Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


The Less Obvious Traits of Giftedness — Intense Emotions, Intuition, and Empathy

photo courtesy of Chayene Rafaela, Unsplash

“…And it also surprises me how people can’t see the interactions between things, and the affects they have on other things. The ecology of the everything, the intertwining of the systems. It is so natural to me that I’ve only realized in the past few years that other people either don’t have this ability at all, or if they do, they can’t see the ripples go out half as far as I do. I have more than once predicted someone’s life playing out decades down the road based on a set of habits and choices – I feel like a wizard with a pointless magic, because I can’t warn them or help them down a better path, and I am still kind of surprised when it plays out the way I predicted…”  ~blog comment

Do you feel like “a wizard with a pointless magic?”  Do you see “the ecology of the everything, the intertwining of systems, …the ripples…” that no one else sees? Does your empathy overwhelm you at times? Is it hard to trust your intuition? Does all of this sensitivity make you feel a wee bit crazy? Are you wondering what all of this has to do with giftedness?

When we think of a gifted human, we may think of a straight-A student, a brilliant mathematician, or an acclaimed scientist. But giftedness is often much more than that. Although it can include great achievements, astonishing talents, or scientific breakthroughs, it might not include those things. Some of the less obvious traits we do not often associate with giftedness are intense emotions, deep empathy, and powerful intuition. So, even if you are not a typical high achiever, your intellectual capacity is still vast and complex and yet you may overlook or discount it if these other aspects are prominent. Let me explain.

Intense Emotions

Many parents of gifted children ask me why their children are so immature when they are so smart. While this can be explained as asynchrony, the idea that these kids are developmentally uneven, it is also the nature of the rainforest mind to have big emotions. It is not immaturity, it is giftedness. The depth and range of feelings can be as wide and deep as the intellect. The expectation might be that because these children are so articulate, they ought to be able to control their emotions and have fewer meltdowns. It is often quite the opposite.

You may have been that child. Perhaps you were labeled dramatic or overly sensitive. And now, as an adult, you may still be grappling with crying jags or moods swinging from despair to awe. Over the years, you may have learned to manage those emotions in a healthy way or you may judge yourself for them (especially if you are male). Managing the highs and lows via self-soothing and self-compassion is important. You don’t want your emotions to run amok at inopportune times. But you will need to learn to respect them, too, as a part of your beautiful depth and complexity.

Empathy and Intuition

Rainforest-minded souls are born with an abundance of empathy. You can see it when, at an early age, they are helping other children or are deeply concerned about the well-being of animals, plants, and the planet. They have a creative capacity to see how all things are connected. I remember the teen client who had difficulty completing papers in school because she could not narrow a topic down. All things were related. She couldn’t turn in the paper, not because she was lazy, as some people thought, but because there was no end to what she needed to research.

You may have been that teen. Not only that. In school, you may also have been overwhelmed by what you were sensing from the other kids and your teachers. You could feel their stress, anxiety, and fear. It was hard to discern what was yours and what was theirs. It still is. And yet, you want to help, to be of service. But it is tricky. You might not know when to stop or how to set appropriate boundaries. And if your empathy is extensive, you likely have a strong intuitive sense as well. An in-depth knowing that can be a reliable guidance system for your own decisions and provide insight into others’ needs and issues.

It is a lot to manage.  A lot to live with. Particularly in these tumultuous times.

What Can You Do?

It just so happens that there is a free online summit just waiting for you the week of March 9-13, 2020. It is hosted by The Shift Network, an organization of smart, sensitive, socially responsible folks. The link to find out more is here. And for those of you who are curious to hear more of my thoughts on this, I am on the program on March 11!


To my dear bloggEEs: Do you experience any of these traits? How? What is difficult for you? How do you manage? If you sign up for Evolved Empath, let us know what you think. Thank you as always for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us and for being your intensely emotional, empathic, and intuitive self! (And thank you to the bloggEE who contributed the initial inspiring comment.)






