Your Rainforest Mind

Support For The Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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The Gifted Human’s Guide To Normal

photo courtesy of Dan Price, Unsplash

You may think that you’re normal because you’ve always been the way that you are. It feels normal to be you. You may not spend much time comparing yourself to others. At the same time, you may often feel weird, left out, and misunderstood. Different. It’s a paradox. You can feel normal and abnormal at the same time.

Let me clear this up right now. You are not normal.

Sorry.

You’ll never be normal.

You may be OK with this now. You may even celebrate it. But I bet when you were a child, this was hard. I hear it from kids. I just want to be normal. Yeah. You wanted to fit in and be one of the gang. It was painful to be an outcast, to be excluded, to be rejected.

But normal for you?

Not gonna happen.

You’ll need to prepare your kids.

And, just for the record, normal isn’t particularly good or bad. It’s just one way to describe what we might see as typical or average or middle-of-the-road or majority or consensus reality. I mean, I must admit, I do wonder if our world would be a more peaceful place if more humans had rainforest minds. But that’s a topic for another day.

My clients struggle with feeling excluded and outcast. Desperate to be embraced by others, to belong, to not be rejected for living beyond normal.

Just this week a client told me about how she felt deeply touched and in wonder, moved to tears, by a moment when she saw light coming through clouds and hitting trees in such an indescribably beautiful way. She was crying at nature’s gorgeousness. Deeply appreciating life in that moment. Moved by a spiritual connection to beauty.

This is not normal.

Chances are, most humans would not notice the light, the clouds, the trees and be awestruck by the wonder of it all. You, on the other hand, see more, feel more, and perceive more than normal. It could be how you’re wired. Or it could be that you’re an old soul. Or both. It could be that humans are evolving to develop the more-ness that you have. To evolve to be less normal.

I’m counting on that.

What do you do in the meantime?

You embrace abnormal! Find your peeps. The ones who also cry when the light comes through the clouds. Use your perceptive and intuitive powers to feel connected to the Force, to your spirituality, to Nature. Use your creativity to discover your next project or path or purpose.

Let go of the belief that you need to be normal.

Normal got us into this mess.

Abnormal can get us out.

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To my bloggEEs: How have you felt rejected because of your rainforest mind? Have you felt the desire to be normal? Are you able to connect with Nature or a spirituality that gives you some of the deep connection that you yearn for? Have you found some peeps who love you just as you are? Well, I’m sending you love right now for all of your rainforest-y abnormality! And if the holiday season is getting you down, this one’s for you.

 

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Meet Your Muse

photo courtesy Simson Petrol, Unsplash

Muse: an elusive divine-inspired spirit guiding a human to produce great work.  Painters, poets, musicians, writers, film makers, scientists, stay-at-home moms. Creatives.

So, I’m wondering. Do I have a Muse? Do psychotherapists have Muses? Do bloggers?

Well, why not?

Maybe we all have Muses. After all, everyone needs inspiration. No matter what we’re doing. An inspiring spirit with creative ideas? What’s not to like?

Granted. Austen. Lennon. DaVinci. Probably had some darned powerful Muses. MegaMuses.

My Muse? A little less powerful. A little less Mega. OK. Maybe a lot less Mega. Muse-lite.

But still.

I’m here to tell you that even a psychotherapist blogger can be aMused.

Ahem.

For example: When I feel a sense of ease and pleasure writing a blog post and then a Yes when it’s finished. A message from my Muse: Send this out now. Sure, it’s not perfect. Send it anyway. And there it goes. Out to you.

Or, in a therapy session. When I feel particularly compassionate and larger than myself. My Muse shows me a winding path where Grace lives. I just need to breathe and love and stay on the path. In those moments, I am the Muse.

aMusement is pretty wonderful.

I have to admit, though, that my Muse doesn’t always appear. Like now, for instance. I’m sitting here with visions of impostor syndrome dancing in my head. My imposter syndrome says things like: Are you kidding? Do you realize that you are blogging about gifted people? Really, doll face? I can’t believe you’re getting away with that.

Yup.

But nevertheless, I’m persisting. Which is what we do much of the time, right? Trusting that a necessary part of the creative process includes doubt, resistance, bewilderment, plowing ahead, dark chocolate and expressions like doll face.

Not necessarily in that order.

And just in case you don’t believe me, I want you to listen to this TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert. She explains her experience of Muse-ity quite well.

And if you want more, I’ve attached this humorous, poignant TED talk by writer Amy Tan.

My impostor syndrome suggested that I needed some back up.

But that’s OK. Because my Muse has arrived just in time.

So, here we go. Sending my love out to you. Yes!

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To my bloggEEs: What’s your experience with creativity and the Muse? How about impostor syndrome? You know that your comments make my blog sing, so we all love hearing from you. And thank you, as always.

