Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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You Agree, You Are Gifted — Now What?

I rant a lot about how you need to recognize you have a rainforest mind so you can find greater self-acceptance, self-confidence, and move ahead into your fulfilling, meaningful, creative life. Right? But what if you already know you are gifted? What then?

A blog reader put it this way:

(photo from Unsplash)

“…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?…”

What a great bunch of questions. Here are my answers:

What do I do with that knowledge?

You use it to finally make sense of and love the complicated jungle of fabuliciousness that is you.

How do I find more/others (friends)?

Gifted folks are hard to find. And even when you find one, they may not be quite right for you. I have written about it here. And here. One basic strategy: Take what you know about rainforest-mindedness and look for others while doing things you love. Use your intuition to sniff out the gifted souls. Then take the brave step of introducing yourself and asking them to coffee or tea or to the library. If they look at you like you are out of your mind, then move on, giving yourself credit for your courage and knowing it is sad for them that they will never know the amazing you, and they must be a muggle disguised as a wizard. If they say, yes, you still may need to court them for a while if they have busy lives. But it will be worth it if they are a good catch. Eventually, they will thank you for it. One way to improve the odds of finding someone is to start or join a Silent Book Club. Reading, of course, is likely to attract many RFMs which will make your job much easier. It is never too late to find your besties.

How do I honor this part of myself without making other people (and myself) feel awkward?

You honor yourself by learning to trust yourself, no matter what others think, and regardless of any looming imaginary or real failures. Or potential successes. That said, you will need to be cautious when talking about giftedness. Using the G word could trigger resentment, ridicule, or rejection. Using the rainforest metaphor when explaining who you are, might make it easier, especially if you use my quiz as a way to add some humor. But even that requires some finesse. One approach would be to avoid using any label and just talk about your traits. In other words, talk about how you are super analytical, a divergent thinker, a lover of learning so many things, and so on. Sharing who you truly are with close friends and caring family is important. It just takes some delicate navigation. Then again, when you find like minds, little or no finesse is required.

How do I trust that my perspective is wanted/needed when the messages I often got were that I was too much?

It depends on the circumstances. You will probably need to evaluate each particular situation for the other person’s readiness for your perspective. The reality is, with advanced intelligence, others may not be able to keep up with you or even understand the depth or the complexity of what you are sharing. This may be the too muchness they are referring to. It is not your fault. You may need to ask if they want to hear your thoughts. Use your intuition to decide if the timing is right. Then again, if you were told you were too much by dysfunctional family members and you are now living with people who know and appreciate you, it is likely you can be yourself with abandon.

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?

Take plenty of time for introspection to examine and heal the pain. Journaling and therapy might help, along with time in nature and a spiritual practice. With indecision, you may need to work on perfectionism and self-doubt but also give yourself credit for your creative mind that comes up with so many possibilities. Learning to trust your intuition helps with indecision. For the overwhelm, start a regular self-soothing or meditation practice. Recognize your sensitivities as strengths, because they are.

And, well. I will embrace your giftedness, your complicated jungle of fabuliciousness, until you can. OK?

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To my bloggEEs: Please share your thoughts, feelings, and questions. You know how much your comments enrich this blog. Much love to you all. And thank you to the bloggEE who posed these questions!

(Note: If you are feeling anxious about the upcoming holiday season, here and here are my favorite posts. Read them and know you are not alone!)


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

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.

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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!


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If You Were Gifted, Wouldn’t You Be An Arrogant Know-It-All With Two PHDs in Astrophysics?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

Click here to watch me pontificating (briefly) on the subject.

In case you do not want to watch me pontificate and you would rather read a more detailed version of my pontification, here ya go:

I have met a whole lot of gifted folks in my somewhat quirkified life. I realize this is unusual. But somehow I fell onto this career path when I was a youngster in my 20’s teaching in a public school. Colleagues noticed I was teaching in a somewhat unconventional way and suggested that gifted children would respond well to my flexible, creative, project-centered, self-paced, empathy-oriented classroom. Not really knowing what a gifted child was, I went for it anyway, and found a job teaching in a gifted pullout program in a middle school.

