Your Rainforest Mind

Support For The Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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Don’t Show How Smart You Are. Other Kids Will Feel Bad.

photo courtesy of Austin Schmid, Unsplash

Who do you think you are? Don’t ask so many questions. Stop showing off. Nobody likes a know-it-all. Don’t steal my thunder. You think you’re so smart. Don’t show how much you know; the other kids will feel bad. 

Sound familiar?

If you have a rainforest mind, you’ve probably heard this a lot. I mean A LOT. And it’s so discouraging. Because you’re just being you. At least you were. When you were younger. Curious. Enthusiastic. Wanting to know-it-all. Assuming that everyone knew what you knew. Could do what you could do.

That’s what was so confusing. Didn’t the other kindergartners love reading Harry Potter or wondering about negative numbers? Couldn’t everyone feel it when the teacher was so sad? Didn’t all kids cry when a spider was crushed?

We don’t often explain these differences to kids. We don’t know what to say. So, we say, “Slow down so the others can catch up.” or “If you keep talking about Richard Feynman, you won’t have any friends.” Or even, “Why can’t you just be normal?”

Not helpful.

So you shrink. Dumb down. Slow down. Take up less space. Hide your love of words. Ask fewer questions. Over-apologize. Become anxious and depressed. Smoke pot.

Maybe you’re like 40-year-old Joan. Fascinated by so many things. Good at anything she tried: photography, writing, graphic design, event planning, floral design, painting, teaching yoga, running meetings, water skiing, fund raising, parenting, winning whipped cream eating contests and 3-legged races. (although she hasn’t run any 3-legged races recently) Tending to stay behind the scenes and hide her successes. Thrust into leadership positions on the one hand and resented for her creative ideas on the other. Careful not to outshine anyone. (She’ll make exceptions when it comes to whipped cream.)

Of course, you’re grateful for your skills and abilities. You appreciate your rainforest mind. But you don’t think you’re so smart. There are all those other people smarter than you. You’re not arrogant or full of yourself.

You’re not full of yourself.

You just want to be fully yourself.

And that’s not easy.

I have good news and bad-ish news.

The bad-ish news: You’ll need to be strategic. There will be people who can’t handle your intense emotions or your desire to discuss Dickens for hours. Some of them will be critical, rejecting, or worse. You will need to find healthy ways to cope or to limit your time with these folks. You might want to share some parts of yourself and protect other parts. You might need to monitor your communication to be better understood. There will be people who want to take advantage of your big heart and your problem solving abilities. You’ll need to learn how to set limits and say “no” when needed. To recognize that just because you’re able to do something, doesn’t mean that you have to do it. You may have to redefine what it means to be authentic.

The good news: Your sensitivity, intelligence, and empathy is an extremely valuable resource. Geeks are becoming more popular, respected, and indispensable. Geeking out is now a thing. It’s possible to find other humans with rainforest minds who will appreciate you. (I wouldn’t have a thriving practice without them!) You can be fully yourself with other humans who have rainforest minds. And surely, the planet needs you to be fully yourself. Now, more than ever.

So don’t waste any more time. Show us how smart you are. In your very own strategically authentic Richard Feynman-obsessed, whipped cream eating, geeking out, rainforest-minded way.

The other kids will be OK.

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To my bloggEEs: What messages have you received that told you that you were too much, or that you should hide your giftedness? What keeps you from being fully yourself now? How are you strategic in protecting yourself when needed? What would being fully yourself look like?

Thank you to the clients who inspired this post. And thank you so much to all of you!

 

 

 


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Do You Have a Rainforest Mind? Why Does it Matter?

What is a rainforest mind? Do you have one? Do you want one? Might it be better to have a meadow mind or a corn field mind? Simpler. Quieter. Predictable. Organized. Productive, but not overwhelmingly so. Beautiful, but not a sensory overload extravaganza.

Think about it. The rainforest. Your jungle mind. Overflowing with intense, lush, teeming life. Noisy. Dense. Diverse. Vibrant. Abundant. Sensitive. Resource-full. Majestic. Flamboyant. Rotting. Always in flux. Providing support for all beings on the planet.

I know that you might not feel majestic. Maybe you’re not obviously flamboyant. Perhaps you have days when dense and rotting are the best descriptors. Maybe you’re not supporting all beings on the planet. Yet.

But the way your mind-heart-body-spirit works, you must admit, feels eerily similar to intense, lush, teeming life. And chances are, your questioning, curious, thinking, imagining mind is flamboyant. Or it was. When you were little. Effervescent and noisy.

Now, maybe you’ve learned to tamp it down.

Maybe people told you that they wished that you had a cornfield mind. And perhaps that sounded good to you, too. You weren’t sure there were many benefits to your constant questing. To your deep analysis of, oh, everything. To the howler monkeys who kept swinging from your branches fomenting havoc.

