Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


73 Comments

The Loneliness Of The Highly Gifted

Does this remind you of you? At age 4, you made a plan to help the starving children in Mogadishu. At 5, you made a book about deforestation and the poaching of animals. At age 11, you petitioned to save the elephants of Thailand and at age 15, you won a contest with your essay on human trafficking. People told you, you worried too much. They mocked your passion, and told you to go and have fun like the other kids. But you were determined to speak out and you did not understand why your drive was seen as so unusual.

image courtesy of Greg Rakozy, Unsplash

At 29, you are still struggling with being an outspoken outlier and with how to take action in a world that feels so broken. You have long wished there were more than 24 hours in a day. Your family continues to dismiss your striving as unrealistic or unnecessary. These days you avoid talking with them but you have yet to find a place to belong or a clan of like minds.

You may have found one or more career paths that fed some of your intellectual curiosity for a while or provided for your financial security but did not nourish your soul. Or when you mastered a job’s requirements in the first week, you found your coworkers do not respond with appreciation; while you remained frustrated and unfulfilled.

What is often the experience of the highly (exceptionally, profoundly) gifted is that you can be successful and high achieving in a variety of fields.

Dare I say, at everything you try.

Perhaps you learned to play several musical instruments without the usual hours of practice. And you are now fluent in your fifth language. You remodeled your home without any training or schooling. And you diagnosed your own chronic illness when all of the doctors were stymied. You taught yourself quilting, gourmet cooking, fly tying, stock trading, and chess, in your spare time. Not only that. You may have been like Chris who “took up target shooting at the age of 50, took my brand new air pistol out of its box, fired. Had someone ask me if I’d been in the army, I said no, then they asked how long I’d been shooting, and I replied ‘about 5 minutes since I took this out of its box’.”

You are likely really good at pretending you are not so good at things. Or apologizing for your abilities and accomplishments. Or finding a way to build up the other person and minimize your capacities. I wonder if you have memories of teachers telling you to “put your hand down and let others have a turn.” Then, feeling hurt, because your enthusiasm was misinterpreted, you experienced bullying, jealousy, and spiteful comments from peers. You were told to spend your time helping your classmates and you felt guilty because you wanted to be kind but it was torture, day after day after day.

All you ever wanted was to share your fascination with Escher and the latest episode of Planet Earth with someone. Anyone. And have them get it. And love it, too. And love you, too.

“I want to fly. And I want so very much for someone to think that’s really cool when they see me fly…. instead of being angry or jealous or feeling like they’re beneath me. I just want someone some day to love me just for me just the way I am.”

And yet, this is such a tricky topic. Who is going to commiserate with you? Who can you talk with about this struggle? I am not even sure how to write about it without sounding whine-y, complain-y, and ungrateful. Right? Gratitude, of course, is important. And, if you had narcissistic parents, you might be extra cautious about acknowledging your strengths and talents.

But this is a thing. A big thing. You and I know it. And, if nothing else, we can talk about it here. You can be yourself here. You can practice sharing your accomplishments, capacities, and wins here.

You can fly.

And we will all cheer as we watch you soar to greater and greater heights. And even if no one else notices or cares, at first, you will find someone, another rainforest mind, or two or three. I know it. And, as your passion to make a difference still shines, as you still ache for the elephants, know that your flight nourishes us all.

You being you is what this planet needs.

Welcome to your clan.

______________________________________________

To my dearest bloggEEs: Tell us about your many accomplishments and abilities! Have you experienced frustration and rejection? Do you worry that acknowledging your strengths might be a kind of grandiosity? Please share your stories. They add so much. Thank you to the bloggEEs who shared the above examples. Much love and appreciation to you all.


