Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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It’s Time We Talked About Trauma, Resilience, Intuition, And Spirituality

I was asked on a recent podcast about my work with clients who experienced trauma as children. Are rainforest-minded clients more traumatized than non-rainforest-minded clients when there is abuse in the family? Are they more resilient? Is there a difference between a highly sensitive, intuitive, gifted child and a regular more typical child when it comes to growing up in a seriously dysfunctional family? What about intuition and spirituality? How do they play a part in the life of a rainforest mind experiencing trauma?

(photo by Jeremy Bishop, Unsplash)

Well. As usual, I can only speak anecdotally. But I have worked as a therapist since 1992 so that is quite a few years of anecdotes!

That said, as you might imagine, the answer is not simple. And because I work exclusively with rainforest minds (RFMs), I have no real concrete means of comparison. So, those of you with a more skeptical, analytical bent, bear with me. I am simply sharing what I have seen and I am open to hearing your thoughts.

Another thing. The population of gifted humans I know is also a particular group of folks who want therapy, can afford therapy, and are actively choosing self-examination. So, I will be speaking about a fairly select group.

Yet another thing. I do realize that people write volumes on each of these topics and here I am writing an itty bitty blog post. Apologies.

Eek. One final thing for new readers. Not all gifted folks have rainforest minds. But all rainforest minds are gifted.

Phew. Disclaimers aside. Here ya go.

Over the years, I have worked with many clients who were abused in their families of origin. There are clear impacts that can include: intense anxiety and hypervigilance, depression, safety-trust-control issues, self-doubt, self-hatred, low self-esteem, codependency, boundary problems, relationships that repeat the unhealthy patterns in the family, somatic symptoms, PTSD, and delayed achievement in career paths. And more. Clearly, RFMs are deeply impacted by early trauma.

One might think a highly sensitive child would be more affected in an unsafe environment than someone less aware or less sensitive. And, yes, these kids are likely more vulnerable due to their keen awareness, empathy, and sensitivity. And yet. What has surprised me, even with the greater vulnerability, has been the quality of resilience. In spite of the severe abuse that many of my clients experienced, I have not seen them becoming abusers themselves. They do not develop serious personality disorders. They still maintain their powerful empathy, sensitivity, moral compass, and mental agility.

How is this possible?

I have theories.

Many of my clients tell me that at a very early age, they knew something was wrong with their parents so that they were less likely to fully blame themselves for the abuse. There was a certain capacity for observation or, perhaps, metacognition or intuition. This awareness may have provided some protection from the intense self-hatred and acting out behaviors that many children develop in these circumstances, that can lead to more severe outcomes including serious addictions and deep-seated mental disturbances such as narcissism or psychopathology.

There is more.

The intuition and spirituality that comes with a rainforest mind is a natural resilience builder. RFMs are often quite intuitive. They know things and do not necessarily know where the knowing comes from. They receive ideas, direction, and support from particular intuitive insights or psychic capacities. There is often an unusually strong spirituality including a mystical connection with Spirit or Guidance or Nature or the Universe or God. Clients have told me that when they were quite young, they felt the presence of angels or spiritual guides providing protection, support, and love during those early years.

Many RFMs seek meaning outside of traditional religious circles. Some explore Buddhist practices, earth-centered beliefs, or shamanic influences. They often find peace, a sense of belonging, and wisdom when they spend time in the natural world, communicating with animals, trees, rivers, and plants. One way to think about it is that this intuitive and spiritual circuitry provides a strong safety net when a rainforest-minded human is threatened.

On occasion, I have mused that RFMs might be old souls and all of those lifetimes contributed to their set of unique traits and to their resilience. And, more recently, it has occurred to me, that perhaps these clients are born with a crystalline strength that runs through the center of their body-minds that not even the most horrific abuser can touch, much less break.

Certainly, many rainforest-minded clients have a long, complicated grieving process in therapy to heal from the serious traumas and the devastating losses they have experienced. But they are not broken. At their center remains a powerful, tenacious, enduring, robust, resplendent Light.

And that Light saves them. And just might save us all.