(photo Cancer Institute, Unsplash)

Those colleagues were right. It was my dream job. The kids were eager to learn, divergent thinkers, funny, sensitive, super smart, kind-hearted, and Star Wars and Shakespeare fanatics. None of them were arrogant know-it-alls. None of them. (although a few of them are likely to have PHDs now, maybe even in astrophysics)

Then, in my late 30’s, I left teaching to pursue my passion for all things psychotherapeutic. I had been a client in counseling for a while and found the process fascinating. Even though I was diving into the abyss of my somewhat miserable childhood, I loved the attention and companionship of a skillful, compassionate guide. I was determined to retrieve all of the pieces of my broken heart and live a more whole, authentic, meaningful, confident, make-a-difference life. It was a no-brainer, then, to go back to school for a counseling degree and start a private practice.

It became clear pretty quickly that I ought to specialize in working with gifted souls. They had particular traits, sensitivities, and experiences that required a finely tuned, informed, sensitive, and aware approach. I imagined that their tendencies to be introspective and their desires for depth, healing, insight, and transformation, would be a good match for my therapeutic style and interests.

I was right. Another dream job that fit my quirkified life well. Then, many years later, I started this blog. And because of the blog, I expanded my practice to include international consulting. And guess what? Still. No arrogant know-it-alls. After all these years. All around the world.

( Note: OK. I realize it is possible that gifted arrogant know-it-alls exist but don’t go to therapy or do not want to consult with me. It is possible. Or, perhaps, I have some magical powers that keep them at bay. So, there is that.)

But, if you are still not convinced, here is a little more proof. As you know, if you have been reading my blog for a while, the gifted humans I see still stumble over the G word. Many of them know how much they don’t know and do not realize how much they do know. They do not see their very high standards and expectations, their complex sensitivities, their creative thinking, and their rage to learn as indications of giftedness. And so, they prefer to describe themselves as rainforest-minded. It feels more appropriate, more equitable, and more descriptive. Not g-g-gifted. Just rainforest-minded.

Not arrogant. Not know-it-alled.

Pontification. Over and out.

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To my bloggEEs: What do you think? Do you agree? Are there arrogant know-it-alls in your life? Are they gifted? Have you heard about the study that looked at how quite intelligent people underestimate their capacities and less intelligent people overestimate their intelligence? That might account for some of the arrogance you run into. OK. I’m sure there is some gifted arrogant know-it-alling out there, y’all. Just not in the overwhelming numbers that the myth would have you believe. What other myths of giftedness are you aware of? Let us know your thoughts. And thank you, as always, for being here.

And, if you are interested in learning about your empathy and sensitivity, there is a Summit coming in November 15-19, 2021 sponsored by The Shift Network. I am one of the speakers! It is one of those events that is free to attend and then you can pay to have it permanently. The links here are affiliate.


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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.)

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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.

Well. 

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. 

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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.


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Answering Simple Questions When You Are A Deep Thinker or What Do You And Jon Stewart Have In Common?

Difficult questions for many of the rainforest-minded include: How are you? What is your favorite book? What do you do for a living? Where did you put your keys?

In your experience, the answers to these questions require time and thought and nuance. Except maybe the keys question. That one requires attention to what you might consider mundane, boring details that take your attention away from the captivating worlds of philosophical profundities, scientific anomalies, and Jane Austen.

Jon Stewart

As an RFM, you are a deep thinker, a divergent creator, a questioner, a curiosity junkie. You say, “It depends” a lot or “It’s not that simple.” Analyzing, debating, and swimming in the depths of an idea or a creative pursuit might be your favorite pastime. And yet. This can make relationships challenging. Friends and family may not want to hear your musings over the latest discoveries in epiginetics or your angst over the extinction of the western black rhinoceros.

It can be a lonely existence unless you find others who welcome your mental contortions and who are enthralled by your drive for meaning and excellence.