This post is part of a blog hop coordinated lovingly by HoagiesGifted. See more posts on creativity by clicking on the image below.

 


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How To Find A Mate With A Rainforest Mind

photo courtesy of Felix Russell-Saw, Unsplash

photo courtesy of Felix Russell-Saw, Unsplash

How does a highly sensitive, intense, emotional, analytical, gifted, creative human find another highly sensitive, intense, emotional, analytical, gifted, creative human? Can two such humans get together and manage an intimate relationship without imploding or exploding or interploding? (I just made that last word up. But you can imagine it, can’t you?) 

You’re probably not worrying about interploding if you’re partnerless. You’re wondering if that gifted mate is even out there. And even if s/he is out there, how might you stumble into him/her. So, we’ll start there. We’ll get to an avoiding interploding post later.

(This is not to imply that everyone needs to find a mate. Nooooooo. I’m just writing to those of you who are single and looking. OK?)

There’s lots of advice out there that might be helpful. I’m going to share my theory.

From my psycho-spiritual-rainforesty perspective, I think there are complicated factors at play. But first, I want to remind you that all types of folks have found mates. Even gifted ones. So there’s hope.

Next, I believe that there are three things you’ll need to do.

1. Some of you will need therapy to face your fears. In the therapeutic relationship, you practice trusting someone and being vulnerable. You learn how to speak your truth and how to repair your broken heart. You develop healthy boundaries and shift patterns and beliefs that no longer serve you well. You build self-confidence and self-love, so that you’re better able to select someone who will be a good match. (How to find a therapist.)

2. Some of you will need to explore your psyche to look for obstacles. You may think you want to find someone but your unconscious may be screaming, ” Hell no!” In your journal, explore your fears. Write to parts of yourself and be an empathetic listener. Maybe it’s your Wounded Child who is afraid of abandonment. Maybe it’s your Perfectionist who’s afraid of failure. Maybe it’s your Introvert who’s afraid of being overwhelmed. Write to these parts and build connections. Find ways to soothe and reassure them. Then, get yourself out into the world in ways that you find meaningful and fulfilling. (Writing a blog,  joining the Audubon society, or taking a class in bicycle mechanics…)

3. And last, and here’s the spiritual (some might say woowoo) part. Use your creativity to energetically call the person to you. You can use song writing, collage, letter writing, poetry, dance, painting, gardening, whatever form that works for you and is fun. Imagine that s/he will hear you when the time is right. Imagine what it will feel like when s/he arrives. Picture your first date. If that image stirs up anxiety, go back to steps one and two! If it creates excitement, that’s a good sign. Then, be like the Buddha and let go of any attachment to outcome. Just live your already beautiful, multifaceted, rainforest-minded life.

( Full disclosure: At the present time, I’m single and seeking a partner. You may have guessed?? I’ve worked through steps 1, 2, and 3 and am in the Buddha phase. But, well, if my future mate is reading this right now, um, you know where to find me. )

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To my bloggEEs: Those of you in partnerships, how did you find each other? Tell us what it’s been like. Those of you seeking, what do you think of these ideas? Those of you who are enthusiastically single, share your insights. Thank you all for reading and sharing. By the way, I hope you like the changes to my blog. Let me know your feedback. Oh, and when my person shows up, I’ll let y’all know.

And for you, dear readers, struggling with recent events, here’s an older post that might help. Sending all of you love.


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The Benefits Of Being Gifted

photo courtesy of Rowan Heuvel, Unsplash, CC

photo courtesy of Rowan Heuvel, Unsplash, CC

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m focusing on all of the many challenges that can exist when you have a rainforest mind. What about all of the good stuff, you might ask. Are there benefits to having a rainforest mind and, if there are, can you acknowledge them? And not feel guilty?

I imagine that you experience, on a daily basis, how it’s not easy being green gifted. But many people assume that it’s a perfectly fabulous life of great achievement and private jets that fly you to your second home mansion on your personal island paradise every other weekend. Maybe you also believed that, and so, because your life isn’t perfectly fabulous, you assumed that you weren’t gifted.

And it may be hard to speak about your actual strengths and accomplishments, without being seen as arrogant, conceited or insensitive. Without feeling guilty. That you don’t deserve these abilities and achievements. That it was a fluke that you got that award or that promotion. And it’s weird that people keep asking you how you know so much. When you know how much you don’t know.

How, then, can you identify your strengths, accept them, and be comfortable in your intense, emotional, supersmart, sensitive skin?

For starters: Here’s my handy dandy list of ways your rainforest mind is beneficial:

Sensitivity: Makes you a better parent, healer, therapist, colleague, cook, artist, political activist, dancer, musician, teacher, spouse, medical professional, realtor, electrician, plumber, neighbor, everything. You see? Whatever you do. Being sensitive makes you better at it. You’re perceptive. You notice things others don’t. You have deep emotions. You care. Think of it this way: Would you prefer working with a sensitive dentist or an insensitive one?

