Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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Holiday Season Confessions From A Tango Dancing Geek Psychotherapist

For the past 6 years, I have spent the holidays alone.* Thanksgiving. Christmas. Hanukkah. Halloween. All of it. Solitude City. Introvert Overkill.

(photo courtesy of Sherise, Unsplash)

I am guessing you are surprised. Here I am. Popular blogger to the gifted. Geek therapist extraordinaire. Surely, there are people clamoring to invite me to their celebrations. Family? Children? Inlaws? Outlaws? Boyfriend? Girlfriends? Acupuncturist?

Well, as many of you already know, I am childfree. And single. Extended family members live in other cities. Girlfriends have their various commitments with children, grandchildren, inlaws, and outlaws. Or they live in Colorado. (That would be Tina.) And my acupuncturist, well, she has good boundaries.

Of course, now that we have a pandemic, more of you may be solitary, too. But there was no Corona in 2014. 2015. 2016. 2017. 2018. 2019.

I am telling you this because I have heard how lonely many of you are. And, if you are alone (even if you are with people, I might add) on days when most everyone in the world says you ought to be HAPPY and FULL OF HOLIDAY CHEER, I am here to say, I get you. I am with you.

And, yet, it could be worse.

You could have to listen to your smelly drunk Uncle Craig while he tells you all about his latest hunting expeditions. You might be expected to explain to your grandmother yet again why you never went to Harvard and why you still haven’t cut or straightened your hair. You might be appalled at all of the wasted gift wrap and plastic that your nieces and nephews carelessly throw hither and yon. You could be forced to eat your cousin Sue’s orange carrot marshmallow jello salad. And let us not even mention the potential political perturbations.

Of course, this year, it will all likely take place with your buddy Zoom. (Cousin Sue sent her jello salad via UPS.) But still.

Seriously, though. This year, you may be struggling with the corona virus or you may have lost someone to the illness. You may have been laid off from your job. You may be teaching your kids at home. If there is trauma in your past, the restrictions and fears that come with the virus may be triggering your PTSD symptoms or you may have had to limit family interactions because of past abuse. Being the rainforest-minded soul that you are, you may be upset about the mythology around Thanksgiving and anxious over the consumer culture of the Christmas season. You may be thinking about the climate crisis and wondering if the world is about to implode.

It is is a tough time to be living in Solitude City. (even harder if you are an extravert)

Which brings me to another confession. Even though I cherish my status as the eccentric yet accomplished single auntie and the blogging tango dancing geek psychotherapist, even though I deeply value and need my alone time, there is a part of me who would not mind a holiday season with a little less introvert overkill. More specifically, since I am not getting any younger, as you may know, I would like a life, a last act you might say, with a (male) partner, a mate, a soul’s companion.

Gulp.

This is hard for me to admit. I want to be your role model for independent, successful, fulfilled, childfree, blogging, single womanhood. I do not want to disappoint you, my lovelies.

But we are all about authenticity here, right? So, this is me. Being me.

And you know, of course, I am not idealizing this so-called partner, mate, soul’s companion. I am a psychotherapist, after all. I know a thing or two about partnerships. I have even had a couple.

I am just confessing.

And, um, accepting applications.

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To my bloggEEs: How are you doing with the holiday season? The pandemic? How do you feel about being single? Partnered? What would you like to confess? Your comments add so much! Thank you for being here. If you didn’t watch this short video yet, it is a beautiful story about the loneliness due to the pandemic and how we are all connected.

*( Full disclosure: I will not usually be totally solitary. I started a tradition where I meet with my therapy clients who are also alone on the holiday. We have therapy with a side of pumpkin pie.)


61 Comments

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

How do you find deeply satisfying friendships when you are an excruciatingly sensitive, annoyingly perceptive, unendingly persnickety, frighteningly intense, multi-dimensionally intelligent, divergently thinking, quirkily funny, unrealistically idealistic, gently demanding, ravenously researching, mysteriously intuitive human being? (otherwise known as rainforest-minded)

photo courtesy of thought catalog, Unsplash

No wonder friends are hard to find. Right?

But, face it honey. This is a perfect description of you.

And we are all better off because this is who you are.

Now, you just need to believe it. You need to love all of your rainforest-y ways. And, amazingly enough, this is a key to the discovery of other rainforest-minded souls. (But you knew that.)

