Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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Tips for Aging Well When You Have a Rainforest Mind (And Overexcitable Hair)

Me and my overexcitable hair

I am in my sixties. That sounds OLD to me. AARP. Medicare. Senior discounts. Golf. Geezerville.

But I don’t feel OLD. In fact, other than some possible hidden creeping potential decrepitude (!), I think 60-something is kind of fine. Pretty great, actually.

You, too, can have a pretty-great-actually time into your 60s and beyond. Here’s how:

~ Get plenty of psychotherapy. (You knew that was coming.) You will need to address the old family patterns and beliefs that were handed down to you, especially if there was abuse or neglect. This will not stop your skin from sagging. But it will reduce your anxieties and build your self-confidence. At its best, it will heal any shame that you have carried for years and allow you to live more as your true Self. To find meaning and purpose in your life. Maybe even to explore several career paths that are extremely satisfying. Maybe even to find love and sweet intimacy with a partner. (I’m still waiting for that last one. Even though I’ve had fulfilling partnerships over the years, I am now prepared for the deepest most lovingest one yet.) I have been a client in various therapies since my 30s. It has made a huge difference.

~ Create a strong network of friends. You may need to work at this because your rainforest mind makes friend-finding complicated. Start by doing activities that you enjoy and look for potential friends there. Initiate contact. Nourish the connections, even if the people you find are busy. (which they probably are) Eventually, they will realize that you have done them a huge favor and they will love you forever for all of the effort you made to woo them. Don’t believe me? Ask my friends. They will tell you that they will love me forever.

~ Dance the Argentine tango. (If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you also saw that one coming.) The tango appeals to smart people because it is complicated and creative. It requires sensitivity and depth. It might be the first time you experience someone following you. But also, and most important, you can be approaching geezerhood and still attract attention. People will watch you with admiration. They will think that you are beautiful. They will ask to embrace you. Here is a sample of me dancing so you can watch…with admiration!

~ Let your free range, overexcitable, out-of-control, expressive, wild hair be itself. (You may want to buy expensive hair products before trying this.) I am finally much more appreciative of my curls. Not only do other people envy their boldness but folks also wish for the excessive quantity that people with thinner less boisterous hair are losing as they age. If you start to love your overexcitable hair, you, too, will find more self-acceptance for the you-ness that has always felt like tooooo much.

~ Give yourself permission to constantly be working on yourself in various ways. This is not narcissism. Your purpose is to be a more loving, compassionate, contributing human, right? In addition to the years of psychotherapy, experiment with other healing modalities. Acupuncture, energy medicine, 12-Steps, bodywork, time in nature, meditation, yoga, spiritual practices, massage, journal writing, visual art, music, dance, reading, martial arts, running, astrology, biking…and more. I have experienced many of these and can enthusiastically vouch for their effectiveness.

~ Avoid mirrors when you have your reading glasses on.

~ Pay attention to your posture. Seriously. Learn about Katy Bowman’s “nutritious movement.”

~ Find people from all over the planet who are creating a better world. Connect with some of them. Support them. Speak out about injustice. Find your particular way to step up.

~ Find a career path(s) that allows you to age gracefully. One where you don’t have to move much and where the older you are, the more in demand you will be. Being a psychotherapist, blogger, consultant, and author, I’ve realized that I managed to find work that I love and that will take me into old age with ease. People don’t mind that I am older or that my knees are creaking. In fact, they think I am wise.

~ Build a spiritual practice that soothes your nervous system, guides your intuition, and connects you beyond the visible world to a larger, loving, spiritual energy field that is all about Love. This is particularly important as you age and begin to think about your legacy. Many RFMs find Spirit through connecting to Nature. I am still developing my spirituality. I find dancing, singing, and journaling to be my way into the invisible spiritual realms. 

~ Maintain your sense of humor.

~ Don’t run out of hair products.

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To my bloggEEs: What are you doing as you grow older to age gracefully? Which of these ideas appeal to you? What questions do you have? Thank you, as always, for being here.

And don’t forget that you can help me age even more gracefully, if you buy my books! (and write reviews) Ahem. Thank you.


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Overexcitabilities — Can’t Live With Them, Can’t Live Without Them

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photo from Azrul Aziz, Unsplash

Overexcitabilities. Those pesky little traits that make your friends roll their eyes, relatives recommend medication and neighbors head home early. Maybe you talk fast and often about your passion for stackable brain specimen coasters. Maybe you cry over the Facebook video of the adorable four year old telling his mother why he must become a vegetarian. Maybe you can imagine 100s of ways your child could be abducted by aliens on a Sunday afternoon. Maybe you can’t sleep because the room is too hot, the sheets are too rough and the gentle breeze is too loud.

Life in the rainforest mind is intense. You may feel like too much on so many levels. Too emotional. Too sensitive. Too analytical. Too verbal. Too enthusiastic. Too idealistic. Too curious. Too smart.

And if you’re a male, well, this too muchness can be particularly humiliating if you’re trying to “man up” or “not be a sissy” or impress your former-high-school-football-star-race-car-driving-ex-Marine boss.

What, then, can you do? Are you supposed to shrink? Dumb down? Toughen up? Become a football-star-race-car-driving-Marine?

Hell, no.

Instead:

  • Understand that you aren’t too much. You’re gifted. Your emotions and sensitivities are as vast as your intellect. This can feel overwhelming to others and to yourself.
  • Learn the difference between repressing your emotions and containing them. Decide where it’s safe to be fully yourself and where it’s not. Then, practice ways to gently contain your intensity– through mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, exercise, visualizing an actual container, or writing– when needed.
  • Find people with whom you can geek out: book groups, meetup groups, university classes, conferences, mountain bikers, chess clubs, hikers, art-makers, etc.
  • Practice self-soothing techniques to calm your nervous system and your anxiety especially if some of your intensity comes from painful childhood experiences. You may also need these techniques if your empathy is running amok, which it probably is.
  • Use your sensitivities in your job or at home to understand your colleagues/children, create a more compassionate climate, gain insight, and solve problems more holistically.
  • Imagine how the world would be a better place if more people were deeply sensitive and empathetic. Be a role model for the children. Your too muchness is a strength, not a weakness.

And finally:

Instead of shrinking, get larger. You heard me. Go more deeply into your heart and feel yourself expand. Get as large as the universe. Feel your connection to all things. Let that connection hold you and love you. Become the Universe.

Then, go out and buy those stackable brain specimen coasters.

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To my dear bloggEEs: How do you cope with your intensity, your emotions, and your sensitivities? How might you see them as strengths? (If you’d like a more detailed post on this topic, click here. Caitlin F. Curley’s blog post includes great ideas plus ideas for helping your sensitive, excitable kids.)