with how to go about that, with fuzzier boundaries. Nothing wrong with that, and maybe it’s the only way. I’m writing this to myself, lol.

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                • What you’re saying here makes sense to me, Demus. And it can be hard to create that new pathway or way of life. It can be a lonely journey. Good to find other RFMs along the way!

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                • I spend a lot of time complaining about the many obstacles I think are unnecessarily in the way, but the flip side of that frustration is the feeling of somehow being pushed in a direction I wouldn’t have normally chosen, which has led me to be much more brave, self-reliant and exploratory.

                  One example is a project I have been working on for quite some time. When I first started it years ago, I intended for it to be quite collaborative and my own role was to be much smaller. But I kept running into the same problem over and over, which is that it is really hard to get people to see your vision, especially if it is innovative or risky.

                  So out of necessity I wore more and more hats, I learned many new skills, and the project grew in scope and ambition to the point it cannot really be categorized other than the catch-all term “multi-disciplinary”.

                  As my skills and focus increased I eventually came to realize that despite its difficulty that maybe I really could do it all on my own. That is an empowering thought, however it is also quite lonely to get into that kind of headspace, but I think for some of us it is inevitable. I too write this as a self-pep talk, but my thanks as well.

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        • I think and feel much like you do about these things.

          It helps me to define success in my own way. Like I really care about writing, and I think I’m pretty good at it, and I’ve entertained a few thousand people online with my work. That I post for free, because I look at the American capitalist publishing system and it makes my soul hurt, and I don’t want to get involved in it.

          So yeah, most likely I’ll never be a famous writer and kids won’t read my work in school. But then, how many people alive on our planet right now have heard of Shakespeare? And then if you look at the long view, no one will know anything about the writers who were famous here in our civilization when the sun swallows the planet, or when the universe dies its heat death, or whatever will happen long after humans die out.

          I had a taste of what being famous is like at the height of my e-fame in the Sims community, and it was terrible and traumatizing and dehumanizing and it made me sick, and I’m still dealing with the effects of it. Being constantly stalked and scrutinized and hated by strangers doesn’t seem like much of a reward or success to me. It actually stressed me out to the point that I developed an ulcer that bled out and nearly killed me.

          Because of the RFM, I have to point that I tested negative for h. pylori and I didn’t start taking the strong NSAID until it was prescribed for the chest pain, and there are studies that show a higher incidence of ulcers in people with anxiety or who have recently gone through great stress, so I do think that the stress caused the ulcer.

          These days I am content with writing stories that I think are beautiful and meaningful, and sometimes other people stumble across my work and they find meaning in it that helps them, and that’s good enough. I also have a lot of cats that I’m taking care of, and they all needed good homes, and their lives are important and making sure that they’re happy and safe is an important and meaningful thing.

          Also today is the 19th anniversary of my first date with the spousal person, and Tuesday will be our 16th wedding anniversary. I find a lot of meaning and happiness in our relationship. Especially since I grew up in a traumatizing abusive home, and I have no idea how an 18 year old who had no idea what healthy even looked like and who was definitely still vulnerable to abuse found a healthy mate for herself, but I did it somehow.

          For me it’s like…nothing really matters on a long enough timeline, and on the short timeline that does matter to me because it’s the one I’m experiencing, I am living out my values as best I can, my writing helps others, my cats breathe easier because I’m around, I’m happy and content as long as I do my best to keep away from the news and from political arguments on social media, and I feel like I’ve done the best I can with the circumstances that I found myself in.

          I still get incredibly anxious and depressed when I do look at the news and at social media. But I am trying to learn to let the humans go. I keep reading that the only thing we can really do about the state of the species is work on ourselves, and I guess the hope is that then we’ll serve as models for others, or we’ll be able to change our local area in some way and that’ll ripple out until eventually the culture itself changes.

          I don’t know if that’s true. I guess maybe I’ve helped the Sims community a bit – I’ve heard that the anonymous blog that hosted the hateful messages of the stalkers and gave them a platform recently changed their rules to not allow as much hate, and I think people seem to not be blaming victims as much as they used to, and to be standing up to hate a little more. Maybe that’s all I can ask for.

          I’ll have to look into the past life regression thing. I’ve also started reading about spiral dynamics again in the last few days, although it’s hard to find decent content about it since it’s a popular developmental theory among corporate executives and it’s often simplified into something that can be easily presented at company retreats. But if you can find the good stuff, it offers a good perspective on things. Here’s one of the better blogs about it: https://empathy.guru/

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          • Thank you for contributing to the conversation, medleymisty. I’m glad you have a good “spousal person” for support as you navigate this challenging life.