Intensity: You’re passionate, mysterious, and fascinating. You can get a lot done in a short amount of time. You scare away people you’d rather not talk to anyway.

Fast, deep, and wide learning; Curiosity: The world needs more people who actually know something, think deeply, ask questions, seek answers and analyze possibilities. When things get dull, you can always captivate yourself.

Sense of humor: You are fun to have around in uncomfortable situations. People will overlook your quirks.

Creativity: Whether it’s art, music, inventing, problem solving, designing, filming, synthesizing, rocket launching, brainstorming, writing, parenting, teaching, knitting or something else, your creating is medicine.

Perfectionism: You have the intrinsic driving need to create beauty, harmony, balance and justice. If you’re a surgeon, you’re very popular.

Empathy: See sensitivity. It makes you a better everything. You understand and feel the hearts of humans, animals and plants. You’ll probably never start a war.

Multipotentiality: You can change jobs easily when things get dull. There are countless ways that you are useful. Your children will appreciate how entertaining you are. Your memoir will be a bestseller.

Social conscience: You need to make the world a better place. And because of your sensitivity, intensity, learning capacity, curiosity, sense of humor, creativity, perfectionism, empathy and multipotentiality, you will make it so.

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Thank you to the bloggEE who requested this topic. I’m open to other topic suggestions as well. In what ways do you appreciate your rainforest traits? Make a list of your strengths. How have you and others benefitted from your giftedness? Your comments, questions, and ideas are most welcome!

 


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Gifted and Misunderstood

photo courtesy pixabay CC

photo courtesy pixabay CC

How are you misunderstood? Let me count the ways.

People tell you to lighten up when you’re just trying to enlighten them.

People tell you to stop being so critical when you’re just making careful, thoughtful and thorough observations.

People tell you that you need to stop overthinking when you haven’t even begun to truly analyze the situation.

People tell you that you’re arrogant when you’re just desperate to find someone who can discuss the philosophy of William James. Doesn’t everyone love William James?

People tell you that you don’t know how to have fun when you’re having a ball reading Tolstoy.

People tell you to slow down when you’re already going at a painfully plodding pace.

People tell you that you’re OCD when you’ve painted your living room 12 times in the last 3 years, but you discern the difference between white, off-white, and off-off-white. And, you’re distressed when the color isn’t right.

People tell you that you’re lazy when you’re actually choreographing complicated mathematical equations in your head.

People tell you to stop daydreaming when you’re actually mentally entertaining yourself because the intellectual stimulation in the room is less than negligible.

People tell you to just write the darned e-mail but you have to get the punctuation, grammar and tone exactly exact.

People tell you to stop repeating yourself but you’re just trying to be sure that they understand what you’ve said; to be sure that they understand. What you’ve said.

People tell you to pick one career and stick with it but you can’t stand a job once you’ve mastered it. Why would anyone stay in a job that no longer teaches them anything?

People tell you to pick one career and stick with it but you have too many interests and abilities so you have to get to at least 42 of them before you die.

People tell you to just make a decision already but you’re considering all of the possibilities and the variables within each possibility.

People tell you to stop being so sensitive, so dramatic, and so emotional but you’ve been looking for the off button for years and have finally determined that there is no off button.

 

Maybe, many of “the people” will continue to misunderstand you. But, that’s OK.

Because now, you understand yourself.

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To my bloggEEs: In what ways have you been misunderstood? Let us know in the comments. And if someone you love misunderstands you, share this post (and others) with him/her, and use it as a way to start the conversation.

And speaking of being misunderstood, I’m getting a little nervous since I haven’t heard from many of you about my webinar. (the last post) I suspect that, because it’s an hour and 20 minutes long, you’re waiting to find enough time to savor the full-on experience of, well, me. Ha! But, if you’re unhappy with something in the webinar post, I promise, I want to hear it. OK?

 

 

 


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Your Rainforest Mind — The Book — Released!!

Image - Version 2

The Author–That Would Be Me

My book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is available NOW! (June 20, 2016) Here are some highlights:

A few questions from the highly unscientific quiz determining if you, in fact, have a rainforest mind:

  • Do people tell you to lighten up when you are just trying to enlighten them?
  • Are you overwhelmed by breathtaking sunsets, itchy clothes, strong perfumes, clashing colors, bad architecture, buzzing that no one else hears, angry strangers, needy friends, or global hunger?
  • Do you see ecru, beige, and sand where others see only white?
  • Do you spend hours looking for the exact word, precise flavor, smoothest texture, right note, perfect gift, finest color, most meaningful discussion, fairest solution, or deepest connection?
  • Have you ever called yourself ADHD because you are easily distracted by new ideas or intricate cobwebs, or OCD because you alphabetize your home library or color-code your sweaters, or bipolar because you go from ecstasy to despair in 10 minutes?
  • Are you passionate about learning, reading, and research, yet perplexed, perturbed and perspiring about schooling?

