Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

Why Do We Need A Blog For Super Smart, Sensitive, Creative, and Empathetic (Gifted!) People?

49 Comments

I am so glad you asked.

Here is why. In no particular order. Not all of the list will apply to you, of course, but if a lot of it does, you may just have to admit once and for all that you have a rainforest (gifted!) mind-heart-soul-spirit-body:

  1. You were told you were so smart from a very early age and that you needed to reach your great potential. This felt good in some ways but mostly like too much pressure.You still feel that pressure.
  2. No one explained to you what being gifted meant and you are still wondering. In fact, you do not really think it applies to you. You know people who are so much smarter and more accomplished.
  3. You were not identified in school as gifted because you did not fit the myth that says all gifted kids get good grades, excel in math and science, and color inside the lines.
  4. You were identified in school as gifted and did well in academics but no one explained what it meant and you were bullied because of it.
  5. You don’t understand why you are still procrastinating now that you are no longer in school.
  6. Being highly sensitive to textures, images, sounds, smells, tastes, colors, other’s emotions, medications, justice issues, and expectations, does not feel smart, but rather it feels like you are a high maintenance, complaining, ungrateful weirdo.
  7. Your fear of failure has you paralyzed a lot. You tell yourself you learn more from failures than successes but that doesn’t seem to help.
  8. Intellectual stimulation is hard to find. It is one of your basic needs.
  9. Your limited ability to execute the exquisite visions in your head has you confused and frustrated.
  10. Your intuition is a little scary and your empathy feels overwhelming a lot of the time.
  11. The parental advice you received of “just do your best” still has you tied up in knots. Always doing your best is an impossible expectation when you are gifted. This is not understood by, well, anyone.
  12. You are a highly successful CEO of a powerful organization, you have won countless awards, and you still feel inadequate.
  13. People are attracted to you because of your sensitivity and empathy but they rarely are able to reciprocate. It is hard to find friends or partners who can keep up with you. You are often lonely.
  14. Having traveled many varied career paths, you have suspected you are mediocre at many things but expert at nothing.
  15. You have wondered for years how people can be so slow.
  16. You are driven to find ways to create a more peaceful, equitable world. You are even thinking about going back to school for yet another degree to find solutions to the climate crisis, racism, and poverty.
  17. You have been careful all these years to hide how much you actually know and how much you love to learn, so much so that you doubt whether you were ever gifted at all.
  18. Your parents (and coworkers) think you are lazy because you take so long to finish mundane tasks but they don’t notice that you are adept at all the complicated stuff.
  19. You have been in therapy for years working through serious trauma in your family of origin. If you were really gifted, would healing take this long? And if you were really smart, why didn’t you save your parents, your siblings, your cousins, your neighbors, and your neighbor’s dog from all that suffering?
  20. You have a hard time determining if you are an overthinker, like they say you are, or if you are just a deep, analytical, divergent thinker who is extremely curious about, oh, everything. You would like to tell them that being an overthinker is better than being an underthinker.

Have I convinced you that we need a blog (this blog!) for super smart, sensitive, creative, and empathetic people? And, of course, all folks ought to have a blog written especially for them. Right? We all need to feel understood, seen, and loved.

And yet, my dearest rainforesters. This one is for you.

_______________________________________________

To my bloggEEs: What do you think? Which of these on the list resonate with you? Tell us about the challenges and joys you experience because of your rainforest mind. Thank you, as always, for being here. And, just a reminder, the Shift Network Summit on sensitivity, empathy and intuition starts November 15, 2021. I am speaking that first day! Won’t you join me? (If you find out about it after the 15th, you can still access it and watch or buy the package.)

Shift Network Empath Summit

Click here on my affiliate link for more information!

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.

49 thoughts on “Why Do We Need A Blog For Super Smart, Sensitive, Creative, and Empathetic (Gifted!) People?

  1. This post actually made me cry, which is slightly embarrassing as I am in a pub (“bar” for the US readers 😉
    The only point I probably disagree with is No. 8. I am in awe of many people’s writings and creations, but yes, you have to seek them.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Oh. my. god. I feel so incredibly seen by this blog entry.

