Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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A Short Guide to Love and Relationships When You are Sensitive and Smart — Part Three

Welcome back to our three part dive into love and relationships! Part One, looked at self-love and the many kinds of love. Part Two, ventured into partnerships. Part Three continues with partnerships, and then provides resources to expand your explorations. Quotes are from you, dear readers. Much gratitude!

Relationships between Two RFMs

Version One: “I reckon I am partnered with an RFM. He and I are different sorts. It is a clash of egos and took a long time to understand sensitivities and trigger points. But also, what he and I will see as an intense debate, people in our life often mistake for a fight. We always have a good laugh every time it happens…Working through communication was really, really hard, and we’ve only now found our own ways to work through that. It has not been the easiest ride being RFMs in an arranged marriage where you’re meant to share an intimate life with a stranger in a strange land. We’ve gotten to a good place though. We discovered really quickly that we agree on some basic values and that helps tide over the differences…There is the tendency my partner describes as my questioning/nit-picking and answering all the questions without letting him get a word in…One thing that was hardest early in our marriage was that he would seem detached and unemotional. It took me a long time to understand that it was, in fact, the opposite.”

Version Two: “It’s complicated…There can often be misunderstandings or other barriers, since we each have so many layers to unpack with even something as simple as loading the dishwasher…With him, I can be my whole complicated enraging ridiculous amazing brilliant self. In all of my relationships before him, there was always something to hide so that I didn’t emasculate or overshadow my partner. He gives me space to brood, to wonder about the universe, and to come back home to him and anchor my rainforest to his.”

Version Three: “…I am very glad for the companionship of my wife but the truth is that a degree of separation remains. Part of the work we have had to do in our marriage is coming to terms with the fact that, despite what Jerry Maguire said in a movie years ago, we do not complete each other. No amount of togetherness can do that. Together or not, we each have to bear our own burdens in this life. We have learned that the best we can do for each other is to listen and lend support, to be together in our loneliness.”

Version Four: “…But the experiment works right now because this person is intensely alive, invested in healing their trauma, empathically patient with mine, and RFM-ly weird in ways that are different from me, but do not preclude mutual celebration. I want to emphasize this last point. Even with other RFMs, difference is guaranteed. What are the chances another RFM will precisely share my enthusiasm for Old Norse, mycology and Bach? The combinatorics is unfavourable. There are some things that as mammals we probably require, like warmth, security and acceptance. As RFMs there will be further addenda, but a shared passion for mycology doesn’t make the cut. I can find other people to talk to mushrooms about! It’s more reasonable to seek someone who can celebrate the intense, often inarticulable richness we carry around in our heads, who loves it, and by virtue of that love gives us joyous permission to expand into the world…”

Version Five: “…As we said in our marriage vows, inspired by Alain de Botton, and which I strive to live up to every day, ‘I promise to remember that we are both – as is all of humanity – deeply imperfect, and instead of being discouraged by this, to celebrate with humour our imperfections, to not expect to be fully understood, and to embark with hope on our journey together to become the best versions of ourselves’:-)…

Version Six (not actually 2 RFMs…this one defies categorization!): “…When I was in love with each of my partners I learned SO much:  how to build from the carpenter, how to cut hair from the hairstylist, sociology from the professor, political science and activism from the other professor, sailing from the boat guy, rock climbing from the climber, skiing from the snow man, hang gliding from the pilot, etc., etc.

Meanwhile, in separate pursuits I engaged in my multiple, serial careers, finally working in landscape architecture and city planning for the final 20 years. These provided such diversity within work that I remained interested and learning.  Paralleling my careers was an interest in art that drew me to learning painting, drawing, silversmithing, batik, glassblowing, ceramics, spinning, weaving, and a few more. Now I’ve landed in botanical printing “eco printing” and natural dyeing, which may last a while because there is so much to learn and explore.

This is just by way of explaining that the same desire to create a learning, growing edge in careers and art has led me through several relationships.  Most have been wonderful, and many are still friends.  Now, at 72, I am single and that’s just fine.  My most recent attempts at partnering (the last with a therapist, a mistake!) have helped me realize that at this stage in my life I have no desire to expend the time and energy required to maintain a close woman-man relationship.  There are too many interesting avenues to pursue – volunteer activities, friendships, always art, growing food, community involvement, children and grandchildren, always art – to feel like it’s worth the effort when I don’t feel I’m lacking anything…My love life was rich with learning and making and exploring, and the partnerships with other RFMs were the best of all – challenging and exciting and stimulating.  But the maintenance, at this time of my life, is more than I wish to do, and I’m finding much intellectual stimulation without partnering to do it.  For me, ‘how to find a partner’ is just the wrong question.”

Resources to explore:

Talks by Alain de Botton. His book, The Course of Love.

Anything by Esther Perel.

John Welwood books. Dr. Sue Johnson. The Gottman Institute.

James Hollis, The Eden Project: In Search of the Magical Other

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To my bloggEEs: So ends the three parter on love and relationships. You see, there really wasn’t enough for a book. I hope you found it helpful. I’m sure I will be adding more on the topic over time. Thank you so much to all of you who sent in your experiences. Now I am working on the guided journal project for my third book. Let us know in the comments what you are thinking, feeling, and wondering. Much love, as always.