Of course, they probably will not magically appear even if you are basking in self-compassion. (although they might) You most likely will need to be creative about where you look and you will have to take the initiative and make the first moves. I have specific suggestions here. And, here. (With adjustments for the pandemic. Sorry, no tango dancing.)

As you may know, there are more and more online groups and communities for just about anything you can imagine. I recently discovered Livingroom Conversations for the pacifist-activists among you and the Evolutionary Collective if you are looking for a spiritually evolving experience. For an intergenerational group involved with social change, there’s Encore. There is your silent book club. And Soul Collage.

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.

If I can do it, so can you.

Just remember, from the wise words of a bloggEE: “We never stop being who we are. We may run from it, but it won’t stop running behind us. If we’re open, and patient enough, we will notice, and eventually collect, like minds.”

So, notice and collect your like minds. Find your Tina.

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To my bloggEEs: Where and how have you found friends? Do you have a Tina in your life? What has made it hard for you to build friendships? We all appreciate your comments. They add so much. Thank you, as always, for being here.

The holiday season can be a particularly difficult time if you are lonely. And with this pandemic and other events, you may be struggling, frightened, and grieving. Here is a beautiful, uplifting short film just for you: Alone during a pandemic film Sending much love to you all.


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Gifted And Lonely In Belgium

photo courtesy of Hector Martinez, Unsplash

Just yesterday, 26 people in Bangladesh and 9 in Qatar were reading my blog. 10 in South Africa, 12 in Turkey, 1 in Kenya, and 6 in Sudan, among many others, around the world. We are not alone, my dearest rainforest-minded darlings. We are not alone.

Of course, you may still feel lonely. Like Elien, in Belgium. An “outsider.” Learning came easily when she was younger but she was bullied by the other students and even by teachers for her enthusiasm. For knowing the answers and wanting to share them. As in many countries, schooling was focused on the slower learners, so she was frustrated, waiting for others to catch up. Waiting to learn something new. Waiting for someone who could understand her musings.

That said, like many of you, she did not believe she was gifted. She never managed to find success in higher education, and so, was underestimated by others, and by herself. She dealt with a disabling fear of failure. She was told she was “too much, too sensitive, too intense, a dreamer, an idealist, naive…” and more. Sound familiar? She wrote, “…The suffering in the world affects me so deeply that I sometimes have to shut myself off completely.”

Elien was looking for purpose. She wanted to trust herself. She tried therapy because, she said, “…I have a lot of trauma attached to the misunderstanding and loneliness I felt as a child and the fact that I got emotionally neglected and never learned to trust in myself and my abilities…”

In therapy, she felt something was missing because her therapist did not recognize her particular complexity and the issues that arose very specifically due to her rainforest mind. The issues you know so well: high sensitivity, emotionality, and intensity, pressure to achieve at high levels, excessive fear of failure, thirst for learning and meaning, schooling disappointments, multiple interests and abilities, painful personal and planetary empathy, and the extreme loneliness of being misunderstood and unseen.

Elien told me finding my blog/books and recognizing herself in them was a very emotional experience. Crying “intensely” and reading “in stages.” Accepting that she might be highly gifted, was a game changer. She wrote, “I believed I was an outsider who would always be lonely, there was this invisible wall and I couldn’t figure out why…Now I know why I have such a problem with structure, with authority, why I have this high sense of justice that many others don’t understand…I need to be and work free and autonomously…why I struggle with communication, although I am outgoing and social, why I rarely truly get along with someone and always had to tone down my energy…my urge for deep conversation and my spirit for intense humor and connection…I gave a deep sigh of relief in discovering this…I cried quite a bit, too, for all the years that I have been deeply frustrated, angry at myself, talked myself down, deeply doubted myself…”

And so, my RFMs in Belgium, Bangladesh, Qatar, and, oh, everywhere, do not despair. As you realize who you really are, as you start to celebrate your magnificent rainforest-ness in all of its deep, lush, colorful, powerful, passionate beauty, you will be found. You Will Be Found.

Thank you to the American musical, Dear Evan Hansen

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To my bloggEEs: I am so grateful for you. I hope you are all safe and healthy. Tell us about your loneliness or about how you have been found. Here is an older post about ways to find friends, although it was written before the pandemic so will need to be adapted. And if you have a therapist who needs help understanding your rainforest-ness, share this post. And my books. Sending you all much love and strength.

