Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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Your Rainforest Mind — The Latest Podcast Interview

Here is the link to an hour long interview of me with Australian, Sophia Elliott, of Our Gifted Kids. You will get to hear my sultry voice, learn the reason I devised the rainforest metaphor, and visit the challenges gifted adults navigate. Walk my path from public school teacher to psychotherapist, blogger, author, consultant, and Instagram wizard! Unfortunately, we did not talk about my years as an Argentine tango dancer or how I’ve spent my life trying to tame my overexcitable hair. (with very little success, I might add) And once you are on the site, you might enjoy some of the other interviews, especially if you are a parent of gifted children.

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To my bloggEEs: Thank you for listening! Share your thoughts, feelings, questions, and answers. I always look forward to hearing from you and your comments add so much. Big love to you all.

(Note: For more (!) inspiration, here is a link to a beautiful conversation between the rainforest minds of Senator Cory Booker and Jon Stewart on racism in N. America)

(Another note: Still procrastinating on writing your thoughts to me about seeking love, finding love, losing love, and loving love as the complexified rainforester that you are?? Wait no longer, my darlings. –paula at rainforestmind dot com– And thank you to those who have written so far!)


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If You Were Gifted, Wouldn’t You Be An Arrogant Know-It-All With Two PHDs in Astrophysics?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

Click here to watch me pontificating (briefly) on the subject.

In case you do not want to watch me pontificate and you would rather read a more detailed version of my pontification, here ya go:

I have met a whole lot of gifted folks in my somewhat quirkified life. I realize this is unusual. But somehow I fell onto this career path when I was a youngster in my 20’s teaching in a public school. Colleagues noticed I was teaching in a somewhat unconventional way and suggested that gifted children would respond well to my flexible, creative, project-centered, self-paced, empathy-oriented classroom. Not really knowing what a gifted child was, I went for it anyway, and found a job teaching in a gifted pullout program in a middle school.

(photo Cancer Institute, Unsplash)

Those colleagues were right. It was my dream job. The kids were eager to learn, divergent thinkers, funny, sensitive, super smart, kind-hearted, and Star Wars and Shakespeare fanatics. None of them were arrogant know-it-alls. None of them. (although a few of them are likely to have PHDs now, maybe even in astrophysics)

Then, in my late 30’s, I left teaching to pursue my passion for all things psychotherapeutic. I had been a client in counseling for a while and found the process fascinating. Even though I was diving into the abyss of my somewhat miserable childhood, I loved the attention and companionship of a skillful, compassionate guide. I was determined to retrieve all of the pieces of my broken heart and live a more whole, authentic, meaningful, confident, make-a-difference life. It was a no-brainer, then, to go back to school for a counseling degree and start a private practice.

It became clear pretty quickly that I ought to specialize in working with gifted souls. They had particular traits, sensitivities, and experiences that required a finely tuned, informed, sensitive, and aware approach. I imagined that their tendencies to be introspective and their desires for depth, healing, insight, and transformation, would be a good match for my therapeutic style and interests.

I was right. Another dream job that fit my quirkified life well. Then, many years later, I started this blog. And because of the blog, I expanded my practice to include international consulting. And guess what? Still. No arrogant know-it-alls. After all these years. All around the world.

( Note: OK. I realize it is possible that gifted arrogant know-it-alls exist but don’t go to therapy or do not want to consult with me. It is possible. Or, perhaps, I have some magical powers that keep them at bay. So, there is that.)

But, if you are still not convinced, here is a little more proof. As you know, if you have been reading my blog for a while, the gifted humans I see still stumble over the G word. Many of them know how much they don’t know and do not realize how much they do know. They do not see their very high standards and expectations, their complex sensitivities, their creative thinking, and their rage to learn as indications of giftedness. And so, they prefer to describe themselves as rainforest-minded. It feels more appropriate, more equitable, and more descriptive. Not g-g-gifted. Just rainforest-minded.

Not arrogant. Not know-it-alled.

Pontification. Over and out.

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To my bloggEEs: What do you think? Do you agree? Are there arrogant know-it-alls in your life? Are they gifted? Have you heard about the study that looked at how quite intelligent people underestimate their capacities and less intelligent people overestimate their intelligence? That might account for some of the arrogance you run into. OK. I’m sure there is some gifted arrogant know-it-alling out there, y’all. Just not in the overwhelming numbers that the myth would have you believe. What other myths of giftedness are you aware of? Let us know your thoughts. And thank you, as always, for being here.

And, if you are interested in learning about your empathy and sensitivity, there is a Summit coming in November 15-19, 2021 sponsored by The Shift Network. I am one of the speakers! It is one of those events that is free to attend and then you can pay to have it permanently. The links here are affiliate.


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Can Gifted Kids Become Ungifted Adults?

Heck no.

Just to be clear.

photo courtesy of joe ciciarelli, Unspash

But. Well. You may feel ungifted now that you are in your 40’s and you haven’t reached the goals you had at seven. At seven, when you were such a star. All that enthusiasm. Curiosity. Creativity. You knew all the answers. You asked all the questions. Everyone said you had so much potential. You were going to be an astronaut-poet-dancer-paleontologist-unicorn.