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A Short Guide to Love and Relationships When You Are Sensitive and Smart — Part Two

In part one we talked about the importance of self-love and how there are many kinds of love, including: authentic love, higher love, generous love, divine love, music love, book love, tango love, friend love, nature love, doggy love, bloggEE love,...you get the idea. Now, we travel to the wild world of partnerships. The comments below were sent to me from you, dear readers. Thank you!

(photo by Justin Follis, Unsplash)

A few sample dating challenges:

…”It’s harder to reciprocate when you’re so bound up calculating whether you can say this or that without scaring them off. It’s hard to build a meaningful relationship around a fraction of yourself…”

“…let’s pretend like you found someone that said, ‘Huh … I never thought about that,’ less than 15 times through the course of The First Date. This one has potential! And there are bonus points offered if they can spell ‘potential’ correctly!…”

“… I’ve lost track of how many times someone has said, ‘You know, you’re the smartest person I’ve ever met, I’m worried I won’t be able to maintain your interest.’ I find it too easy to manipulate others into doing what I want while thinking it was their idea all along. (I do feel bad about that one, though.) I see trends well before anyone else does and get bored waiting on the sidelines for everyone else to catch up.

“…There are times when my passion for life, learning, and instinctive desire to form deep, meaningful connections freaked out women who thought I was ‘too serious, too soon.’ Wait, what? Too serious, too soon? What’s that? I was just being me…”

What you may be looking for:

“…Someone that can remember to pay our bills on time (one of us probably should?) … but finds the way that I can both forget my birthday and remember the square root of 12 endearing. (It’s 3.464101615137755.)…”

“…I would love to find someone that challenged me intellectually – or, at the very least, just doesn’t tell me that I ‘overthink everything.’ I want to have a reason to learn about something this special human is into that I didn’t even know existed, yet is endlessly fascinating when they tell me about it. I want someone emotionally capable of listening to me reason through the 18 different ways any given situation could resolve. And then, I would love it if they could show me a flaw in my logic that negated 16 of those paths..”

“…What is really important to me in the other is that they are open to engaging in prolonged 1-1 conversations about anything and everything; they are open to changing their worldviews and challenging mine; they see and accept me – and themselves – as different, not special (i.e. moving beyond notions of superiority/inferiority). With my partner, this is all true, and the bonus (as we discovered during extended periods of lockdown in different parts of the world) is that we appear to be compatible in the smallest, everyday things. On conflict, he is naturally more conflict avoidant, I am naturally… not; but, with both of us being aware of our natural tendencies and having a shared goal of how we want to navigate conflict, our disagreements usually turn out to be healthy, robust discussions in which each side airs their point of view, feels genuinely listened to, and we end up dealing with the heart of the matter…”

“…I do still see a reason for her to be with me. My wife is simultaneously a fighter and a lover of humanity. Loves dogs and cats more but still, she loves the beauty of humanity a good bit. In me, she gets a hyperactive smart alec sans filter who loves to poke fun and call out silly things people do. She sees that I view life through the kaleidoscope eyes of a fly so end up picking up subtle clues about people and situations that allow me to infer greatly as to reasons why and the impacts of situations. I do Big Picture well as I absorb and synthesize details to understand and have a truly childish (childlike at times) joy at learning new things which I believe is infectious. I think this part contributes to why she stays…” 

A RFM with nonRFM:

Version One: “… I have been sharing my life with a non-RFM person for 35 years now, and what I have grown to understand is this: the efforts must come from both sides. He needs to understand, respect and accept my differences and limitations just as I need to understand , respect and accept his. Because we ARE different. Being different does not mean that we cannot share life nor love each other. It is crucial for my partner to understand and live with the fact that I am much faster than him and that my brain works differently from his. But as long as this is not clear to myself, I cannot explain this to him. For many many years, I walked around totally blind to my own needs and to my own RFM nature, because I had had no guidance to what a RFM is. I was 48 when I realised I am a RFM, so I can clearly see a “before” and “after” in my relationship with my partner. Things are much clearer now between us. My partner needed me to explain what the RFM means to me, over and over again, until it became a fact, a fact that we now can joke about (oh, the ego is a mighty enemy!!). But he needs my help to understand how I work. So first of all, I needed to figure it out myself, I needed to accept myself as a RFM and also understand how I work, who I really am and what my specific needs are. If I know what I need in my relationship, it’ll be easier to express this and to help the other one understand and respect my needs. And no, my partner does not love everything in me as I don’t love everything in him, but we can talk about it and find compromises – joke about our specificities, and be tolerant. Because what unites us is much stronger than what separates us!..”