61 Comments

Exceptional and Profound Giftedness In Adults — What Does It Look Like? Why Should We Care?

photo courtesy of naveen kumar, Unsplash

Diya, 35, was struggling with anxiety, career decisions, graduate school, and loneliness. She left a prestigious professional school in the final year because it was too rigid and restrictive. Professors and other students ridiculed her and left her feeling embarrassed, particularly when she asked penetrating questions. At times she felt compelled not to ask questions or even go to class because she did not want to stand out. When she contacted me, she had recently graduated with a more open-ended degree from a different prestigious university where she had hoped to find intellectual freedom, deep human connections, out-of-the-box thinkers, and most importantly, people like herself. This school was more open to her creativity and needs for a flexible, interdisciplinary approach but she was still disappointed with the restricted and inadequate levels of intellectual opportunities and the conformity of many of the other students.

It became clear as we talked, that Diya was exceptionally, probably profoundly, gifted. Her interests were many and varied and she excelled in all of them, ranging from the sciences to languages, religion, and the fine arts. Her speech was fast and her thinking faster. She struggled with repetitive tasks and was often forgetting things because her mind was constantly reading and processing new information.

Diya felt a lot of pressure from her intensity of thought and worked best independently in a non-structured environment. Her perfectionist tendencies made it difficult for her to work quickly, and she often felt a lag time between her mind and her body. She had a deep emotional intensity, often feeling emotions that were complex and layered as well as visions and insights that were intuitive and wholistic.

Like many of my clients, though, she didn’t recognize herself as gifted. This may have been partly because she was slower at test taking and at answering simple questions. She did not score well on standardized or IQ tests. With multiple choice tests, she could explain why all of the answers could be correct. When professors asked her to explain her reasoning for a problem, she often couldn’t break down the non-linear jumps or easily explain the patterns that she found. Or it would take too long to respond to a simple question because of all the possible answers, causing teachers to grow impatient or think that she didn’t know the “right” answer. In her mind, everything was related. How could she finish anything when there was always more to consider and how could she determine the right answer when there were so many possibilities existing within constantly evolving frameworks? She was always looking for better models or better words to respond to the questions. At the same time, she was a high achiever in school and was able to build friendships. But the relationships were not satisfying. People could not keep up with her and she often found herself speaking on a different wave length and not being understood. 

Diya loved the fine arts, including performing music and dancing. She found pleasure in learning the Argentine tango because of the depth of connection she could create with the right partner. In the tango, she did not need to worry about her partner getting lost in her verbal complexity. This was an intimate collaboration that was successful and less complicated, unlike at school or in the workplace. She was relieved when I told her that collaborating in general might be difficult because of her facility with grasping and integrating ideas; an entrepreneurial path might work best for her. She thrived in designing her own way and not following others’ directions. She was in the process of creating a startup that would weave together a number of her interests.

Diya’s South Asian background exposed her at an early age to yoga, tai chi, chanting, meditation, and other eastern practices. These were quite helpful spiritually and on a body level, particularly when she felt disconnected and alone. Spiritual practices worked in tandem with performing music to help her stay physically grounded, express her visual mental imagery, and sustain her through her distress around relationships and schooling. 

Diya, had a highly developed sensitivity. She could pick up what her friends and colleagues were feeling, and often knew intuitively how to help them, but struggled with not getting emotionally and mentally drained by the needs of others and with knowing where and how to set boundaries. She was concerned with ethics and justice, within relationships, but also in the larger world where she was driven to make a positive impact. 

As we talked, I could see that Diya was relieved to finally have a “diagnosis.” To have it explained to her that her difficulties with schooling, peers, career decisions, and anxiety, could all be understood within the context and framework of living at the highest end of the gifted spectrum. She finally understood why she felt so different and now could start learning how better to survive and thrive in a world that did not easily reflect her. 

I recommended the research of Miraca Gross. This article from the Triple Nine Society. I suggested connecting with Femke Hovinga in the Netherlands and Sue Jackson in British Columbia. Tom Clynes’ book on the profoundly gifted Taylor Wilson and The Gifted Adult were also excellent resources, along with the SENG organization

Getting to know Diya was an opportunity for me to see, once more, the vast potential of the human mind-heart-soul. This is what gives me hope and purpose. In these times of great uncertainty, upheaval, and change, it is of the utmost importance that we all understand, nourish, support, and love the most evolved among us.