(Note: Thank you, Elien, for sharing your story. And dears, if you are outside of the US…sorry N. Americans…and wish to share your experiences in a post, please email me. I would love to write stories from a wide variety of cultures.)

(Another note: I’m using a new version of WordPress so you may see some changes. It’s a little frustrating but I hope to figure it out soon!)


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A Gifted Teen In Malaysia — What Is Normal?

photo courtesy of satria hutama, Unsplash

I am on a quest to see what rainforest-mindedness looks like around the world. So far, we’ve “visited” Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands and Finland. Today, we are in Malaysia.

Meet Mila*, who is Muslim and 18.

“..I was too sensitive, too easy to cry, too easy to fall sick, and an unstoppable chatterbox…I struggled a lot at 14…I couldn’t understand why do we exist, what do we want from this short span of life, why should we work hard to earn money when death is inevitable, and why are my friends putting so much effort to make good grades? It is meaningless…I felt like I was about to lose my mind…They don’t really think about life, about the world, about the society…why don’t they search for something more meaningful…? Why don’t they want to understand the learning materials more deeply? Why don’t they care when war is still happening? …I lost my hope in humanity…Don’t you have the urge to be the best version of yourself, to make changes in this world?…”

Existential questions at an early age can turn into existential depression. Concerns about justice issues beyond your self can leave you anxious, hopeless, and lonely.

“…School was really frustrating….I prefer to study on my own, with my own method. I am not academic smart but my unquenchable thirst for learning is not shallow. None of my classmates understood what I was doing, nor my teacher, and it always ended up with ‘just follow the steps that I teach you’…I was seen as arrogant when I asked ‘unanswerable’ questions…My teacher says I am too abstract, when it is so crystal clear to me…”

Love for learning does not necessarily equal love for schooling.

“…it is exhausting to have feelings. Deep feelings…I cried for an hour after finishing a documentary about a politician who was corrupt..it took me a week to recover, to have hope again, for it to be crushed all over again and again…it’s hard to feel the pain of people, literally painful…It’s tiring…It is tiring to see human beings argue for the smallest matter that can be solved with five minutes discussion…It is more tiring when people don’t understand why I am tired…”

Sensitivity. Compassion. Emotion = Exhaustion.

“…I love humanities, art, and science. I still don’t have any idea what to major in but I want to know how technology works, internet AI, security…Mostly I lean more to maths, physics, chemistry, computer science, psychology, philosophy, drawing, and languages. If I have time, I would like to attend a sewing course…”

Multipotentiality is not flakiness, indecisiveness, arrogance, or ADHD.

” I have one best friend, two close friends, and many dead friends, ranging from dead classical composers, mathematicians, philosophers, and psychologists…”

Finding other RFMs can be difficult. Like Maria Popova said, “…most of my friends are dead people.”

“…I would label myself as a lifelong learner, who wishes to reduce the ignorance in myself, aspire to be the best version of myself, so that I can help other people; to achieve a meaningful life, that is giving positive value to other people no matter how small the number …I need to enrich my knowledge. I need to understand. I need to change something. I need to. I have to.

Is this normal?”

This is normal, Mila. For you. Your rainforest mind. And all of us, with you, around the world. With our very own (very alive!) rainforest-y minds, hearts, souls, and spirits.

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To my bloggEEs: Where are you in the world? Can you relate to what Mila is saying? If you would like to share your story in more detail on my blog, send me an email. paula@rainforestmind.com. I’m particularly looking for countries I have yet to write about. And thank you to Mila for sharing so much of yourself with us.

Spanish speakers! Lovely Miryam in Spain would like to hear from you. She is creating an opportunity for RFMs around the world who speak Spanish to support each other. You can contact her at midorenedo@hotmail.com.

(*Note: Photos on the blog are not of the actual person described and names are changed.)


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What Are The Challenges Gifted Adults Have In Common? — A Therapist’s Perspective

photo courtesy of christina wocintechchat, Unsplash

I am a psychotherapist who counsels and consults with highly intelligent, sensitive, empathetic, creative humans. (Yes, I love my job.) Even though they are all complicated in their multiple uniquenesses and differing backgrounds, I often hear recurring themes. 

