Your Rainforest Mind

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Finding Meaningful Friendships When You Are (Annoyingly) Perceptive And (Excruciatingly) Sensitive


How do you find deeply satisfying friendships when you are an excruciatingly sensitive, annoyingly perceptive, unendingly persnickety, frighteningly intense, multi-dimensionally intelligent, divergently thinking, quirkily funny, unrealistically idealistic, gently demanding, ravenously researching, mysteriously intuitive human being? (otherwise known as rainforest-minded)

photo courtesy of thought catalog, Unsplash

No wonder friends are hard to find. Right?

But, face it honey. This is a perfect description of you.

And we are all better off because this is who you are.

Now, you just need to believe it. You need to love all of your rainforest-y ways. And, amazingly enough, this is a key to the discovery of other rainforest-minded souls. (But you knew that.)

Of course, they probably will not magically appear even if you are basking in self-compassion. (although they might) You most likely will need to be creative about where you look and you will have to take the initiative and make the first moves. I have specific suggestions here. And, here. (With adjustments for the pandemic. Sorry, no tango dancing.)

As you may know, there are more and more online groups and communities for just about anything you can imagine. I recently discovered Livingroom Conversations for the pacifist-activists among you and the Evolutionary Collective if you are looking for a spiritually evolving experience. For an intergenerational group involved with social change, there’s Encore. There is your silent book club. And Soul Collage.

Of course, you can always start a blog or write a book. I have found some of my favorite humans through my writing. One of them, Tina, would win the girlfriend of the year contest, if such a thing existed. She lives 1,254.1 miles away from me. Is 18 years younger. (OMG. I could be her mother.) Has two teenage kids and a hubby. But that doesn’t stop her. Or me. You see? You can think outside the box when it comes to friendships. You will need to. Because of the wonders of technology, though, it is possible to experience a deeply satisfying, sweet, loving, even daily connection. The daily part has been important to me. Being single, I have longed for a person who checks in every day. And so, it seems, does Tina. It is a long-distance-but-that-doesn’t-matter girlfriend love fest.

If I can do it, so can you.

Just remember, from the wise words of a bloggEE: “We never stop being who we are. We may run from it, but it wonโ€™t stop running behind us. If weโ€™re open, and patient enough, we will notice, and eventually collect, like minds.”

So, notice and collect your like minds. Find your Tina.


To my bloggEEs: Where and how have you found friends? Do you have a Tina in your life? What has made it hard for you to build friendships? We all appreciate your comments. They add so much. Thank you, as always, for being here.

The holiday season can be a particularly difficult time if you are lonely. And with this pandemic and other events, you may be struggling, frightened, and grieving. Here is a beautiful, uplifting short film just for you: Alone during a pandemic film Sending much love to you all.

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.

71 thoughts on “Finding Meaningful Friendships When You Are (Annoyingly) Perceptive And (Excruciatingly) Sensitive

  1. What a lovely post. I have found my close girl friends through shared life experiences and stages, such as high school, work and moves. Meeting each other and sharing some crucial times has bonded us together. I am forever grateful to have them along my journey ๐Ÿ’•

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh man…I have burned by so many “friendships” with people I think are like-minded before I find out that’s not the case. Sometimes it’s that they recognize me and I kind of mutter to myself, “um, yeah, okay, sure”, or sometimes I recognize them and reach out/give a generous benefit of the doubt before it all comes crashing down. This has meant cringing while someone bullies someone else — because they’re sensitive to being bullied — before I have to put my foot down, HARD. It’s also meant making excuses for people who are self-centered (due to their traumatic experiences of being different/sensitive/what have you) and insensitive before finally getting pushed too far and walking away.

    I have been able to build some successful friendships, but like many good things, they are slow builds that take time and patience, one of which I’m not always known for ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. I never found it easy to make friends, and the thought โ€œIt was so easy making friends as a child, and so much harder as an adult!โ€ is very depressing for some of us.

    The reasons are many. Sensitivity, which made me hold back and made me very vulnerable to others actions and reactions. Lack of things in common with supposed peers โ€“ which matters a lot when youโ€™re a kid. Dealing with trauma and health issues, so most of my days were spent just trying to hold things together.
    As an introvert, Iโ€™m used to my own company and doesnโ€™t seek out others constantly, so my communication skills might be a bit rusty. (Of course, introverts doesnโ€™t LACK social/communication skills,but I feel like mine are sometimes like a muscle not constantly used.) Iโ€™m also not the type that โ€œsparkleโ€ around new acquaintances, it takes a while before I warm up, I do better with a โ€œthird impressionโ€ than a first one.