It’s tricky. To manage so much intensity, creativity, thinking, intuition, empathy, and sensitivity in your mind-heart-body-spirit. To not misdiagnose yourself with ADHD or OCD or bipolar disorder. To not get tangled in your own vines.

But it gets trickier. You also need to figure out how to live in a world that finds you overwhelming. Too curious. Too creative. Too smart. That can want to take your valuable resources from you. That can decide to cut you down.

And yet. That world is in desperate need of its rainforests.

So what do you do? What the heck do you do?

Tamp it back up.

You heard me.

What do I mean?

Well. I don’t mean that you should let the monkeys of your psyche loose on innocent bystanders. Or that you ought to make your sensitive soul vulnerable to the judgment and bizarre-ity of humankind. Or that you need to fix everything that’s wrong with the world.

Nooooooo.

What I mean is: Rediscover who you were before you tamped yourself down. Before you had to hide your light. Before you learned that you were too much.

Find ways to be that person again. You don’t have to do it all at once or to radically redesign your life. And you certainly shouldn’t let go of your healthy boundaries or your needs for quiet spaces.  But decide to take back your voice, your body, your power, and your flamboyant majestic-ness. Either in your parenting, or teaching, or writing, or art forms, or speaking, or thinking, or activism, or spirituality, or loving. Or all of the above.

Find your particular rainforest-y way to support all beings on the planet.

Now more than ever.

It matters.

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To my dearest bloggEEs: This post is part of a collection of writings on underachieving. Underachieving is a term usually applied to gifted kids who aren’t doing well in school or living up to what is perceived as their potential. I include this post in the collection because I’m writing about you hiding or tamping down your authentic self. This can be a type of underachieving, just not in the traditional sense. (Click here or see the link below for access to the other posts.)

What are some ways that you’ve rediscovered your authentic self? What holds you back? What are your fears around finding your true self? What gives you the courage to examine yourself and to heal your broken heart? What types of actions are you taking to create a better world?

Two resources that I’ve found helpful for supporting all beings on the planet are Clarissa Pinkola Estes and Van Jones. What resources have you discovered?

 

 

 

 

 

 


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How Can I Be Authentic When I Overwhelm Everyone?

photo courtesy Brian Mann, Unsplash

Authenticity.

You want it. You need it. You gotta have it.

But what does authenticity mean when you have a rainforest mind? When you have so many monkeys swinging from your branches? When your terrain is so lively, emotional and intense?

How do you live authentically in all of your jungle glory and not overwhelm the humans more used to the meadow life? How do you live authentically when you’re made up of layers upon layers that you haven’t even uncovered yourself?

It’s complicated.

Authenticity for the rainforest-minded does NOT mean that you have to show all of who you are all of the time. Instead, it means being real and true to yourself.

I get that you want to be totally direct, sincere and clear. All of the time. Everywhere.

Am I right?

And yet. If you’re around chainsaw humans, particularly if they’re family members, it’s authentic to protect yourself. This may mean that you limit your time with them or that you only share small bits of yourself. If you’re around humans who get overwhelmed by your intensity and intellect, you may need to slow your pace and select activities that allow for less talk and more action. You may need to switch from fire hose to garden hose.

And if you’re being strategic in your relationships as a way to improve your experiences with others or as a way to cope with difficult people, you’re being authentic. (By strategic I mean thinking carefully about how you interact. This is not being manipulative, in case you’re wondering. It’s being analytical and sensitive.) You can be both sincere and strategic at the same time. You are consciously making the most compassionate choice in the moment.

Make sense?

If this news is discouraging, I understand. Find other gifted humans with whom you can be your deep, sensitive, complicated self. I’ve written about where to find them on other posts. Remember the silent reading party? There are ways to find others who live in the rain forest. You can also express your authenticity, for example, through an art form, in your garden, raising children, in your house remodel, or on your blog. Or on my blog.

But, honey, as long as you’re being real and true to yourself, your authenticity is intact.

Trust me on this. Your monkeys will thank you.

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To my bloggEEs: What does authenticity mean to you? How are you authentic in relationships and with yourself? Do you agree with the idea that you need to be strategic some of the time? Your comments deepen everyone’s experience of my blog. Thank you for reading and contributing.

You may not hear from me as often over the next few weeks. I’m preparing my talk for the SENG conference in Chicago, USA, in August. If you get there, please find me and introduce yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Fifteen Quick Reminders To Help You Make It Through The ‘Holidaze’

photo courtesy of Jim Lukach, Flickr, CC

photo courtesy of Jim Lukach, Flickr, CC

1  You’re not too sensitive if you’re easily overwhelmed by the holiday muzak, the florescent lights, the crowds, the frenetic meaningless pace, the likely psychopathic Santa and the smell of stale popcorn at the shopping mall.