    My question is: NOW WHAT? I have been following your blog for a few years, reading other people’s responses, but never leaving my own… As you have named over and over again, I’ve felt itchy about accepting the “gifted” label, picking it up tentatively and then when things I try fail, throwing it down and retreating into some very out-dated coping mechanisms to keep myself small (and safe). At the same time, it is absolutely true that my life is only getting better and I have managed to navigate myself into some really wonderful spaces and to do work that is quite fulfilling even as it requires a great deal from me energetically. It’s just that I keep thinking/feeling that I am not fulfilling my potential and that I don’t want to reach the end of my life and think “I wish I’d really trusted myself to…”

    I almost didn’t open this blog because I’ve read your articles like it and didn’t think I needed another description, and yet, I did, and I am sitting here completely gobsmacked by just how accurate this list is, and with this renewed/reinforced belief that yes, this is me… I just need to know NOW WHAT? What do I do with that knowledge? How do I find more/others (friends?)? How do I honor this part of myself without making other people feel awkward (without making myself feel awkward)? How do I trust that my perspective is wanted/needed when the messages I often got were that I was too much? How do I stay open to my gifts when they don’t result in actual success, but are often a source of pain and indecision and overwhelm?

    I am throwing this comment out as a life-line, in a way, as I am right on the cusp of an “up-leveling” in my life, and my brain is doing a lot of leg-work to keep me from getting too big for my britches… I recently scared myself by feeling empowered and gifted and seeing what was possible, and was “rewarded” by my brain going into overdrive with unkind oppressive thinking. I want to hold on to the more expansive state, but anxiety can often get the better of me. I want to tap more fully into my creativity, but the dailiness of daily life often overrides that need. I think what I’m saying is: how does knowing that I’m gifted actually help?
    “Grrr” and “argh” (and other sounds of exasperation mixed with hope).

    Also – thank you for your work in the world. As I said, I’ve been a quiet follower of your blog for a number of years. I so appreciate these moments when you help me see myself, and my rainforest mind, more clearly.

    Liked by 7 people

    • Good to hear from you, Kate. I will use your questions for future blog posts but there are some already that provide some answers, particularly the one about finding other RFMs. I just might start a post with your questions…keep an eye out for it. In the meantime, my first book goes into more depth as does The Gifted Adult by Jacobsen. And the quick answer is that knowing leads to more self-understanding and self-acceptance that provides the foundation for trusting yourself, your intuition, and inner guidance. Thanks for sharing.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Baby steps, Kate. Tap into your creativity by exploring something that has intrigued you for a long time and make a go of it with the full expectation that you’ll not be perfect and that you’ll probably make some errors. Approach it as play rather than an assignment or a test.
      Here’s my example:
      For years I’ve admired handcrafted art dolls. They’re all over Etsy and Pinterest. I’ve wanted to make some but Ms. Practical Mind always stopped me. I tried to make one years go but immediately gave up. “I can’t sew,” I told myself. I can’t, can’t, can’t …yawn.
      I believe books come to us when we most need them. I recently read The Rainforest Mind and then a book about resistance called, “The War of Art.”
      And well,
      I can.
      I did.
      In an effort to stop procrastinating, to stop wondering, to kick the fear of failure in the pants, and to kill crippling perfectionism, I finally made one. I made lots of mistakes but the learning process was powerful. I am creative. I am talented. It came out pretty durn good if I say so myself. Guh, that sounds so conceited, but oh well.

      Liked by 5 people

    • I am writing my response right now for the next post but while writing I found this old one that addresses some of these questions, Kate. https://rainforestmind.wordpress.com/2019/10/07/advice-for-gifted-adults-living-in-a-not-so-gifted-world/

      Like

      • Thank you for the links, and for the Jacobsen book recommendation. I own Your Rainforest Mind and am planning to revisit it next. I am having this dawning recognition (or re-realization) that there really is nothing “wrong” with me – even as I have gotten that message in various ways, and have reinforced it for myself in my innate perfectionistic tendencies (I have been working hard to transition this thinking into “excellentism” instead). I believe my liberation is in my own full embrace and ownership of all these aspects of what it is to be Kate, and am learning, slowly, how to honor and bless all of me. I look forward to your next entry, and in the meantime, have some reading to dive into. Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Most of the time, I only believe I am highly gifted not because of testing, but because there’s no other explanation for why I strongly relate to so much of what’s written in lists like this. Your work is so appreciated!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. #1, 2, 3, right off the bat. Further down this list I identify with #s 5, 6, 7. 8, 9, 10 , 14, and definitely 20. Thank you for creating this blog. This site and your book is powerful. I wish I could go back in time and hug my younger self and tell her she’s not dumb, she’s just rainforesty as hell.

    I’ve always identified with being dumb though I’ve been told by many that I am smart. I don’t know why people have thought that. I was ordinary in every way I can think of.