Here are some of those themes. In their own words (with a few edits): 

On Waiting and More Waiting

“…when I get into difficulties because my mental functioning runs at 95 mph and the people around me are functioning at 35 mph, I get told that I should be content to wait around for them because I shouldn’t vibe in a rush and I should be patient. I get told that if we all operated more slowly the world would be a better place. It seems to me that being ‘too much’ in terms of mental functioning gets lumped together with always being busy and in a hurry…the onus on me is to slow down to their level and to ‘grin and bear it’ or be dismissed as emotional and thus irrational…”

On Creativity, Communication, and Electrical Storms

“My imagination is already so active, my brain is so full of ideas, it feels like an electrical storm sometimes, so many thoughts happening at once. It’s hard to imagine narrowing something down. It takes a lot of energy just to have one thought at a time. There’s so much happening at once; I can think fast, in pictures, and I can get solutions in feelings, it’s stimulating, it’s exciting, it’s frustrating, it’s difficult to explain…” 

“…to function in society and communicate with other people I have to downshift. I have to find some way to slow things down enough and put them in a linear narrative order so that other people can actually understand what the heck is going on with me…I can see the way the dots connect but most people can’t. I sound like a crazy person. I’m always the weird one. It’s exhausting and lonely…”

On Multipotentiality and Impossible Choices

“I don’t know what it’s like for other people, when they’re asked the question ‘if you could do anything what would you do?’ This kind of question feels impossible for me, like the universe is so big and the possibilities so endless, how can I possibly choose one or even four or twelve..?”

On Schooling and Untied Shoes

“I often was just not interested in the things at school. I can still recount how over the top invested I got into the subjects of dinosaurs, animals’ evolutionary traits, the theory of evolution, what it means to be funny, philosophy, religious origins, and theology, to name a few weird topics. The problem was that I would primarily be thinking about those topics while I was supposed to be listening in school…I excelled at all subjects academically. I would get straight A’s on tough assignments then lose interest…I would always do jusssttt enough to accomplish what I wanted. I was oblivious to the point of ridiculous, always had my shoes untied, extremely disorganized…always had a messy room/workstation/life, would constantly lose things…I got a perfect score on the logic section of the LSAT. I ended up getting into William and Mary Law School and passing the bar at age 26.”

On Overthinking, Anxiety, and Over-talking

“All my life I’ve been told I was a worrier, I was smart, I was artistic, and an over-talker according to my first teachers and my mother and sister, the latter of which still claim that today…All my life I’ve never felt that I fit in with anyone anywhere…I’ve been an overthinker to the point of chronic anxiety and at times panic attacks…I’ve eschewed what was popular in favor of alternatives…I’ve never felt adequate because I’ve underachieved financially…yet I’ve overachieved with regard to reading and retaining, observing, loving, meeting new people, taking small risks (or sometimes larger ones), and seeking to please others. Today, I seek balance and to love myself rather than expect others to love me. This is a scary new journey…”

On Social Responsibility, Empathy, and Superheroes

“…There is a guilt that returns again and again, the guilt that I can’t always help the people I know are suffering. Or there’s the guilt that comes from believing I should have solved all the problems of suffering in the world by now.  Totally completely reasonable. I mean, if I could just evolve faster maybe, write the ultimate book, turn into an enlightened superhero, something like that, then all the suffering would vanish. Yep Haha, that’s so ridiculous, but I know in my heart I still actually feel that way a little…” 

On Relationships, Sensitivity, and the Abyss

“…It feels desperately sad sometimes when I show up to deeply connect and I am not even met halfway – even when others have the intention of doing so. I feel as though I’m reaching and full of hope, but my arms aren’t long enough. Frustration sets in, then the feeling of isolation, and I sink into an abyss all the while still reaching. I have this voice saying – you are full of yourself, you are so wrong to assume things, you are crazy. Then I tell that voice – I know YOU are, but what am I?  I am gifted, flawed, beautiful, often suffering (in one way or many) and expanding always. But I feel one thing that is beyond my imagination is how to make sense of these gifts in a fleeting life – from within, another voice tells me I already make sense.”

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To my bloggEEs: Tell us what you have experienced within these themes. What else might you include as an issue that challenges you? What solutions have you found? Your comments add so much. If you click on the links above, you will find other posts that provide some helpful suggestions! Thank you to the readers who shared these experiences either in comments or in emails to me. I am so fortunate to have you all here. 


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Understanding Your Rainforest Mind or I’m Not Gifted, I’m Just An Overthinker — The YouTube Video!

Screen Shot from Video (apologies for blurriness)

I spoke to a group of 100 gifted folks in the Netherlands last week. On Zoom, of course. Thanks to Femke Hovinga-Tiller for sponsoring the event and recording the 60 minute talk. (See below.)