2  You’re not a failure as a human being if your siblings went to Stanford and are all doctors and have two and a half kids and you’re still wondering what to do when you grow up because you took a detour into drug treatment and psychotherapy because your soft heart and gentle spirit needed to heal.

3  You’re not lacking in empathy if you’re frustrated and irritated, well, OK, enraged by society’s focus on the status of having more and more stuff, the bigger the better, while they’re oblivious to the impact of said stuff.

4  You’re not socially inept or paranoid if you have to abruptly leave a gathering of people who seem happy and charming and delightful but who make your stomach ache because unbeknownst to your conscious mind, they’re really miserable.

5  You’re not an arrogant know-it-all if you choose to wrap the kids’ gifts in newspaper, or if you give your precocious nieces homemade light switch plates instead of Barbie dolls, or if you choose funding a homeless family over yet another plastic giraffe for your adorable nephew.

6  You’re not a bad daughter/son if you have mixed feelings about attending the family event and if you make a plan to leave early when your alcoholic relative starts to berate you about your political or religious beliefs or about why you didn’t go to Harvard when you had so much potential.

7  You are not being inauthentic if you consciously avoid certain topics with family members who you know will react with anger or misunderstanding to your attempt to explain, say, your logical reasons for changing your college major for the fifth time.

8  You’re not too persnickety if you start your own holiday rituals and don’t allow your toddler to watch reality TV, use your iPad, or learn how to operate a cell phone.

9  You’re not a failure as a parent if your holiday meal is a flop, if your kids throw their biggest tantrums ever just when the grandparents arrive, if you still haven’t gotten your hair cut or trained your dog not to beg for food.

10  You’re not an oddball if you question the traditions, religion or the obsession with television that organizes your extended family members. Well, maybe you are an oddball in that regard but there are times when oddballs are needed. This might be one of those times.

11  You’re not rude and obsessive if you are still avoiding eating the jello marshmallow carrot salad that your Aunt Gracie always makes.

12  You’re not too dramatic if you cry when your relatives tease you, well, OK, bully you, because you’re following yet another career path, you’ve stopped straightening your hair and you’re still single.

13  You’re not too intense if you can’t totally enjoy the holiday because people around the globe are suffering, the ice caps are melting and you’re distracted by your need to find and manifest your purpose on the planet.

14  You’re not too idealistic if you believe that it’s still possible for a transformation to occur where the peoples of the world embrace compassion over fear.

15  You’re not alone if you dread the stresses of the holiday season and look forward to the end of said season. And, you’re not wrong if you understand the following to be true: You are successfully sensitive, effervescently empathetic, indescribably intense, awesomely authentic, prudently persnickety, illustriously idealistic, and resplendently rainforest-minded. (And, hey, when you get a chance, could you send me the recipe for Aunt Gracie’s jello marshmallow carrot salad?)

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To my bloggEEs: Tell us what the holiday season is like for you. If you have coping strategies for the challenging times, let us know what they are. And, if you have totally joyous experiences during the holiday season, we love you, too! Oh, and the 16th reminder, my book would make a great gift for your teens, your friends, your parents, your therapist, your sensitive Uncle Phil, and your sweet self.


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Goodbye To Your Impostor Syndrome — Hello To Your Authentic Self

photo courtesy Madeline Tallman, Unsplash, CC

photo courtesy Madeline Tallman, Unsplash, CC

If you really were an impostor, you wouldn’t be worrying that you’re an impostor.

Think about it. There are people we all know who do not worry about this. They firmly believe that they have all of the answers and that they are very smart. They do not worry that they are impostors. Kind of like a narcissist doesn’t worry that he’s a narcissist because he’s a narcissist.

You, on the other hand, well, you worry. You have the depth, sensitivity and intelligence to know that there are no easy answers or quick solutions. Except, maybe, if you’re asking: Should I eat that hot fudge sundae now or later?

But you don’t trust that your depth, sensitivity and intelligence is enough. You don’t trust that it means that you’re gifted. You imagine that some day the truth will come out and you’ll be exposed as the fraud that you truly are.

And there are good reasons for this. You can find them here. It’s helpful to know the reasons.

But. What if, just for today, you decided that you couldn’t waste any more time worrying when the truth will come out. Worrying when you’ll be exposed. Worrying when you will fail spectacularly.

You have things to do.

What might that be like? Saying goodbye to your impostor syndrome.

Maybe you’d have more time to create. Maybe you’d finally start that project that’s been calling your name for years. Maybe your children would need less therapy when they got older. Maybe it would bring you closer to your authentic Self and your mission here on earth.