The Lonely World of the Gifted Adult — Too Smart, Too Sensitive, Too Emotional, Too Curious

photo courtesy of Danny via Unsplash

It is part of the mythology of giftedness that super smart people have it made. That they are successful, rich, and appreciated for their cleverness. That they don’t really need much companionship because they are totally content in their labs studying fruit flies or in the library immersed in piles of books on obscure philosophical theories.

In my experience, this is not the case. These adults are often lonely. Granted, I’m a psychotherapist. Most of the gifted clients I see have lived through some sort of childhood trauma. Nevertheless, I suspect that many of the non-traumatized gifted souls among us would be telling me similar tales.

When you have a rainforest mind, it can be hard to find others who truly, deeply get you.

Some examples:

~ You are at your job, being conscientious, and caring. It is important to you that your coworkers are respected and understood. You feel responsible to both the organization and the humans you  supervise. Meetings are challenging. You problem solve quickly and typically end up waiting for the group to catch up. You grow tired of explaining what is obvious to you. At your evaluation, your boss tells you that coworkers say you are arrogant, condescending, and judgmental. Your boss is intimidated by you. You slow your speech and smile more. You don’t share your innovative ideas or your questions. You leave homemade gluten-free cookies in the staff room. It doesn’t help.

~ You are in graduate school. You were so excited to join what was supposed to be a cohort of deeply intellectual lovers of research and thinkers of complex ideas.  But your advisor no longer cares. He has tenure and has lost interest in academic pursuits and in you. The politics within your department is disturbing. You wonder how there can be peace on earth when your colleagues in academia can’t even agree on the schedule for the next term. You feel bereft. No one shares your curiosity and your enthusiasm for Nietzsche, Virginia Woolf, quarks, Bach, the universe, and everything.

~ You are highly intuitive. You have been an empath since you were quite young. You feel a responsibility to help others. It is hard to know if friends are attracted to you for you or if they just want you to help them heal their emphysema or contact their dead Uncle George. It is hard to have simple relationships because you can sense what others are feeling and they either put you on a pedestal or they avoid you. If you haven’t been able to set healthy boundaries because you have been told that you have a gift and are responsible for sharing it, you may overwork and ignore your body’s distress signals.

~ You have a deep sense of social responsibility. It is hard not to obsess about the level of suffering that you see all around the world. Your friends and relatives tell you to lighten up and stop worrying so much. But every time an extreme weather event happens somewhere or you see another homeless person, your heart breaks.

~ You are the parent of a gifted child. This child is bursting with energy, questions, curiosity, and emotion. You can’t keep up with them and are exhausted at the end of the day. You feel a deep sense of responsibility to raise a compassionate, sensitive human. To give your child what you did not get. Finding an appropriate school has been grueling. Other parents think it is easy to raise such a smart child. It is not.

Can you relate to any of these examples? Many of them?

What can you do about the loneliness you feel?

You can read these other blog posts. I’ve written about this before. There are things that you can do.

For today, though, I want to share the words of the courageous RFM, Charles Eisenstein. You’ll want to read the entire article. He presents a fascinating perspective on living consciously in today’s world. The quote below is particularly uplifting and spiritually sensitive.

You are not alone.

“The beings we have excluded from our reality, the beings we have diminished in our perception into non-beings, they are still there waiting for us. Even with all my inherited disbelief (my inner cynic, educated in science, mathematics, and analytic philosophy, is at least as strident as yours), if I allow myself a few moments of attentive quiet, I can feel those beings gathering. Ever hopeful, they draw close to the attentiveness. Can you feel them too? Amid the doubt, maybe, and without wishful thinking, can you feel them? It is the same feeling as being in a forest and suddenly realizing as if for the first time: the forest is alive. The sun is watching me. And I am not alone.”     Charles Eisenstein


To my bloggEEs: Of course, I feel less alone because I have you! Thank you so much for being here. Let us know about your experiences of loneliness and what soothes you and how you find people (and spiritual guides? Nature? the Force? higher consciousness? intuitive visions? God? ) who get you. Do you have a spiritual practice/belief where you can feel connected?

My new book is almost here! It will launch near the end of June. Stay tuned! If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, I’ll be announcing it there first. (and here, of course) You will now have your favorite blog posts in a book (a love letter to you) to soothe your lonely soul.