Issues and Resources in the talk include:

~ Anxiety, Intensity, Existential depression

Living with Intensity by Daniels, Piechowski. The HeartMath Solution by Childre. Full Catastrophe Living by Kabat-Zinn. Books by Pema Chodron. Insight Timer, Calm, and Buddhify apps. The work of Tara Brach and Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

~ Relationships / Loneliness


The Gifted Adult by Jacobsen. Gifted Grownups by Streznewski. (Those two books cover all topics.) Books by J. Welwood. Rebels at Work by Medina & Kelly. The School of Life website. The work of Esther Perel. The work of Dr. Sue Johnson.

~ Multipotentiality


How to Be Everything by Wapnick. Refuse to Choose by Sher. puttylike.com.

~ Social responsibility, Justice issues

A New Republic of the Heart by Patten. The Parent’s Guide to Climate Revolution by DeMocker. The More Beautiful World That We Know is Possible by Eisenstein. This Changes Everything by Klein. Soulcraft by Plotkin. TheGWord film. The works of Rebecca Solnit & Van Jones.

~ Perfectionism, Expectations, Procrastination, Impostor Syndrome

Procrastination by Burka & Yuen. The War of Art by Pressfield. The Gifted Adult by Jacobsen. The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women by Young.

~ Sensitivity, Empathy, Intuition, Spirituality

Belonging Here: A Guide for the Spiritually Sensitive Person by Blackstone. One Mind by Dossey. Riding the Windhorse by Noble. Institute for the Noetic Sciences, Sounds True. The Shift Network. Susan Cain’s work. highlysensitiverefuge.com. Tara Brach’s work. self-compassion.org. Pema Chodron’s work. Soul Collage by Frost.

~ Schooling

The Boy Who Played With Fusion by Clynes. Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults, by Webb et al. Bright Not Broken by Kennedy & Banks. ghflearners.org. nagc.org. davidsongifted.org. my-little-poppies.com. onlineG3.com. thegwordfilm.com.

~ Parenting

Smart Boys by Kerr. Smart Girls in the 21st Century by Kerr. Smart Parenting for Smart Kids by Kennedy-Moore. Raising Your Spirited Child by Kurcinka. The Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children by Neihart et al. Bright, Talented, and Black by Davis. Giftedness 101 by Silverman. drdanpeters.com. brightandquirky.com. withunderstandingcomescalm.com. coachingthegifted.net. guidingbright.com. drdansiegel.com.

And, of course, my books!

Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth and Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide For Gifted Adults And Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists.

And here is the video. Enjoy!

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To my bloggEEs: Let us know your thoughts, feelings, questions, and concerns. If you were wondering what I sound like and look like in action, now you know. Eek! One correction in the video: Due to a misunderstanding, my first book will not be translated into Dutch. So sorry, Dutchies! Thank you all for being here, as always, and for being your highly sensitive, intense, curious, introspective, magnificent selves. Love to you all. Stay safe. 


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It Is Time To Stop Denying You Are Gifted — Part Two

photo courtesy of Hannah Grace, Unsplash

I have written about the reasons you may be denying you are gifted. But I missed one.

What if you are denying you are gifted because, if you admit you actually are gifted, then, you have to let the not-gifted humans off the hook. You have to not expect so much of them. You can’t be irritated or angry at their slow pace or their lack of capacity to grasp what you have to offer. You have to be responsible for all of the not-gifted humans forever and ever. And you will be alone for the rest of your days.

I love how dramatic you are.

I get why you think this. And there is a teensy weensy bit of truth in it. But here is what is really going on.

Because you have a rainforest mind, your capacity to learn, see, know, feel, smell, hear, taste, and intuit is larger than average. Maybe a lot larger. You were born that way. It is not your fault. Of course, this does not mean you must be capable in all areas all of the time, or even some areas all of the time, or all areas some of the time. Or that everything should be easy. You have your strengths and weaknesses. Your misinterpretations. Your confusions. Your particular interests and disinterests. Your self-doubt. Your failures. This does not even guarantee you are a high achiever, although you could be. And if you grew up with abuse/trauma or bullying, you have developed coping strategies and/or you may have acquired post-traumatic stress symptoms, like anxiety and depression, that distort your ability to see who you really are and live your fully rainforested life.

