Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

Advice for Gifted Adults Living in a Not-So-Gifted World


photo courtesy of Alfonso Scarpa, Unsplash

Let’s say that you understand that you are gifted. That you are super smart, highly sensitive, emotional, and empathetic. That you have a rainforest mind. That you think deeply, analyze everything, love learning, and seek justice. You are even starting to accept your compassionately quirky ways.

But what you don’t understand is how to communicate with other humans. How to manage in your workplace. Where to find friends. How to find a suitable partner. How to be authentic. How to live at 95 mph when everyone around you is running at 35 mph.

There are some suggestions if you click on the links above. Here are more:

Accept who you are in all of your curious, passionate, deep-diving intensities. Be as introspective as you want to be because your inner knowing will guide your self-acceptance, your choices, and your evolution. To reach this goal, keep reading my blog and, ahem, my books. If your self-criticism and self-doubt is excessive, consider examining your experiences in your family of origin for the source of your distress. Get professional help, if needed. You may be a fast learner when it comes to cognitive capacities but emotional healing from trauma is slow going. Your complexity requires a team of practitioners. Give yourself time to find them. Be selective. My team has consisted of these folks, not necessarily all at the same time: Psychotherapist, acupuncturist, energy intuitive, physical therapist, naturopath, massage therapist, astrologer, and tango dancer.

Give yourself permission to adjust how you communicate with others, depending on the people and the situation. Telling people you are gifted is probably not going to be the best strategy. Sadly, in many instances, you’ll need to consciously slow your speech and simplify your ideas. I realize that this is not the advice that you want to hear. I get it. I’m not saying that you can’t be all of who you are. Except that I am saying that. Truth be told. In certain circumstances. There will be times when slowing down will be the best choice for reaching others and being understood. Active listening skills will be useful in awkward social situations. Recognize that your “too muchness” is not something that is wrong with you, though. It is the others who have not enough-ness that is the problem.

Be on the lookout for a job/career path(s) that is a good fit. Allow yourself to change jobs when you need more stimulation, if you can. Find subtle ways to entertain yourself* when you have to sit in meetings waiting for consensus or waiting for coworkers to draw the conclusions you told them two months ago. Find allies at work and bring them coffee and dark chocolate. Remember that what is obvious to you may be mysterious to someone else, not because they are not smart, or they are lazy (although they might be), but probably because they aren’t gifted. If you have entreprenurial skills, use them. Go to an Everything Conference and meet other multipotentialites. Use Barbara Sher’s books to help you find a path(s).

Keep looking for other RFMs. I swear they are out there. 4298 of them are reading my blog. I realize that even if you find a RFM, they might not get you. But don’t give up.** I mean, just look at all of the booknerd sites there are now. It’s astonishing. I get overwhelmed just looking at the book reviews and recommendations and images of book stacks on Instagram. All of those LitHub people and BookBub folks and Silent Book Club enthusiasts. There are RFMs among them! Surely, the 899.6K followers of Brain Pickings are gifted. So, take the initiative to start and nourish a relationship that has promise. I know you’d like someone right in your hometown to be there when you are dying to start a Foucault study group. But online relationships can be a part of the solution. Try the community at The School of Life. Use that creative overthinking brain of yours to design your own unique Facebook group, podcast, blog, or research project. If you build it, they will come.

And what about your sense of justice? Your concerns over the suffering on the planet? Your grief over the climate crisis? Well, here is where you go full speed ahead. This is where you turn it on. This is where you be all of who you are. Access your intuition and your connection to your spirituality. This will give you the guidance that you need to create or speak out in your particular rainforest-y way. In fact, as you step into your true Self, you will see that you are more powerful than you ever thought possible. Now is the time to go 95mph. Or 150+mph. Start a journaling process if you don’t know where to begin: Free write. What is your destiny? How can you use your strengths to contribute? What makes your heart sing?

Your heart singing? It will make the not-so-gifted world a little more gifted.


To my bloggEEs: Share your thoughts, feelings, questions, hopes, and dreams with us. Your comments add so much, especially sharing the ways you’ve discovered to live well in this not-so-gifted world. Thank you, as always, for being here. I am singing with you.

(* from cmd1122: “…I enjoy amusing myself with translating conversations (live time) into one of the several languages I know. I also love having a song running in my head (from memory, not with headphones) while visualizing the fingering for violin/cello/piano as if I were playing one of the lines. I love replicating the actual fingering in my pocket, just gently tapping, and walking down the street and feeling like I am playing right then and there with the big wave of music flowing through me, while no one around knows.)…”)

(**from Sarah: “…I have friends I talk to about education, friends I discuss cultures or literature with, foodie friends, friends who are parents of my children’s friends, friends I go to movies or plays with, and even friends I enjoy arguing with! These groups do not necessarily intersect. Some are RFM, and some are not…”)




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.

24 thoughts on “Advice for Gifted Adults Living in a Not-So-Gifted World

  1. Excellent, empowering post.

    And this just came today from Madison Taylor’s “Daily OM: As you embrace your gifts and allow their light to shine, you will discover that more and more opportunities to make use of them arise. This is because your gifts are a channel through which the universe operates. By simply doing what you are good at and also love to do, you make a positive difference. The recognition you receive for your efforts will pale in comparison to the satisfaction you feel when fulfilling your innate potential.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Correction, the name is Madisyn Taylor. at Daily OM”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Still can’t type! “Daily OM.” My typing teacher (what we had when I was in 8th grade, not keyboarding) told me to type a little to practice when I sit down. He was right.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. god this me your so right i feel i am running at 100 miles per hour. why cant others in my company be the same its normal to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This phrase is a HUGE help: Recognize that your “too muchness” is not something that is wrong with you, though. It is the others who have not enough-ness that is the problem.