Version Two: ..I think the fact that we both chose to enter the relationship with each other at a point in our lives where we were more or less contentedly single and had both done plenty of inner reflection definitely helps. If I had to put my finger on what works in our particular rainforest-coniferous case, it would be that… he accepts me exactly as I am (the reverse is still a work-in-progress for me) and his sense of self-worth isn’t threatened by the way that I am. What enables that (apart obviously from his amazing innate character) is that I do a LOT of explaining about what’s going on in my head, which helps him to understand me better. I ask him for his point of view. And he never fails to respond, helping me to understand – a bit – what’s going on in his head (he reminds me that I have a relatively unusual capacity to articulate my inner workings, and that he and many other people function quite differently). His concern is about not being enough, mine is about being too much. But we’ve talked about this since the beginning of our relationship, and check in often, supporting each other on our own personal growth journeys. Part of accepting me as I am is accepting what he calls my ‘special needs’, which have consequences for our everyday life – regularly going to bed early at around the same time; quiet, low-stimulation evenings; limited background noise (e.g. TV/radio); living more ethically (no meat, no car, a LOT of research into material objects before purchasing, volunteering, donating a percentage of our income, working in the for-purpose sector). What are the challenges? I think they mostly centre around me learning to become less judgmental and more compassionate. My wilful inner moral compass means that I have a LOT of opinions about everything and get so frustrated about ‘people who should know better’. I’ve learnt over the years to be much more diplomatic externally, but not with those in my innermost circle. This means that sometimes I end up saying things that can make my partner feel ‘less than’, for example, when I don’t understand why he is fascinated by football results, or playing video games, or why he is not into reading THIS INCREDIBLE BOOK that I just took pages of notes on. And what makes me feel even worse is that he is so supportive of my idea of fun – taking a multitude of online courses, listening to behavioural science podcasts, reading ‘challenging’ books, writing this email to you 😊. I don’t know why or how he manages to be so understanding of my less-than-ideal character traits, but he is, and I am truly blessed that he came into my life, and decided to stay…”

Version Three: “You have a lot of fights about finishing his sentences because he talks too slow and you know what he’s going to say already anyway.” 

Version Four: “…My partner is emotionally and intuitively very smart but he is more ‘down to earth’ and practical than I am – which helps me a lot as well for example when I am overthinking and in analysis paralysis (this usually happens when I am on vacation and my brain has not had its usual complex problem-solving activities. That’s my theory – when I do not give my mind complex tasks it uses the power elsewhere on its own, creating a lot of mess in my head) So when I get like that, my partner helps me to come back down to earth and just chill. What I absolutely love about our relationship is that my partner treats me like a normal human being. I have had people crushing on me because ‘You are so smart I cannot even be at your level’ -this has created a lot of pressure in my life already since I am a kid (like I have to fit some kind of a smart person role) and behave differently and not like ‘superficial’ things for example. Yes, my partner recognizes my giftedness but to my partner, I feel, it is the same as me having long hair – just a characteristic that is only a part of the whole picture. We share the same core values, the vibe of life and the need for a lot of personal freedom. That, I think, is the glue in our relationship. Our communication also works very well – we talk things through if something is bothering and we analyze our problem together from both points of view…”

And so, these are some glimpses into how some of you rainforest-y types navigate relationships and what you are looking for. Part Three will include examples of RFM with RFM partners, the views of a happily single multipotentialite, and resources for more information! Stay tuned.

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To my bloggEEs: I know this is not a typical post. How was it for you? What was it like to read these examples? Did some of them resonate? What might you add? What are your thoughts, feelings, and questions? Thank you, as always, for being here. Sending you as much love as I can muster. I have Covid right now, but not a terrible case. So there is still a lot of love to muster. And having you to join me, during the Covid-ride, is a blessing for sure!


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A Short Guide to Love and Relationships When You Are Sensitive And Smart — Part One

(photo by Kelly Sikkema)

“…I see patterns everywhere, in everything. I can’t help making connections. It’s like the world speaks to me. Things happen to me that don’t happen to normal people…”

“…To me, love can be felt and lived and seen everywhere, even in darker times and places…”

“…People don’t often understand my sense of humor, because they can’t see the movie playing out in my head (trust me, it’s hilarious). Others have told me they are ‘intimidated’ by my book collection…”

“…I cannot imagine how hard it is to love me as a partner…”

“…Why can’t I just start with the most important information? It seems I cannot, because it is a web of interconnected aspects that spans across space and time. Words tumble in my mind, but as soon as I try to condense them into a concrete sentence to speak or write down, I get blocked and fall silent because I can never do justice to the web and all its nuances. This makes me feel sad and desperate to connect…”  (Comments sent to me by blog readers)

Where do I begin, then, to talk about love? How in the world do I approach this topic when it is so darned complex, you are so darned complicated, and, well, I am intimidated by your book collection?

I will let the psychotherapist in me take the reins. She knows what to say. She has opinions, biases, and years of experience with you people.

This is what she told me to write:

Probably the most important message I can send you today is this: Make time to do the deep inner work that allows you to love yourself. An obvious message. But often misunderstood or dismissed or ridiculed. (This is not about selfishness or self-centeredness or new age mumbo jumbo. Keep reading.) Mind you, you do not have to love yourself perfectly and utterly. You can still have self-doubt and anxieties. But, the thing is, if you have grown up with neglect, abuse, or other types of trauma, or even if you haven’t and are *just* grappling with giftedness, it is very possible, you will have some difficulty with self-love. And, it is even possible you will misinterpret what love is. You might base your understanding of love on what you experienced in your family of origin and then find relationships (friends, partners) that provide that kind of familiar non-love. So, you may even have to figure out what love actually is. And, then, learn the self-love tango.