    I look back on school and feel I was developmentally behind on every subject. Topics and concepts barely anything clicked when it was supposed to. But I could read like a whirling dervish. My grades were mediocre at best in high school. I was academically lost but I muddled through with 3.0 at grad. I did not take any advance classes in anything. Math? Basic. Therefore I am dumb.

    I went to college at age 36 because I was tired of telling myself that I was dumb. I changed my major (English, history, psychology, anthropology) every semester, enjoyed the e experience and got all As in every class I took. I still can’t get beyond basic math. Therefore, I am still dumb forever and ever.

    My sister has a memory of my elementary school wanting to bump me up a grade but my mother deciding against it. I have no memory of this and my mom never told me this story. I only half believe this tale though my sister isn’t known to be a liar.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You can go back and hug your younger self, Elle! In a journal, you can write to her. In your imagination, you can picture her and hug her. Seriously, you can do this and let yourself feel the connection and any emotion that comes up, Tell her how rainforesty she is! It could be very intense so do it when you have plenty of time. My only caution is if there is abuse in your early life, this might bring up some anxiety and memories. If so, that’s a sign that you might benefit from therapy. OK? Thank you for sharing.

      Like

  5. There needs to be a place like this for conversations that get to the point and save time. For example, when I tell someone that I didn’t feel like I fit in as a kid, the usual reply is everyone feels that way at some point. After my most brief explanation possible that for me those words specifically mean that such a small percentage of the population has brain wiring similar to mine is a very different kind of not fitting in. Well, any hope for a normal conversation with the person is long gone. Here I can just say I’m 2E and get on with my thought.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Ahhh sigh of relief to be reminded that I’m not alone, not a hopeless unlovable weirdo and to be reminded again that there are at least a few thousand beautiful RFM people in this world who ‘get’ me. Your blog is a lifeline, and a continuing inspiration to keep at ‘it’ in life, never give up, embrace each new day and be you without having to conform to anyone else’s ideas of whether that’s enough, or acceptable, etc.
    No point in regrets, but what a thought…. IF I had found this blog 60 years ago or so, I never would have spent a lifetime wondering what was wrong with me. I so hope your philosophies and teachings reach young ears, ears at any age who desperately need to know that the reason they don’t fit isn’t about wrongness, it’s actually about being a truly special unique gem. These days I want to make myself a t-shirt that says something like “I am a Rainforest Mind and proud of it!” …. only in a clever and cute way with great graphics 😀

    You always make the sun come out Paula

    Liked by 7 people

  7. Spot on! Now I feel better. You are a treasure. Thank you. Many hugs from Sweden.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I was wrong again.

    “I will just read Paula’s blog for today and move on to whatever else I was doing.”
    #4 hurts the most I think. I thought we were all in school to learn new things and holy cow what a crazy cool world we have…but not everyone thought that way. Nor thinks that way.

    This entire post stopped me in my tracks, not just for #4. I just have so much trouble specifically identifying the items in the list and truly wish no one else had to deal with them too. I would take this burden from you all if I could.

    Thank you Paula for calling out that I am not as different from everyone as it feels.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are not alone, monstero2006!! Thank you for sharing. By the way, for some reason on my computer #4 comes out bold. I did not do that on purpose. I may go back and bold others so that is not the only one. It is weird!

      Like

  9. Loving every part of this blog! It had me smiling, crying, remembering, laughing, nodding in agreement and making faces like “hm.. ok! So thát was what they said (or at least meant to say)!”..

    One memory stuck, though. Ever since I was a small girl, I’ve been telling people to say what they mean and mean what they say. I take every word literally, so if you tell me something, make sure that I really get what you are saying/meaning. I remember discussions, telling people “but that’s exactly what you said!” when they denied it. With a photographic memory it was easy to replay the whole conversation. And all I got was “but I didn’t méan thát, I was saying *anything* else”. It always left me confused and sad, and feeling lonely because apparently I couldn’t understand what they said and they couldn’t understand my confusion and sadness.
    In my “traveling back” to my younger self, I can now finally give her the validation she needed, which is scary and good at the same time. Brings back a whole bucketload of other things as well, so now I’m just trying to slow down and stay on one thing until that is “out of my system”. And then rest for a while. Which is a true challenge for my brain, to stop the train at a station and stay there for a while. Just to rest, just because, feels unnecessary, but I know (ratio) that it is not. Hardest thing I’ve ever done so far, I guess, to slow my brain down and not following so many roads at the same time.