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          • I have the same ambivalence about money and making art. I’ve given away almost everything I created, and if I wasn’t always so poor I might not ever sell anything again.

            If you have not read it already, perhaps a great little book called “The Gift” by Lewis Hyde would be a nice tonic for you . The title suggests the many facets of the word gift, such as how we feel about our talents, the nature of gift giving and the old “gift economy”.

            “How is a creative artist to survive in a society dominated by market exchange? Hyde describes how he himself first came to the book’s topic as he tried to make his way as a poet and translator: “Inevitably the money question comes up; labours such as mine are notoriously non-remunerative, and the landlord is not interested in your book of translations the day the rent falls due.” This theme struck a chord with me as I toiled to make ends meet as a freelance writer, moving between rented rooms.”
            https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2015/dec/22/the-gift-by-lewis-hyde-the-book-that-keeps-on-giving

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  3. Thanks as always.

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  4. ❤️

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  5. Rita sounds like me! I am into almost all of those same things, but change out a few of them with archeology, DNA, quilting, horse training, dog training, adult coloring books, computer gaming, digital photography, diet and nutrition, researching my health issues to no end…

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  6. I hope one day maybe I’ll have robustly assimilated into my psyche that I am gifted. That would be good. It is hard because I have either been completely oblivious to this idea (despite clear signs in hindsight) and actually thought I was deficient, almost like a child among adults, always apologising for my lack of maturity (in actuality deviant behaviors) and lack of progress in life (due to severe depression due to complete poverty of understanding of my condition). The turnaround, that I am actually more mature (whatever that means, I’m not going there now) than many people, all these competent composed blazer wearing people, is too jarring to believe. So I don’t believe I’m gifted. It’s more like a workable theory for my life, one that brings enourmous mental health benefits, through giving some explanation to all the weirdness I’m experiencing. I’m trying to gather more evidence, I guess.

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  7. I love your audio blog~ very well done.

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  8. Ah, what a relevant post this week. Thanks for the reminder to advocate for myself and stop worrying that I look crazy.

    Love the quotes re the *need* for empathy. It may seem indulgent or even trivial, but when you look at the number of people who are suffering because of the callousness of others (at all levels, and not just since 2016), the courage to be that person who dares to say “Stop!” can be life-saving. And if everyone who is “that way” can do it, maybe we really do have a reason to indulge those flights of fancy about an ideal world that we so often want to retreat to.

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  9. I’m still seeing that people define success as making money or getting recognition, and that people do–and should–desire success. But first you have to care about money or recognition. In my view, once you have enough money to pay your bills and a little bit over, that’s enough. Recognition? Well, it would be nice not to hear, “Why didn’t you think of that?” or any of the other permutations of that accusation when someone is doing something that I’ve repeatedly suggested, or taking credit for something that I’ve done. Even there, in the long run it doesn’t matter. As someone once said–maybe Truman and maybe not–“It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
    I know that it’s very 1960s, but I’d like to make sure that the world is a little better place because I was in it. I no longer want to save the whole world, but my world–the place where I live, the people around me.
    Of course I’m interested in everything! Isn’t everyone? A few weeks ago, I came to the recognition that Google had made me obsolete. Now everyone can look up the things that I can remember and have the books to look it up. Further thought said, “But they don’t!” They don’t see the connections and they’re not curious about them.
    I always figured that it was just the way I was brought up. You did NOT ask my mother a question! The answers were “Look it up!” “Check it out!” What do you think? In our dining room, the built-in shelves did not hold knickknacks or fancy dishes. Those were hidden away in cupboards. The shelves had reference books. No dinner was complete without someone jumping up from the table to look something up. We were expected to examine the provenance of something that we’d read in the newspaper and not just take it at face value. I thought that was how everyone grew up.
    Sometimes I believe that I am, indeed, profoundly gifted. At other times I think that I am just lucky–or privileged, if you want to use the current trendy term. After all, I haven’t won a Nobel prize. I haven’t even been published in a peer-reviewed journal. And I am certainly not rich! But does it matter?

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    • It is very hard to operate in the world when you on some significant level, you have moved beyond money and status, and just don’t care about them very much. It seems like to move up or even sideways the ladders of society you need to be fueled by the desire for money and/or status. If you are not fueled by those, you can do something, but tend to fizzle out at some stage.

