Your Rainforest Mind

Support For The Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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Paralyzed By Your Great Potential

photo courtesy of Josh Marshall, Unsplash, CC

When you were a child, you were praised for your abilities. You did most things earlier and faster than your peers. You scored well on tests. Everyone was impressed. And they told you so. They said that you had so much potential. So. Much. Potential. You determined that you had to keep performing at that highest rate to keep the attention and accolades coming. Before long, it turned into pressure. Your self-worth depended on it. It was something that you had to live up to or you would no longer be the superstar, the golden child, the winner, the prodigy.

Maybe you kept achieving in spite of the pressure. Maybe you didn’t. Either way, this great-potential-thing? It had an impact. A significant impact.

So now, in adulthood, you may ask: At what age do I no longer have potential? Am I no longer precocious because I just turned 30? If I actually achieve something, does that mean that I lose my potential? How do I live up to these expectations? If I have to work hard to achieve something, does that mean that I never really had potential? If I don’t reach my potential am I a shiftless, sluggish, slothful slacker?

So many questions. So little time.

Potential becomes a burden when we see it as a predestined calling to impressive accomplishments. Both parents and children can become seduced into focusing on performance rather than growth, on being The Best rather than making progress, and on accumulating external awards and accomplishments as the primary measure of worth. Worst of all, this one-dimensional perspective on potential creates a terrible fear of failure.”   Eileen Kennedy Moore

What if we rethink great potential? What if it includes impressive failures along with outstanding accomplishments? What if great potential means resplendent mistakes along with notable achievements?

And here’s a revolutionary thought: What if great potential has nothing at all to do with accomplishments?

Potential is not an endpoint; it’s a capacity to grow and learn. Nurturing children’s potential, in the broadest sense, means cultivating their humanity. It involves supporting their expanding abilities to reach out to others with kindness and empathy, to feel part of something bigger than themselves, to find joy and satisfaction in creating a life that is personally meaningful…and so much more.”   Eileen Kennedy Moore

So, go ahead. Cultivate your humanity. Reach out to others with empathy. Find joy.

Live up to your great potential.

___________________________

To my bloggEEs: Do you feel pressure to live up to your great potential? What does that mean to you? How have you been impacted? What do you think of this new way of looking at it? I appreciate hearing from you. Your comments add so much. And, thank you to the readers who inspired this post.

 

 

 


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Change The World By Galvanizing Your Giftedness

photo courtesy NASA, Unsplash, CC

photo courtesy NASA, Unsplash, CC

There are times when you might feel an urgency to maximize your mojo. To jumpstart your juju. To manifest your muse. To galvanize your giftedness.

This might be one of those times. 

I have two suggestions for you.

Because of my psychotherapeutic leanings, these ideas are inner world oriented. There are many opportunities now for outer world activities. And these are very important. (Don’t forget to include radical self-care.)

And from where I sit, changing the world is both an inside and an outside job. I specialize in the inner realms. The introspective. The neurobiopsychospiritual. The diving-into-your-abyss methods. The facing-your-demons plans.  My theory is that by doing the inside job, you become more effective on the outside. And, yes, you can do them both simultaneously. You don’t have to massacre all of your demons before writing to your congressperson or reducing your carbon footprint. Actually, you don’t ever have to massacre your demons. This is a nonviolent blog. But I digress.

Here are two simple techniques. You can start today.

Meet Your Selves

You are a compilation of subpersonalities with a higher Self at your center. Rather than being the total impostor-slacker-anxiety-ridden lost soul that you may see in your mirror on occasion, you are instead, a human with many parts. With a deep authentic radiant Essence at your core. You might have an inner critic, a wounded child, a scared addict or a paralyzed perfectionist on your list of subpersonalities. But be fair. You may also have an artist, healer, empath, scholar, inventor, athlete, and nature-lover in your psyche. So what do you do?

In your journal, enumerate all of your many parts. Choose one and start a dialogue. The idea is that you can converse with and get to know all aspects of yourself. In this way, you become friends with your “demons” and learn what they’re here to teach you. You invigorate the parts that are your strengths. And you begin to connect with the authentic, radiant Self at your core. For details about this process, go herehere, or here.