    Finding hobbies, or a topic wou feel strongly about, would be the best idea, I guess. Trouble is, many people have their pre-formed circles and are busy with their families, so they donโ€™t have room for(or need) new people in their lives.

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    • Thanks for sharing, Malandra. One thought is that it can look like people already have their friends and are busy but my experience is that RFMs are more open to new people at any age or busyness because a great connection is so fulfilling and so hard to find. Don’t give up!


  4. Paula, thank you for this warm encouraging post.

    For most of my life (up until I found your discussion on Rain Forest Minds) I thought and still think there is something wrong with me. I have always felt like an outsider, felt awkward, don’t drink (found it meaningless to get drunk and throw up the next day), vulnerable, extremely sensitive, find most conversations boring (because it is either boring or mindless gossip), was never a social climber, could not brown nose, am politically unsophisticated – in the world we live in, these have been the requisites or so it feels most of the time, if not all of the time.

    Now add experiences with toxic individuals such as people with NPD, sociopaths, the increasing recognition of the dysfunction within one’s own family system, how does one find the hope, faith, trust, and courage that the friend I will make is not a charlatan, and one who has my back?

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    • Ria, you made me smile with your comment about not drinking. I don’t drink either, and I found that also limited how many social gatherings I could go to (or enjoy). We live in a bizarrely addictive society, don’t we?

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    • Ria. That is a good question about how to find healthy people when you’ve grown up with a dysfunctional family. It’s not easy. And we can end up choosing toxic people, especially if there was abuse or neglect. My recommendation is good therapy to heal the early wounding, then you get more and more conscious of the patterns and beliefs that were set up early so you can find healthier and healthier people over time. I’ve written a few posts about different aspects of therapy that you can find with the search engine. Therapy works!


      • I agree.

        But. Paula, I have been to therapy, a few therapists actually post my separation from a covert narcissist. My dismay is that it is hard to come by a good therapist, one who specializes in this instance the impact on one’s life as a result of dysfunction from toxic individuals as primary caregivers and then as a partner.

        What I have also learned from my experience is that therapists rarely give an integrated insight leveraging multiple approaches or tactics. As I seek, perhaps deeper insights, as an HSP with RFM with CEN and toxic dysfunctionality in my background, the guidance and counselling falls woefully short and appears seemingly shallow over time. For instance, no matter what concern I had this one therapist presented CBT as the solution every single time. Another who spoke about developing a better relation with God although there were merits to this (appealed to perhaps my spiritual side) not every concern that was presented should be responded with develop a better relationship with God, and this therapist came recommended and appreciated by her clients! Another who spoke largely about her problems. And, another who spoke of the probability that I may have misinterpreted my abusive husband and I should give him another chance.

        Over time it is frustrating not to mention disappointing that at $150 – $250/ hr this is the quality, depth, and breadth that is meted out. And, given the nature of this work, it is difficult to suss out the incompetent professionals within the first couple of sessions. When one does manage to critically evaluate the competency against the progress one is making, much time is lost. To encounter more therapists than less such as these mildly put is underwhelming and dispeller of any illusions I had about mental health professionals. I cannot shake this feeling off that a large majority out there work towards building a repeat customer base. And, there are budgetary constraints wherein one cannot seek multiple experts. I am a believer in therapy, but the quality of professionals practicing out there en masse is very disturbing.

        It would be interesting to read your insight about how one can make better decisions with a therapist particularly those who are HSPs with RFM since we are wired differently and we see, hear, and process so much more. And, I will definitely read up on your articles on therapy. Thank you for your service Paula.

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    • Certainly, Ria, if you’re throwing up the next day, you’re doing it wrong. I haven’t thrown up from drinking too much since I was fifteen.

      I drink. I sometimes drank to excess as a youth. Now, as a middle-aged fellow, I am dissuaded from doing so by the uncomfortable headaches, back pain, nausea, etc. that might result from excess. That doesn’t dissuade me from drinking regularly, however, just encourages me to set my limits at a more moderate level (it’s been ages since I’ve had more than a couple of cocktails plus a half-bottle of wine with dinner).

      Having drinks with friends is a big part of our social life. When the (wife’s) workday is over in my house, it’s cocktail time, and we frequently have close friends over (only three specific people, mind you – COVID!). We do miss what we called “quarantinis,” when we would have other people over for socially distanced drinks on the patio outside. We’re thinking about getting outside patio heaters to extend the quarantini season. We have a very visible house, and people sometimes stop by out of the blue.