      To me it’s obvious money and status are what motivates most people, whether they are aware of it or not. Even many of those world healer types, vegans, social justice warriors etc., seems to revel in gaining status through feeling more virtuous than others. Of course, this is terribly cynical, and I hope many people are aware of the self interested ego stroking dimension of their activities.

      Since I don’t want to be a total bore, I have decided to try to be somewhat interested in money and status. After all, one can decide those are ok and useful things to some extent. They certainly can feel nice. I like to think I can control my ego. I am not immune to ego stroking. One of the most comical things though is I can get jealoud like anyone else when I feel my status is threatened by someone who is similar to me. But since I’m non stop analytical, I immidiately recognize the emotion of jealosy rising, analyse the cause, laugh at it and calm down. What a weird life Lol. I think most of my emotions are remnants of insticts more useful for more primitive times anyway.

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    • “…does it matter?” Good question, Pegi. What does matter? Funny, is Google making gifted people obsolete?? Ha!

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  10. Yes, I have been reading your site for a time. And while your abundant use of flattering adjectives is alluring, I can’t help but think that it’s just a very clever bit of marketing. After all, who doesn’t want to think that they are special? Is there any more unifying human experience than being frustrated that the world doesn’t see the world as you see it? That you don’t feel understood? When you speak of the rain forest mind, your criteria is nearly nonexistent. There is no true metric that holds. Or have I missed something? It seems that the only requirement for classification as gifted is that you generally struggle— you have provided exceptions for the presence or absence of any other markers. I suppose the end result itself is still in good taste; frustrated people feel understood and might seek help. But the method suggests some ethical red flags. Thoughts?

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    • Svetlana. Thank you for your concerns. There are many different opinions around how to define intelligence and giftedness. Yes, my “metric” is purely anecdotal and experiential. I don’t claim otherwise. I can understand how you might want hard data or perhaps quantifiable information. These people might be a good resource for you: https://www.gro-gifted.org I appreciate that you think I’m a clever marketer. I’m not actually all that clever. 🙂 If you look at “the quiz,” you might be able to see the criteria that I use, but I definitely come from a nonlinear, unscientific, more creative, and humorous perspective. I hope this explanation is helpful.

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    • As far as I have understood it, a rainforest mind is a nice evocative, cleverly obscure and less controversial word for gifted. Giftedness is a real thing, and while it cannot be very clearly defined, there’s no need to complicate it needlessly either, as the core of it is quite clear. To put it bluntly, it means higher intelligence, and a more active brain than the average persons. You don’t really talk about these things in civil society. This site is great because it focuses on the challenging side effects of higher intelligence, such as sensitivity, mental health and social struggles. Throwing superlatives at a gifted person is the least you can do to help.

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    • Seeing the term “metric” used to describe human experience creeps me out.

      Here’s an example of why:
      A few years ago my GP sent me to a forensic psychiatrist colleague of his who he believed might be able to understand my giftedness. He definitely did not.

      Rather than listen to me and my experiences, he was instead fixated on the results of an IQ test I had done a few years earlier – and yes, in case you’re wondering the “metrics” indicated giftedness, although IMO that does not say much, more on that in a bit – and he was especially concerned that my verbal scores were not equal to my visual/spatial scores.

      Ignorant of both “asynchronous development” in gifted people, and the variability and unreliability of IQ tests in general (frankly I think they are next to useless), he brazenly stated this may suggest I have some brain disorder and so he proceeded to set up an appointment with a neurologist, which I later canceled after much anger an anxiety. “Hands off my brain, you dangerous maniac!” was my thought.

      See, the measurable aspects of my intellect are such a small part of my whole being. They are a mere grove of trees to the whole which Paula has aptly described as a rainforest. My sensitivity, the depth and intensity of my emotions, my boundless creativity and all the rest, the “je ne sais quoi” of my personality and spirit can never be measured and I think that’s a good thing. Because when we make the mistake of trying to reduce human beings down to a collection of individual, unrelated traits for the sake of measurement, we inevitably dehumanize them.

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  11. I knew I was gifted early on, but I struggle annually with the barriers my giftedness seems to bring. I know too much; I spout more information than anyone in their right mind should know; I don’t hear nuance in voice/body language; I say what I think without filtering; I get reeeeeally intense when I’m excited about something; I can write an algorithm to process over a billion dollars worth of estimated accruals, but I can’t remember to make my bed; I can create works of art, but end up in the ER with severe dehydration because I forget to drink; I read thrillers, but can’t handle the stress of a standard newscast. It’s awful. It has been years since I found friends who could or would accept me for who I am. Is it really so good to be gifted?