(Note: Do not panic about the “mission” thing. No pressure. Well, maybe a little pressure. But your mission doesn’t need to be: end world hunger. Although, it can be. Your purpose may be to raise compassionate, sensitive, empathetic humans and/or to end the legacy of abuse in your family line. Just imagine if everyone on earth did that. Just imagine.)

I know saying goodbye will not be easy. The impostor syndrome is tangled and thorny. I’m just asking you to start the process. Feel into it. Repeat after me: I have a rainforest mind. In my own particular uniquely magnificent way, I am gifted. If I were really an impostor, I wouldn’t be worrying that I’m an impostor.

Now, let’s go eat that sundae.

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To my bloggEEs: What if you play with this idea and describe or draw an image of yourself without your impostor syndrome. What do you look like? How do you feel? Is it scary? Lonely? Freeing? Exciting? If you have a journal, write about it. Tell us in the comments what you’ve discovered. And thank you, as always, for your courage.

This post is part of a blog hop from Hoagiesgifted.org. Click on the image to find more posts on the topic of gifted children and adults, written by parents and professionals.13879215_10208710258486417_2791415865854519067_n

 

 

 

 


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My Overexcitable Hair

Photo on 12-9-14 at 12.37 PM

My hair

Admit it. You exude effervescence, exuberance and ebullience. Maybe it’s in the way you talk. Or the way you write. Maybe it’s in how you gush over photos from the Mars Rover. Or how you swoon over Sherlock.

In my last post, I briefly explained “overexcitabilities.”  (OEs) The expression comes from psychologist K. Dabrowski‘s research on giftedness. He says that gifted folks have lots of them. Like when your imagination takes you into mysterious universes where you create new worlds with complex languages. Or when you must obsessively research NASA’s potential study of manned blimps in the upper atmosphere of Venus. Or when your sensitivity to the sound of people chewing makes you want to cry.

If you don’t feel so effervescent, exuberant and ebullient right now it may be because you were raised by chainsaw parents or had painful schooling experiences. Or perhaps it’s because you read the newspaper. I understand. But I’ll bet you anything that before you were slowed down, quieted down and dumbed down, overexcitable was your middle name.

Now, I know I’ve told you in another post that I’m BG. (barely gifted) Even so, I do have some overexcitability.

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

It’s in my hair.

My hair is effervescent, exuberant and ebullient. Overexcitable. And let me tell you, I’ve tried to control it, contain it and dumb it down. To no avail.

But I’m done with that.

No more hiding.  No more shrinking. No more hair-obliteration.

Let my curls be seen. Let them express themselves. In all of their giftedness.

Are you with me?

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To my bloggEEs: How are you hiding and self-obliterating? How can you allow more of your rainforest hair mind to shine? This may seem to be in contradiction to my last post when I talked about a type of loving containment. It’s not. What I’m writing here is about finding your true Self and living your authentic hair life. What are your thoughts, feelings and questions?

 


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How Do I Make Decisions When There Are So Many Choices?

How do you get anywhere or do anything when you’re overwhelmed with emotions, ideas, career options, thoughts and worries?

How do you choose when perfection is at stake?

How do you choose when you have to grieve over all of those lost opportunities?

How do you choose when every step your carbon footprint takes matters?

What can you do to manage the plethora of possibilities? How do you actually make a decision?

In another post, I describe multipotentiality. How you can find and create your career paths when you have multiple interests and abilities. How you can prove to yourself that you’re not an irresponsible unreliable flake.

What else? 13642-1

I wish I could say, just eat more chocolate.

Or spend a month on a tropical island.

Or read everything ever written by Ursula Le Guin.

But I’d be leading you astray.

Not that those things won’t help.

But, I have a suggestion that might be less appealing but more effective over time. I know this isn’t a new idea. But hear me out anyway.

Find and develop your intuition.  Tune into your inner wisdom. Practice learning the difference between how your cognitive mind works and how your intuition works. Build a meditation practice and use yoga or tai chi or walking in the forest to get your mental cacophony calm enough to hear your Essential Self or your Authenticity or your Wisdom or your Pips.

This isn’t easy. Maybe you just want to eat more chocolate. I won’t judge you if that’s what you choose. I mean I’ve found all sorts of reasons to avoid meditating regularly. I keep my Essential Self locked in the basement most days. But I promise, I’ll give it a shot if you will.

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Where do we start? You’ve probably got the books on your shelf. You’ve just ignored them like I have. In case you need another book, try this one by Belleruth Naparstek. Or go to her website for a great selection of guided imagery CDs.

Then let me know how it goes.

And if you decide that instead, you want to eat chocolate on a tropical island while reading Ursula Le Guin, well, who am I to judge.

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 To my blogEEs: I’m serious. I want to hear your thoughts about intuition, meditation and finding your Essential Self. So please share.

And thanks to Kathy for her comments that inspired this post.