      Friendship is terribly important, almost as important as family. I have been married to my wife, who I met at college, for more than two decades, and during that time we have seen many friends come and go, and a smaller number of friends come and stay. We never know exactly who it will be; for example, we have become friends with a man only to lose him and keep his (now ex-)girlfriend. He asked us what we thought, and we said we found her charming, brilliant, and kind; we still do.

      We are always hopeful that a new acquaintance will become one of the “keepers.” We met someone this summer who we believe will be another “keeper.”

      Making friends is not fast, like it was when we were kids, but being older helps, with the patience it brings. In the long view of retrospect, any year in which you find another “keeper” is a good year for that. I think the hardest time in life may be the period after you stop making friends quickly, but before you develop the equanimity necessary to watch poor friends leave your life while you nurture the keepers.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Dr. Dad. Just a quick thought…it may not be easy even for gifted kids to make friends. I’ve had many parents talk to me about how their kids are lonely, too. Right? Like the eight year old who wants to talk about the BBC documentaries he loves with the other eight year olds who are NOT interested!


      • For many of us, it doesn’t take much to tip us over the edge with alcohol, especially if we also happen to have an allergy to it or just don’t like the way it makes us feel. So interesting: I think similar comments could have been made about tobacco or marijuana, and no one would object, but say something about alcohol and we’re “doing it wrong”.

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      • Dr. Dad, thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience.

        Indeed, just like anything, there is the “right” way to drink. My response was merely from my lived experience. So what I was sharing were the impressions I gathered during my growing up years, my memories also include unruly behavior and hurtful/ offensive things said. These along with other factors perhaps have contributed to how I view drinking, perhaps all of which have partly or wholly contributed to my decision to not drink.

        The focus in my response was narrow, sharing aspects of who I am, and Deborah who picked up on the consequence a non-drinking trait brings about in a society where much of bonding happens over a drink. For example, while at grad school, friends would gather for drinks to vent because of academic pressures and politics but I was never invited because I do not drink. They did not want a sober person around while they were venting. I was never asked. There is also a loose concept/ perception/ saying that floats around “do not trust a person who does not drink”. These unvalidated concepts do not bode well for people such as myself.

        What it did was complicate things further in my rudimentary quest to understand myself. I learned about RFM only a few months ago. It explained a lot about me. But, in the absence of this information (informed insights stemming from research and clinical experience), I thought of myself as an oddball. Particularly, when members of my own family drink and have recommended drinking to alleviate stress. Herd mentality is often encouraged, it just happens that one needs to be aware of the herd and their inherent mentality – but this awareness has been coming to me slowly. If one is unaware, one gets swept away thinking one is a misfit (or whatever label one chooses to anoint oneself with) in society. Understanding that one is an HSP with a RFM has been critical. Why? Then one starts to look for tools to either manage themselves better or develop oneself further.

        Of course relationships are important. Dr. Dad, you are a fortunate man, to have a loving partner and the ability to make friends quickly. Friends who I thought would be in my life forever are no longer in my life. There came a point when I started to question how could I surround myself with so many fair-weather and cruel people. Why did I call them my 4:00 a.m. friend? A marriage that I thought would last forever, did not. As I got out of horrific marriage, my so-called friend for over 20 years not once called to ask how I was doing. It now brought me to a point to question on what basis did I call someone my friend? Yes, I agree with you, I find that the older I get and the experiences I have had, I am beginning to lose my ability to make friends quickly like I used to.

        So there were my expectations (my friends would be in my life forever, a happy marriage, non-toxic functional and emotionally healthy family, and so on) versus the reality of my lived experiences. And, thus the journey of questioning and the process of inquiry began. For most of my life, I have devoted to shaping my mind. I have been mocked and made fun of because of my sensitivity, thus, the huge emotions I often felt were suppressed or ignored and uncared for.

        Thus, this platform devoted to understanding RFM is among the many factors that help me understand who I am. This discussion about friendship was heart-warming and encouraging, as I find myself alone during a time that is particularly stressful. This article gave me a glimmer of hope that despite the challenges and the sensitivities of an HSP with RFM, one can still make friends, and I am hoping one that endures and those that have my back.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I have friends around the world, many I have met through Facebook and through online gaming. My problem is trying to be true to myself when I am in a conversation with friends. Sometimes, I feel I am overly sensitive to their feelings and I take their feelings into consideration above my own. If I have heard their story in excruciating detail already a half dozen times, how can I interrupt it this time, without hurting them. Even if I gently hint that I know the details of the story, many people have the need to finish telling it for the nth time, anyway. How to I curb my own impatience?