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  12. I don’t know about my beliefs that I’m gifted.

    Sometimes I strut around all “I’m profoundly gifted!” Other times I grumble to the spousal person about how ignorant I am, which he tells me that all humans are ignorant and that there’s no way to know everything there is to know and that I am a smarty every day.

    Once I told him about an article that was making the rounds on social media about how men who marry intelligent women are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s, and he said, “What, you want me to marry you again?” 🙂

    But his single voice of positivity has to compete with years of hearing the internet’s voice, the constant insistence that there is no such thing as giftedness, that anyone who thinks it’s real is narcissistic and racist and classist and awful and pretentious, that if there is such a thing as giftedness then you can’t claim it yourself, and the only way to get other people to give you the label is to fulfill all the current cultural stereotypes about it, which at the moment mostly means being a rich white male in the tech industry. And if you are a working class woman online and you claim to be gifted, then that’s just asking for all kinds of harassment.

    Which looking at that – I’m not sure how both of those arguments can co-exist. Perhaps they’re coming from different segments of the internet, or perhaps people just have some severe cognitive dissonance going on. “Giftedness is just a privilege construct but also you can only claim it if you’re privileged.”

    Mostly I’m comfortable with saying I’m gifted, but sometimes the ghosts of all the hate I’ve seen online, both in general and specifically directed at me, say otherwise.

    I’m trying to listen more to the people who actually know me, almost all of whom have said that I am gifted, than to the strangers who are yelling at clouds online. It can be hard sometimes though.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m sure it’s hard to ignore the negativity that we’re seeing so much of these days. I’m thinking that it’s always been there but the internet has provided easy access to it?? That said, the internet has also given us each other. So, it’s another one of those multi-layered phenomena. Makes sense to listen more to the people who know you, and to your spousal person!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Speaking of Lewis Hyde, in another of his books, “Trickster Makes This World”, he often mentions the “guard dogs” of society throughout history and myth that appear whenever anyone dares “cross the threshold” that separates one part of culture from another.

      Should you be an outsider or dare to be different, such as by saying you are gifted or by merely displaying your gifts by acts such as creating original art, the guard dogs inevitably begin to bark loudly.

      I try to keep this in mind whenever I anxiously think about upsetting those guard dogs, that they are merely trying to protect the old ways but that those ways aren’t working out so well, that we really need brave “tricksters” that dare to cross those thresholds and continue to create the world anew.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. The concept of “a finely tuned and advanced perceptual system” fits well with my subjective experience of being gifted/RFM. I do struggle at times, however, with feeling rather trapped and isolated by labels. I think it has to do with having had so many negative labels attributed to my gifted traits, that my nervous system goes on high alert with any kind of label. What can I say? I’m flinchy.

    Language limits. The word is a construct used to point to something less definable, but it always seems to fall short. On a good day, I find comfort in the gifted herd and accept the label as a pathway to connection, and at others times, I still feel rather alone. I find that I start to feel disconnected from humanity in general if I over-identify with the label. So then I start to distance myself from the label and reflect on the broader themes that connect us all. . . and then I start to feel alone and isolated in the world.. . And, thus, I return to your website to reestablish/reconnect with core aspects of self.. . It goes on and on and on.

    I know in my head that this is a false dichotomy, but in practice, it’s hard to experience feeling connected to both. I’ll have to reflect more on the rain forest imagery, and it’s relationship with the rest of the world. I wonder if there are also other imagery that can be both self and other affirming???

    Thanks for all you do. You are such a comforting presence. I appreciate having a place like this to come back to after I’ve been out and about (sometimes for too long).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Welcome back, holbart. Good to see you! Let us know if you come up with some other imagery.

      Like

    • Perhaps there is nothing wrong with what you are experiencing. Perhaps it’s normal for a “gifted”. I’ve thought that while many people experience identity difficulties in young age or in crisis, and their identity evolves and changes as they age, there seems to be reasonable stability there. Whereas a gifted might have a fluid identity (not to be confused with the gender fluid thing) that takes on different modes even during a single day. I’ve experienced something like this, and thought if I have a mental illness of some sorts. But it’s not that. It doesn’t have much anything to do with personality, behavior or emotions. I’m just not at all attached to these labels or words, that most people want to base their identity on. And I’m not trying to be “edgy”, I don’t dye my hair purple, I wear boring clothes, don’t do drugs or alcohol, and wish I could turn invisible more often than not. It’s just that my brain seems keen on disintegrating and rebuilding flimsy identity structures just to entertain itself. Nowadays I just let it happen, it doesn’t bother me too much. But the core is always human, and that is comforting.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m happy I discovered your blog last month! Thanks for all the support!! Just a question though: do you have a rainforest mind?

    Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for replying.
        Also, I know my question was weird (at best), and I’m sorry for that.
        I just felt I really needed to know if you had a rainforest mind yourself because your blog is very positive, and I somehow believe positivity is a lie… A lie that only very smart people uncover… It’s as if depression was the truth and everything before depression was a lie. It’s as if only depressed people and I were smart, and everyone else on earth was stupidly living a lie.
        Can you please write about that? I know this blog is not a substitute for therapy, but I really need your insight.

        PS: I was not diagnosed with depression and I don’t know if I am/was depressive. I guess I do not necessarily feel the way depressive people feel, but maybe I think the way depressive people think. Or maybe I’m too scared to admit I am depressive because things like medication and suicide scare me to death, and also because I believe that calling mental problems “illnesses” divert us from solving the cause (instead, we cure the symptoms). In brief:

        If we use the word “illness”, we’ll have to “cure” the “symptoms”.
        E.g.: By taking a pill. A happiness pill. But your happiness will have 0 meaning. And here comes a new question: what’s more important: happiness or meaningfulness? Some people even define happiness as meaningfulness.

        If we use the word “problem”, we’ll have to “solve” the “problem” itself; usually from its roots.
        But if depression is the truth, can we solve it?

        Liked by 1 person

        • These are great questions, Danielle. Of course, I can’t begin to answer them thoroughly here, but I will share a few thoughts. (And, yes, this is not therapy. Finding a good therapist is something to consider if you’re dealing with depression.) There are so many reasons people struggle with depression. Or with sadness, disappointment, anxiety, fear, disillusionment, etc. And if you have a rainforest mind, you’re likely to analyze more, think more, and ask lots of questions about meaning and happiness and human behavior. (more than the average person) Maybe that can feel like thinking “the way depressive people think.” I’m not sure what you mean about depression being the truth. For me, I’ve been a client in different therapies for many years and have worked hard to heal from past trauma. That’s likely why I can be “positive” now. Again, Danielle, finding support, whether it’s therapy, or something else, could help you sort out your concerns. If you read more of my blog, that might help, too.

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        • My 2 cents is that “the truth”, if for this purpose we assume the truth is something objective beyond the mental state of a person, is neither happy or depression. It just is. We humans tend to, in my opinion erroneously, project our own ideas and emotions to the outside world.

          Since we as people only can experience the truth filtered through our brain chemistry, that’s all we have. I don’t think we are genuinely cabable of experiencing neutrality, so we tend to be on the positive or negative side. I do believe some people, perhaps rainforest minds, often have more depression prone brains. Good news is that we have the ability to alter our brain chemistry through our actions. One must find whatever works for them, it’s not always just pills. In my opinion the first step is to not get caught in those depressive feelings and mistaking them for reality, or “the truth”. The truth is out there, lol.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Thanks, Demus. I appreciate the way you phrase this so it’s clearly your opinion and you’re not imposing it on others but sharing your own thoughts as a way to contribute to the conversation.

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            • Thank you Paula. I can hardly impose anything on myself let alone on others. My thoughts on your comment section are stream of conciousness, regurgitations, I think some of it, most of it, be better reserved for a private diary, but the thought of a small audience is quite riveting, lol. I think I could try to express myself in a less obscure way. What I’m really advocating is metacognition, mindfulness as the trend goes, as an important tool in a fight against depression.

              Liked by 1 person

        • Danielle,

          I wonder if Johann Hari,’s book, “Lost Connections,” might be helpful on your journey? He explores the social-cultural-economic-political aspects of the medical model of depression. He discusses endogenous vs. reactive depression, with a bias toward seeing depression as a reaction to overwhelming environmental circumstances. He’s a little controversial, because he questions the use of medication in the tx of depression, but I find him helpful for putting the concept of depression within the context of a broader cultural narrative.

          Also James Webb has articles on existential depression and giftedness out there. I think it’s helpful to see depression through multiple lenses – trauma, genetics, environment, spirituality, etc.

          And I agree with Paula. Having struggled with depression myself for many years, finding support from people who “see” you and get you is oh so important, I feel. I just saw a post awhile ago about finding a therapist as a gifted person. . . it was from awhile ago, but I found it to be a helpful blog post. When I didn’t have a good fit, it just made me more cynical about the human race. I’m fortunate to have a good fit now, and I feel more positive about life, in general, because of it.