So, I am here to tell you that you are in good company. You are not alone. There are others out there just like you. I know this because I talk to them every day. They are all over the world. Granted, there are not large numbers of them on Planet Earth yet. But, if you are patient, and if you are on your introspective self-compassion socially responsible journey finding your paths to meaning and purpose, you will eventually run into one or two or even more. Here are some specific suggestions on how to find them.

If all else fails, you can craft a career that attracts them, like, say, psychotherapy and consulting for smart people. But if you are not convinced, that, one, you can find others like you, and two, your particular style of answering seemingly simple questions is actually quite common among the big thinkers of the world, enjoy this clip of two seriously rainforest-y men as one of them grapples with the difficult question: What is the best sandwich? (the question comes up at about the 2.50 minute mark)

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To my bloggEEs: Don’t you just love these men? They are such great examples of rainforest-minded intelligence, sensitivity, social responsibility, and humor. Tell us your experiences with finding friends and partners and with the challenging questions of life. And don’t give up on discovering your own Jon Stewart + Stephen Colbert relationship.


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A Totally Anecdotal Unscientific Explanation of a Particular Variety of High Intelligence from an Absolutely Nonacademic Tango Dancing Psychotherapist

Did you know that if you search for scholarly articles that define intelligence you will find 46,200,000 of them? If you look for articles defining giftedness, you will find 7,550,000. So, it is probably appropriate that I do not write one of those. Instead, I will tell you what I have seen after working with a particular variety of highly intelligent (gifted) humans for, oh, more years than you want to know. (Let’s just say, I was in my 20’s when I started in gifted education and now I am, gulp, in my 60’s.)

(photo courtesy of Boudhayan Bardhan)

The particular variety of high intelligence I know and love is, what I have called, the rainforest-minded. Not all gifted folks have the traits I will be describing and truly all rainforest-y souls are unique, complex, creative, highly sensitive, mosquito-ish, and extraordinary. (Think jungle.) That said, there are some characteristics and issues I have seen through the years that many of these complex creatures have. And it is important to examine, understand, and explain these particularities so that the rainforest-minded can thrive. After all, they provide us with oxygen when we don’t chop them down or burn them up. Right? And, in today’s world, we need our oxygen more than ever.

People argue over the definitions (thus 7,550,000 articles) but I often find it easy to identify these folks. I mean, really. When your eight-year-old says he wants to be Richard Feynman for Halloween, do you really need more evidence than that? When your four-year old is crying over the beauty of a Mozart concerto? When your ten-year-old screams when you take away her BBC documentaries? When your six-year-old is reading Harry Potter?

And what do those behaviors reveal? Passion for learning. High levels of sensitivity and empathy. Depth and breadth in understanding advanced concepts. Early acquisition of certain skills.

And there is more. Much more: Divergent thinking, perfectionism, intuition, seeking deep meaning and spirituality, difficulty with decision-making, multiple interests and abilities, many career paths, social responsibility, making connections between seemingly unrelated objects, unending curiosity, nonstop thinking, intense emotions, driven curiosity, existential depression, anxiety, difficulty finding suitable friends and partners.

Take Ebony. Sixteen. Intense. Talks fast, thinks fast, moves fast. Asks questions no one can answer. Struggles in school: Doesn’t turn in papers that aren’t up to her standards. Procrastinates to avoid feeling like a failure if she gets less than an A. Tries to engage her classmates in some intellectual repartee when all they want is to watch Survivor. Feels a spiritual and intuitive connection to the ocean and ravens. Lonely for a friend who gets her and who has read Lord of the Rings 11 times.

Or Carlos. Forty-two. Self-taught, successful IT expert. Highly sensitive, empathetic, and emotional. Bullied in school because he preferred grasshoppers and string theory to football. Spends hours writing a three sentence e-mail. Repeats himself often in an effort to be deeply understood and to calm his anxiety. Researches for days in order to make a decision. A slower, deliberate, deep thinker and processor. Wants to learn to dance the Argentine tango so that he can finally experience being followed.