Meet Your Mentors

I know. A good mentor is hard to find. Maybe impossible. Not to worry. Make a list of humans you admire. Perhaps they’re authors, poets, scientists, artists, musicians, ancestors or athletes. They don’t have to be living. You don’t have to have met them. They can include animal companions or spiritual guides. Select about five to be your mentors, your committee, or your backup singers. List their names and what each of them has to offer you. Maybe it’s support for your creative project. Maybe it’s a sense of humor. Maybe it’s a hug when you’re in despair. Write to them when you need help. Ask for guidance. Then visualize yourself receiving their assistance or write the response in a letter from them. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results.

With these two techniques, you’ll be better able to handle the challenges of these times. You will strengthen your insides so you can be more effective on your outsides. You’ll maximize your mojo and jumpstart your juju.

You’ll get your gifted on.

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To my bloggEEs: I’d like this blog to be inclusive and apolitical. I want everyone to feel welcome. That said, I’d like to find a way to be welcoming but not ignore the events of these times. It’s tricky. I may not be doing it very well. If commenters can avoid specific political statements, that would help. And if any of you want to share your concerns with me privately, you can contact me through the About page. Know that I appreciate all of you, no matter where you stand.


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How To Find A Mate With A Rainforest Mind

photo courtesy of Felix Russell-Saw, Unsplash

photo courtesy of Felix Russell-Saw, Unsplash

How does a highly sensitive, intense, emotional, analytical, gifted, creative human find another highly sensitive, intense, emotional, analytical, gifted, creative human? Can two such humans get together and manage an intimate relationship without imploding or exploding or interploding? (I just made that last word up. But you can imagine it, can’t you?) 

You’re probably not worrying about interploding if you’re partnerless. You’re wondering if that gifted mate is even out there. And even if s/he is out there, how might you stumble into him/her. So, we’ll start there. We’ll get to an avoiding interploding post later.

(This is not to imply that everyone needs to find a mate. Nooooooo. I’m just writing to those of you who are single and looking. OK?)

There’s lots of advice out there that might be helpful. I’m going to share my theory.

From my psycho-spiritual-rainforesty perspective, I think there are complicated factors at play. But first, I want to remind you that all types of folks have found mates. Even gifted ones. So there’s hope.

Next, I believe that there are three things you’ll need to do.

1. Some of you will need therapy to face your fears. In the therapeutic relationship, you practice trusting someone and being vulnerable. You learn how to speak your truth and how to repair your broken heart. You develop healthy boundaries and shift patterns and beliefs that no longer serve you well. You build self-confidence and self-love, so that you’re better able to select someone who will be a good match. (How to find a therapist.)

2. Some of you will need to explore your psyche to look for obstacles. You may think you want to find someone but your unconscious may be screaming, ” Hell no!” In your journal, explore your fears. Write to parts of yourself and be an empathetic listener. Maybe it’s your Wounded Child who is afraid of abandonment. Maybe it’s your Perfectionist who’s afraid of failure. Maybe it’s your Introvert who’s afraid of being overwhelmed. Write to these parts and build connections. Find ways to soothe and reassure them. Then, get yourself out into the world in ways that you find meaningful and fulfilling. (Writing a blog,  joining the Audubon society, or taking a class in bicycle mechanics…)

3. And last, and here’s the spiritual (some might say woowoo) part. Use your creativity to energetically call the person to you. You can use song writing, collage, letter writing, poetry, dance, painting, gardening, whatever form that works for you and is fun. Imagine that s/he will hear you when the time is right. Imagine what it will feel like when s/he arrives. Picture your first date. If that image stirs up anxiety, go back to steps one and two! If it creates excitement, that’s a good sign. Then, be like the Buddha and let go of any attachment to outcome. Just live your already beautiful, multifaceted, rainforest-minded life.