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    • It’s complicated, lauralynn. It sounds like I would be impatient, too, if this is happening over and over. You have a right to set a limit to how much listening you do. I think there would be a way to be gentle about it and end the conversation or redirect it. Or maybe even be gently honest with the person? But I get that this is a hard one. You might look into articles on how to take care of yourself when you have lots of empathy, Setting healthy boundaries is good for everyone.


    • I can relate. What I finally realized, very late in my life (I’m 59), was the fact that others are drawn to me precisely because I am a fine-tuned listener. Empathetic, responsive, curious to know more and understand! It’s a facet of our giftedness, generally speaking. (I say ‘generally speaking’ because of course we’re not all made from the same cookie cutter.) For me, it began with my little sister, and my Mom. I was a very sensitive child, and my Mom, being so needy herself, relied on my good-natured and caring ways to buoy herself. My sister took advantage of my ‘big sisterness’, asking me for help with her homework, telling me her problems (as she got older), asking for help. At this point, if you don’t have healthy boundaries, which I didn’t for years and years!!, you find yourself feeling impatient, just as you describe. I was always driven to be ‘nice’ and so I’d swallow my impatience. I learned over time, how to build a fence between my self and in particular ‘fair weather’ friends who actually didn’t truly get me but liked bending my ears.

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  6. Indeed so, Deborah! Or risk standing out like a sore thumb.

    I was always either the designated driver or was called names “granny”, “a wet blanket”, and was told that I behave like an 82 year old when I was barely 28 at the time. For a bit, I tried to blend in by holding a drink and trying to take a sip or two, then I gave up, it was too much of an ordeal and felt like a sham! Even my own family has counselled me to down a drink or two to “enjoy” life. I don’t get it, never did. Yes, we live in a strange world. And, the identity/ recognition (akin to higher ranking in a social circle) with being a good drinker is somewhat difficult for me to comprehend.

    At a social gathering, these days, while the rest of the table sip on their beer or margaritas or what have you, I sip on my English Breakfast or Chamomile ๐Ÿ™‚

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  7. I found this article and the attached comments so helpful. It’s INCREDIBLY difficult to find people who are friendly and accepting of ‘quirky’ ways of being. And don’t get me started on the ‘don’t drink’ stigma! One of the problems sensitive RFM’s like me have is that, because we don’t need hordes of friends, we are content when we find just one special friend amongst a slew of aquaintances or work colleagues. If that friend disappears for some reason we don’t have anyone else on standby to fill the gap and so find ourselves feeling alone again. Then the difficult search starts again.

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  8. I also dont drink alcohol. dont like the taste or the sensation in my mouth. And I dont need to get rid of inhibitions to have fun.
    Also heard to many stories from “friends”about waking up next to some random person without really remembering who he/she is or why you took him/her home ( yes both ways).
    I can party without getting black out drunk, I like remembering what I did and I like being safe.
    If the only way to get friends is by getting drunk then I dont need those friends.

    Sometimes I think I found a friend, someone who I think/feel is high on the RFM scale. But very often it isnt to be.
    getting Pips that I do one thing with is also difficult. One thing is I dont like something for a very long time. the other problem is nobody likes it when I get really really good at it in a few tries. especially if they have done it for years and I surpas them ( in their idea) within weeks.

    friendships are hard.

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    • I’ve been thinking about writing a post around the challenge of being good at so many things and not having to work hard to learn many skills. Thanks for sharing, ewabs2.

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      • That would make for an interesting discussion… the lifelong (65 yr here) struggle between pretending you’re not as good at something, or having the teacher in grade school say “OK, just shout out the answer when you know it…except you Sue” because otherwise nobody gets a chance to speak. Or just letting yourself be you and shining at something you really love doing or being able to figure out, and then catching all the flak, jealousy, and avoidance. Our whole society seems wired around “who’s the best”. Who cares? The point is to enjoy whatever you’re doing, to the degree that you want to do it, and not compare that to how other people do.

        So of course when you shine, then you get used to working hard to point out to other people how much better they are at something else than you, or telling them you only won because you had some fictitious coach, or whatever to try to make the other person feel better…. instead of being able to revel in having done so well.

        I want to fly. And I want so very much for someone to think that’s really cool when they see me fly…. instead of being angry or jealous or feeling like they’re beneath me. I just want someone some day to love me just for me just the way I am.