Meet Frances. Fifty-nine. After running her own children’s bookstore, raising two kids and their friends, volunteering on the board for the ballet, and remodeling her home, she is in her latest job working as a city planner. She is considering going back to school for another degree because she has always wanted to be an art therapist or a landscape architect or a stand-up comedian. She thinks she is flakey or shallow because she has walked so many different career paths. Her sense of social responsibility keeps her awake most nights. Her intuitive abilities frighten her.

Ebony, Carlos, and Frances. They are the rainforest mind variety of gifted. If you find some gifted folks who are linear-sequential thinkers, who are super competitive, who thrive in school, in the corporate world, and in more traditional environments, we love them but they are not Ebony, Carlos, or Frances. They don’t live the jungle life.

But you do. Anecdotally. Unscientifically. Absolutely.

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To my bloggEEs: Do you know people who might be gifted but not rainforest-y? Do you live the jungle life? Tell us all about it. Your comments are so lush, fertile, wet, tangled, valuable. Thank you, as always, for being here.


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Why Bother Understanding Giftedness — Won’t They All Be Fine Because They Are So Smart?

No. Not really. Nah. Nope. It’s complicated. The gifted kids and adults I have known over the years have much more going on than just “smartness” — smartness, that is often defined as excelling in school, getting high grades, winning academic awards, attending Ivy League college, or becoming the wealthy corporate CEO. And that is where the problem often begins. We need to get more specific about what being smart, or better yet, what being gifted, actually is. (Note: It may or may not include those academic, achievement-oriented things and, yet, it is so much more.)

The gifted humans I have known are clearly intellectually advanced, deep thinking, extra-perceptive, quite analytical, creative problem solvers, highly sensitive, and intuitive. There is no doubt they crave learning new ideas, are introspective, compassionate, and make unusual connections between, oh, all the things. Being academic, achieving in a school setting, may not be where they show themselves, if the school environment is not keeping up with their capacity to think, understand, interpret, evaluate, synthesize, create, question, intuit, laugh, and reflect on concepts, ideas, philosophies, theories, emotions, insights, and facts.

Another way to describe these folks, other than by the rainforest mind analogy that we all know and love, is with a hyperlink model. The more gifted, the more hyperlinks. Making multiple connections between what seem to be unrelated ideas. Constant analysis, synthesis, and revelations. Hyperlinks within hyperlinks.

So. How might that feel to them? To you?

Exhilarating. Exhausting. Fascinating. Isolating. Stimulating. Starving. Energizing. Confusing.

Am I right?

I will focus on the challenges here because, well, that is the part where you, and others, need convincing.

Some examples come to mind, in no particular order: Sitting in meetings, day after day, month after month, waiting for coworkers to come to consensus on the conclusion you drew last year, waiting for colleagues to finish debating irrelevant information, waiting for someone to appreciate the nuance you bring to the discussion. Sharing only portions of your vast knowledge and talents in many areas for fear of judgment, rejection, or misunderstanding. Showing only small parts of yourself for fear of overwhelming others with your energy, enthusiasm, and curiosity. Constantly adapting to your environment so you can be understood and accepted. Smelling someone who needs a root canal. Enduring criticism for needing multiple career paths and for doing more than one project at a time. Grappling with learning disabilities that confuse and frustrate your intense appetite for knowledge. Never finding a mentor or guide who knows more than you do. Settling for friendships that are limited in depth and range. Being bullied in school because you want to spend recess in the library. Terrified to make a mistake because in your mind errors mean you actually are not gifted. Listening to audio books and podcasts at faster speeds to avoid boredom. Despairing over the suffering on the planet and being called dramatic by family members. Diagnosing your illness when the doctors can’t. Unable to turn off your thinking and worrying to fall asleep or just relax. Pressured to live up to others’ expectations. Pressured to not disappoint your parents and teachers who rely on you. Achieving mastery in your field(s), winning those awards, and still feeling like you are not enough. Desperate to find even one person for meaningful dialogue and open-hearted relationship.