    Another one was being told by adults that I shouldn’t be such a smart-ass as a kid. Not asking so many questions, I was disrupting the class.. eh.. I couldn’t help it, the questions were out of my mouth as soon as I thought of them. Out loud. And follow up questions. And more follow up questions. Which ultimately led to the conclusion that the teacher couldn’t explain whatever it was. So “don’t be a smart-ass, shut up or remove yourself from the class”. Great teaching! 🙄🙈

    But I digress.. my initial point was that enjoyed all the reading, from the blog to all the reactions! Feeling seen, understood, not alone, and especially not weird! Thank you!! ❤️🙏

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Wow! This is incredible! Almost all of this applies to me! I would say all of them except for #3 and #5. Well… actually #12 applies just partially, as I am not a CEO whatsoever, but the second sentence in #12 is such an applicable diagnosis in my case! 😂

    Oh, and #13 is a particularly deep one! It goes straight to the core of my feelings.

    I was, however, slightly surprised by #18 (“Your parents (and coworkers) think you are lazy because you take so long to finish mundane tasks but they don’t notice that you are adept at all the complicated stuff.”) as in my case is the other way around: my friends, coworkers, maybe some of my family think I am a very “productive” living being, while I am the one acknowledging I’m actually lazy.

    As always: thanks for posting! It’s such a pleasure to read your blog!
    Kindest regards from Spain!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. If you find an answer, let me know! Unfortunately. your answer wouldn’t apply to me, because we are different people. From the perspective of 72 years, I can say that if I (not you, and possibly not anyone else!) could go back in time and advise my younger self, there are a few things that I would say..
    1. You don’t have to accept anyone else’ view of you. Consider it, yes, because they may see things in you that you don’t see–forest and trees phenomenon–but then make the choice to accept or reject it, and then move on.
    2. Many people will hate you because of who you are. That’s their problem. Your problem is when they have power over you and hate you for being you. Teachers and family come to mind. The only successful solution that I ever found was to view the situation as part of a game. Learn the rules and, if you decide that it’s worth it to you, play the game. This is very difficult to do when you are in kindergarten.
    3. Accept the fact that some people in your life will not play the roles that society assigns to them. Some people who you expect to protect you will instead attack. Don’t expect them to change.
    4. Accept the fact that you will have to hide you are from the majority of the people in your life. Should you be fortunate enough to find a few people–or a small group of people–with whom you can be yourself, cherish them and hold them close.
    5. You are not responsible for making other people happy. That’s their job.
    6. Never hurt anyone deliberately, but don’t hurt yourself to avoid hurting others.
    7. You are not responsible for solving other people’s problems. A solution may seem immediately obvious to you, but don’t voice it. The solution will only be accepted if the recipient believes that it is his or her own idea. Trying to gently lead them to see the obvious solution is acceptable and positive. Telling them what to do is neither.
    8. Accept the fact that most interactions with others will require verbal and emotional gymnastics. Practice. those. Remember that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve proficiency.
    9. Never, never, never give up!

    Liked by 5 people

  12. I laughed with recognition. Especially the highly sensitive part, I often hate myself so much for that. We moved to this new house a few weeks ago and I can’t sleep because a TINY bit of light comes through the shutters. For non-sensitive people it’s just night and dark, for me it’s like a flashlight on my eyes, especially when the weather’s cloudy. So now I’m making an extra set of stick-on curtains with ‘velcro’ to cover that. Never did that, they look like they were made by a six-year-old but they should do the trick 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Pegi, ❤️
    I’m feeling a bit heartsore just now for different reasons, mostly feeling lonely, not seen, and feeling that I give to others emotionally while they are often incapable of reciprocating (not really their fault, just circumstances of range, a point echoing Paula’s no. 13 above).
    Your words, born from the dignity of experience, apply a little balm to my soul this evening. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Thank you, Paula ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m contemplating my next career direction. Again. As I do every few years. Not all resources are geared for that. This one is helpful.

    Because this site says – you are going to overthink things. Or maybe it’s the right amount of thinking. And here are some ideas to deal with it.
    Because this site says – Looking for your next career move? Again? Isn’t it exciting to have so many options! And here are some ideas to deal with it.
    Because this site says you are not the only one wrangling with these things. And some of them are the flip sides of some really good qualities!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. a detail, but I’m very sensitive to light, in the evening I only have a few very soft lights on, this weekend I changed a lightbulb for one better suited for a room, and it makes me happy every time I put the light on, that the light is now just right and not to glary. Not something everyone understands… I’m very glad I work at home always, because the light, the temperature, I now can choose, in the office it was so hard for me not to be able to change that when it was too much for me