Sounds kinda daunting, I know. But if I can do it, so can you.

Inner work helps you untangle these intricate sticky vines and gain clarity about what real love might look like, feel like, and be. It allows you to break old family cycles and legacies and find new more nurturing, nourishing pathways. Pathways to love. Pathways to higher love, generous love, divine love.

Here is what one bloggEE wrote about this:

“… a non-understanding parent (mother in my case), as well as a non-understanding and jealous sibling, multiple trauma in my teens and after, as well as a history in the family from the war in Indonesia, second generation trauma. I write this first to explain the background, which became clear to me in my late 40’s. I’m 52 now, and looking back I can understand why some relationships couldn’t make it. Some were ‘doomed’ from the start because I didn’t know who I was, what I was carrying inside me. With the wisdom now of who I am, what I’m capable of… with my realization that I am in fact a RFM, an HSP, gifted (2 or 3E), and what not, I ‘know’ now that I did the right thing to stay single until I had sorted myself out. Came to accept and learned to live with my past experiences…”

I am not saying you need to stay single until you are sorted out. After all, sorting out may take a while. (And, then, in typical rainforest-minded form, you will not stop there. You may go from there to a tiny transformation so that your self-love spills out to family, friends, neighbors, adversaries, people you haven’t met, animals, and plants. You are rainforest-minded after all. And this is the deeper purpose of self-love, in case you wondered.) The more you understand and grieve for the lost, wounded child within, the more love (in various and sundry forms) will find you.

I speak from experience. Not just with clients but with myself. I started as a client in therapy in my 30’s, coming from a cold, avoidant, emotionally and sexually abusive, dysfunctional middle class white Jewish family immersed in lots of barely under the surface fear, rage, shame, and generational trauma. It has been a long journey of therapy, journaling, breath work, guided imagery, energy work, internal family systems, somatic experiencing, soul collage, acupuncture, reading, workshops, and more. I have been in two partnerships that re-enacted my early experiences of so-called love. Over the years, in safe relationships with therapists and other practitioners and in my trusty journal, I began to explore and heal the abandonment, loneliness, invasion, shame, fear, rage, and loss. And I tenderly reparented the lonely little ones inside me. I began to soften, to defrost, to unburden, to release, to grieve, to put the pieces of my broken heart back together.

And authentic love (in various and sundry forms) found me. And is still finding me. Deeply nurturing, intimate friendships. New connections with family. Spiritual community. Argentine tango. Work that feeds my creativity and passions. Meaningful, sweet, close connections with soulful clients and sensitive readers around the world who send me fan mail. Writing. Spiritual guides. A sense of humor. Music. Books. And a powerful, fierce, glowing, pure Light within that appears to be my new identity. Or my original identity, released. And now I freely spread the love around. Hither and yon. With abandon. And even a little glee.

So. The psychotherapist in me recommends it: The self-love tango. Rediscovering your own powerful, fierce, glowing pure Light. And, even in these hard times, especially in these hard times, spreading it around. Hither and yon. With abandon. And even a little glee.

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To my bloggEEs: I have good news and bad news. The bad news is, I have decided not to write the book on rainforest mind love and relationships because, the good news, it can actually be covered in a few blog posts. (Did you see that coming?) I know you were quite enthusiastic about the project and many of you wrote to me. I am sorry to disappoint you but there are some excellent resources that may not be RFM specific but still provide the important information you need. (I will tell you where to find them.)

And, for even more good news, I am working instead on a book that will become a guided journal for rainforest minds. It will guide you in deepening your understanding of yourself through writing and drawing prompts and inspirational quotes/memes that will be fun, deep-diving, and healing. I will include some of my own personal journal entries as examples. This new book will be the third in a trilogy where you acquire self-understanding, self-acceptance, and then discover your path(s) to the future and to finding your particular rainforest-y way to create a better world.

So, my sweetest, dearest rainforesters, this is part one of the Love Posts. There will at least be one more where I write more specifically about relationships and partnerships. (And share more of your quotes.) Let us know what you think so far. I didn’t actually plan to share so much about me! Eek! But I suspect it might be helpful. Yes? Thank you, as always, for commenting. We are doing the love tango here for sure.


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What Do Rainforest-Minded (Gifted) Humans Want?

Here it is. In a nutshell.

(photo by Ed Robertson, Unsplash)

“I’m drowning in a sea of well meaning phrases like ‘I’m in awe of the scope of your thinking’ … oh do fuck off with your awe, I don’t want it or need it. I’m bored, and sick to death of making myself accessible to other people. I want someone to see me, to understand me, and to leap with me through a wonderland of ideas. You know the conversations where we talk about everything, leaping effortlessly from poetry to feminism, through politics, fact and fiction, and the evolution of language and anthropology, ecology and neuropsychology and aliens. You know those late night conversations when it’s moonlight and crickets and magic and the guards are down and things just flow and words feel electric and it seems inconceivable that 26 letters can catapult you from ecstasy to despair but the combinations seem infinite and that in and of itself is a glorious magic.” (a blog/book reader)

What else is there to say?