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To my bloggEEs: As you can tell, I am a little anxious about this post (Did the 5 disclaimers give it away???) I am not sure why except that, perhaps, this is an even more complicated and controversial topic than usual. And then, I realized I’ve written about this before. Here. Go figure. Please share your personal stories in the comments. Your insights and experiences are so valuable. If you know of good resources about trauma, resilience, intuition, and spirituality, please tell us about them. Here are a few worth looking into: Spirituality: Tara Brach. Clarissa Pinkola Estes. On Being by Krista Tippett. The Evolutionary Collective. Trauma: Judith Blackstone. Complex PTSD. Healing Trauma. Sending you much love.


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Are You Crazy or Are You Just Gifted?

I was talking with a client the other day about her pain and frustration with her colleagues and friends who do not see the nuance, the complexities, the layers, the connections, the subtleties, the intricacies– that she experiences all the time. All the time. And in today’s divisive, angry, not-nuanced environment, she is not sure when to speak up or how to explain her perspective for fear of being misunderstood, ridiculed, or even cancelled.

When you have a rainforest mind, this is your life.

(photo courtesy Bud Helisson, Unsplash)

How do you explain to someone who does not have the capacity to see what you see that there is something else going on, something more, something that matters. Maybe even something beautiful. Or touching. Or astonishing. Or terrifying.

Take the color white, for example. It is obvious to you that the plain old white wall in the cafe is actually sand-beige with a touch of off-white-ecru-yellow-ivory and green undertones. And that is just under artificial light. On sunny days, it all changes. Right? Certainly, it is not just white. And what is white anyway? And what about moonlight? You think, how can they NOT see it. They must be lazy or too distracted or pretending for some reason that perplexes you. But, in fact, it is quite likely that they do not see it.

This is what you need to understand. They just see white. Mind you, there is nothing wrong with seeing white. It is what is actually there in their world. But in your world, there is so much more.

This might be a reason you feel crazy. You think, Of course they see it. They must see it. It is so obvious.

They don’t.

You probably hear more, too. Those buzzing lights. The clunking ice maker in the refrigerator. The expletive leaf blower. The upstairs apartment neighbors who walk with shoes on their wood floors. Your partner chewing.

Not to mention the smells. The perfumes. Air fresheners. Detergents. The oil refinery thirty miles away. Your office colleague’s lunch. Garlic breath. The person who needs the root canal.

Shall I go on?

No? You get the idea? I thought so. You catch on quickly.

Yeah.

What I am here to tell you is that you are not crazy. It is just that your world is larger. Deeper. Wider. Nuanced. Intricate. Complex. Intense. Tangled. Lush. Fertile. Rich.

Kinda like a rainforest.

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To my bloggEEs: What are the ways you notice you are different in your capacity to feel, see, smell, taste, touch, intuit, know, experience, and more? Have you felt crazy? Thank you, as always, for being here and for your love, depth, complexity, and sweetness.


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The Holiday Season Blues — Rainforest Mind Edition

I spent time rereading my old blog posts this week. I was pretty impressed, if I do say so myself! (including the thoughtful, sensitive, insightful, lyrical comments) I wasn’t sure what to write next. But considering the holiday season, it seemed appropriate to gather up some posts that might be worth revisiting, particularly those that would be relevant to the holiday season blues–posts about the particular challenges for RFMs getting through these times and facing the usual familiar loneliness, intensified, along with the pressures of being highly sensitive and socially conscious in a pandemic, climate crisis, and increasingly divisive world.

As much as I hate to admit it, I succumb to the blues this time of year. Even with my trusty blog, adoring fans, thriving practice, emotional support animal sweater, and kind-hearted friends, I can still lose sight of how privileged I am and, instead, head down the luge into the psychic swamp where old therapists go to eat their pumpkin pie alone and reread Carl Jung’s greatest hits for the tenth time. It isn’t pretty.

(photo by yogendra singh, unsplash)

So, I am with you, my sweetest rainforesters. Join me in the psychic swamp. We shall eat our pumpkin pie alone together.