( Full disclosure: At the present time, I’m single and seeking a partner. You may have guessed?? I’ve worked through steps 1, 2, and 3 and am in the Buddha phase. But, well, if my future mate is reading this right now, um, you know where to find me. )

______________________

To my bloggEEs: Those of you in partnerships, how did you find each other? Tell us what it’s been like. Those of you seeking, what do you think of these ideas? Those of you who are enthusiastically single, share your insights. Thank you all for reading and sharing. By the way, I hope you like the changes to my blog. Let me know your feedback. Oh, and when my person shows up, I’ll let y’all know.

And for you, dear readers, struggling with recent events, here’s an older post that might help. Sending all of you love.


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Tango With Your Despair

photo courtesy of Konstantin, Flickr, CC

photo courtesy of Konstantin, Flickr, CC

Despair.

Not your favorite emotion. Not how you want to spend your day. Not helpful when your cranky teenager wants the car keys. Not the most uplifting part of your memoir.

But here it is. Dancing the tango. Dragging you around the dance floor. It’s got you in its arms; holding you close. Singing its mournful melodies. You’re vulnerable, barely breathing. Dressed in black. Mesmerized by despair’s mystique. You want to escape the embrace. But there’s something about this tango. This dance partner. Impossible to resist.

Like every good tango dancer knows, the connection is everything. You must tune into your partner’s beating heart. Become one body with four legs. Unity is the goal. Reaching it is just a little joyful. Maybe a lot joyful.

Joy? Despair? What?

Stay with me on this.

Imagine that you can tango with your despair. Rather than push it away or pretend that it doesn’t exist, dance it. Embrace it. Listen to its song. Cry. Rant. Write. Make art. Feel its power in your body as you stride around the dance floor. As your feet connect with the earth beneath the floor. Tango with your despair.

Imagine that in the heart of despair, you’ll find your Self. As you become One with despair, you expand, you deepen, you open to possibilities. If you soften into it, rather than resist it, your dance will improve. You’ll find a way through. Perhaps a creative direction will appear. Maybe your intuition will speak. You might notice a burden lift.

Maybe you’ll even feel a little joyful.

“ Joy doesn’t betray but sustains activism. And when you face a politics that aspires to make you fearful, alienated and isolated, joy is a fine act of insurrection. ” ~ Rebecca Solnit

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To my bloggEEs: Sensitive rainforest-minded humans need a little joy right about now. (By the way, this process can work with other painful emotions. Here’s a resource for more ideas.) Thank you for being here and for your compassionate sharing.

Oh, and I’m working on some restructuring of this blog/website. So don’t be surprised if you see some changes soon-ish. It’ll still be me, sending you my love notes.


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If I Can Do It, So Can You — Finding Your Purpose(s)

photo courtesy of Chaz Harding, Flickr, CC

photo courtesy of Chaz Harding, Flickr, CC

I have the best job ever. I love deep meaningful conversations with one person at a time. The human psyche is fascinating to me. I’m an introvert. I believe that healing is possible when humans embark on the courageous journey of deep introspection. I want to make a difference in the world. I’m a psychotherapist. It’s the best job ever. For me.

Not only that. I specialize in working with highly sensitive, insightful,  empathetic, super-smart humans. I spend my days with them. It never gets dull.

I get paid to do this.

Today, was a typical day. For example: (Details changed to protect privacy.)

Jenny, in her 40s, is a musician/composer. She’s courageously grieving a history of abuse in childhood, the traumatic death of her mother and a divorce while raising a gifted teen. She’s sensitive, compassionate and determined. Today, she was sharing her experiences of fragility and vulnerability and wondering how to navigate through such unstable terrain. In a moment of insight, she realized that she was finding her voice through her art; that her pain was turning into beauty through the music. And this would empower her and touch everyone who experienced her sound.

Then, I met with the parents of a highly gifted twelve-year-old. These parents, Mary and Craig, are the parents you wish you had. They’re sweet, articulate, smart, devoted to their kids, and kind. Since their daughter entered school, they’ve had to stay involved in her education to be sure her academic needs were met. It hasn’t been easy. Their girl, Stacy, is extremely intense and emotional. A perfectionist. Highly creative. A voracious learner with extraordinary empathy. When I met her parents, they were frustrated and sad. Stacy is highly verbal, full of ideas and worries. She tends to feel overly responsible and has a highly developed social conscience. She’s way ahead of her peers in every subject area. Some teachers love her. Others don’t.