But, what about those not-gifted humans in your family. Your community. Your workplace. Your world. What about them?

(This is so tricky. It is hard not to sound arrogant with this one. But this is not arrogance and we need to talk about it.)

Do you have to lower your expectations? Probably. But do you even know what reasonable expectations are for most people? After all, your own super high standards may feel normal to you.

So, here is an idea. What if, on a case by case basis, you experiment with your expectations. How? Get to know the person. Do they have a rainforest mind? If yes, then relating might be easier. If no, what are their strengths and weaknesses? What can they handle? Where are their limits? What type of relationship and communication makes the most sense? If you do create different expectations, how do you still hold them accountable? You may need to be flexible, strategic, and creative in your approach. You may need to practice setting boundaries. You may need to limit contact.

Give yourself permission to feel irritated and angry. It can be extremely frustrating and lonely to always be the one with the solutions or the supportive response. You do not have to be the compassionate and understanding one every time, even if you are naturally inclined that way. Find healthy ways to release your frustrations and anger. You only have so much energy. Be aware of how much you give and how much you receive so that there is more balance in your life. Deepen your spiritual practice.

Then, make sure you look everywhere for other RFMs. I am living proof that they exist because I talk to them every day. My practice is thriving. They read my blog and books! You can find them, too. You do not have to be alone for the rest of your days.

And, just in case you were worried: You are not responsible for saving, healing, rescuing, and transforming all of the not-gifted humans out there. They are on their own paths, making the right choices for them. Or the wrong choices for them. It is your job to save, heal, rescue, and transform yourself. 

So, stop denying you are gifted.

Do you hear me?

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To my bloggEEs: I understand you may feel a need to contribute to creating a better world. Of course you do. I do, too. I am just saying that you do not need to save everyone. You do not need to sacrifice yourself for others, especially those who will not benefit from your generosity. It is OK to choose carefully how you make a difference here on planet earth. So, what do you think? Are you gifted? How does this post resonate with you? As always, your comments add so much. Thank you!

And here is an upcoming event that you might enjoy. I am participating in a free online conference via The Shift Network called Evolved Empath 2020. Check it out!


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Relationships For Creative, Sensitive, Intuitive, Analytical Overthinkers — Where Do You Start?

photo courtesy of Omar Lopez, Unsplash

You think a lot. Some would say that you overthink. You feel deeply. Some would say that you over-feel. You love learning. Some would say that you over-research and over-read. You have very high standards and expectations. Some would say that you over-analyze. You are concerned about the future of the planet. Some would say that you over-worry.

My friend Felice would say that she was in her “overs” when she felt she was overdoing anything. Which happened quite a lot. She was intense. Sensitive. Brilliant. Busy.

So. Is being in your overs a bad thing? Or is it just your normal? Your rainforest mind doing what it does.

Is everyone else in their unders?

Well. They are in their unders just compared to you. But it is your nature to be living at a faster, deeper, wider pace. Your personhood naturally questions, analyses, creates, emotes, and imagines in atypical ways. Your drive to know, to understand, and to influence is vast. It is a difference in capacity. The rainforest has extraordinary capacity.

How, then, do you have relationships with humans who might be overcome by your overdrive. Or who might be overloaded by your over-the-top tendencies. Or who might feel overdosed on your overt intuitive insights. (Is that too many overs?)

What I see over and over is that RFMs don’t realize that everyone doesn’t have similar capacity. Even though you feel you don’t fit comfortably in many places, you think: Doesn’t everyone question the meaning of life every darn day and night? Um, no. You don’t realize that your difficulty with relationships is at least in part because of your more complex thinking, feeling, and knowing.

You may also have difficulty in relationships because you have trouble making chitchat. You feel awkward in social situations. What interests you is too complex for many of the other humans. You are excited to watch the BBC documentary Attenborough and the Giant Elephant while they are chattering about Sex and the City. And, perhaps, you are tired of counseling everyone else when no one knows how to listen to you.

And I get it. There’s more.

If you acknowledge that you do indeed have a larger capacity, then, not only do you confirm that you are an oddball, but then you have to prove it and live up to it. And that sounds overwhelming. Maybe even terrifying. (Not to prove that you are an oddball. But that you are gifted.)

Better to stay small, hidden, and under the radar than disappoint yourself and everyone else with your catastrophic failures.

But here’s the thing.

You have to understand and accept who the heck you are. That is the bottom line. That is the place where you begin to connect with the human race.