Surviving the Hectic, Harrowing, Holiday Season Hoopla

“…No one is immune to the hectic harrowing holiday season hoopla. You may think that you’re the only one bewildered, lonely or sad. You aren’t. And if you’re super sensitive and if you have high ethical standards and a social conscience, this may be a particularly tough time. It’s a crazy world right now. And if you’re like me, single and childfree, you might have mixed feelings while you watch the frenetic humans running hither and  yon…”

Fifteen Quick Reminders To Help You Make It Through the Holidaze

“…2  You’re not a failure as a human being if your siblings went to Stanford and are all doctors and have two and a half kids and you’re still wondering what to do when you grow up because you took a detour into drug treatment and psychotherapy because your soft heart and gentle spirit needed to heal…”

Finding Meaningful Friendships When You Are (Annoyingly) Perceptive And (Excrutiatingly) Sensitive

“…Of course, you can always start a blog or write a book. I have found some of my favorite humans through my writing. One of them, Tina, would win the girlfriend of the year contest, if such a thing existed. She lives 1,254.1 miles away from me. Is 18 years younger. (OMG. I could be her mother.) Has two teenage kids and a hubby. But that doesn’t stop her. Or me. You see? You can think outside the box when it comes to friendships. You will need to. Because of the wonders of technology, though, it is possible to experience a deeply satisfying, sweet, loving, even daily connection. The daily part has been important to me. Being single, I have longed for a person who checks in every day. And so, it seems, does Tina. It is a long-distance-but-that-doesn’t-matter girlfriend love fest…”

Super Sensitive? Super Smart? Super Lonely

“…It’s hard to find other beings with rainforest minds. Maybe you get frustrated by your relatives who dismiss your insights and take your kindness for granted. Perhaps you long for deep conversation and exuberant debate but end up with small talk and platitudes. Maybe you think it’s your job to save everyone so you befriend all comers, willy nilly. Maybe you meet someone who looks like a prospect but when they find out that you speak 4 languages, write music, paint, read books obsessively, and adore quantum physics, they remember that they have a dying uncle in Idaho who needs them. Right away. Maybe you’ve never found a soul who has the same capacity for sorrow and joy…”

If I’m So Smart, Why Am I So Lonely?

“…You think you’re explaining your ideas quite thoroughly and clearly. But your listeners aren’t listening. They’re lost in your creative leaps and poetic language. Or they don’t really care about the future of the electric car. Or they think your enthusiasm for mycelium is weird…”

Lonely? Find your Pips

“…You were too excited by Jane Austen. You were too curious about black holes and sea anemones. You were too emotional when you were teased. You were too incensed when teachers were unfair. You were too disappointed when the world let you down. You still are…”

“Beam Me Up Scotty” Social Responsibility And Your Super Smart, Sensitive Soul

“…Get in touch with the activities and skills that bring you joy, meaning, and fulfillment. Then, use your creativity to turn one or more of them into a community building or global-oriented service project that will change minds and hearts. Design a project that will spread more love. That will soften the divide and reduce the fear. It doesn’t have to grow into a global phenomenon. But it can. You may hesitate because you feel that whatever you do won’t be grand enough. Won’t be perfect enough. Don’t let that stop you…” 

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To my bloggEEs: You know that writing to you sustains me, right? How is your holiday season? What is challenging for you? What do you do to create peace or to find others? And, if your holidays are joyful, tell us about it. Share the joy! And keep writing those thoughtful, sensitive, insightful, lyrical comments. Much love and gratitude to you all.


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The Woman Who Did Not Know Herself – A Journaling Technique

(To my bloggEEs: The following is a recent journal entry of mine. It is a technique I use to figure something out that is bothering me. I always start with “Once upon a time there was a woman who…” and then I write about the thing that is upsetting me, or about the question I have. I let the story unfold and keep writing until an answer appears or I have a shift in my irritability. Here is my example. Give it a try and let us know how it went or what questions you have. I will be storing this post also on my Personal Musings page.)