And, finally:

Considerable self-doubt, self-criticism, and anxiety for many reasons but also because you imagine all of the REAL gifted people are high achieving, valedictorian, Ivy League, confident, super star CEOs who are all fine because, well, they are so darned smart.

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To my bloggEEs: What do you think? Am I describing you? How? What other examples do you have? Is there someone you know who needs to read this? Thank you for sharing your feelings, thoughts, and questions. As you know, my blog wins the prize for best comments ever. Much love to you.


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Fear Of Failure, Fear Of Success, Passion For Excellence — The Complexity Of Perfectionism

My 5 minute intro video

Before we get into it, I have to share this moment of insight. Have you struggled with what to say when people ask you, what do you do for a living? Or they want to know, how are you? Or they ask you for your favorite book or your favorite color or your favorite documentary or your favorite anything? Well my friends, here is your one size fits all answer. You say: IT’S COMPLICATED. Then, if they look at you smiling expectantly, you can elaborate. If they glaze over, groan, or walk away mumbling, you know you don’t have to waste your time explaining.

And so it is with perfectionism. Complicated. I’ll never forget the gifted teenage boy I was working with. He wasn’t doing well in school and his parents were trying to figure out why. I don’t remember what I said in the moment but I remember his response. “It’s not that simple. It’s never that simple.” He was so right.

There are two types of perfectionism. Intrinsic or healthy. Extrinsic or unhealthy. I have written about intrinsic before. Here. And extrinsic here. And here.

Today, I am going to give you a new look at the intrinsic variety and then share my thoughts about the client dilemma I mention in the video above. Her fears of failure and success.

Intrinsic perfectionism is the innate version that is your deep, heartfelt striving for beauty, balance, harmony, justice, and precision. It is not ego-driven or pathological. It is what your soul must have to feel nourished, authentic, and met. It comes naturally to you. You may not realize that many others do not have this, so they (and you) may label it obsessive, neurotic, controlling, or compulsive.

It is not any of those things.

I don’t usually use celebrities as examples but I happened upon this YouTube interview of Barbra Streisand. She personifies intrinsic perfectionism. If you know of her acting, singing, and directing, all of it is extremely meticulous, detail oriented, precise– in films, down to each single frame (she says in the interview). And this drive is not just professional. In the video, she talks about her personal need for beauty and how carefully she has designed her home. Colors, textures, sounds, tastes, smells. This is not a wealthy person being self-indulgent. This is a gifted human with the highest standards for beauty, balance, harmony, and precision. And when it comes to justice, she has that, too. Streisand is an outspoken activist who cares deeply and has contributed quite a lot to creating a better world.

Granted, you are probably not a celebrity, but I am betting you can relate to this description. As I say in my video, your job is to embrace this about yourself and appreciate the extraordinary quality that emerges when you live this way. That said, there will be days when you can’t quite satisfy these standards– many moments when there is no time because you still have to do the laundry. Thus, you will need to evaluate the specific situation you are in. Is supreme depth and highest quality really necessary here? Might your standards be lowered in this particular case?

Consider, then, there will be times when you will need to prioritize. Otherwise, some important tasks may be missed. Relationships may be neglected. For example: Do you really need to send the perfect email to your friend? Does the apple pie need to look gorgeous as long as it tastes delicious? Will your three year old really notice if the birthday party is skipped this year? Does the newsletter you design and write for your electric utility job need to be visually stunning and comprehensive so that you have to work overtime to complete it when, chances are, your customers will toss it in the recycle bin unread?

Priorities.

Got it?

Now, referring to my client’s fears of failure and success, what did I tell her as she was unable to learn the new painting technique quickly and easily? When she was tempted to quit because she did not feel she had natural talent and was not used to having to work at something, having to practice, and struggle to learn?