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To my bloggEEs: This may be the shortest blog post that ever lived. But it is so well said, don’t you think? Of course, I have written about how to find other humans who leap effortlessly and who catapult you. This post. And this one. On friendships. And this one about your/my quest for partnership. I know there is more that you want. World peace, the end of the climate crisis, no more hate, for example. But some glorious magic would be a good start. (Thank you to the reader quoted above.) In the comments, tell us what you want. And thank you, as always.


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What Is Obvious To You Is A Mystery To Them And What Is Obvious To Them Is A Mystery To You

No wonder you have trouble finding friends and partners. This explains so much, does it not? With your rainforest mind, you are always reading, researching, pondering, diving deep into the mental, emotional, educational, imaginative, intuitive, and spiritual caldron. With glee, I might add, when no one is getting in your way. You are enjoying yourself. It comes easily. So, when you share your thrilling findings, your musings, your perplexifications, they can be, well, dense, thick, multi-syllabic, abstruse, unfathomable, and, thus, impossible for the average muggle human to grok. But, you think to yourself, Why don’t they get it when it’s so obvious?

(photo by Afif Kusuma, Unsplash)

But what about the reverse? How is the obvious to them a mystery to you? Have you heard the expression that the simple is complex and the complex is simple when you are gifted? Well, that’s how. Your talent for deep thinking may lead you to make something more complicated than it actually is. Take multiple choice tests. Unless you figure out what the test designer had in mind, you might score poorly because you can explain how all of the choices could be correct, depending on the circumstances. A simple test stumps you because you naturally create connections or layers or intricacies where there are none. Right? This can also happen in conversations where you are flummoxed at the mundanities you hear being bandied about with such sincerity. You think: Surely, this must be code and these people are secret agents inventing a way to rid the world of single-use plastics. They can not actually care about these things. Can they?

Yes. Then can.

Please do not misunderstand me. (How often do you say that?) I am not wanting to create an us versus them situation here. It is just that you need to grow in your self-understanding and self-acceptance for the welfare of yourself, your family, your community, and the whole darned planet, so I am risking using what might be misconstrued as ridiculification. Apologies. (Oh, I love making up words!)

By the way, I was inspired to write about this from an email I received from a 55 year old female who also wrote a few other things you might relate to. So here are her words:

“… I am faced time and time again with the fact that I am fundamentally different from the people that I find myself surrounded by. I can pretend to be “normal” but it’s grueling and SOOO boring. If I am loved, it feels to me like it’s in spite of who I am, and not because of who I am. In recent days, this has really hit me like a brick over the head. Sometimes, I wish I weren’t so aware. Like REALLY aware. And when I find the places within me that I’m NOT aware of — that I hadn’t seen or understood — I tunnel through those as well. I never stop learning and searching. I can identify discrepancy, tension, and misalignment. I began to hunt for truth when things didn’t make sense as a child in a dysfunctional home with an alcoholic (but sensitive) father and an emotionally absent (but very present) mother. It felt impossible to unfurl. It was a debilitating mission for a sensitive kid like me. I’ve had to fight all my life to feel like I exist…”

And this:

“…But in my defense, I’ve spent most of my life trying to bend into the shape of the person that other people need. Because I care so deeply about other people’s feelings and can easily see their talents and strengths, I’ve advocated for and supported them without asking for anything in return. But part of that “brick over the head” I mentioned referred to the sudden realization that no one has ever treated me in kind. In fact, they’ve treated me quite poorly & I’ve let that be ok. But why? Don’t I deserve to be heard? I think I do.

You do, indeed, dear rainforestista. You do, indeed.

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To my bloggEEs: We would love to hear your thoughts. You, too, deserve to be heard. And there is a lot here to respond to, right? Please do. Your comments add so much! Sending all of you much love as we struggle to find our way through these frightening times.

(Note: I was interviewed by Marije Hofland of the Netherlands for her podcast just out today. Here is the link. Thank you, Marije. After the Dutch introduction, the rest is in English!)


20 Comments

I’m Writing A Book On Love — For Sensitive, Deep Thinking, Creative, Curious, Smart, Persnickety Humans

A big thank you to all of you who have written to me so far with your thoughts, experiences, and questions. This is exciting! I want to encourage more of you to write and I am going to provide a few more guidelines for those of you who need some prompts. (If you have already written but have more to say, please do.) That said, if you do not need guidelines, please write what you need to say, want to say, must say, don’t want to say, or are afraid to say. And do not worry about length. (Email is preferred. paula at rainforestmind dot com) A few of you have told me it has been therapeutic to write about your present partnerships, your past relationships, your search for love, your single life, what love looks like in your life, how you define love, how love in the rainforest is different, and more.

(photo by brigitte tohm, Unsplash)

A couples counselor friend of mine has shared some of her questions for you. (Sorry. She is not taking new clients.) She has identified certain issues that come up when giftedness is part of the equation in a coupled relationship. So here are some questions to contemplate. Looking at the questions, you will get a feel for some of the issues couples bring to her. Pick the ones that fit for you or skip them all and just pour out your heart. I’m listening. (And let me know where you are from. I am hoping for wide multicultural representation.)