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Once upon a time there was a woman who was lost and confused. She had a good life. Fulfilling job. A sweet, safe home. Reliable, loving friends. A popular blog. Left-wing relatives. Healthy body. Stable income. Published books. Effervescent hair. Intelligence. Creativity. A good heart. 

But something was out of whack. 

She worried. Who the heck was she really?  In spite of her quite good life, it seemed she did not really know who she was. Just so you know she did realize this was a “first world” problem. And she was truly grateful for all she had. But, as part of her drive to grow and contribute, she knew addressing her out-of-whackitude was essential. 

So, one day, she made a list. 

Who was she?

  • Psychotherapist to smart people?
  • Tango dancing blogger?
  • Shy homebody?
  • Jewish girl from Delaware?
  • Belly dancer wannabe?
  • Former amateur actress-singer-dancer?
  • Oldest blogger ever?
  • Therapy junkie?
  • Spiritual seeker and highly sensitive person?
  • International consultant to gifted humans?
  • Kind, open-hearted soul?
  • Mediocre sister?
  • Quirky auntie?
  • Rainy day appreciator?
  • Dysfunctional family survivor?
  • Journal writer? Author?
  • Obsessed introspector?
  • Secret fangirl of Broadway musicals?
  • Reluctant cook?
  • Book and music lover?
  • Anxiety-prone, melancholic, emotional, post-menopausal witch?
  • Singer of songs from other dimensions?
  • Writer of self-help books for brainiacs?
  • Emerging Instagram video queen?
  • Overeater on lonely nights?
  • Undercover and driven change-the-world activist?
  • Introverted persnickety boundary setter?
  • Seeker of her soul’s mate?
  • Accidental human?
  • Impostor earthling?
  • Rainforest minder?
  • Deep, divergent overthinker?
  • Underachieving priestess?

The length of the list surprised her. It was encouraging. It turned out she was not at a loss for identity at all. She had many. Like Walt Whitman said. Multitudes. And, of course, she knew she did not have to pick just one. She could be all of those things. And more.

Well. 

This was a relief. This knowledge put her back in whack. It suddenly became clear that she did not know herself because she was trying to be, well, normal.

But trying to be normal, she realized, was just wacky. 

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To my bloggEEs: What do you think of the journaling technique? Did you try it? You might also make a list of your own multitudes. It could help on the days you feel out of whack. Or just plain wacky. Thank you, as always, for being here. Love to you all.


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Why Bother Understanding Giftedness — Won’t They All Be Fine Because They Are So Smart?

No. Not really. Nah. Nope. It’s complicated. The gifted kids and adults I have known over the years have much more going on than just “smartness” — smartness, that is often defined as excelling in school, getting high grades, winning academic awards, attending Ivy League college, or becoming the wealthy corporate CEO. And that is where the problem often begins. We need to get more specific about what being smart, or better yet, what being gifted, actually is. (Note: It may or may not include those academic, achievement-oriented things and, yet, it is so much more.)

The gifted humans I have known are clearly intellectually advanced, deep thinking, extra-perceptive, quite analytical, creative problem solvers, highly sensitive, and intuitive. There is no doubt they crave learning new ideas, are introspective, compassionate, and make unusual connections between, oh, all the things. Being academic, achieving in a school setting, may not be where they show themselves, if the school environment is not keeping up with their capacity to think, understand, interpret, evaluate, synthesize, create, question, intuit, laugh, and reflect on concepts, ideas, philosophies, theories, emotions, insights, and facts.

Another way to describe these folks, other than by the rainforest mind analogy that we all know and love, is with a hyperlink model. The more gifted, the more hyperlinks. Making multiple connections between what seem to be unrelated ideas. Constant analysis, synthesis, and revelations. Hyperlinks within hyperlinks.

So. How might that feel to them? To you?

Exhilarating. Exhausting. Fascinating. Isolating. Stimulating. Starving. Energizing. Confusing.

Am I right?

I will focus on the challenges here because, well, that is the part where you, and others, need convincing.

