Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

It Is Time To Stop Denying You Are Gifted


Photo courtesy of Miguel Bruna, Unsplash

“Humanity’s most consequential decade is now upon us. Your permission to play small has been permanently revoked.”   Van Jones

I know you may not think you are gifted. Perhaps, if you have been following my blog for a while, I have convinced you that you have a rainforest mind. But you may still question yourself because you did not do well in math or you dropped out of college or you are a stay-at-home mom or learning 5 languages was easy. Anyone can learn 5 languages easily, right? The Katakana/Hiragana alphabets? Can’t everyone teach themselves software engineering? Isn’t everyone a ravenous researcher-reader?

Um, no.

I understand. You do not want to be a narcissist. To be accused of arrogance. You want to recognize everyone’s talents. You still do not know what you want to do when you grow up and you are 50. You are not famous. You have met people smarter than you. You do not finish one project before you start another. You change jobs every few years. You can not decide what color to paint your bedroom. You feel distress when asked the question: How are you?

Distress? How are you?

Heck, yeah.

Then again, you may be denying your giftedness because it feels safer to “play small.” Being the smart kid was not so great. You may have been bullied for your intellectual enthusiasm. Parents may have assumed you would be fine, so you were the neglected child. The pressure to be a high achiever may be the reason for your endless anxiety. No one understood why you cried so much. You heard “who do you think you are” too many times. You may have been burned at the stake in a former life.

And, who can you tell you are gifted if you finally decide you are???


No one.

Well, you can tell me. Your partner should know. It will explain a lot. Your close friends. Who may also be gifted. Your acupuncturist, if she is also gifted. Your psychotherapist. Your gifted kids.

What’s most important is that YOU know. It will explain a lot.

And then. And then, you need to stop playing small.

Because, as you are aware, this is the decade where we all need to step up. Hiding is no longer an option. You have to risk the bullying and the neglect. You have to learn how to soothe your anxiety and appreciate your intuition. You have to reignite your intellectual enthusiasm.

And then?

From the wise words of Clarissa Pinkola Estes:

“…One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these — to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do…”

You need to be “…fully lit.” “…to stand up and show your soul.”

In other words, just be you.


To my bloggEEs: I know it is not necessarily so easy to “just be you.” You may need some guidance. Maybe some self-compassion work. Encouragement about the future. Activism. Esoteric philosophy. Rebecca Solnit. Climate crisis action.  Soul Collage.  Psychotherapy. Relationship articlesMy books!

I have been reading some old posts and find your comments so deeply sensitive and enlightening. Please continue to share your experiences here. We all benefit so much. Tell us how you feel about accepting your giftedness. Share what you are doing in these challenging times to know your soul and show your soul. And thank you so much for your courage and vulnerability. Sending big love.




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.

50 thoughts on “It Is Time To Stop Denying You Are Gifted

  1. I am trying to get it. I feel like I’ve looked down after 50+ years and finally saw that I have no feet. I somehow managed to walk amongst the bipedal folks all my life, sensing my gait was a little off, and shrugged it off. But know that I KNOW I have no feet, I am struggling just to stand. It is a difficult realization, and I hope to outlive the challenge, if just to allow myself “See, it was worth it”.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Your blog is so comforting. Thanks.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. A significant portion of the problem embracing giftedness is the tremendous variability and intangibility of determinIng intellectual potential. Unlike very specific skills that are observable, giftedness often has gaps and overlaps that create too many ways to dismiss it even when it’s one of your greatest strengths. Something I’ve done it on multiple occasions.

    Which leads to the problem I have on a regular basis with others. Too many people are under the impression that giftedness is binary. It’s either on all the time for all things or never on for anything. I find giftedness to be complex and nuanced. Few others do and I have not found enough ways to help them to understand. It would be easier to accept it for self, if more people had even a basic and real understanding.

    Liked by 7 people

    • Yes. “complex and nuanced” for sure. Thanks M.J.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hi M.J. — You really hit on a problem that resonates. If people get any glimpse into who you are, then they expect you to know everything and often make fun of you when you don’t. I think that a lot of them feel intimidated; as if somehow being really talented in certain ways is something to be afraid of. Or somehow their own insecurities make them feel like they “should” be more talented, so they treat you badly.
      I spent my whole life trying to stay hidden to avoid the mistreatment of others, whether it be “friends” or co-workers or bosses, but am beginning to think that the best way to deal with it is to be fully OK with ourselves. And then when someone says something cutting or unkind about your talents, you gently explain to them … e.g. yes I’m very good with plants, but no that doesn’t mean that I know the name of every single flower I see. Or if they’re intimidated by you, then you try to focus on their strengths and remind them of other things you’re not so good at? At least that’s a theory I’m working on. Still at the stage of trying to feel fully OK with my abilities and sharpen them back up to speed, and be proud of them and not afraid to show the world who I am, and that I like a lot of who I am. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you Paula.