  • How do you handle your sensitivities when you are in relationships? Do you have trouble setting boundaries? What types of boundaries do you set? What happens with self-care once you are in a couple? Do you notice any concerns around control or rigidity? What are some strategies you have tried?
  • If you are both in high powered careers, how do you negotiate personal time, free time, job opportunities, and child care? Are there compromises or career choices that have been missed or lost? Is there resentment or frustration? Competition? How do you deal with the stress levels?
  • With your advanced levels of empathy, do you watch each other too closely? Is it hard to know what is intuition and what is a reaction based in anxiety, overwhelm, or past trauma? Are there ways you have learned to talk about it? What about introversion or extraversion?
  • If someone is a perfectionist, is that pressure placed on the relationship? In what ways? How do you talk about it?
  • How do you deal with the frustrations that come with coping in a world that often feels slow, insensitive, underwhelming, overwhelming, frightening, unaware, and selfish? Are you able to provide a safe haven for each other? Does the disappointment and despair create tension between you? What are some ways you cope?
  • What are the advantages when one person is gifted and the other is not? Disadvantages? What if one of you is RFM while the other is gifted but in a more linear-sequential form? What about being twice-exceptional?
  • How have you used your sense of humor to manage your challenges? What other rainforest traits have been helpful?
  • If there is trauma, abuse, neglect, bullying, racism, or anti-Semitism in your past, have you noticed the impact on the relationship? The patterns that are being repeated? Have you been to therapy? What has that been like?
  • What are your experiences of love outside of the traditional model of partnership? With animals? friends? children? Spirit? God? nature? self? passions? your life’s work? emojis from your readers? fan mail?
  • Are there resources you would recommend that have helped you? Books, podcasts, websites, films, music, hobbies?
  • What question did I forget to ask? Answer that one!

What do you want the book to include? I envision a kind of handbook, guide, or journal that has a sense of humor and includes some of my own personal relationship escapades, catastrophes, and searches. I also want to write about the many places love exists outside of partnership so please tell me about the creative, nontraditional ways you give and receive love.

And, for starters, I am sending you love. Right here. Right now. You have my big blog-love comin’ atcha.

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To my bloggEEs: Of course, you can answer some of these questions in the comments. But if you have quite a lot say (you know who you are), best to put it in an email. So many of you are so eloquent, I hope to quote you in the book, not identifying you, of course. But, you do not need to be eloquent. I repeat. No eloquence required. And, don’t procrastinate! I’d love to hear from you SOON. Let me know if you do not wish to be quoted. Thank you, my sweet rainforesters! And more love coming as we navigate the appalling developments in Ukraine. (Here is an excellent article on this by Rebecca Solnit.) Finding your authentic voice and your purpose(s) is one way to send love and healing to the planet and to all of us.


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The Loneliness Of Not Being Seen In All Of Your Multitudes

There is a deep satisfaction in being understood. Being truly seen. Receiving an authentic response from someone who has heard, grasped, and appreciated your particular, unique voice. Your multidimensional, nuanced, unusual thinking, feeling, and knowing. It can bring me to tears when I experience being met in this way. Surely, we all need this.

But what if your particular voice plays melodies at levels many people do not have the capacity to hear? What if your exceptional mind thinks at depths where many people can not dive or sees technicolor visions when others see black, white, and occasional grays?

(photo by alexander zavala, Unsplash)

What then?

Well. You may often feel misunderstood, criticized, or rejected. And yet. It may be that friends, family, and coworkers do not intentionally want to misunderstand or reject you. It may be that their capacity to receive all of who you are is limited. Some would say the difference is, in fact, neurological. I do not know the brain science. But I speculate: Perhaps you have more neurons firing in more regions of your brain more often, or more synapses connecting more quickly. Perhaps the particular version of neurodiversity for the gifted, rainforest-minded brain, is an extraordinarily awake, alive, dynamic, and intricately interconnected superhighway. Or, as we say here, a lush, fertile, bountiful, prolific, teeming rainforest.

You may not realize that others have less capacity and that they may only be able to see certain parts of you. But knowing this can explain a lot. It can explain the blank stares. The misinterpretations. The inaccurate assumptions. Sadly, you may never feel completely seen by anyone. Or completely met. Or completely understood. Now you know, this is not your fault. It is no one’s fault.

Think about it. How can anyone truly fathom the entire rainforest?

How, then, do you find others who also see all of the colors, hear all of the notes, feel the range of emotions you feel so that you might be seen, met, understood? And if you have been looking for a long time and not found them, have you interpreted this to mean you are crazy, wrong, or neurotic?

Well. You are not crazy, wrong, or neurotic.

OK, you may be a little neurotic. (I certainly am.) This is where a little therapy can help. But you are not wrong. Or crazy.

Seriously, the more gifted you are, the harder all of this will be. It seems that planet earth has not created a whole lot of rainforest-minded souls yet. And, most unfortunately, even if you find one, all rainforest minds do not necessarily grok each other.