Some examples come to mind, in no particular order: Sitting in meetings, day after day, month after month, waiting for coworkers to come to consensus on the conclusion you drew last year, waiting for colleagues to finish debating irrelevant information, waiting for someone to appreciate the nuance you bring to the discussion. Sharing only portions of your vast knowledge and talents in many areas for fear of judgment, rejection, or misunderstanding. Showing only small parts of yourself for fear of overwhelming others with your energy, enthusiasm, and curiosity. Constantly adapting to your environment so you can be understood and accepted. Smelling someone who needs a root canal. Enduring criticism for needing multiple career paths and for doing more than one project at a time. Grappling with learning disabilities that confuse and frustrate your intense appetite for knowledge. Never finding a mentor or guide who knows more than you do. Settling for friendships that are limited in depth and range. Being bullied in school because you want to spend recess in the library. Terrified to make a mistake because in your mind errors mean you actually are not gifted. Listening to audio books and podcasts at faster speeds to avoid boredom. Despairing over the suffering on the planet and being called dramatic by family members. Diagnosing your illness when the doctors can’t. Unable to turn off your thinking and worrying to fall asleep or just relax. Pressured to live up to others’ expectations. Pressured to not disappoint your parents and teachers who rely on you. Achieving mastery in your field(s), winning those awards, and still feeling like you are not enough. Desperate to find even one person for meaningful dialogue and open-hearted relationship.

And, finally:

Considerable self-doubt, self-criticism, and anxiety for many reasons but also because you imagine all of the REAL gifted people are high achieving, valedictorian, Ivy League, confident, super star CEOs who are all fine because, well, they are so darned smart.

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To my bloggEEs: What do you think? Am I describing you? How? What other examples do you have? Is there someone you know who needs to read this? Thank you for sharing your feelings, thoughts, and questions. As you know, my blog wins the prize for best comments ever. Much love to you.


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Three Brazilian Psychologists and a North American Talk About Giftedness

I was invited to have a conversation with Giovanna Strobel and her colleagues in Brazil about our work with gifted clients. We found we have so much in common. Whether you have a rainforest mind in N. America or in Brazil, you may experience similar struggles. Hear all about it here. And thank you to Giovanna, Daphne, and Simone!

To my bloggEEs: Let us know the thoughts, feelings, and questions that came up as you watched. Thank you, as always, for being here! And if you are a therapist or coach who works anywhere in the world with gifted clients, let us know who you are and include your contact information. I am starting a list. There is one here for N. Americans but I don’t know of any international referral lists.


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Are You Ready To Admit You Are Gifted? Yes? What, Then, Are The Benefits?

Many of my clients are still not sure they are gifted. Truth be told, neither am I. So, I am wondering if I explain the reasons you ought to identify as gifted, maybe more of you would be able to accept it. Or believe it. Or even celebrate it. Maybe I would, too. And then we could move on from there. To living our meaningful, purposeful, authentic lives. To using our gifted traits for good!

The Benefits of Admitting You Are Gifted

~ You stop pathologizing your gifted traits.

(photo courtesy of Diego Rosa, Unsplash)

~ You get clearer about your deep, wide, unending, analytical thinking that comes naturally and is beneficial and that people, including you, call overthinking. It is not over. It is not under. It is just your style of thinking. You will distinguish this from rumination, your tendency to worry, because your very active, creative mind can think of multiple catastrophic scenarios, especially if you are a parent. This distinction will help you know when you need to chill (apply self-soothing techniques) versus when you are free to dive (research the hell out of something).

~ It will get easier to make decisions because you will understand how your mind easily conjures up complexities and variables within variables. Not to mention your sense of social responsibility that can complicate your choices. Knowing these tendencies will help you move ahead a bit sooner. Decisions will be a little less fraught.

~ You will realize that your random, divergent, nonlinear thinking style is not ADHD. Your visually sensitive desire for clean surfaces and color-coded sweaters and alphabetized books is not OCD. Your emotionally intense moods are not bipolar disorder. Your sensitivity to clothing textures, food tastes, loud sounds, and violent images, and your desire to tell everyone about your obsession with brain specimen coasters is not autism spectrum disorder. (OK. This is not to say that you can’t be gifted and any one of these other things, too. You certainly can be. That would make you twice-exceptional or 2e. And that is fine, too. But a topic for another post.)