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Hello Paula, I hope all is well – it has been a few months since I have read your blog, but glad to be back now. Thank you for writing this entry – it touched my heart. I definitely resonate with so many points above — especially # 6, 8, 15, 17, and 20! Gosh, 8 is so difficult, and it can be isolating at times when we cannot find someone on our intellectual wavelength. Needing intellectual stimulation is like needing to breathe, ha ha. It can be difficult for me, I only have two friends that are into deep talks, and others we connect through being university students and humor, but sometimes that is simply not enough. I have come to appreciate solitude, so I know I can get my intellectual fill from reading an array of books, but at times, it would be nice to share it with many people – it does cause loneliness at times and I still have a hard time simply accepting it after all these years, but I do enjoy alone time quite a lot. Though, it would be nice to be able to connected with more rainforest minds in my area — definitely not easy for us but I think appreciating alone time really does help to some extent.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. As I’ve been living in nothing less than a full blown existential crisis – or even crisEs – for many years now, which is something I only realized today in its full scope, coming here and seeing other beautiful individuals with their share of struggling and finding direction in a world that appears having gone utterly insane even pre–Covid–19 has been one of my go-to measures to prevent me from quite frankly going completely off my rockers…. And revisiting the bullet points above in your enumeration of reasons why we need you and each other seems to affirm, how next to other even more pronounced and obvious struggles in my life all or most of the above has been so intimately infused with everything I felt, sensed, lived through (painfully). If I were prompted to pick two from the list, mine would be 8. and 15. (but really all of them, yes). What is more and that’s a bit of a shock to me: If I’m so smart, intuitive, oversensing, overthinking, overprocessing and taking ten times longer than everyone else, how come it took me half a century (minus a few years) to realize that other people’s minds and hearts truly _don’t_ operate the way that mine/ours do(es)? (And why the heck do I feel the need to string armies of words together instead of cutting to the chase while complaining that everyone else was slow….?)

    I will say this: Communion and community, a feeling of mutual resonance, the oh-so-well-known feeling of belonging (for most others neuro-non-divergents) are possibly the “currency” I’d attribute the most meaning to for myself and my life, maybe even in general. I found that in literary figures in my teens, sort of substitute father figures in older (male) friends later as well as – unfortunately – mistaking some females in my life for good candidates to fill in the gaps of undernourishment with motherly qualities.

    All that said and shared in probably way too much candor than is healthy for anyone, next to your blog, Paula, I recently found a gentleman and his brain children (books, interviews, lectures), whom I had never heard of before and it hits me like a hurricane how I could have missed him. His name is Jamie Wheal (Google or any other search engine will get you to his YouTube or homepage, if interested) and he seems to deliver on the most salient ones of your bullet points in his offerings of _perspective_ as well appliccable, accessible techniques to get to and realize your potential as well as well–being. And I’d say, particularly so for people of ‘our’ ilk.

    Sorry for getting so longwinded every time. You of all people will know best, where all this is coming from. 😉 Thanks so much for offering a spot in the vast recesses of the oversaturated internet for us to catch our breath when the world seems like a jungle all out to get the better of us! It is priceless what you do.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. P.S. This is not a prompter to go astray, he is not a psychologist, therapist or similar, although my impression is that he gets booked a lot to coach decision makers, share his visions with other visionaries and associated organisations etc. But not in a one-on-one therapeutic scenario, although his words have that exact effect on me. I felt it necessary to add this, lest you get the idea I was trying to have your bloggEEs veer away from your fine offering. Not at all. Sorry, if I gave that impression for a moment.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Hello Paula. I hope all is well. May I ask what your MBTI personality type is? (I am guessing it’s INFJ-A. Am I right?) Also, what’s the most common MBTI type in RFMs? (My type is INTP-T.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Danielle, I am an INFJ. You are correct. I don’t know what that last letter stands for! I haven’t taken the test in a while so maybe that last letter has been added more recently?? I haven’t done any research about RFMs and the MBTI. It would be interesting to find out. Thanks!

      Like

      • Had never heard of MBTI so couldn’t resist reading up on it. Is it genuinely a useful tool for RFMs? It purports to allow experienced practitioners to provide insights and assistance to people based on knowing their MBTI profile.
        By the way, in my reading, I came across T versus A; stated to be turbulent versus assertive.

        Liked by 1 person

        • The MBTI is a good resource for anyone. It can help a person understand themselves better and also improve relationships at home and in the workplace. It’s been around for some time and I believe it has a good reputation as a reliable assessment tool. Interesting, the T and A. Thanks, Sue.

          Like

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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.