Our survival may depend on it. 

__________________________________________________

To my bloggEEs: What do you think? How are you similar to Diya? How are you different?  We want to hear from you. Your comments add so much. Sending you all big love during these most challenging of times. And thank you to the client who gave me permission to share her story.

Attention Spanish speakers! I have been in touch with a wonderful RFM woman in Spain who would love to find other Spanish speaking RFMs. Her name is Miryam. You can contact her at midorenedo@hotmail.com. 

 

 

 


18 Comments

Gifted In Finland — What Are Gifted Adults Like Across Cultures?

photo courtesy of tapio haaja, Unsplash

Kaisa, 26, shows all the signs of being gifted. Maybe even exceptionally so. What are the signs?

“…I learned to read at a young age and have always been an avid reader and super curious about everything. I have always been overly sensitive but was quickly told by parents and environment to shut down my sensitiveness. In kindergarten I was asked what I wanted for Christmas and I answered, ‘peace and love for the world.’ I was 5. I was also very concerned about hunger in developing countries and the waste produced by plastic bags…”

At an early age: Avid reading, intense curiosity, high sensitivity, concern about justice and environmental issues

“…I’m now at university also where I face people telling me that it is not worth it to think so much. To me it is like telling a bird to stop flying…”

Being accused of overthinking when it is actually deep, analytical, creative awareness, and curiosity. An extremely active mind. You are just *over* when compared to regular thinkers. You may be anxious and start ruminating but this is different from your capacity to think. With anxiety, you will want to learn how to self-soothe and calm your nervous system. With thinking, well, I say, keep flying.

“…I sometimes get so excited about an idea or theory that I cannot continue reading or thinking because it causes my body to get super energetic and I have an urge to move. The other day I was looking at DNA structures for one course and I almost started crying because they looked so beautiful and I got shivers when thinking about how the world is so beautifully organized from the tiniest particles. People tell me I’m intense, too serious (I’m rarely serious. I find myself quite funny.) too much, idealistic. I have had problems finishing my degree (mainly because I’m unmotivated there as I am not challenged enough). My problem is also I have a strong artistic and a strong intellectual side of me, I weigh them as equals and I feel like I need to explain myself to people all the time…I’m planning to inspire and serve the world…I know I could talk myself out of it but then it feels like self betrayal.”

Intellectual excitement that stimulates body responses can be explained via Dabrowski’s overexcitabiity theory. There can be somatic/sensual high abilities along with the intellectual, emotional, and imaginational. You have the capacity to deeply appreciate and respond to life’s complexities and subtle beauty. Sense of humor and idealism may not be understood by others. School may not be challenging and so motivation is difficult. Often you feel the drive to be of service or create a better world.

“…Finnish culture teaches people to be humble so if one excels at something and one is proud of it they are looked upon as… arrogant, etc. Multipotentiality or multitalented is not yet understood or supported by the society that well…in general the response from the culture has been ‘who do you think you are’…”

You have many interests and abilities and are told you need to focus and pick just one thing, which is impossible, stifling, and ridiculous. It is not unusual to be called arrogant even if you are trying to hide your achievements and your interests.

These are the signs of giftedness. In Kaisa. In Finland. And around the world.

______________________________________________

To my bloggEEs: Well, my frequent flyers, who do you think know you are?? Isn’t it fascinating to see the similarities across cultures? Thank you to Kaisa and all of you for sharing your experiences. I welcome your comments here and your emails from around the world. Here is an article on exceptional/profound giftedness for those of you who suspect you might be at that end of the spectrum. And, speaking of flying, if you need a lift because these times are particularly hard, listen to this and start defying gravity!