Mary and Craig sympathize with the challenges the educators face, and yet, all they want is for Stacy to be intellectually stimulated and to maintain her motivation to achieve. Arrangements were made to allow Stacy to read advanced material in an independent study program. Not ideal, but a beginning. Stacy was excited and enthusiastically began reading. Sadly, administrators changed their minds and put Stacy back in the torture chamber uninspiring class. Mary and Craig were struggling with what to do next. I was able to encourage them and to remind them that Stacy has a right to an education that meets her needs.

This is what I do all day. (Oh, yes, and I blog, too.) If I can find my purpose in life, so can you. And there’s no better time than the present. We can no longer wait for the perfect moment or for the kids to grow up or for the next iPhone. We can no longer wait for lightening to strike. The planet needs its rainforest minds. Now.

No pressure. Well, maybe a little pressure. OK. A lot of pressure.

If you’re wondering how to begin or how you’ll know you’ve found it, here are some ideas. Remember it’s a process. (In my case, there were years of psychotherapy and other types of inner work.) I write about accepting and showing your rainforestness here and here. I write about how psychotherapy works here and here.  Career paths here and here. Parenting, here. And I suggest some books here. Maybe you spend time in Nature or you read Pema Chodron or you start a mindfulness practice. Maybe you influence educators at your child’s school. Maybe you turn your pain into art.

Make the time to quiet yourself and listen to your heart.

When your heart sings.

You’ve found it.

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To my blogEEs: I mention “purpose(s)” because you might have more than one purpose over your lifetime. Share your thoughts, feelings and questions here. What makes your heart sing? Let me know how I can help. Thank you for reading and sharing.


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If I’m So Smart, Why Do I Need Psychotherapy? Part Two

photo courtesy of Cheryl Winn-Boujnida, Unsplash, CC

photo courtesy of Cheryl Winn-Boujnida, Unsplash, CC

Things are looking kinda crazy these days. It’s hard to know what to think, what to do, or how to be. There are so many issues worldwide that need attention. So many. What should super-sensitive, empathetic, insightful, emotional humans do?

Well. Being the obsessed-with-psychotherapy psychotherapist that I am, you can guess what I’m about to say. Hang in there with me.

What if you start. With yourself. And your family. What if you take some time to examine your very own fears, doubts and despair. What if you take a trip into your past to understand the legacy your dysfunctional family handed to you. Locate your true Self. And pull her/him out from under the rubble. Think about it. If all humans would recover the self-acceptance, compassion and creativity that was smooshed or buried or broken or clobbered during those early years, might we create a path to a better world?

Heck, yeah.

Now, I know that what I’m asking isn’t easy. It takes great courage to make this journey. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And, in case you’re wondering: Examining the multiple ways you were clobbered isn’t about blaming your parents willy-nilly or irreverently dismantling the lovely coping strategies you’ve so cleverly designed or slashing open old wounds so that you bleed for years all over your so-impractical white sofa. No. It’s not that.

It is, however, about understanding what happened so that you can put the puzzle pieces together and answer the questions that have plagued you for years. Questions about your fears and doubts and despair. Questions like: If I’m so smart, why am I scared all the time?  If I’m so smart, why are my relationships so difficult? If I’m so smart, why do I feel like a worthless crazy catastrophizing ne’er-do-well? Questions like that.

You may say: But I do understand what happened and that hasn’t changed anything. I know. That’s because it’s not just about intellectual understanding. Although that’s the place to start.  It’s also about a safe supported grieving process. An opportunity to process the sadness, anger, shame and regrets that live in your broken heart. An opportunity to find and love those child parts of you that have been abandoned and trampled.

By the way? This is a big deal.

How big? Well. You ‘re stopping the legacy of dysfunction in your family line. Handed down through generations. The dysfunction stops with you. That big.