    It was your book (along with a few others) that finally convinced me that I may actually be the gifted child my parents were told I was. But it took more than fifty years for me to finally accept the truth. And, as you say, it explained a lot – for me and for my spouse and family.

    What am I doing now to know and show my gifted soul? I continue to read, reflect, and learn about what this means for me. I have left the career I’ve spent most of my adult life in, and started a whole new venture – an online, on-demand spiritual community for people who are tired of narrow, rigid, and compassionless organised religion. You can find it at

    Thank you for being a companion on the journey.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Hola Paula. Como Siempre, sigo los artículos con atención. Si. Ser “tu misma” puede ser toda una batalla, porque simplemente decirlo es obviar toda la carga que llevamos desde la infancia, desde la adolescencia que es el momento en que definitivamente se imprime nuestra personalidad y nuestra alma. Es mucho lo que hay que revolucionar y romper. Y no es sencillo. Lo sé, porque llevo tres años transitando ese viaje, el camino a mi “muchosidad” (me encanta esa palabra de Alicia, bueno, de Absolom)… Pero creo que por más duro y doloroso que de hecho es, no hay ninguna otra alternativa.
    Para mi, el primer paso fue construir espacios de paz interior. Para ello, he tenido que entender quién soy (y aún lidio con el síndrome del impostor a diario); eso significo confrontar la negligencia familiar y darme el valor de comprender que lo que entendía por mundo, por realidad, no era un error, sino que era MI perspectiva -tan válida como otras-, porque una cosa es decir: -no hagas caso cuando te digan que está en un error-, o no des poder a esto o a aquel… y otro es romper con la autoridad de las personas significantes en tu vida que te dicen: -Estás mal… no es nada fácil.
    Lo siguiente fue silenciar el tumulto interior, empezar a escuchar a lo interno palabra por palabra, voz por voz, lo que tenía que decirme durante años en “ejecución múltiple de líneas de pensamiento” y discriminar lo que no era sano para mi. Dejar fluir… Juro que es difícil! mucho!… aceptar donde estamos, de dónde venimos. Cuánto me determinó y no pude controlar y cuánto si puedo controlar ahora. Entonces de ahí empiezo a construir a dónde quiero llegar… Y con franqueza, hay que “bañarse en aceite” porque vendrán un montón de ataques, de incomprensiones de tu alrededor, y tendrás que aprender a que te “resbalen” las más hirientes palabras…..
    Para mi, en lo personal… Ha sido el camino más duro, y muy solitario. Pero cada paso a valido la pena en función de mi propia reconstrucción.
    ¡No se pierdan su viaje!

    Liked by 5 people

    • Hola! This is beautiful. Can you perhaps add a translation into English of your main points so more people can benefit? Although, they can also drop it into Google translate. Thank you.


    • You capture so well the intense tumult that we all are going through in trying to be our real selves, and the immensity and necessity and loneliness of the journey.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you. How do you do to always post a text that I just need at the moment ?
    I still find hard to choose what I must prioritize , not young enough to do all (51), and not enough time anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The problem with the denial of being gifted is that, the risks of not being one. It scares me – to think that you are gifted when you aren’t. It will make me feel horrible, like a loser who is constantly seeking for a fake acknowledgement and worse, I’m afraid of hating myself even more. even though I can relate to all these posts deeply to the details, it’s still a struggle to fully embrace it myself, and I hope to see more posts like this (well, I’ve read all your posts for many times anyway) but I will keep trying to love this not-so-normal side of me. thank you Paula😊

    Liked by 4 people

  8. when you come from a family of profoundly gifted people, being “regular” gifted seems like your nothing special, and saying “I’m gifted” is laughable in this context.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do know that there are differences in the qualities of giftedness as you go up the spectrum. PG can be very different from someone moderately gifted. But still it’s important that you recognize your own gifted traits, Jill!!