And you’ll just have to calm and reassure the part of you that feels judgmental or critical of others when you recognize your strengths. I know you want to be fair. To everyone.

But c’mon, sweetie pie.

Time to be fair to yourself.

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To my bloggEEs: There are many posts on finding friends, partners, and relating to coworkers on my blog, just in case you were wondering. And, of course, there is even more on relationships in my books! (What terrific holiday gifts for yourself, your teens, educators, therapists, clients, physicians, acupuncturists, and random strangers.)

How have you been challenged in relationships? Are you often in your overs? Where have you found friends and partners? How do you deal with coworkers? Thank you for commenting. As you know, you add so much to this blog! Love to you all.

(Note: Full disclosure. I am binge watching Sex and the City.)

 

 

 

 


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What’s Joy Got To Do With It?

Photo by Preslie Hirsch on Unsplash

My 29-year-old, almost-too-pretty, super smart acupuncturist told me I need to find joy.

Joy shmoy,” I said. Not to her. She’s so young.

But, really. Joy? When California is burning? Polar ice caps are melting?  Birds are disappearing?

Maybe especially because of these events.

I was telling my almost-too-pretty super smart acupuncturist, let’s call her Kat, that I am interested in finding a male companion, a partner, a mate. I have been single for about 5 years now and am enjoying my sweet life. I have no complaints. In fact, I am mastering the art of gratitude. Being older, it is easy to be grateful for what is NOT happening. No slipped discs. No auto-immune illnesses. No artificial hips. No hearing loss. Well, maybe a little hearing loss. So, I feel a little guilty that I am asking for more. (But not too guilty. Guilty shmilty.)

And, being a psychotherapist, I am quite clear that partnering is not some ideal, smooth, romantic ride into the sunset. Quite clear.

And yet.

I was telling Kat that I missed the deep intimacy that partnership can provide. The tracking that your person does of your whereabouts. The thrilling adventure of loving another human in particularly dynamic, vulnerable, and fascinating ways. The comfort of having your mate with you during tumultuous times.

And yet.

I know that I have been a role model for some of you. Those of you who are looking for a single, childfree, older, somewhat-accomplished female. And if that is who I continue to be into my elderhood, well, that will be fine. Excellent, really. After all, there is love in my life. Great love. Friends. Family. Clients. Blog followers. (You know who you are.) Fans of my books. Spiritual energies. Acupuncturists.

But wait. What does all of this have to do with my rainforest mind? you ask. Has this blog become something else while I wasn’t looking? Is Paula using her blog for her very own Match.com? 

Well, hey. It is my blog, doncha know.

So, maybe. A little.

But here’s the thing.

I think Kat was saying that if I go deeply enough into my own soulfulness. Below the loneliness, the anxiety, the distress about the planet. Deep into the center of my center. I will find the Love and the Unity. Of the Universe and Everything. And joy. Joy will be lurking there, too. Waiting for me to find it. And to spread it around. I think Kat believes that the joy-spreading may be the energetic call that my man needs to show up. And who am I to argue with a 29-year-old almost-too-pretty super smart acupuncturist? I mean really. Anything is possible.

Carolyn North, writer and visionary describes her take on joy:

“…It is about knowing in our whole beings the deep joy of the Mystery that underlies all phenomena of our physical world, the Mystery that is love itself. It is an energy, a vibration, a consciousness, a gratitude, a feeling that we all have intuitive access to…Once we recognize the high frequency ‘feel’ of this joy, we can find our way back to it easily when those who are threatened by it try to regain control by shaming us…All we need is fifty-one percent of the people accessing the higher vibrations of authentic joy to save us all from going over the brink…Just fifty-one percent of us who know how to love can save the world.”

So, let us all find joy. It lurks in the center of your center, too. Trust me on this one.

And if you run into my soul’s companion while you are spreading joy, well, you know where to find me.

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To my bloggEEs: Are there ways you tap into joy? Nature? Laughing children? Music? Researching obscure topics for wikipedia entries? Martial arts? Meditating? Blogging? Playing matchmaker? Let us know in the comments. Your contributions make this blog so much better. Thank you, as always, for being here.

(Note: If you are having a lot of trouble finding joy because of the climate crisis, I just started reading Terry Patten’s book A New Republic of the Heart: An Ethos for Revolutionaries. It looks good.)