I am guessing this explanation is not helping you feel better.

Truth be told, when I meet with clients, I do not understand every single part of them. And I have years of training and experience. But, as I have stated on frequent occasions, my giftedness is somewhere between barely and somewhat. On a good day. So my clients’ intellectual capacities are usually more vast, more melodic, and more technicolor than mine.

I am guessing this is not good news either.

But, how about this: I am proof that you can still find someone who gets you, enough. Someone who loves your melodies, depths, and visions. Who is not intimidated or overwhelmed by your intellectual musings and speedy, analytical, intuitive observations. Who embraces your enormous heart and your lonely despair. Who acknowledges your exhaustion and needs in spite of your accomplishments. Who loves you for you.

And, in the meantime, what if YOU truly see YOURSELF in all of your multitudes.

What if, starting today, you love you for you.

_______________________________

To my bloggEEs: Does this information help you understand the differences in capacity so you are not so hard on yourself and misinterpreting some of your difficulty with relationships? What are you doing to better understand and love yourself? And, yep, I am sending you some big love. Right now! Thank you, as always, for being here.


59 Comments

Help Me Write the Book on Partnership Love and Rainforest Minds

I have looked all over the planet for a book specifically for rainforest minds on how to find partnership love and how, once you find it, how to nourish, grow, expand, and deepen it. Sure, there are many books on manifesting the love of your life and on mastering relationship skills. They are helpful. But I have not found the one that explains the particular jungle-ish issues that come when you live a rainforest-y life and you want to share it with a mate.

(photo courtesy of Michelle, Unsplash)

So I am writing that book.

Will you help?

What should be in this book? I want to know what you want to know. What are your questions, thoughts, feelings, ruminations, and experiences on this topic? If you are in a partnership, how did you meet? What are the challenges you are facing? What are the blessings? What is your advice for others? How are your rainforest traits impacting the relationship? Are you partnered with another RFM or not? What is that like?

If you are single and wanting to be partnered, (You may be happily, contentedly, relievedly single. I have actually been there for many years so I appreciate that choice. There can be great love in your life for sure. Being partnered is only one track, of many, to love.) tell us about that. What do you think is in the way of finding someone? How has having a rainforest mind been challenging or an advantage? Do you prefer being single to being matched with someone who doesn’t have similar depth, sensitivity, and intellect? Have you been partnered in the past and unable to navigate the stresses or discovered too much incompatibility? Have patterns and behaviors in your family of origin or self-critical beliefs made it difficult?

You are welcome to write your responses in the comments below but if you would like to write a lot, which I encourage, please send me an email. paula@rainforestmind.com. What you write need not be perfectly expressed or particularly eloquent. A quick list of thoughts, questions, and experiences would be lovely. Just jotting a few ideas or writing a long diatribe (email please) are both most welcome. Your ideas will help me get a sense of direction for the book and also provide some content. I may quote you but will not reveal your identity. (Or you can ask me not to quote you.) I would love to have diverse views from many different cultures, races, religions, sexual orientations, genders, and ages.

As you know, people often write books not because they already know the thing, but because they need to figure something out. They write to understand or gain the insight they are seeking.

That would be me. And this book. Join me in figuring this shit stuff out.

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To my bloggEEs: Thank you!!! If you have a lot to tell me but do not want to write it all down and would rather have a conversation, email me and we can set up a time to talk. Here are a couple of posts on the topic that are places to begin this journey. This one and this one.


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Letters to My Future Boyfriend – A Journaling Technique

(To my bloggEEs: I want to share another personal musing along with a journaling technique you can use. As you may know, I have been single for a while. I am living a beautifully full life in my childfree singlehood. That said, I believe it is time for me to explore deep, meaningful, loving partnership in this, my last act. So, I started a journal, writing letters to my future person. My future mate. My future sweetie.  In the letters, I sort out what I want, what I fear, what I don’t want, what inner work I still need to do, who I am, and who he is. On occasion, he writes back. If you are looking for partnership, you might want to write your own collection of letters!  *Let us know if you do.* And if, dear bloggEEs, my future boyfriend is cavorting in your neighborhood, please send him my way. You know where to find me.)

This is one of my first letters:

Dear Future Boyfriend,

You will need to know some things about me before you venture into my world, into the lush jungle that is my rainforest mind.

I’ll start with my head. I have a lot of hair. Massive amounts of exuberant, overexcitable, ridiculous hair. I try to control it. But I am unsuccessful. You might think that this is a wonderful thing. But I’m warning you. Wildly untamed aspects of my psyche live in my curls.

Next. I am sensitive. Very sensitive. This is good if you need me to be perceptive, insightful, generous, loving, and kind. This is not good if you want to avoid dealing with the effects of your dysfunctional family of origin. And if you like emotions, I’m your gal. Deep, intense, rich emotions. But you will be happy to know I have been in therapy for many years, so the rage is, well, negligible. It only surfaces in times of extreme stress or when I feel trapped. Or when I run out of estrogen. Or hair products.