This: It’s complicated. You are not used to struggling because typically you learn many things quickly. But it is good and appropriate that some things take time and practice. This is how it is for most people. You may want to quit because this struggle may confirm in your mind that you are not gifted after all. But giftedness does not equal advanced abilities in all areas all the time! And you need to model for your kids that patience, practice, struggle, and setbacks are all part of growth and learning. Sometimes the greatest satisfaction comes after an achievement borne of struggle.

My client looked at me. Not particularly convinced by my explanation.

What did I tell my client about her desire to hide her accomplishments for fear of criticism, jealousy, and rejection by others?

This: It’s complicated. It is true that you may need to select carefully who you tell about your achievements. Not everyone will celebrate your successes. But that does not mean you should not achieve or that you should not strive for excellence. (Excellence, not perfection.) Your job is to be you. To shine your light. It will be important to find at least a few humans who love that you are so prolific or so talented or so accomplished or so kind-hearted. Build a team, however small, of advocates who are not threatened but who are thrilled by your pure, authentic, magnificent youness.

My client looked at me. She will think about it.

And, I imagine, my dearest magnificent complicated rainforesters, that you will think about it, too.

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To my blogEEs: This one took me a while to write. Do I think I’m a perfectionist? Do you relate to many of these complications? We would love to hear from you. As always, thank you for being here. Much love!


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There Is No Better Time To Step Fully Into Your Rainforest-Mindedness

Some of you may know I have been experimenting with video and going a little wild on Instagram. If you haven’t found me there yet, here is the link. I am learning all about memes and having a fine time extracting them from my blog posts. It seems contraindicated that a rainforest-y person would appreciate a good meme since you are all so lovey-dovey with complexity. But, so far, so good. I am a little impressed with my technological skills, if I do say so myself, seeing as I might be the oldest video-maker and meme queen that you will ever find on IG.

The video you see here, from IG, restates a theme I have written about before. (It is a really good post. And don’t miss the amazing comments!) It is never too late to be your gifted self, yes? There is still time to understand and clarify what you have misinterpreted about your giftedness all these years. There is still time to find yet another career path. There is still time to dive into the abyss of your past trauma and find the buried treasure that is you. There is still time to learn how to make Instagram videos! And yet. I have been told by clients that one of the reasons you are reluctant to embrace your rainforest-mindedness fully is because it feels like a daunting responsibility. To acknowledge your actual capacity for knowing, feeling, perceiving, analyzing, creating, observing, loving, and intuiting means you have to do something about it. Preferably something monumental. And that paralyzes you. I even say it in the video. “It’s not too late to do great things.”

You were fine until I said that. Right?

I am so sorry. I should know better.

One of you explained it this way:

“…And then as a gifted person the expectations are at least twice as high. When all throughout high school you are top of the class and at the end you receive an award for ‘most promising student’ and people keep telling you you must have a great calling to be blessed with so many talents, it creates this HUGE burden of responsibility. You are not allowed to ‘waste’ your amazing potential.

But what if I’m not that great in reality? Then I’ll spend my whole life disappointing myself and feeling like I’m not measuring up to what everyone expected.”

Sound familiar?

Maybe we need to define what is meant by “great things.” What, after all, constitutes a great thing?

Or perhaps that is the wrong question.

What if, instead, we asked, how do you step fully into your rainforest-mindedness?

What does your particular rainforest mind look like, feel like, taste like, smell like, sing like, dance like? What directions do you need to go to find meaning and purpose? What are you here on this planet to do? What pulls at your heart and opens your throat? What actions and relationships does your intuition say YES to and what actions and relationships does your intuition say NO to? How do you get greater access to your intuition? When will you set up a regular spiritual practice that will connect you to a Source of love and guidance? What does your flavor of spiritual practice look like? What does your future Self want to tell you? Is there a reality beyond what we see every day that is all about Love?

These are questions to ponder. If you have a journal, write/draw your thoughts. If you don’t have a journal, get one. (I am getting pushier in my old age.)

Why?

