Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

Are You Ready To Admit You Are Gifted? Yes? What, Then, Are The Benefits?

16 Comments

Many of my clients are still not sure they are gifted. Truth be told, neither am I. So, I am wondering if I explain the reasons you ought to identify as gifted, maybe more of you would be able to accept it. Or believe it. Or even celebrate it. Maybe I would, too. And then we could move on from there. To living our meaningful, purposeful, authentic lives. To using our gifted traits for good!

The Benefits of Admitting You Are Gifted

~ You stop pathologizing your gifted traits.

(photo courtesy of Diego Rosa, Unsplash)

~ You get clearer about your deep, wide, unending, analytical thinking that comes naturally and is beneficial and that people, including you, call overthinking. It is not over. It is not under. It is just your style of thinking. You will distinguish this from rumination, your tendency to worry, because your very active, creative mind can think of multiple catastrophic scenarios, especially if you are a parent. This distinction will help you know when you need to chill (apply self-soothing techniques) versus when you are free to dive (research the hell out of something).

~ It will get easier to make decisions because you will understand how your mind easily conjures up complexities and variables within variables. Not to mention your sense of social responsibility that can complicate your choices. Knowing these tendencies will help you move ahead a bit sooner. Decisions will be a little less fraught.

~ You will realize that your random, divergent, nonlinear thinking style is not ADHD. Your visually sensitive desire for clean surfaces and color-coded sweaters and alphabetized books is not OCD. Your emotionally intense moods are not bipolar disorder. Your sensitivity to clothing textures, food tastes, loud sounds, and violent images, and your desire to tell everyone about your obsession with brain specimen coasters is not autism spectrum disorder. (OK. This is not to say that you can’t be gifted and any one of these other things, too. You certainly can be. That would make you twice-exceptional or 2e. And that is fine, too. But a topic for another post.)

~ You will be better able to find appropriate friends because you will not try to fit in where you do not belong. You will let go of forcing yourself to make small talk. You will not get irritated when people say “how are you” and just want you to say “fine.” You will know how to spot other rainforest minds because you will know what to look for.

~ You will not force yourself to finish one book before you start the next one.

~ You will sort out what traits are the result of giftedness and what traits come from losses and/or traumas in childhood. You might need a therapist to guide you. Asking for help is not a weakness. Smart people need guidance, too.

~ You will set clearer boundaries with people because you know you can be compassionate while at the same time not take on burdens that are not yours. You will acknowledge that your giftedness does carry responsibility but it does not mean you have to rescue people who are obviously not asking to be saved, or people who have their different paths to walk. You will be clearer about what you can control and what you can not control.

~ You will relax your fears around disappointing others because you will apply all of that love, compassion, and acceptance you give to family, friends, and suffering humans everywhere, to yourself as well.

~ You will not freak out when your intuition is accurate and when you feel your connection to a powerful Source of Love and Light.

When you finally admit to yourself that you have a rainforest mind, that you are, indeed, gifted, then, you will be freer to follow your true paths because you will be better able to know where you need to go. You will feel more connected to yourself and what you are here to do and you will look for the right resources for support. You will be more open to receiving love and the sweetness of the larger Universe, of the invisible world. You will be more able to live your meaningful, purposeful, authentic life and to use your gifted traits for the benefit of yourself, your family, your community, and your world.

_______________________________________________

To my bloggEEs: I will believe it if you will! Let us know your thoughts, feelings, and questions. Much love and gratitude! (And thank you to the client who inspired this post.)

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.

16 thoughts on “Are You Ready To Admit You Are Gifted? Yes? What, Then, Are The Benefits?