    I have a boring job that does not suit me at all (and I am underpaid for it). I am a musician and a poet, so, at my desk, I do research on new poetry material, and write poems. I add to my WordPress poetry blog, I imagine myself practicing my instruments in my head, or just “hear” a piece in my inner ear, so that I can sort of practice it in my head. I am getting to the point that my gifts will be recognized (it has started), and I will feel that I am contributing in a much bigger way. And it will make my heart sing! Music and poetry are who I am (and I’m an equestrian). I won’t be in this job forever, and in the meantime, I will not longer feel like the “outsider”. There is nothing “wrong” with me! They are all too slow – lol!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “Access your intuition and your connection to your spirituality. ” This is my favorite of all those excellent tips.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Paula, Thank you for your blog. You mentioned that it is not our too muchness that is too much but rather others’ not enoughness. I would phrase this tension around the idea that the problem is their LACK OF ACCEPTANCE of our too muchness and also our lack of acceptance of their not as muchness. Perhaps I am not saying anything different from you. However I contend that my phrasing holds more potential for reconciliation and relationship and therefore more positive social connection. Thanks for listening.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I understand what you’re saying, Sara. I don’t usually write with a bit of a negative flavor but I couldn’t resist that expression. It was written with a little lightness, not meant to offend. But thanks for your input. Point well taken.


  8. No one is to blame, any more than the square peg and the round hole should determine blame. It’s about understanding and adapting to others with grace and empathy.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am so happy I found you a few years ago. Your words have made me so happy. Every blog you speak to my heart, mind and soul.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve learned how to slow down and really listen to people who don’t go at the same pace as me. What I’ve found, sometimes, are really deep thinkers whose minds work in very different ways to my own – and there’s a lot of richness and blessing in this, and it’s done me a lot of good. exploring the worlds of people with very different minds can be a wonderful thing, and sometimes in those contexts i can show up as very much my whole self, so the ‘cost’ of dropping pace can turn out to be a pretty small one when weighed against what can be gained.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. “Find subtle ways to entertain yourself* when you have to sit in meetings waiting for consensus or waiting for coworkers to draw the conclusions you told them two months ago.”

    This is quite frustrating, and I can’t distract myself too much because I’m usually “leading” the meeting and have to guide them back on track if it gets too weird. However, I do try to entertain myself by watching how each person goes through their problem-solving process and interactions, and trying to predict how and when they will arrive at a solution. Even doodling will send my mind too far down the rabbit hole to help with the meeting.

    I think it’s so fascinating that you can point the way and explain the process, but usually people still have to figure everything out all on their own, and also be in the right time, place, and mindset. Like, even when handed a map, they still have to learn cartography first and then be standing in the correct position in relation to the map (maybe at the “you are here” arrow?) before they can read it. But, if I can figure out their process, I can say, ‘hey, try standing over there,’ or, ‘here is a protractor’ instead of giving them a map and hoping they know how to read it.

    “Remember that what is obvious to you may be mysterious to someone else, not because they are not smart, or they are lazy (although they might be), but probably because they aren’t gifted.” Also hard. I try to default to this, but still, sometimes it’s a struggle to understand how a person can really not be able to do it? Or how they can seriously take a month to do something that would take me three days? So as a supervisor I’m almost afraid to ever discipline anyone at all because I am afraid I won’t always be able to tell the difference between lazy and trying-but-not-like-me.

    These things certainly cross out of the work place, too. Like… how heartbreaking is it to be able to predict the bad path that friends and family are on, and know years ahead of time that (for example) they will put themselves in a place that they can’t pay their rent, or have a serious health problem because x, or (fill in the blank), but be powerless to steer them away from that path or help them off of it, no matter how hard you try? It’s like waiting for people to solve problems in a meeting, only a hundred times worse. I feel like I can watch people kill themselves, tiny bits at a time, over many years, and it’s so so hard. I don’t understand how I can predict their lives so far in advance, but I wish that I couldn’t, because so far it’s been a useless and stressful skill. (I can weirdly do this with societal/cultural trends, also, but it’s less stressful, because I feel less personally involved/responsible)

    Thanks for your work, Paula. 🙂 I plan to pick up one of your books soon.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I love this inspiring post, Paula. Additionally, I laughed when I read what cmd1122 suggests… I also translate “in real time” what people say in boring meetings! 😂 In fact, one of my job mates asked me once, which was the language I was using to take notes during a meeting (I was taking notes in an African language I learnt long time ago and completely unrelated to our culture, in Spain). And I also “play” music in my head while walking (and my fingers try to match the imaginary piano I am bearing in my pockets). I thought I was the weirdest person in the World… thanks for sharing this 😂 -kind of funny coincidence.

    Thanks for your reading/internet suggestions, Paula. As always, so rich 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m guessing that cmd1122 will be happy to hear that she’s not the only one! Thanks, Someti. Always good to hear from you.


    • Así que no soy la única manera persona loca. ¡Qué alivio! Jaja
      (So I am not the only crazy person. What a relief. Haha)
      Thanks for this comment, Someti.
      What African language were you referring to? I love that you were taking the meeting notes in a language that I presume others at your meeting did not know, too funny. I very much enjoyed being the secretary of a Portuguese cultural association in France (while on a uni exchange) and taking bilingual notes according to whichever language people were speaking in, either Portuguese or French–fun times as I was still learning those languages. I will try your idea about taking notes in language that the meeting is not taking place in one day. 🙂
      Saludos desde Canadá.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. There are wizards and there are muggles,

    Liked by 1 person

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