          All the best,

          Holbart

          Liked by 2 people

  15. If you would kindly suffer a few more of my thoughts on depression, thoughts that have helped me. Of course, this might be complete bs but it could be useful as a therapeutic starting point to some.

    I would recommend to any gifted depressed person to adopt a strongly naturalistic view when it comes to depression. That way the drama of depression can be simplified to simple brain chemistry “errors” and you can neutralise depressive episodes as much as possible first on the level of thought, then whatever behavioral or medical method works for you. Learn to separate what your brain is telling you the nature of a situation is and what it actually might be closer to ( that is, it’s likely not really oppressively gloomy and hopeless). It’s hard, but doable. Recognize when your depressed brain saps your energy, not the weight of the world.

    Further, become consious of when your brain is not in a depressed state, that’s equally important, so that you can notice the creeping depression and start doing something about it immidiately. Notice that occasional healthy feeling when your brain feels clear and humming with strange, pleasurable energy. Perhaps this feeling is numbed due to long time depression. But there must be moments of life there. Learn to notice those, you can build on them.

    Now that we have simplified the nature of depression, I think why not simplify the nature of happiness as well. That humming pleasurable energy. Thats just brain chemistry as well. It’s not good job, marriage, kids and golden retriever. Of course, that can help, if you are so inclined. But it’s not really a helpful way of thinking, in my opinion, about the search for happiness. Strangely enough then, through becoming “coldy” naturalistic first, you might end up being more spiritual and less materialistic in your search for happiness.

    One last thought because I must, to me it’s clear the purpose of that warm, humming energy of a healthy brain is to motivate us to propel our bodies confidently forward in our search for food, mates and shelter. In our modern culture we have become a little confused of such simple things. You see this in all animals. I don’t think animals tend to be so depressed often. They are motivated to move their bodies forward, with confidence. This is such a comforting thought for me, Lol.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Depression is surely one of those extremely complicated conditions/experiences. Thanks for sharing your perceptions, Demus, as a way to be helpful to others.

      Liked by 1 person

    • “I would recommend to any gifted depressed person to adopt a strongly naturalistic view when it comes to depression.”
      “I don’t think animals tend to be so depressed often. They are motivated to move their bodies forward, with confidence.”

      Yes, let’s talk about the “nature” of depression.

      When we take a healthy free-roaming animal such as a wolf, tiger or polar bear out of the wild and put it in a restrictive enclosure in a zoo, there’s a good chance it will soon show signs of stress akin to anxiety and depression. Is this their failure to adjust to their surroundings in a healthy manner, or is something else happening? Despite living with chronic stress, many of these animals will still live longer in captivity than they ever would in the wild. Can we then use that as a measure of having lived a healthy life?

      These are is important questions to me, because if we are going to talk about the nature of anxiety and depression then I think we need to ask ourselves how natural our lives really are, and whether anxiety and depression are symptoms of an unhealthy response to a healthy environment, or a normal response to an unhealthy environment?

      Martin Luther King addressed this question back in 1963. Here’s an excerpt:

      “Modern psychology has a word that is probably used more than any other word in modern psychology. It is the word “maladjusted”. . . There are certain things in our nation and in the world which I am proud to be maladjusted. . . I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism, to self-defeating effects of physical violence… I’m about convinced now that there is need for a new organization in our world: The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • “the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment.” Oh, yeah.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I am doing my very best to be “creatively maladjusted”, but it’s tough. I know that means at times being consciously at odds with myself, individuals or society as a whole (despite the fact that most of the time I’d much rather slink into the background).

          For nearly 30 years I was enthralled by stories of the Buddha and enlightenment, convinced that my life should be dedicated toward achieving a similar state of calm acceptance of the way the world is.

          That never helped. Moreover, I gradually came to the realization that while the messages of prophets may be timeless, they may also be a product of their time, appearing in a form that is best suited for the culture and people of that time, but not so helpful for future people.

          The Buddha lived 2500 years ago before the industrial revolution had turned most people and the rest of the planet into mechanized objects of profit, even before nuclear weapons and global warming threatened humanity and the rest of nature.

          So while I do my best to not freak out about everything, part of me is becoming more open to the idea that my suffering is an indication that I am in tune with what the creator/Gaia is trying to get us to feel.
          Put in other words, my anxiety and depression may be the equivalent of Spiderman’s heightened senses tingling.

          Liked by 1 person

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