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      • OMG! Yes, I had sort of forgotten about that ‘being ultra good at something you’ve just started’ and the mean, spiteful comments that come flowing, injuring your sensitive soul even further. I took up target shooting at the age of 50, took my brand new air pistol out of its box, fired. Had someone ask me if I’d been in the army, I said no, then they asked how long I’d been shooting, replied ‘about 5 minutes since I took this out of its box’. Cue the cold shoulder!

        Or, took up a new management position 3 days before an audit. When asked how come I knew so much I just replied ‘I’m a quick study’. My line manager was so jealous and so hateful that I ended up leaving, she made my life a living hell.

        Please write a post about this aspect of life. I have no idea how to deal with this and just end up becoming more and more of a hermit.

        Liked by 4 people

  9. Very lonely. Thanks for suggestions and encouragement to break the isolation.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. HAHA! Deborah, you cracked me up about Earl Grey. I concur!


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  11. I have found some of my best friends walking my dog in the park here. Really lovely people. And because you cross each others paths regularly, you have many chances to get to know each other. There was a woman I talked with some months just about dogs, then I asked about her profession, which was quite interesting, so we discussed that, and then she had a knee-injury, I suggested some great supplements, asked her e-mail to send the information, and since then we have a very lively conversation through mail and in the park about a lot of things. I think you meet the people you are supposed to meet in your life. I had just said to a friend that I wanted to meet a man (I’m single) who is interested in a lot of subjects, to talk with, and now I have met a woman like that, and I’m very grateful for that!

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  12. There’s a beautiful Diana Fosha quote I often think of in this context: “The roots of security and resilience are to be found in the sense of being understood by, and existing in the heart and mind of, a loving, caring, attuned and self-possessed other, an other with a heart and mind of her own.” We want our friends (not to mention our parents!) to be attuned and self-possessed others, who see us, love us, and understand us, and are substantial people in their own right. After years of searching and settling for less, these others can feel a bit mythical! Envy so easily ruffles self-possession; attunement requires not only kinship of mind, but of spirit; and the capacity for true love and care is uncommon in these days of technology-mediated ennui. Assembling all these rare qualities in a single person would be like winning the lottery!

    I take your point that with the internet, we can better our odds. But dang, some days it feels like zero times 100 is still zero, and conversations with nature, or smart dead people, or the immanent particularities of an abandoned carpark, just don’t cut it, not to mention the friends we do have but who do not meet Fosha’s criteria. A little less melodramatically: it is hard to wait to be seen.

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    • So perfectly said dw ๐Ÿ™‚
      And I’ve always felt, like most things in life, to really succeed at finding special people you would need to devote an enormous amount of time and research. But I’m always into so many projects that I need to move to a planet with 154-hour days as it is. Just focusing on being one’s true spirit and all the work-in-progress positivism that entails has yet to turn up any true soulmates.

      I’ve wondered whether an RFM can ever find true deep friendship and love with someone who isn’t an RFM too? And being RFMs we’re all so beautifully distinctive, do most RFMs get along well with others of their ‘species’ I wonder?

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      • Good questions, itssue42. I would say, yes, you can find love with a nonRFM. For true deep friendship, maybe you do need someone with many of the RFM traits. And, like you say, just because you find an RFM doesn’t mean they will become a great friend or partner. There will still be many differences, needs, psychological issues, beliefs, patterns, capacities, interests, etc. So, it is challenging. Having a life full of meaningful projects can be a fine, purposeful, sweet life!

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      • Thanks itssue42! These are great questions, and I think Paula’s answer is spot on. To borrow some mathematical jargon, it is neither necessary nor sufficient for good friends to be RFMs. To once again steal from mathematics, perhaps they need the property of being “co-RFM”: they can receive an RFM in their wholeness, without feeling threatened or diminished, and embrace the diversity of gifts, the enthusiasm for topology, taoism, and everything in between, the “annoying perceptions and excruciating sensitivities”, etc, not merely in their own right (which is still rare, as so many of the comments above show!), but because they are part of the same gorgeously personified ecosystem.

        I don’t think co-RFMs are always RFMs, but they do need to be substantial enough people in their own right, self-possessed and capable of love and care, as Fosha puts it. Those elements are enough for a loving, even celebratory relationship. But as Paula says, for “deep true friendship” โ€“ captured by Fosha’s term “attunement” โ€“ I think some RFM traits are probably needed in addition to the co-RFM qualities.

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    • Yes, I hear you, dw. Your words resonate. Those smart dead people are just a bit inadequate when it comes down to it. ๐Ÿ™‚ And yet, I know you will find your Tina(s).