From the introduction:

In the following pages, you will meet excessively curious, idealistic, sensitive, highly intelligent humans—individuals with rainforest minds (RFM). You will meet Billy, an adolescent with extraordinary empathy for all beings and a deep desire for precision, ethics, and excellence. His multiple sensitivities and his complicated perfectionism were misunderstood by teachers, peers, family, and himself. As a result, he felt that something was terribly wrong with him, nothing he did was ever good enough. You will also get to know Gina, a twenty-something grad student whose brain ran faster, wider, and deeper than many of her university professors. She overwhelmed and alienated her less effervescent peers, so Gina watched TV and smoked pot to find comfort, procrastinate, and feel normal. 

You will meet Gwen, who at 52 completed an interdisciplinary PhD in anthropology, history, art, and feminism. Lonely since childhood, she had an early awareness of human suffering. Her lifetime of divergent interests led her into many endeavors but she had not found a partner who matched her intellect or emotional range. You will also meet Steven, a 35-year-old single parent who was deeply troubled by his difficulty controlling his anger at his son, Tim. Steven expressed frustration with educators when Tim was acting out in school and feared that he would repeat the patterns of his abusive alcoholic father. Steven longed to find ways to heal his family’s legacy and access the creative and spiritual spark within his heart. 

In this book, you will meet these and other RFMs, clients with whom I have worked in my counseling practice over the last 25 years. Some entered therapy to examine the roots of their depression, despair, or anxiety. Others wanted to understand their frustrations with relationships, schooling, or career paths. Many experienced trauma in childhood. All of them felt the pressures, pleasures, and peculiarities of living inside the highly intense and complicated rainforest mind…

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To my bloggEEs: And that’s just the beginning! You can buy the paperback or ebook on Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon Australia (only ebook) and the Nook version on Barnes and Noble or order it from your favorite independent bookstore. It’ll also be found at the GHF Press website. As you can imagine, I’m excited and nervous about this and having occasional severe bouts of impostor syndrome! The book’s style is different from the blog but I hope that you’ll find it informative and inspiring. (Note: All clients’ names and identities are changed.) Let us know your questions and thoughts in the comments. And thank you, as always.


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Your Child Is Gifted–Let The Worries Begin

photo courtesy of P. Wilkes

photo courtesy of P. Wilkes

You’ve been told that you have a gifted child. You think you ought to be happy. A gifted child. People say parenting this kid should be a breeze. But instead of celebrating, you’re freaking out.

Your What-If-Brain goes wild.

What if I can’t answer all of his questions? What if she hates school? What if he gets bullied? What if she’s OCD, ADHD and HSP? What if he has meltdowns in public? What if she becomes a sociopath? What if I’m the most inept parent who was ever born?  What if I give in too much? What if I’m too rigid? What if I’m too emotional? What if he grows up to hate me? What if she’s not successful? What if he’s too successful? What if she doesn’t do her homework? What if he never learns to tie his shoes? What if she never finds any friends? What if he never learns how to fail? What if I’m always overwhelmed and anxious? What if I’m just like my mother? What if I’m just like my father? What if I’m not enough? What if I’m too much? What if I fail miserably and my kid ends up in therapy for ten years talking about how I failed miserably?

The list goes on.

And on.

Parenting your gifted child. Not a breeze.

What can you do?

In this social-media-internet age, there are easily accessible resources. For starters, you can go here, here and here.

But I wouldn’t be a good therapist, if I didn’t tell you to make time for introspection. Your child will benefit. More than you know.

Let me explain.

I know that you think your kid is gifted because of your partner, not you. Or because of your great-grandfather. Or because of the aliens who landed in your yard years ago. All of that may be true. But consider the possibility that you, too, may have these rainforest-minded traits.

Just look at how you worry. With great depth and creativity. Just like your kid.

Look at how sensitive you are to chemicals, sounds, smells, bad architecture and other people’s sadness.

Look at how darned curious you are and how you ache to learn about everything in this vast amazing universe.

Look at how you’re afraid of both failure and success.

Look at how you have trouble finding friends who aren’t overwhelmed by your enthusiasm.

Just like your kid.

Time to own it.

You have a rainforest mind. You are gifted.

The more you understand who YOU are, the better parent you’ll be.

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To my bloggEEs: If you’re a parent of a child with a rainforest mind, let us know how that’s been for you. What are you learning about yourself? What are the wonderfully rainforest-y things your child is doing and how do you feel about them? What resources do you recommend to other parents? And if you suffer from severe What-If-Brain, read this.