~ You will be better able to find appropriate friends because you will not try to fit in where you do not belong. You will let go of forcing yourself to make small talk. You will not get irritated when people say “how are you” and just want you to say “fine.” You will know how to spot other rainforest minds because you will know what to look for.

~ You will not force yourself to finish one book before you start the next one.

~ You will sort out what traits are the result of giftedness and what traits come from losses and/or traumas in childhood. You might need a therapist to guide you. Asking for help is not a weakness. Smart people need guidance, too.

~ You will set clearer boundaries with people because you know you can be compassionate while at the same time not take on burdens that are not yours. You will acknowledge that your giftedness does carry responsibility but it does not mean you have to rescue people who are obviously not asking to be saved, or people who have their different paths to walk. You will be clearer about what you can control and what you can not control.

~ You will relax your fears around disappointing others because you will apply all of that love, compassion, and acceptance you give to family, friends, and suffering humans everywhere, to yourself as well.

~ You will not freak out when your intuition is accurate and when you feel your connection to a powerful Source of Love and Light.

When you finally admit to yourself that you have a rainforest mind, that you are, indeed, gifted, then, you will be freer to follow your true paths because you will be better able to know where you need to go. You will feel more connected to yourself and what you are here to do and you will look for the right resources for support. You will be more open to receiving love and the sweetness of the larger Universe, of the invisible world. You will be more able to live your meaningful, purposeful, authentic life and to use your gifted traits for the benefit of yourself, your family, your community, and your world.

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To my bloggEEs: I will believe it if you will! Let us know your thoughts, feelings, and questions. Much love and gratitude! (And thank you to the client who inspired this post.)


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What My Twice-Exceptional Client Taught Me

I totally missed it. In my enthusiastic desire to avoid at all costs the all-too-often misdiagnoses of gifted kids and adults, I did not see what was right in front of me. 

(photo courtesy of David Clode, Unsplash)

I had worked with Jenny off and on, every other week, for about two years. She came to me after a difficult first year in college away from home, returning to a university in her hometown. She openly shared her struggles with anxiety, depression, and relationships. Her need for structure and routines, and trouble with transitions. Her extroversion and difficulty with friendships. The early years of bullying; her love of learning and desire to achieve in school. 

I had written about her on my blog. This one on anxiety and perfectionism. And I quoted her in this one. I saw it all as the typical challenges gifted young people face. And it was.

Until it wasn’t. 

Jenny had a boyfriend, Glen, who lived with her. He had been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and, with him, it was easy to see the signs. He had severe executive functioning problems and anxiety. He was not doing well in school or keeping up with chores at home; he had strong opinions that could not be changed. Jenny would remind him about homework and his responsibilities, but he would often procrastinate or say he would get to it but not follow through. He was particularly socially awkward. Compared to Glen, Jenny appeared to be a regular gifted kid with the typical rainforest-y struggles. She was conscientious about her schoolwork, kept her house clean, and was quite personable. She was insightful, sensitive, and kind. Yes, Jenny talked nonstop in our sessions but so did many of my clients. 

But, in our session last week, Jenny told me she had recently realized she was an “aspie girl.” She said she had been masking her ASD traits like many girls do, and that she was exhausted. The isolation and stress of the pandemic had finally overwhelmed her so she had gone on a search for answers and had come up with her own ASD diagnosis. Jenny explained she had severe anxiety with transitions and a strong need for plans and routines. When she was living with her parents, they provided the structure she needed. On her own, it was extremely challenging. She identified this as the executive functioning issues that can come with ASD.  She said she was quite anxious in new situations until she knew the rules and that she had learned over the years to imitate others so she would look appropriate. She described sensory issues and some self-stimulation that helped calm her; also physical clumsiness and fine motor difficulties. She told me about “obsessions” she had as a young child with Wizard of Oz, Dr. Who, and Lord of the Rings

The tricky thing is, I know many regular gifted kids in love with Dr. Who and J.R.R. Tolkien. Many who are sensually sensitive to textures, smells, tastes, and sounds. Who suffer from anxiety and depression. Who deal with loneliness, bullying, and communication issues.

