Your Rainforest Mind

Support For The Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


Sensitivity Is Your Superpower

In times like these, you may wish that you had less sensitivity. Life as an empathetic soul is often overwhelming. It can be easy to fall into despair or anxiety. And because you are capable in multiple ways, relatives, friends, coworkers, neighbors, strangers, plants and animals may be clamoring for your assistance. 

You may be happy to help. It could be your calling to serve others . But you might feel inadequate because you aren’t the one dragging people out of burning buildings. You aren’t the one rushing into war zones to cover the atrocities.

And the clamoring may make you want to stay in bed. On your good days. On your bad days, it may make you want to pulverize the clamorers, if you know what I mean. ( Just because you’re sensitive doesn’t mean that you never feel drawn to pulverizing. I don’t recommend doing it. I’m just saying… )

You need to understand that your sensitivity is your strength. Being perceptive, empathetic, compassionate and intuitive are skills that the world needs. Desperately.

But because you’re a sensitive soul, there are some things that you need to know.

First: Just because you can sense someone’s pain, doesn’t mean that you’re responsible for fixing it.  Just because you can do something faster, better and more easily than other people, doesn’t mean that you have to do that something. Practice saying no. Think of it like this: There are many helpers out there. You’re giving someone else a chance to step up. You’re helping someone else learn. I’m not saying that you should shirk your responsibilities. I’m just suggesting that it’s healthy to set boundaries and limits. You’re very capable in many areas. It’s impossible and inappropriate for you to do everything you could possibly do. Exhausting yourself? Not recommended. Look for the times when you’re drawn to something because it’s energizing. Head in that direction.

Second: Get toxic people out of your life. They’ll get help elsewhere. You may be enabling them by letting them rely on you; and we all know that enabling is a no-no. And, by the way, the toxic people might include family members. In that case, get them out of your life, too. ( If that sounds harsh, it is. Most certainly, try therapy first and blunt discussions, if you’re so inclined. But for the truly toxic, you may need to say bye-bye.*) You’ll feel guilt. Try to let go of the guilt. Tell yourself that you’re healing the legacy of dysfunction in your family line. That your ancestors are benefitting. Because they are. ( Trust me on that one. ) Everyone benefits when you stand up for yourself.

Third: Self-care is your friend. You are not a wimp if you need to rest.

Finally: Appreciate your sensitivity. It makes you powerful. Your awareness and your capacity for compassion and loving is vast. And surely this planet, your relatives, friends, coworkers, neighbors, strangers, plants, animals and even your politicians, need all of the love and compassion they can get.

Sensitivity is your superpower.


* I know that in some cases you won’t be able to say good-bye to toxic family members. In those cases, do your best to set limits, protect yourself and get support.

To my dear bloggEEs: Tell us about your sensitivities. How do you protect yourself from the clamorers? Describe how you use your superpower. And thank you, as always, for being here.



To Achieve Or Not To Achieve — That Is The Question

photo courtesy of Juan Ramos, Unsplash, CC

photo courtesy of Juan Ramos, Unsplash, CC

What does it mean to achieve or to be successful?

You’re smart, so you’re a high achiever, right?

Maybe. Not necessarily.

And what is a high achiever anyway?

And then. More questions:

What is a reasonable expectation for your particular abilities and interests? Where can you find adequate feedback? If you’re proud of something you achieve does that make you arrogant? How do you deal with accolades when something was easy for you to achieve; do you feel guilty or undeserving? Does praise for your achievements feel empty? Are you always expected to achieve but the pressure makes your brain turn to jello? Have you decided that it’s easier to go underground rather than risk achievement or risk not meeting expectations? How do you help your kids find a real achievement experience in school if their academic needs aren’t being met? Where do you even begin when there’s so much suffering everywhere you look?

To achieve or not to achieve.

It’s a good thing that you’re smart so you can manage living in this jungle. It’s intense. So many mosquitoes  questions.

Here’s a place to start: You’re asking these questions because your ability to think, understand and process complex ideas is fast, deep and wide. You are not being too dramatic or too sensitive or too obsessive or too self-absorbed. These are real concerns. And the answers will require thinking time, research, chocolate and conversations with others who understand what it means to have a rainforest mind.

Here are some places to look for answers: — an online resource for gifted adults; classes, Facebook group, coaching

Paula Wilkes Coaching and Consulting — a coach with many years of experience in gifted education and in working with gifted children and adults, including 2e issues

GHF Press and GHF bloggers — an organization supporting parents of gifted/2e children (particularly homeschoolers) and gifted adults, the publisher of my book — an online website with a gazillion articles and resources, blog hops from parents and professionals — an organization supporting the social-emotional needs of gifted kids and adults through articles, webinars and conferences

Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth available now to order at and your favorite independent bookstore by Paula Prober (that would be me)

The Gifted Adult by Mary-Elaine Jacobsen

And, of course, inside your own compassionate intuitive heart.