  1. If I had my druthers, I would probably still not admit my giftedness. But sometimes it’s best not to be allowed to have our own druthers. I spent my entire known life (from 2-56) pretending I was the same as everyone else, and was confused and profoundly and deeply hurt that I was never accepted as such. I just always figured if I acted the part, I could experience what I believed to be the beautiful connectedness projected by “NTs'” (neuro-typical people). I have only recently [3 years ago] been forced to confront the idea of giftedness as being so much more than having a faster processor. While it is still tormenting to not be able to be allowed inside of the NT’s social bubble, but I am gradually learning that a beauty lies outside of that bubble. And I believe the intensity of it will make it well worth the sometimes tumultuous trip.

    Liked by 9 people

    • I think you’re onto something there Kevin — the intensity makes the trip worthwhile indeed.

      And truth is, the NTs don’t really have some magical profound connectedness that we ‘outsiders’ think we’re missing out on. Since they live life in many ways on a simpler level, they can seem very content and close and special with their friends….. but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t be bored silly after spending extended time with them.

      I do think one great way to feel that connectedness is to invest pieces of yourself into various NT groupings. Then you get to share the excitement and belonging of being part of a group without finding yourself feeling disappointed.
      e.g. I love ballroom dancing – the energy, exercise, coordination and mental focus it requires, along with that spiritual feeling of whole body/mind/spirit involvement is joyous for me. So when I spend time at the dance studio, I chat with fun people who are totally NTs but we all have a common love so we can share that deeply. I genuinely laugh and genuinely care about them and they care about me. I don’t think any of them seriously work at dancing like I do, but that doesn’t matter.

      The trick is to just share that portion of yourself (in this case, joy of dance and positivity and everyday life stuff) and realize, for their sake, that trying to explain to them why it’s critical that we immediately stop using fossil fuels or stop breeding incessantly just won’t work. It would make me unhappy that they didn’t “care”, and it would drive them away. I don’t hide who I am or what I care about if someone asks, but I keep it surface. I just invest my psyche and energy in enjoying the people around me for who they are and for what they have to offer. And yes, in that way, you get to feel the “beautiful connectedness” with NTs and to be yourself and laugh and cry and enjoy stories and share parts of yourself. You get to deepen your understanding of humanity, but also fill the empty spot inside you that needs love, acceptance and easy camaraderie. And there’s a lot of everyday life stuff that we all can relate to, so it can be truly fun and warm and ‘connected’.

      Us lucky RFMs kinda get to have our cake and eat it too, as we figure out what works for each of us. Give each of our “parts” the TLC they need. For instance, part of me desperately needs to keep my brain active and challenged, so am finishing MS in data analytics now. Part of me needs normal social group “happy times” so I ballroom dance with lessons and group classes and little competitions and chatting etc. A huge part of my soul needs the planet so I spend a lot of time outside gardening and building wildlife-friendly habitat and talking to frogs etc. And of course writing letters etc etc

      Don’t know if it would help you, but maybe thinking of tending to your many parts and depths with different solutions would let you enjoy that “beautiful connectedness” (I like your term πŸ™‚ ) with “normal folks” NTs in some activities; but also let you do other things to sooth and gratify the other myriad parts. Best of both worlds πŸ™‚

      Liked by 4 people

    • It is worth the trip, Kevin. Thank you for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

    • That is the journey. It is worth every step, every resignation and every duel. It is worth every new discovery, inward (which is where it has always been difficult for us to look the most), and towards the world, with that new look of self-acceptance that says: -and what does it matter if you see it that way? … shape and … say no more!
      It is not simple, and of course it has a price, but also a prize: PEACE.
      Good trip, Kevin OΒ΄Conell, towards your “manyness”
      Namaste

      Liked by 3 people

    • I totally feel you on that one, Kevin, and it seems as if you and I had been on very similar paths until here (I’m your age, b.t.w.). Prior to replying I read the comments immediately related to yours and itssue42’s ideas and suggestions sound very … well I would have to say wise in light of the adversity that being so different can and often does create. And I think that she kind of nails it for me in terms of an overarching “strategy” of how to best related to yourself as well as interact with the world out there which I find dominated by NTs (I try to stay non-judgemental, although “they”/the mainstream has given me quite a bit of a hard time several times… to put it mildly; it wasn’t until recently that it begins to dawn on me that “they”… simply and really don’t know any better and also – almost naturally – lack the imagination of even fathoming that there might be people whose “parallel processer runs a lot faster” as you so nicely put it (which is ONE part of the complex ‘make’ of the likes of ‘us’).