But this was different. And Jenny’s research confirmed it. She was an aspie girl. She was twice exceptional (2e). She disclosed that as a young child, she developed scripts or rules for interactions with others and would get very upset if they did not follow them. Which they usually didn’t. Jenny said she learned by observation and from her mother to let other people talk and to ask them questions, to talk less about her own interests, and to manage her emotions when plans suddenly changed. Jenny was educating me, and herself, about ASD. It became clear she needed to find a different practitioner. And, in true form, she already had. She had already met with a psychologist for an initial assessment. 

Jenny told me she had benefitted from our time together. I had shared techniques she continued to use to calm her anxiety and manage her depression. My descriptions of rainforest minds reassured her that some of her difficulties in school and with other kids were based in her fast, divergent, and deep thinking, her sensitivities, and her greater capacity for learning. Her rainforest mind.

But I was quite aware of the irony. Many clients over the years have told me their practitioners had misdiagnosed them because there are similarities between the gifted traits and ADHD, OCD, ASD, and even bipolar disorder. Or they told me stories of how their doctors were mystified by their symptoms and they had to diagnose themselves without the help of the so-called experts.

Ouch. Eek. It was humbling to experience being one of those practitioners.

And so, yes, you can be rainforest-minded and ASD or ADHD or anything else, really. You can be twice exceptional. Maybe even 3e? 4e?

And, thus, just when you thought having a rainforest mind was complicated enough, well, there are even more tangled vines, insects, and monkeys than you can imagine.

And to Jenny: Thank you for your patience with me and your determination to make sense of your world. And for helping me make more sense of mine.

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To my bloggEEs: Have you been misdiagnosed? Do you identify with being twice-exceptional? Have you had experiences like Jenny? Let us know in the comments. Your thoughts, feelings, resources, and questions, add so much. Thank you, as always, for being here.

Resources for twice-exceptionality include: http://www.brightandquirky.com; http://www.withunderstandingcomescalm.com; http://www.summitcenter.us; These are mostly for parents of gifted 2e children but the information is still helpful for adults.


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A Gifted Woman From India

photo courtesy of Viktor Forgacs, Unsplash

Anu did not think she was smart. She did not excel in mathematics. In India, where she grew up, the gifted ones were the math stars. If you loved music, art, theatre, and literature, like Anu did, you were not considered particularly intelligent, much less gifted. If you were restless, highly imaginative, sensitive, and curious, like Anu, you were told to quiet down and calm down. Anu was punished and insulted by educators. She said, “School was a nightmare.” Even though Anu loved classical dance, singing, reading, and poetry, even though she was a curious, avid reader, this was not enough for her teachers.

Anu wrote: “I have observed in India intelligence is always acknowledged with accomplishments. Anything less than an engineer or doctor is considered low. Comparing your kids’ grades with your neighbor’s kids is a common practice and shaming you if your grades are lower. Nobody tries to understand there are kids who may not be able to thrive in the rote education method, but want it presented in a more interactive, fun, interesting way, as they have a more beautiful and passionate inner world…a beautiful bird or a sunset can evoke a thousand emotions and colors in our brain. We can get excited over things that don’t even make sense to others, but we are not overdramatic. We love life and this world more than anyone can imagine…” 

Anu came to N. America from India when she was 26. She is now 39, in an arranged marriage with two children and a Masters degree in microbiology. She found my blog and books five years ago and said she “found solace in that there are people who think and feel like me. I can live my life without shame and guilt…” It has been a long journey for her to find self-acceptance and to understand that she does, indeed, have a rainforest mind. 

“It took me so many years to realize that I do like to study. In my 30’s, I have been spending time learning anthropology, neurobiology, and studying Egyptian and Indian history…If I could have had this interest sparked in me many years back, my life would not have turned out like this and I could have had a career that is lined with passion…In spite of my passions being subdued by the society, I have lived life happily and spread my compassion and passion into my family. I have pursued reading, studying, dancing, and singing at an age where it may not make me a career, but at least keeps your inner world happy and engaged.”