And now you are just a procrastinating, perfectionistic, ruminating, self-doubting, overwhelmed, unicorn mess.

So, what happened?

Is there a way to explain how you went from shining superstar to must-be-ungifted mess?

Maybe. I have a theory.

Life happened.

Many experiences, traumas, losses, rejections, prejudices, expectations, beliefs, pressures, illnesses, misunderstandings, or unicorn-killers may have intervened over the years.

Chain saws to your rainforest mind.

Here are some examples. In no particular order:

  • The pressure to be highly intelligent was enormous. You were constantly told how smart you were and how you would achieve great things. You felt you would only be loved and acceptable if you excelled at everything. And for a long time, you did. But eventually, the pressure was too great and you fell apart.
  • You were raised in a family with a history of serious trauma. School was your sanctuary and you did well but at home you had to use your rainforest mind to stay safe and sane. Because of this resilience, you are now a compassionate, sensitive adult. You are not passing the trauma legacy on to anyone. But dealing with your Complex-PTSD did not give you much time or energy to invent the iPhone.
  • You were bullied in school and rarely intellectually challenged. Being the smart kid was not appreciated so you hid your abilities and tried to fit in. In college, it was more of the same. And when you did find a class that was difficult, you did not have the study skills you needed to be successful. It didn’t help that your divergent thinking style, your preference for an interdisciplinary approach, your changing majors five times, and your tendency to question your professors, made you unpopular and labeled a know-it-all. You took your intelligence underground.
  • You were twice-exceptional. Your giftedness was complicated by a diagnosis of ADD or autism spectrum issues or sensory processing challenges or dyslexia or ??? The question, “If you’re so smart, why can’t you…” became all too familiar and debilitating.
  • You experienced racism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-Semitism, or other discriminatory beliefs/behaviors. You grew up in poverty and/or in an unsafe community.
  • You contracted a serious physical illness. You were in chronic pain.
  • You became a parent.

These are some of the reasons you may not have become the astronaut-poet-dancer-paleontologist-unicorn that you and everyone else expected.

But I have good news. It is not too late.

No pressure. Well, maybe a little pressure.

And, yes, I realize you might not have the time to go to astronaut school. But now that you know what has contributed to your self-perceived ungiftedness, now that you know your rainforest mind is still very much with you, you can start to find your true self again.

And do what you are here to do.

We need all the unicorns we can get.

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To my bloggEEs: Do you remember your enthusiasm, intelligence, and curiosity as a child? Do you feel less gifted now? Ungifted? Which chain saws did you experience? Let us know. Your comments add so much. And thank you for being here. Sending you extra love this week. And this month. For the challenges ahead. Take good care of yourselves. Your light shines even when you think it doesn’t.

(And if you need a little more support, here is a Love Letter I wrote to you in 2018.)


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My Book is Getting a New Look — Coming Soon!

design by Claire Flint Last, Luminare Press

My book cover is getting an upgrade. The content will be the same but my book will now have a fabulous cover, too. (designed by Claire Flint Last of Luminare Press here in Eugene, Oregon) When it’s available for purchase, I’ll announce it on Facebook and Twitter. And here.

If you haven’t decided if you want to read it, here’s one person’s insightful opinion:

“Why read Your Rainforest Mind?

– Because the countless examples of what it’s like to be an RFM will make you laugh and cry and feel validated for the amazing being that you are
– Because the book is filled with practical strategies to help with the everyday challenges RFMs face
– Because of the dozens of links to books, articles and websites for further research
– Because after reading it you’ll be a hundred steps closer to knowing your place in this world
– If you’re bringing up a young RFM, you’ll worry less and enjoy your child more

When you grow up believing there’s something wrong with you because you’re so different from other people, you get used to camouflaging yourself to be accepted. Buried deep within, your authentic self yearns to be heard – and yet you don’t even realise the extent to which you’re denying it. Then you read stories like the ones that fill this book, and you nod and you cry as you realise you’re not the only one who feels this way. And gradually that hidden self begins to feel safe to come out and be seen.

I loved the book’s exploration of perfectionism – both intrinsic and extrinsic – and its link to procrastination. I loved the discussion about how choices, possibilities and multipotentiality can be overwhelming. I loved the practical strategies for dealing with the big and small challenges gifted individuals face. I resonated with the chapter on loneliness, and resolved to take action to connect with other RFMs. And I adored the chapter on ‘Authenticity, Creativity and Spirituality’ which finally made me realise that my lifelong search for spiritual meaning isn’t an aberration from my intelligence, but a part of it.

I whole-heartedly agree with the reviewer who says this book rises to the top of the giftedness literature for its holistic approach to understanding gifted people.”

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To my bloggEEs: Have you read my book yet? What did you learn about yourself? If you’ve read it already but want the one with the spiffy new cover, give the old one to a friend or to your therapist and treat yourself to the pretty book. And thank you, my darlings, for your courage, curiosity, intensity, and sensitivity! (and an extra thank you if you write a review on Amazon) And if you haven’t read my book yet, well, stop procrastinating, sweetie pie.

With appreciation to LL, for this wonderful review. Gratitude to Celi Trepanier and the new GHF Press for their willingness to make this change.