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    • DW, you write beautifully! And, thank you for introducing me to the words/ work of Diana Fosha.

      Your last line has prompted me to question whether I see myself completely? Will I ever know myself completely? Or is life a journey towards discovering aspects of my completeness? In that case, what is the likelihood, if any, of the self-possessed other seeing ‘me’?

      You spoke of technology-mediated ennui; and, something I have been grappling with is that we largely as a society are emotionally mal-adjusted adults (more often children in adult bodies) rarely working on self since the pressure of modern living dominates all of one’s being/senses and dissuades us from doing so. Sometimes, I wonder whether infiltration of technology is stoking our need for external validation, the need to escape/ distract, and whether it is giving rise to more shallow-ness, quick to judge/ react personalities/ mindset, and more; instead of creating an environment that encourages the development of the self-possessed other?

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      • Thank you Ria ๐Ÿ™‚ My pleasure!

        I think that, in order to know yourself, or perhaps more accurately, to become yourself, you need the experience of stable and loving reflection that Fosha describes. Until you get it, you’ll go on believing you are dull, neurotic, boastful, or whatever labels the world chooses to apply to you, or you choose to apply to yourself in order to fit in. It is not until someone takes you by the hand, looks you in the eye, and gives you a sincere and loving blessing to be yourself that you can just roll with that, in spite of the differences. Some people are lucky enough to get that blessing from their parents. Most are not, so in my view, searching for others who can give us this blessing is an essential part of the journey to becoming authentically and joyously ourselves. [I’ve been working on an essay about this very problem, so very happy to chat about it more!]

        One of the things I love about this blog is how Paula is consistently giving us all this blessing. (Thanks Paula!) And we’re having this awesome discussion on that blog. So at its best, the internet is a great way to self-organize supportive, high-level discussions and real community. But you’re right โ€“ this is not the trend! Real community, high-level discussion, and self-work are not exactly money-spinners, while there is a lot of lucre in the engineered need for validation/distraction/gratification/escape. In other words, self-dispossession is a big industry! So, I agree that shallowness and reactivity are part of our techno-cultural moment. But perhaps we can try to embrace the good parts of the internet to make up for the bad!

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        • Thank you, DW.

          Yes, I would like to read your essay/ hear more of your thoughts on this, to learn and understand this more, appreciate the kind offer.

          What I have read or have been ‘told’ thus far, is that I need to give myself what I need – even though I try to put this into practice, for some reason I have always felt that this suggestion was/ is short of something although I could never qualify what that is. So I would definitely welcome your insights about this.

          But. A big but: since, what you have presented here is counter to what I have been hearing — When one has not received it in their formative years, there is a certain lack of je ne sais quoi that one has to navigate/ overcome; to think that it can come from another adult seems like a tall order or a near-impossibility. And, are we priming ourselves for simply more disappointment (expectation from another and all that)?

          Furthermore, would that person now need to satisfy the pre-requisite of having had the stable and loving reflection in his/ her own life to be able to offer it to you unconditionally, unquestioningly, and genuinely? Is it not a lot to expect this from another when one may or may not be equipped to do it for the other? And, by any chance, does this add several more layers of complexity for an HSP/RFM?

          (And, my heart plummeted just a little more; I never thought of dispossession as an industry, ugh! Indeed so.)

          DW, thank you for introducing me to this possibility. And, yes, thank you Paula for this platform.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Ria. My guess is that dw is describing a complex experience of one or more healing relationships over time that can contribute to repairing the early wounding by the parents. (Right, dw?) Again, one relationship where you get the loving reflection is a therapy relationship where a capable professional can provide guidance through the healing of trauma where trust and safety is built over time. Then eventually you can reparent the wounded child inside you. So that is what you’ve heard about giving yourself what you need, I imagine. That is also a part of it. As usual, it’s complicated. Keep reading here and in other places to develop your understanding. There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle.

            Liked by 2 people

            • Absolutely! And thank you, this is such a concise and beautiful response ๐Ÿ™‚

              Liked by 1 person

            • At least for me, I spent the whole first 62 years of my life “looking for love in all the wrong places”. Traumatic childhood left me with no self-worth except my straight-A’s so I thought you basically bought friendship by doing things for other people. Which of course led me to more mistakes that just reinforced to me that I was a completely worthless human. I tried therapy, I tried many relationships, jobs, living situations, read books etc. But I felt profoundly and totally alone, truly convinced that there was something unfixably wrong with me, that I was quite literally unlovable. If people got to know the real me, then they wouldn’t like me. It was all in my self-attitude but I just couldn’t see it. I knew I was very different from the average person, so even therapists couldn’t understand me.