We are living in very challenging times. I don’t need to tell you that.

I was talking with a friend this morning about these challenges and she suggested it is not a mistake that you and I are here on the planet now. All of us with rainforest minds. We are here because of these times. We came here for this, she said.

Between you and me, I am not thrilled with that news. There have been many occasions when I have wanted to get outta here and head back to my home planet where there are no politicians, pandemics, prejudices, or polluters. So, I am trying to wrap my head around this notion. Then I remembered that Clarissa Pinkola Estes wrote about this in Do not lose heart, We were made for these times.

She said, “Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.” CPE

And: “Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it.” CPE

So, what do you say, my sweetest rainforesters? Time to step more fully into yourself?

I will show my light, if you will show yours.

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To my bloggEEs: Let us know your thoughts, feelings, and questions. Your comments make such a difference. Sending you all much love, light, and a few clever IG memes.


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Being Interested In, Oh, Everything — The Gifted Multipotentialite Booknerd

My friend, Jade, came to my home to spend the weekend. It is an annual event. As part of the visit, she asked to return to my town’s fabulous used bookstore. Being an extremely rainforest-minded human, she was happily in her element. I could have left her there for hours, days maybe.

When I saw the pile of books she selected, I couldn’t help but gasp, smile knowingly, sigh, snort, ask the most important question of all: Can I write about you on my blog?

Jade had selected books on a number of wide-ranging topics:

Botanical Art Techniques, The Nile, Pre-Colombian Art, Archtypal Patterns in Poetry, William Blake, Ghost Towns in the West, Mycotopia, The 99% Invisible City, and an Octavia Butler novel.

This is rainforest-minded multipotentialite-ness at its bookiest.

I would have gathered my own set of deliciousness but I had just received a stack from Powells bookstore so I restrained myself. Well, except for the three books Jade mentioned were great for kids. I had said I was looking to see what I might find for my niece and nephew’s young kids. These books by Julia Rothman were so pretty I couldn’t resist.

You know what I’m talking about. Right?

I wrote about it in my last post. How books and therapies can contribute to soothing your existential angst. How books and therapies can help you understand and embrace your beautifully rainforest-y ways and guide you toward your meaningful, authentic life. How it is normal for you to be passionate about learning (not necessarily schooling) which often includes massive, some might say obsessive, amounts of reading and/or research.

In other posts, I have written about multipotentiality. This is the trait that can be misinterpreted as jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none or you-never-finish-anything or why-can’t-you-pick-one-thing-and-stay-with-it-forever or why-don’t-you-have-a-real-job.

Sound familiar?

Jade is a good example of this. She was an art/poetry major in college and graduated with a degree in chemistry. She worked in the chemistry field for a while but then became interested in gifted/2e kids and opened her own micro-school (and is writing a book about it). She closed the school recently and is now developing a tarot reading business on Instagram (you can follow her) along with creating a small literary zine online. In her spare time, she is enrolled in a doctoral program in cognitive diversity where she is an academic advisor. (To find out more from her on education and cognitive diversity, follow her on Twitter.) She has two cats, a husband, a weight lifting hobby, and a burning desire to visit every ghost town in N. America. She is 42. This is just the beginning.

And you? If you are a gifted multipotentialite booknerd like Jade, and, I admit, like me, you are not alone! My advice? Find your local independent bookstore and geek out. Find other passionate readers in your town and join them at a Silent Book Club. Explain to skeptics how your multi-dimensional career paths make total sense and how they will spark your creativity and benefit their nieces and nephews in unexpected ways.

And, if you know of any cool ghost towns anywhere in the world, let me know about them. I will tell Jade.

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To my bloggEEs: Are you a book lover? Do you have multipotentiality? Tell us about it. We love hearing from you. And thanks to Jade for sharing so much of herself here and with me in our sweet friendship. Love to you all.

(Note: I have started reading the books I mentioned in my last post. I would definitely recommend the Nicholas book on climate, the Moorjani book on sensitivity, and the Menakem book on racism.)