Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

The Woman Who Did Not Know Herself – A Journaling Technique


(To my bloggEEs: The following is a recent journal entry of mine. It is a technique I use to figure something out that is bothering me. I always start with “Once upon a time there was a woman who…” and then I write about the thing that is upsetting me, or about the question I have. I let the story unfold and keep writing until an answer appears or I have a shift in my irritability. Here is my example. Give it a try and let us know how it went or what questions you have. I will be storing this post also on my Personal Musings page.)


Once upon a time there was a woman who was lost and confused. She had a good life. Fulfilling job. A sweet, safe home. Reliable, loving friends. A popular blog. Left-wing relatives. Healthy body. Stable income. Published books. Effervescent hair. Intelligence. Creativity. A good heart. 

But something was out of whack. 

She worried. Who the heck was she really?  In spite of her quite good life, it seemed she did not really know who she was. Just so you know she did realize this was a “first world” problem. And she was truly grateful for all she had. But, as part of her drive to grow and contribute, she knew addressing her out-of-whackitude was essential. 

So, one day, she made a list. 

Who was she?

  • Psychotherapist to smart people?
  • Tango dancing blogger?
  • Shy homebody?
  • Jewish girl from Delaware?
  • Belly dancer wannabe?
  • Former amateur actress-singer-dancer?
  • Oldest blogger ever?
  • Therapy junkie?
  • Spiritual seeker and highly sensitive person?
  • International consultant to gifted humans?
  • Kind, open-hearted soul?
  • Mediocre sister?
  • Quirky auntie?
  • Rainy day appreciator?
  • Dysfunctional family survivor?
  • Journal writer? Author?
  • Obsessed introspector?
  • Secret fangirl of Broadway musicals?
  • Reluctant cook?
  • Book and music lover?
  • Anxiety-prone, melancholic, emotional, post-menopausal witch?
  • Singer of songs from other dimensions?
  • Writer of self-help books for brainiacs?
  • Emerging Instagram video queen?
  • Overeater on lonely nights?
  • Undercover and driven change-the-world activist?
  • Introverted persnickety boundary setter?
  • Seeker of her soul’s mate?
  • Accidental human?
  • Impostor earthling?
  • Rainforest minder?
  • Deep, divergent overthinker?
  • Underachieving priestess?

The length of the list surprised her. It was encouraging. It turned out she was not at a loss for identity at all. She had many. Like Walt Whitman said. Multitudes. And, of course, she knew she did not have to pick just one. She could be all of those things. And more.


This was a relief. This knowledge put her back in whack. It suddenly became clear that she did not know herself because she was trying to be, well, normal.

But trying to be normal, she realized, was just wacky. 


To my bloggEEs: What do you think of the journaling technique? Did you try it? You might also make a list of your own multitudes. It could help on the days you feel out of whack. Or just plain wacky. Thank you, as always, for being here. 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.

16 thoughts on “The Woman Who Did Not Know Herself – A Journaling Technique

  1. Hmmmm…….interesting. I think I will give this technique a try and see what happens.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s it! All of those and more. Normal in “our” (your) way, which might not be normal for many people, but for “us rainforestminders” it is very normal. No other way to look at it.
    Which is exactly the issue I have with the question (Jim Steward way) of “tell me who you are?” Ehm.. do you have an hour or so? I’ll get there in the end..

    As for the journaling technique: I do this by talking out loud to myself. Whole conversations I have, where at the end of it I finally know what’s bothering me. Sometimes it’s a major breakthrough, sometimes it’s really something silly. But it helps! Ok, people tend to look funny at me when I’m outdoors walking with Indie, but then I’m just having a conversation with him. He doesn’t mind 🙄🐶. I’m just the “talking to dogs” lady around here 🤣. (I do this to all dogs, people really call me crazy for it, but the dogs love it (and me too for that matter) and it makes me happy!).
    I’ve not been very good with pen and paper lately (arthritis playing up), my laptop is my enemy (sooo slow..), so this is the next best thing I can think of to journal. Downside is that it is not recorded, so no way of retracing my thoughts, upside is that once I get to the point where I have my answer, the road to that conclusion doesn’t matter anyway. Except when I get sidetracked.. which happens often, so I force myself to stay on the “main road”, and revisit the “side road” later. Which I forget. And end up having a similar conversation again to get to the side road so I can follow that one. And the one after that, and so on..
    Exhausting? Mwah.. 🤪

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for sharing your talking out loud, clignett. That works better for some people for sure. I just prefer writing and I do have pages of old stories. I don’t often reread them but when I do it is a bit intriguing to see what I was going through and how I worked on it with the story. I always try to add some humor and that also helps my process. Always good to hear from you.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Yes! This is exactly what I do too — it works amazingly well. I think it’s why I need to have big chunks of my day to myself so I can work out verbally what I’m feeling and why and what to do about it to get motivated. My rock, my Dougie beagle, just listens idly unless food topics arise.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Ooooh, I’m definitely going to try this. Your list had me going ‘yep, me too’ to pretty much everything. I’m also giving up trying to be normal, it’s too tiring. I also really like the reply from ‘clignett’, I totally relate. I love having a spot on the vast internet where I can say ‘other people like me exist in the Universe so that makes it ok’.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. This is just perfect and wonderful. Both to get to know the inside of your head a bit more and because it makes me feel, well, a bit more normally abnormal? Almost like that was your intention. 😉 Thank you, Paula. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Delightfully refreshing with an unexpected (at least to me) conclusion that makes SO much sense! Made me smile my truly happy ahah smile, because this does indeed describe us, and our sometimes discomfort with our own multitude of interests and personalities. A big help, actually makes me feel better about myself on those days when I am so angry with myself because I don’t feel like doing (fill in the blank), when normally that’s something I really enjoy. No wonder nobody can stand to be around me for too long; like being with 20 different people all charging about at high speed. 😀

    Liked by 3 people

  6. You are AMAZING, Paula! You are SO many incredible things! I’m a few of the same, and of course different ones, as well. Perhaps for those of us who are many things, it’s the shifting back & forth, or moments when we’re not *currently* being one of those things that we feel lost. Sitting here right now I’m an Overwhelmed Procrastinator about to make a to-do list for clarity. Later I will try your method with a particular issue that’s been bothering me about myself lately. I can just tell you now, I’m sure it will work! lol!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Interesting! I’ve done something similar since I was a very young girl in elementary school, but kind of the opposite exercise. I would sit with eyes closed and list off these types of identifications one by one mentally noting who I believed myself to be, then rephrasing it. Something like this:
    I am a book lover. No, this is something I enjoy, but it’s not who I am.
    I am a rainy day appreciator. This is something that gives me cozy feelings, but it is not who I am.

    I would go through a list of these things, strip myself down, removing the details of daily life from my identity in an attempt to see myself without these trappings – since they are all so transitory and really just preferences vs. who we are.

    These days though, I have come to a new conclusion. Since we are mostly unconscious, our true motivations, goals, and needs are often obscured by the stories our minds tell us, I believe it is likely impossible to truly “know ourselves.” I find this freeing. We can create, express, be, but maybe never truly “know.” Maybe feeling is as close as we get.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Pingback: The Woman Who Did Not Know Herself – A Journaling Technique — Your Rainforest Mind – kaseygranger

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