Like many of the rainforest-minded, I am on a spiritual quest. I’m obsessed with living into a heart-centered, purposeful, magical life. (You, too?)  I want to contribute something meaningful to our troubled planet and connect to a spirituality that I suspect is both inside me and around me. Unlike those who find their spirituality in religion or nature, however, my quest takes me other places.

I find my connection to the Mystery in more unusual ways. Once, while dancing the Argentine tango, I felt a spiritual message coming from under the dance floor. Yes, under the dance floor. It was a message of support and sweetness from what I imagine as The Big Love or, since you are probably a Star Wars fan, as The Force.

And if that isn’t odd enough, I also sing. But it’s not what you think. Although I used to have a penchant for Broadway musicals, I now seem to be singing soothing, sometimes amusing, melodies channeled from distant galaxies. When we meet, I will demonstrate. Because you are my mate, it will all make sense. It will make sense, in a compelling, metaphysical, rainforest-y way.

Oh, did I mention I am a psychotherapist seeking to change the world one dysfunctional family at a time?

There are normal things about me I could share. And I will in future letters. I just thought I would get some of the weirder stuff my more unique traits out of the way. Just to be sure you know what you are getting into.

So that’s me, Future Boyfriend. I would like you to show up soon. I am not getting any younger. And we have things to do. Dances to dance. Songs to sing. Hair to control. Magic to make.

May The Big Love be with you,

Paula


25 Comments

You Agree, You Are Gifted — Now What?

I rant a lot about how you need to recognize you have a rainforest mind so you can find greater self-acceptance, self-confidence, and move ahead into your fulfilling, meaningful, creative life. Right? But what if you already know you are gifted? What then?

A blog reader put it this way:

(photo from Unsplash)

“…NOW WHAT? What do I do with that knowledge? How do I find more/others (friends?)? How do I honor this part of myself without making other people feel awkward (without making myself feel awkward)? How do I trust that my perspective is wanted/needed when the messages I often got were that I was too much? How do I stay open to my gifts when they don’t result in actual success, but are often a source of pain and indecision and overwhelm?…”

What a great bunch of questions. Here are my answers:

What do I do with that knowledge?

You use it to finally make sense of and love the complicated jungle of fabuliciousness that is you.

How do I find more/others (friends)?

Gifted folks are hard to find. And even when you find one, they may not be quite right for you. I have written about it here. And here. One basic strategy: Take what you know about rainforest-mindedness and look for others while doing things you love. Use your intuition to sniff out the gifted souls. Then take the brave step of introducing yourself and asking them to coffee or tea or to the library. If they look at you like you are out of your mind, then move on, giving yourself credit for your courage and knowing it is sad for them that they will never know the amazing you, and they must be a muggle disguised as a wizard. If they say, yes, you still may need to court them for a while if they have busy lives. But it will be worth it if they are a good catch. Eventually, they will thank you for it. One way to improve the odds of finding someone is to start or join a Silent Book Club. Reading, of course, is likely to attract many RFMs which will make your job much easier. It is never too late to find your besties.

How do I honor this part of myself without making other people (and myself) feel awkward?

You honor yourself by learning to trust yourself, no matter what others think, and regardless of any looming imaginary or real failures. Or potential successes. That said, you will need to be cautious when talking about giftedness. Using the G word could trigger resentment, ridicule, or rejection. Using the rainforest metaphor when explaining who you are, might make it easier, especially if you use my quiz as a way to add some humor. But even that requires some finesse. One approach would be to avoid using any label and just talk about your traits. In other words, talk about how you are super analytical, a divergent thinker, a lover of learning so many things, and so on. Sharing who you truly are with close friends and caring family is important. It just takes some delicate navigation. Then again, when you find like minds, little or no finesse is required.

How do I trust that my perspective is wanted/needed when the messages I often got were that I was too much?

It depends on the circumstances. You will probably need to evaluate each particular situation for the other person’s readiness for your perspective. The reality is, with advanced intelligence, others may not be able to keep up with you or even understand the depth or the complexity of what you are sharing. This may be the too muchness they are referring to. It is not your fault. You may need to ask if they want to hear your thoughts. Use your intuition to decide if the timing is right. Then again, if you were told you were too much by dysfunctional family members and you are now living with people who know and appreciate you, it is likely you can be yourself with abandon.

How do I stay open to my gifts when they don’t result in actual success, but are often a source of pain and indecision and overwhelm?

Take plenty of time for introspection to examine and heal the pain. Journaling and therapy might help, along with time in nature and a spiritual practice. With indecision, you may need to work on perfectionism and self-doubt but also give yourself credit for your creative mind that comes up with so many possibilities. Learning to trust your intuition helps with indecision. For the overwhelm, start a regular self-soothing or meditation practice. Recognize your sensitivities as strengths, because they are.

And, well. I will embrace your giftedness, your complicated jungle of fabuliciousness, until you can. OK?

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To my bloggEEs: Please share your thoughts, feelings, and questions. You know how much your comments enrich this blog. Much love to you all. And thank you to the bloggEE who posed these questions!

(Note: If you are feeling anxious about the upcoming holiday season, here and here are my favorite posts. Read them and know you are not alone!)