      • Jill, I do agree with Paula that giftedness has an spectrum from moderate to PG. However, she may or may not agree with what I’m about to say next, but I personally believe that you could grow or improve your natural abilities/talents. Now, in saying those things, I am not implying that you could turn into a ‘natural’ profoundly gifted person or acquire specific abilities that those in the higher spectrum may have (like photographic memory), but it is still possible to acquire a very high level of performance. In addition, there are other factors which may negatively affect the natural trajectory of one’s cognitive development that could make one appear as less gifted (I had TBIs during my earlier years which are still affecting me up to this day, but I’ve experienced things which are considered uncommon in the general population: I do know what having a photographic memory is like, being able to hear sounds which most people are not even aware of, I have the desire for greatness or self-actualization through my own development as a person and ultimately being able to contribute of something of great value to society, I often felt bored by the things which many people take for granted [going to stores, beach, watching sports programs,etc.], and so forth.

        Liked by 1 person

        • What I would say, Robert, is that there is a certain amount of ability and personhood (traits?) that appear to be innate, what we are born with, but there is always room to grow and evolve intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, etc. Most certainly. Studying, practicing, learning, research, effort, introspection, meditation, psychotherapy, and yoga are some of the ways to grow and develop your talents, beliefs, abilities, self-awareness, and perceptions. Gifted folks at all levels still have to struggle and work on themselves in many ways.


  9. I wrote your not you’re and it’s killing me. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I just keep on being who I am and at age 40, it feels a little easier to accept and embrace my unique nature. I’ve accepted I am not great in large groups of people standing around chatting and that it’s OK to be quiet and introspective. If that makes me weird to some people, than so be it! I have been kinder to myself and that really helps!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m sitting here in tears over this article. Sometimes I feel like I am crazy because I have these ideas that people think I am crazy for, and I can’t figure out how to fit in the every day box, it makes me feel so broken. The thing is a lot of the struggles in our lives feel like they are my fault, if I could just for in somehow I could fix it. But we are struggling in so many ways and I feel so guilty.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I love your posts, Paula. The degree to which your words match my thoughts and feelings is more-than-often outstanding.

    I still remember that one day, when I was 24, my thoughts about myself were so messy and I was so fed up of not fitting in, that I went to a psychologist and I asked for an IQ test. As soon as I got the results, everything started to fit in place and I started to accept myself. Lots of questions were answered that day.

    I also remember I had a really, really hard time when I tried to tell my parents that I discovered I was gifted. (I can say they were (and still are) the persons I rely on the most on Earth!)

    Several days later, when I plucked up courage, I really gathered all my courage… and let them know and I show them I had taken a test, they said: “Hey! We already knew! It was so obvious to us! and your teachers told us many times” And big hugs followed. That was rewarding.

    Apart from my parents and a couple of close friends, I haven’t told I’m gifted to anyone else, although I feel some of my friends and coworkers are aware that I am… somehow… like… “special”? 😅

    I think I currently understand and accept myself, but I still have hard times when dealing with people in “great numbers” (e.g. large groups of people, society in general…) and trying to find brainmates. (I know, I know. I just made up that word.)

    It’s always a pleasure to read you, Paula 🙂

    Kind regards from Spain!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. And a pleasure to have you here, Someti!


  14. It freaks me out to accept it- I am so scared of being narcissistic! I’m pretty sure I can get this way and have done in the past. I don’t know how to “shine” and not be taken over by it.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thank you, Sarah. Sadly, the “small-minded bullies” are often in our families.


  16. and I love you

    Liked by 1 person

  17. “One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul.” Just reading this gives me heart palpitations. It’s much easier to laugh off being “weird” and pretend it’s my fault that people don’t understand my joke(s) or see the connections I do between two seemingly random ideas than telling them why…

    Liked by 2 people

    • I hear you, Angie. It could be that you show more of who you are but that you don’t have to explain it as giftedness. People are still so reactive to that. You can shine your light more without putting yourself at risk for ridicule or rejection.


  18. Great article, Paula. You so clearly get to the heart of the matter – how so many of us are afraid to admit/recognize/open our minds to the possibility of our strengths. I adore the Estes quote also.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. It is so wonderful you are online as an infinite energy wishing well. So many benefit from your words.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Paula, thank you for your blog and posts. I appreciate them and the inherent and crucial messages.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Pingback: It Is Time To Stop Denying You Are Gifted — Part Two | Your Rainforest Mind

  22. Whoa… I think I may have read this earlier, yet just came across it again tonight (after reading part 2 of these posts). There is energy in the universe that looks out for us. It is taking care of me. I needed to hear this again tonight. Thank you for being an igniting spark.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.