(Another note: If you are having trouble finding joy because you are grappling with trauma from your past, read this post and check out the.holistic.psychologist on Instagram.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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The Lonely World of the Gifted Adult — Too Smart, Too Sensitive, Too Emotional, Too Curious

photo courtesy of Danny via Unsplash

It is part of the mythology of giftedness that super smart people have it made. That they are successful, rich, and appreciated for their cleverness. That they don’t really need much companionship because they are totally content in their labs studying fruit flies or in the library immersed in piles of books on obscure philosophical theories.

In my experience, this is not the case. These adults are often lonely. Granted, I’m a psychotherapist. Most of the gifted clients I see have lived through some sort of childhood trauma. Nevertheless, I suspect that many of the non-traumatized gifted souls among us would be telling me similar tales.

When you have a rainforest mind, it can be hard to find others who truly, deeply get you.

Some examples:

~ You are at your job, being conscientious, and caring. It is important to you that your coworkers are respected and understood. You feel responsible to both the organization and the humans you  supervise. Meetings are challenging. You problem solve quickly and typically end up waiting for the group to catch up. You grow tired of explaining what is obvious to you. At your evaluation, your boss tells you that coworkers say you are arrogant, condescending, and judgmental. Your boss is intimidated by you. You slow your speech and smile more. You don’t share your innovative ideas or your questions. You leave homemade gluten-free cookies in the staff room. It doesn’t help.

~ You are in graduate school. You were so excited to join what was supposed to be a cohort of deeply intellectual lovers of research and thinkers of complex ideas.  But your advisor no longer cares. He has tenure and has lost interest in academic pursuits and in you. The politics within your department is disturbing. You wonder how there can be peace on earth when your colleagues in academia can’t even agree on the schedule for the next term. You feel bereft. No one shares your curiosity and your enthusiasm for Nietzsche, Virginia Woolf, quarks, Bach, the universe, and everything.

~ You are highly intuitive. You have been an empath since you were quite young. You feel a responsibility to help others. It is hard to know if friends are attracted to you for you or if they just want you to help them heal their emphysema or contact their dead Uncle George. It is hard to have simple relationships because you can sense what others are feeling and they either put you on a pedestal or they avoid you. If you haven’t been able to set healthy boundaries because you have been told that you have a gift and are responsible for sharing it, you may overwork and ignore your body’s distress signals.

~ You have a deep sense of social responsibility. It is hard not to obsess about the level of suffering that you see all around the world. Your friends and relatives tell you to lighten up and stop worrying so much. But every time an extreme weather event happens somewhere or you see another homeless person, your heart breaks.

~ You are the parent of a gifted child. This child is bursting with energy, questions, curiosity, and emotion. You can’t keep up with them and are exhausted at the end of the day. You feel a deep sense of responsibility to raise a compassionate, sensitive human. To give your child what you did not get. Finding an appropriate school has been grueling. Other parents think it is easy to raise such a smart child. It is not.

Can you relate to any of these examples? Many of them?

What can you do about the loneliness you feel?

You can read these other blog posts. I’ve written about this before. There are things that you can do.

For today, though, I want to share the words of the courageous RFM, Charles Eisenstein. You’ll want to read the entire article. He presents a fascinating perspective on living consciously in today’s world. The quote below is particularly uplifting and spiritually sensitive.

You are not alone.

“The beings we have excluded from our reality, the beings we have diminished in our perception into non-beings, they are still there waiting for us. Even with all my inherited disbelief (my inner cynic, educated in science, mathematics, and analytic philosophy, is at least as strident as yours), if I allow myself a few moments of attentive quiet, I can feel those beings gathering. Ever hopeful, they draw close to the attentiveness. Can you feel them too? Amid the doubt, maybe, and without wishful thinking, can you feel them? It is the same feeling as being in a forest and suddenly realizing as if for the first time: the forest is alive. The sun is watching me. And I am not alone.”     Charles Eisenstein

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To my bloggEEs: Of course, I feel less alone because I have you! Thank you so much for being here. Let us know about your experiences of loneliness and what soothes you and how you find people (and spiritual guides? Nature? the Force? higher consciousness? intuitive visions? God? ) who get you. Do you have a spiritual practice/belief where you can feel connected?

My new book is almost here! It will launch near the end of June. Stay tuned! If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, I’ll be announcing it there first. (and here, of course) You will now have your favorite blog posts in a book (a love letter to you) to soothe your lonely soul.