I told Anu she has many years left to create a career that is fulfilling, if that is a goal of hers. I told her that the rainforest-minded often explore many lifestyles, including parenting, partnering, and multiple jobs/careers, hobbies, and interests over their lifespans. Just in case she felt too old, I reminded her that my blogging career began when I was, oh, 62.

You are not alone, Anu. Keep appreciating your imaginative, passionate, colorful inner world. Your rainforest mind clan is here, dancing and singing with you.

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To my bloggEEs: Let us know if you have had experiences similar to Anu. Tell us where you live and what the school system was like in your country. How did you find out about your rainforest mind? Did you find your path(s) later in life? Thank you, as always, for your sensitive comments and for your open hearts. And many thanks to Anu for sharing your story with us.


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Face Your Demons. Slay Your Dragons. Mend Your Broken Heart.

“We all have the dark, ignorant shadow inside us. I have worked endlessly to reveal it and heal it in me.” ~ Anne Lamott

Psychotherapy has been described as the opportunity to explore with a compassionate, experienced guide what is often called the dark night of the soul. It is the journey to face your demons. Slay your dragons. Mend your broken heart.

photo courtesy of Timo Volz, Unsplash

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

Well, OK, maybe not fun. But necessary. Courageous. A way to unravel your family legacy of, say, abandonment, loss, abuse, trauma, and/or denial, and to make an actual contribution to world peace (I’m serious.) because you are no longer unconsciously re-enacting patterns set up by your crazy (not a technical term) or neurotic or abusive or delusional ancestors and projecting them onto innocent bystanders, including your children. In fact, you will, instead, be repairing the damage, disrupting the legacy, soothing your worn out nervous system, learning self-compassion, and discovering your particular path(s) to love and to creating a better world.

Granted, I am a psychotherapist, so I see most things through this lens. But I am guessing you will agree, we have a whole lot of unconscious, delusional, re-enactment going on these days. Some might say, we always have; it is just more obvious now. I would have to agree. And I recognize there are a lot of different opinions about how best to address the shadow side of humanity mayhem. In my view, there is no one particular right path or one answer for everyone. And yet. For those of you who see your own demons and dragons running amok, those of you who are brave enough to notice you do, in fact, have a broken heart to mend, this might be a journey you are ready to take.

What I have seen in myself and my clients as we dig ourselves out from under the rubble of our early lives (oh so many therapy metaphors!), is that you build a new foundation. You build a safe home where you can learn to trust and love yourself so you can trust and love others. Gradually, your outer life improves as your inner life is healed. And then, your rainforest mind is free to express itself in its fullest, overexcitable-est, idealistic-est, creative-est ways. I mean it.

Your ancestors will thank you. Your children will thank you. Your demons and dragons will run amok marathons for charitable causes.

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To my dearest bloggEEs: Just so you know, this is not an advertisement for my therapy services! I am only licensed to provide therapy in Oregon. (I do consult worldwide but that is not therapy.) Here is a short list of therapists to start your search. And, if you are not interested in therapy at this time (or if you have lost your job due to COVID), there are other ways to do inner work. Several of those resources are described in my first book. (If you want therapy but can not afford it, find a good person and ask for a sliding scale.)

If you have been particularly distressed by recent events in N. America, here are some encouraging words from Van Jones: “Breakdowns can lead to breakthroughs if you use them right. Maybe, just maybe, this much disunity can open the door for unity.” Here is an uplifting song: The Keep Going Song by the Bengsons. And here is an organization working to heal the divisions.

Let us know in the comments how you are doing (avoiding specific political rants–those are not really helpful here–but I surely understand the need to rant). Have you found a good therapist? What else do you do for self-healing? Have you found a furry friend? Do you wear your emotional support sweater? Do you let yourself cry? I am sending love to all of you to help you mend your broken hearts and to give you courage during these difficult times. Thank you for being here. Your love sustains me.