Not only that. In a deep therapeutic process, you’re healing your portion of the psycho-spiritual web. Where we’re all connected. So it’s not even just your family line. It’s all of us.

I mean it.

And just when you thought that was quite enough, there’s more. I am not making this up. Along with the sweet child parts that you rescue from the abyss, you will be astonished by spurts of creativity and sparks of intuition. (the voice of your true Self!) Expansion of your softened heart. An even greater compassion for others. Energy and inspirations.

And there’s your path. Better world?

Indeed.

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To my bloggEEs: If you’re wondering how to find a good therapist who understands your rainforest mind look here. If you need to help your therapist understand your giftedness, show him/her this. And if you didn’t grow up in a dysfunctional family, we still love you and you can skip this post! Thank you for reading and sharing. Please tell us your thoughts about psychotherapy and other ways you’ve found to heal from past trauma, abuse and dysfunction.

Impostor, Scholar, Procrastinator, Healer — Your Multidimensional Self

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photo courtesy of Kimson Doan, Unsplash, cc

photo courtesy of Kimson Doan, Unsplash, cc

 

 

What if your multidimensionality could be divided into specific peopled-parts that you could identify, name, converse with, and learn from. What if you could bring all of those parts into a conference room and sit them down at a table for a discussion. (or for you more nature-y types to an ocean around a campfire) You may have heard of Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy. This is a version of that. Useful for exploring your psyche, processing problems and gaining insight.

Let’s say you’re stuck in a pattern of sabotaging your success. Invite the Saboteur to the table. Perhaps your perfectionism is keeping you from starting that project. Let the Perfectionist pull up a chair. Maybe you get anxious when you try to initiate a friendship. Make space for the Ruminator.

But, hey, these parts of you (also called subpersonalities) are not all neurotic or troubled! Who else is in your psyche waiting to be set free? Are you intuitive and a little witchy? Is there an Artist, a Goddess, a Weaver, or an Athlete? A Seeker? A Hermit?

Make a list of all of your many parts. Don’t forget the Traumatized Child or the Caretaker or the Couch Potato or the Shining Light.

Because you have a rainforest mind, you very likely have many parts. (Your very own inner community!) Don’t be shy. Make the list and, then, write a little description after each.

You see, this way, you don’t have to define yourself as depressed or anxious or hopeless. Instead, you get to see that a part of you is, say, depressed. And you can get to know that part and find out what it’s trying to tell you or teach you. But depressed is not all of who you are. It may feel like that on your worst days, but it’s not all of you. It’s a part that you can work with and grow to understand.

And that understanding can help you feel more self-accepting and hopeful.

There are resources where you can find out more about this technique. You can find it in books about journal dialogues or in the book Self Therapy. You can get the therapy theory in the book by Richard Schwartz, the originator of this model.

One more aspect to IFS, perhaps the most important, is this: Schwartz says that we all have an Essence or a big Self or a Divine Self. That is who we really are. The subpersonalities are how we most often deal with the world but at our core is our True Nature. The goal is to live as often as we can from that Self. You might be familiar with this if you’ve read Carl Jung. It makes so much sense but isn’t easy to achieve.

Knowing your Essence is an on-going process. When do you feel peaceful? Joyful? Deeply compassionate? Chances are, at those times, you’re in touch with your True Self. Make a list of those experiences. Are you painting, writing, meditating, singing, gardening, hiking, blogging, running? Practice deepening those moments as you gain awareness of your body-mind-spirit. Notice when a subpersonality shows up. Welcome him/her. Sit by the fire for a chat.

Getting to know all of your selves along with your Divine Self is one way to better navigate your rainforest mind. And to live as the fully complicated, adorable, multidimensional being that you are.

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To my bloggEEs: Some of you have asked for more specific resources and ideas. I hope this helps. Let us know if you try it and what you discover. Thank you from my Blogger self. Big hugs and kisses from my Essence!

14063786_10208929148198523_1648417606332075114_nThis post is part of a blog hop via Hoagiesgifted.org. For more posts on the topic of Community click here or on the image.