      You mention intensity. Again, only as of late do I seem capable of embracing that aspect in me and also find the self-assuredness of standing my ground with it, i.e. admit to myself that I can laugh hard and cry in the time span of 5 seconds depending on what happens in front of me or around me or to me. (the example is from having observed my response to a Netflix sitcom I had watched a while ago and am resuming on old episodes prior to treating myself to the new ones; I had indeed forgotten how incredibly enjoyable that particular series is/was and I literally laugh tears and burst into the latter a split second later depending on what the action on the screen and my deep empathizing with the characters invokes in me). So, longwinded story short: I’m with ittsue42 when it comes to finding a healthy way of relating to ourselves in our multi-faceted ways as well as in what and when and how to reveal our authentic self to others. (I just learnt the term “NTs” and I think I like it).

      In closing, I think it isn’t until now that I’m beginning to fully embrace the intensity and see it for what it is: A little extra share of that multi-flavored ‘pot’ served up by that mysterious phenomenon that our Universe – and us in it – is. (and to ittsue42: I’ve always deliberated joining a ballroom dancing class or get into Tango like Paula has or simply…. resume my activities as a live musician more again next to composing music, blogging or other creative outlets and potentially shaking out a modest income of some sort from either along the way). Thanks, guys – this was inspiring and reaffirming, I appreciate it! And thanks Paula for entertaining this very welcoming niche and space for us to meet at and interact on with one another!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I have found creative outlets to be so important, renovatio06. I suspect that as RFMs we really need them for our mental health and actually for our total sense of well-being. Go for it!!

        Liked by 2 people

        • I concur, Paula, re: creative outlets and activity as a true RFMs’ _need_! It really is way more than a “nice to have”, but rather more of a “must have”, at least where I’m concerned. Even in my darkest times or rather especially then I found immersing myself in some creative or inspiring activity revealing a therapeutic qualtity in and of itself. Spot on, I think!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. As always, Paula, it is a joy to REVEL, yes revel in your writings. You are so ‘spot on’. I deeply resonate with literally every paragraph you wrote on this topic.

    Interestingly, perhaps for some who took a similar path, I’ve always known I was “gifted”. It was just not acknowledged as such and I didn’t label myself as gifted. I didn’t know the word existed for a long time. I just was labelled as smart and skipped grades, graduated college early etc. I just knew that I was always the top of the class, the one teachers ignored, the one with the drive, the curiosity; the one that didn’t fit in, the one that made others uncomfortable, the one others always tried to use for their benefit. The one who said what they thought because isn’t that what everyone does? The concepts of dishonesty and phoniness didn’t exist in my world. So you know I got taken advantage of way too much by people who pretended to be friends so they could get help on numerous things. The one who was desperately lonely and just wanted to be seen by someone as lovable. Desperate for love and acceptance can make you do a lot of unwise things….

    For those who have chosen to be parents, I think it is imperative that RFMs be praised early on for their unique qualities; praised for perfect scores but also for 99% or for just being average or for just trying something to see whether you like it. I think it is critical to healthy emotional and mental development that RFMs get repeated reinforcement that they are special and wonderful just the way they are; whether they decide to be ordinary or superlative; and that they are no better or worse than any other being. All of us deserve love.
    I’m a classic case of person raised somewhat in the dark ages of psychology by a mother who was classically verbally abusive with never a comment on my perfection, but always a snide remark for anything less. (You only got a 99 on that algebra test, what did you do wrong?) My dad was gentle and average and garnered endless ridicule from my mother. I’m a textbook case of what a difference it would make to a kid to be accepted and loved for who they are, no matter what they do. And what a difference it would have made if anyone had praised me for any of my many achievements. I didn’t know at the time what praise was or realize how much difference it would have made to have someone be delighted for me when I won trophies at the horse shows etc. I was just made to feel guilty for making my younger sister feel badly for not being as good at anything as me.