To my bloggEEs: This is such a complicated topic. What are your thoughts and questions about achievement and success? What other resources are you aware of? Your comments make my blog so much richer! Thank you for sharing. (And if you’re feeling distressed about recent events, my post on sensitivity and compassion is here. Sending you love.)




Advice for your Sensitive Soul

photo courtesy of Anne Allanketner

photo courtesy of Anne Allanketner

You will never be normal.

And this is good.

You have too much compassion. Too much awareness. Too much curiosity. Too much emotion. Too much thinking. Too much intelligence.

You have an uncontrollable thirst to know. You live with ethical standards that seem excessive to others. You strive for a perfection that only Nature understands.

Your heart breaks when you see others suffering. Your heart sings when beauty sneaks up on you.

You expect yourself to know better. You expect yourself to achieve greatness.

Life is devastating and magnificent. Overwhelming and glorious. Disturbing and transcendent.

You will never be normal.

And this is good.


To my bloggEEs: Please share your thoughts, feelings and reactions. I can not tell you how grateful I am that you are out there.

(Note: On October 6, 2015, I’ll be presenting a webinar If I’m so Smart, then Why am I so Dumb: Understanding the Complicated World of the Gifted Adult. If you go to the SENG website, you will be able to register for it soon. It’s $40, from 4:30-6pm PST. You’ll receive a copy of the talk whether you can attend at that time or not. As of this writing, registration isn’t open yet but keep checking. I’ll post notes on Facebook and Twitter when registration is open. I’d love to “see” you there. There’s also a slim chance that the webinar will be postponed. Contact SENG for details.)


Still Sleepless, Cranky and Annoying After all These Years

Remember when I suggested that you might be sleepless, cranky and annoying because of your ample empathy and your serious sense of social responsibility?

Well, let’s face it. There’s so much to be sleepless, cranky and annoying about. Where do you start? What do you do? When the environmental, social and political issues are SO ENORMOUS.

I know. You’re actually way beyond sleepless, cranky and annoying. More like sleepless, enraged and despairing. I get it. But you were born with a capacity to respond to others’ pain with sensitivity and compassion. You were born with a need to make a positive difference. You can’t just eat your tofu and tune it all out.

And that’s a good thing.

So here’s what I’m thinking. You’ve got some skills. Some smarts. If I know you, you’re an idealist and an optimist. And you have the capacity for visionary and intuitive meanderings. Maybe even spiritual and mystical awakenings. That’s all you need. You have what you need. (Well, maybe you need a little therapy, too.)

But now you must believe in yourself and figure out where your path leads. (Or where your paths lead.)

I know. That’s not easy. You’d be doing it already if it were easy. But I’m just saying that a next step is trusting your rainforest mind in all of its depth, ruminations, passions, nerdiness and radiance.

Trust yourself.

5885747179_939f256af9And get some sleep.


Photo from Creative Commons:

To my bloggEEs:

Thank you for reading. I hope that you’re finding what you need and that you feel less alone. Now that you can see where I’m going with this blog, let me know if there are questions you have or topics you’d like to see addressed. And if you’re on the younger-ish side, you might want to check out They’re a community of “nerds” working to “increase awesome and decrease suck” in the world.


Do you see ecru, beige, sand and eggshell when others see white?

Chances are, you see more, feel more, smell more, hear more, intuit more, read more, think more, analyze more, well, you just ARE more. Right? Not that more is better. It’s just MORE. Like the rain forest, there’s a lot going on. A LOT. You may not  think of yourself as gifted because you haven’t discovered the theory of relativity or the iPhone. You haven’t sent a rocket into space and designed a Tesla. Stunning achievements are one way to describe giftedness but they aren’t the only way. And even Einstein is quoted as saying, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” If you’re concerned about justice and equality, which you probably are, then you may avoid the label altogether.

OK. You haven’t invented something “insanely great.” You may still be gifted. And yet you cringe at the word. Can you agree, then, that you have a rainforest mind?

And why does it matter?

You need to know this about yourself so you stop pathologizing your sensitivities, your intense emotions, and even your perfectionism. You need to get why you’re so darned lonely and what to do about it. You need help choosing your career paths and not thinking you’re a dilettante because you can’t choose just one. You need to understand who you are so you can live an authentic meaningful life. You see?

Just yesterday a client asked me if all super smart people are gifted. I don’t know. It appears that not all cognitively adept thinkers have empathy and sensitivity. In my definition of giftedness, depth of emotion, compassion and social conscience are included. Some people who’ve studied giftedness would agree with me. Others, not so much. Talking about intelligence is tricky. There are lots of theories out there.

Can you see me getting nervous? What was I thinking, starting this blog? Maybe I should get out while I can.

But I digress. Let me just say that I’m speaking from my experience as a counselor and former teacher, working with children and adults who think fast, feel deeply, love learning and care about the planet. I call them people with rainforest minds. And they are gifted. And if you’re still reading, I bet you are, too.