              Then 3 years ago, I tried therapy yet again. And finally, miraculously the pieces came together. This wonderful woman just refused to put up with my logical analysis of why I was unlovable and kept faithfully, tenaciously picking apart my thoughts and bouncing them back at me and bit by bit over almost a year, something beautiful took root. And somewhere in there she suggested that I should check out the world of the ‘gifted’. I always knew I was ‘gifted’ in the sense that all learning comes easy, etc but I just figured I was lucky and born that way. But I started roaming around and voila, I stumbled across this incredible RFM website. My life has not been the same since.

              For anyone wondering about what kind of background a therapist might come from that helps get thru the impenetrable wall of self-hatred — she also was kicked around verbally as a kid by her mother, but not gifted per se, although she is intelligent. But she said the one thing that defined her as a kid was an attitude that she was just fine as she was, so she just didn’t put up with the abuse her mother tried to dish out. Her father was supportive of her which helped. And it helped her realize that kind of treatment by parents has a profound impact on who we become, so she understands a lot about why we feel such profound lack of self-worth.

              Very important!! It is totally and completely worth never giving up. Finally I exalt in “ME”; I like being me. Yes it’s a pain and a heartache that 99.9% of the humans out there don’t get me, but now finally I can appreciate and feel truly lucky that I am me, and I wouldn’t want it any other way…. despite all the loneliness and pain I endured.
              I agree that it’s not going to be 1 person, 1 Ahah moment; but when you come to really begin to appreciate yourself and understand that you are lovable, and that you owe yourself to take care of yourself, then the world begins to open. And then you venture out and try engaging with people again and temper their comments with a better understanding of yourself and don’t flinch and misinterpret every comment that might mean you didn’t measure up again to your own impossible standards.

              And you take up ballroom dancing again!! ๐Ÿ™‚ (Yes, Paula, including Argentine tango ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). And you find as others have said that you can develop all kinds of levels of friendship carefully tending it like a garden without rushing, without expecting too much from any one person. And some day, maybe some day, I’ll find a soulmate who will truly get and actually love the whole unadulterated me. That’s my hopeful side ๐Ÿ˜€ In the meantime, staying curious and not being afraid to live, make for a pretty interesting and sometimes happy life. Learn to love you! It can be done. Every single one of us RFMs are truly unique treasures. To have others realize that, we have to start realizing it ourselves. HUGS to all in this tough year. We are coming into brighter skies soon.

              p.s. And take up hopeful meditation too, like Deepak Chopra. Spent my whole life trying to learn “how” to meditate. Now I finally get it; it isn’t about how. When you start doing what works for you and accepting you with all your quirks, then it starts to work and be possible and can truly add enormously to one’s sense of well-being and energy.

              Liked by 2 people

          • Thanks Ria, and thank you Paula. Ria, my heart goes out to you; I hope I haven’t added to the confusion! I totally second Paula’s suggestion to keep reading and assembling puzzle pieces. My reply does make it sound like the act of loving reflection must be accomplished by a single person, and can instantly heal. But it’s more complex, and I am very much in the middle of working it out myself! I think there is a process of inner resourcing and healing which comes partly from getting enough reflection โ€“ perhaps from multiple trusted others โ€“ but also self-compassion and a lot of hard inner work. And especially when there is trauma on board, a therapeutic relationship is a great place to seek not only reflection, but someone to help you develop that self-compassion and guide the inner work. That has been my experience at least.

            Haha, I hear you. I think technology can be a wonderful thing, but it’s hard not to be a curmudgeon about social media platforms which work by monetizing cognitive bias. [I was going to say “like advertising and politics before them”, but realised that advertising and politics have been rolled into the business model as well! But that’s enough techno-pessimism for the day ๐Ÿ™‚ ]

            Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow. What a great discussion, y’all. โค

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I have found over my lifetime (40 years) that I prefer to not try find another RFM as an all-encompassing friend. I would personally find that rather exhausting. It is exhausting enough with my own RFM and those of my kids, I don’t think I could deal with another’s needs as a friend. I prefer to find my different friend needs in different people as more good acquaintances that I don’t need to put a lot of effort into maintaining the friendship. I might have one for talking about academic things with, another for light hearted things, one for going on walks, and so forth. My kids are both RFM and this is how I try to encourage friendships to them too; have lots of different little bits of friends that all combined fully all your needs. We also all tend to prefer animals (dogs and horses specifically) to humans.