    So I became that classic “abused/gifted” rebel in my teens; with all the depression, mood swings, underachievement, overachievement, eccentric behavior for laughs etc etc ad nauseum. I was clearly unlovable and lazy by my analysis, since I knew I could do much better. Of course I “should” always be the best at everything because I was lucky enough to be born that way. Went from early BS at 18 to taking 8 years to finish my first MS. Rollercoastered through life; always telling myself I wouldn’t get taken advantage of again, and yet falling for one more person because they acted like they were my friend…. what they really wanted was my credit card. Psychologists didn’t know any better; they also looked at what was wrong in your life — never saying you’re a unique treasure so life will be different for you than for most others.

    At almost 65 years, I discovered that there is a clan of gifted people known as Rainforest Minds; and then all of sudden I wasn’t unlovable. I came to quickly understand and accept that almost everything about me that others shy away from is just me being me. I don’t think all “gifted” people are RFMs but I’ve no doubt that all RFMs are definitely gifted. At least for those of us who have been on the planet a little longer, when “gifted” came into vogue in my circles it was equivalent to super-genius or stuck-up. Educators liked to tout that word for a while in ways that just made me feel more unlovable and more screwed up. Because, after all, apparently “gifted” people are perfect and incredibly good at what they do. They never falter or have bad years etc etc. Just made this “gifted” RFM feel worse.

    Well, that’s a lot of back door rambling to just comment on the term “gifted” in my experience. Maybe some of us shy away from it because we think it brings expectations of measuring up to “perfection” yet again. TV shows and social media and “news” media do NOT help the situation. So much overstatement and sensationalism of events and people can leave some of us mere mortals feeling we lack something since we didn’t cure cancer yet or …

    If this is too long, please don’t hesitate to delete it. πŸ™‚ I do get it if you need to do that. And these days, thanks entirely to you and your blogs, I am perfectly OK with that, without feeling like I ‘screwed up again’. Which puts a smile on my face.

    And whether it sounds corny or not, I truly think that if the wisdom in your blogs could be put in a bottle and given to all RFMS on a regular basis from the day we’re born, then this world would be a much better, healthier place now. All of us RFMs are incredibly dynamic humans with an enormous amount of untapped capacity to heal the world if we are given the right nutrients to flourish from birth.

    Liked by 8 people

    • And I am smiling, Sue, because you are feeling more self-acceptance. So glad you are here.

      Like

    • Dear god, Sue – this soooo resonates with me and reading how your own rearing went, it felt as if you had been alongside my own childhood and youth recounting it! Amazing! I will most definitely reiterate that term “wise” now in the context of what you so eloquently and empathically share with us from your own journey from getting abused – even from bio family – to self acceptance and even better: Self love! Wow! Your words are so inspiring to me and I’m glad I made time to read Paula’s latest blog entry and then find the comments and especially yours!

      I concur: If Paula’s experience with RFM/giftedness could be doled out as a pill, it should be on everyone’s “diet” and the world might change for the much better within weeks (I refer to “our” pace with that…LOL; NTs might still need a little longer to figure it out, which… that is the other part of acceptance and self care – is more than o.k., too).

      Thank you guys! Love you for being candid and sharing and aww… what a nice refreshing change to feel seen and embraced for being different! Thanks and then some!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Hello Paula! … I have been without sharing around here, making, leading, facing changes and generating processes … and your posts triggered many of my changes. Eternally grateful for that and for the timely gift. However, I have not been absent … I read every post I can … and I am happy to find myself a little more and more, although the price is some duels. So is this. Either you make the trip or you regret it all your life … deeply … Namaste.

    Liked by 2 people

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