    On another note, I am also a non-drinker and I don’t drink anything with caffeine in it either as it gives me nausea and a headache. So the whole going out for a social drink of any kind has not been my scene since I was a young adult and I tried to fit in. I don’t find it limits me too much, I would much prefer a friend that I can go for a hike with, biking, horse riding, or to an art class. The whole sitting round doing not much but having a drink and chatting always makes me feel antsy. I need to be doing something. Also helps that I don’t have to talk to people directly then, which is not something I cannot do but something I find exhausting. Talking as we walk/bike/horse ride together is much easier for me.

    Liked by 3 people

    • These are helpful ideas, Gabrielle. I’ve written somewhere about your idea of having different friends for different interests rather than one person who does it all. And, certainly, we RFMs can be exhausting! Thank you for adding your thoughts.


  15. I just found that The School of Life in the UK is offering virtual classes. My sense is that this program may attract RFMs. Sounds like the classes are interactive so you get to meet your classmates. Check it out and if you try one, let us know how it goes.


  16. Wow! What a nice article!! (including all the subsequent comments!)

    I think I may find friends almost everywhere. It has been always so. But when it comes to “true, deep, understanding, possibly-Rainforestminded friends”, then I’d rather say that I have just found about 5 -or so- in my entire life (one of them living in South America, another one in the US, then one more in Germany, France, etc.). I found most of them when I was granted a scholarship long time ago. I used to spend time with them studying, enjoying nature, attending lectures, etc. Back then, I did not know about RFMs, what is more I did not even know I was gifted, but we formed a nice circle of friendship (somehow we knew we were alike!) and this friendship is still alive despite the long distances between us. (By the way: I talked with one of this friends by video-call a few days ago. So convenient in this pandemic times!)

    I expected to find some alike-minds, too, at university or at work, but it has not been the case. Anyway: I am happy with that and I am so glad that I found those “special” friends, even if they’re just a few and if it was long time ago and we’re far from each other.

    By the way: it is curious I do not drink alcohol either. If I happen to be with someone at one of those ‘kind of noisy’ places where people usually get drinks (not very often, but sometimes I have no choice), I end up ordering something (no matter what) and then… I just hold my glass (I guess not many people notice I do not sip). ๐Ÿคฃ At first I thought I was weird. Then I became friends with non-drinking people (not necessarily RFMs… following dw’s mathematical terminology: it is neither necessary nor sufficient for non-drinkers to be RFMs), and I found them to be nice guys despite not being RFMs. They accepted me the way I am.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Pingback: Holiday Season Confessions From A Tango Dancing Geek Psychotherapist | Your Rainforest Mind

  18. Pingback: My Holiday Letter 2020 — A Good Year For Therapists | Your Rainforest Mind

  19. Yes, I found my Tina! (She actually found me, and I’m so grateful). We check in every day, or most days. I struggle to find fulfilling relationships. Someone I thought was a potential friend ended up telling me he didn’t think he could keep up with me. He said I’m very curious, bold, and challenging. I ended up terminating the relationship because he actually wanted more than a platonic connection. Well, at least I received some feedback. Ha! But it sure made me think about other friendships I’ve attempted.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Early childhood trauma seems to always get in the way, but I have written several books (two are published), and started a blog or more. Now, I focus on doing what I can to leave some ideas that others may be able to build on, if I am lucky enough for those ideas to outlive me.
    Best regards, and thank you for your work here,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing, ShiraDest. I am also hoping my ideas will outlive me!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi, Paula: I’ve been looking for a circle of blogs to reinforce and build on our ideas for potential visions involving interdisciplinary education, empathy building, and creative critical thinking. I hope that we can share and build upon one anothers’ ideas, if that works for you, and help each other find torch-bearers for the future.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Shira. You can email me, if you’d like, to tell me more about who you are and what you are thinking.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Thank you, Paula:
            Well, it’s pretty simple, actually. I’ve been working up a set of ideas (that can certainly be accused of sounding far too utopian) here on my blog centered around how to build a less unsafe society for all of us, in 60-80 easy years. ๐Ÿ™‚
            I’m still clarifying the ideas, so please let me get back to your with a more polished write-up in a few weeks?
            Best regards,
            -Shira D. Jones

            Liked by 1 person

  21. Pingback: Do Not Stop Caring–Fifteen Reminders For Tender-Hearted Smart People | Your Rainforest Mind

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