Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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Gifted In Serbia

“I can hear and feel with such an intensity. I can understand what people are feeling just by their look or presence. I can very often predict what they are going to say. Bad styling and bad architecture are literally killing me. I am looking for details in stuff that are meaningless for others. I am passionate about learning and thinking. And yes, my worth definitely depends on my achievements and I do feel like a failure…I would looove to find someone with who I could really talk about depth of everything and be able to say what I really mean knowing that the person is going to understand it without calling me crazy…”

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know I am writing about some of the beautiful rainforest-minded souls (RFMs) who contact me from around the world. I have wondered what giftedness looks like in various cultures. What are the similarities? What are the differences? Some of the profiles have been from RFMs in Finland, Spain, Brazil, Malaysia, Belgium, Chile, Lebanon, Netherlands, Canada (via Cameroon), Portugal, Germany, Austria, and India. I would love to hear from those of you in countries not yet on this list, although, of course, anyone is welcome to contact me for a consultation!

(photo by Christopher Campbell, Unsplash)

Today, meet Sara, a 30 year old female, born during the tumultuous years of the break up of Yugoslavia. She contacted me for a consultation after reading my books so she might find her “true voice” and live her “real life.” Like so many of the RFMs I meet, she is struggling to manage her extraordinarily active mind and her many varied interests and abilities. She grapples with the conflict between being practical and realistic, everyday choices of career paths, lifestyles, relationships, and laundry, versus expanding into her “higher vibration” of intuition and spirituality.

Like every multipotentialite I know, Sara’s interests and abilities are vast and varied. When she was in high school, she was skilled in math, physics, chemistry, writing, languages, orchestra, choir, history, poetry, theatre, and volleyball. Because she did not know this was normal for an RFM, she doubted herself and said, “I did everything but I wasn’t great in anything.” And this: “…if they only knew how manipulative, lucky, and unknowing I am. I just calculate what is important, memorize it quickly, and somehow get through…I never went deep enough.” In fact, Sara can not help but dive deep into whatever she does. Her capacity is both wide and deep. Rainforest-y for sure.

There is more. Sara is driven to learn and experience life to the fullest and then some. Presently, she is trying to sort out how to choose among all of her interests and insights. How does she deal with her job at the pharmacy when she has visions of dramatically changing the health care system? When does she find time to learn ten languages, create a clothing line, build sustainable affordable homes, enter a song contest, publish her poems, make movies, and become a mother? How does she explain to others the powerful loneliness and grief she feels trying to shrink herself into a more typical way of being and living?

Sara has a strong spirituality that sustains her. She said, “I do believe we are all one and connected to the source energy. I believe in energy and vibration, parallel realities and that we are all creating our own personal world. Everything out there–it’s me. The term starseed also resonated with me. It helped me understand myself better. I see it as a spiritual equivalent to your term rainforest mind. My soul has probably a lot of different experiences all across the universe right now because there is only this moment in time…

As you can imagine, it has been difficult for Sara to find others who can keep up with her, who love her depth and sensitivity, her intellect and spirituality. Like many RFMs, she wondered, if she was so smart, why was she not “successful.” She was not sure how to organize her day to accomplish basic tasks. She expressed fears of stepping into her true self and leaving everyone she loves behind.

I reassured her that these are indeed the struggles of the rainforest-minded. We agreed, it was time to grasp a more accurate view of herself.

Then we spoke about how she might find a regular time to tune into her spirituality and intuition. She knew her answers were all within if she could just trust herself.

Sara shared another of her spiritual insights, “I believe we are living in a beautiful time of a great awakening and the collapse that we are seeing is just the step before creating a new, wonderful world.”

So, Sara, you are not crazy. You very clearly have a magnificent rainforest mind. And, as you step into your vision of a new, wonderful world, we will be right with you, traveling the vast starry universe. Together.

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To my bloggEEs: Do you have similar experiences? Please let us know about them. Your comments make such a difference. And thank you, Sara, for sharing your story and your heart with us.


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16 Ways to Manage Anxiety in a High Stress World

Could this be a description of you?

~ Feeling more, sensing more, thinking more, knowing more

~ Extreme sensitivity to sounds, smells, tastes, colors, touch, emotions, weather, food, chemicals, energy, bad news, criticism, the invisible world, and beauty

~ A mind that moves at warp speed, seeks meaning, analyzes the hell out of everything, wonders, generates millions of ideas, and watches itself watching itself

~ A heart that weeps at the cruelty humans inflict on one another and on the planet

~ A soul that yearns for knowledge, understanding, and love

And you wonder why you are anxious?

(photo by le minh phuong, unsplash)

Anxiety is such a real phenomenon for people with finely tuned nervous systems, which you know you have. Not to mention, your capacity to feel the suffering of neighbors, trees, children everywhere, and your lonely Aunt Lucille. And, these days, not to mention pandemics, climate crises, racism, civil wars, psychopathic dictators, and more.

And, if you had to start worrying when you were two years old because your mother was screaming obscenities at you and your father was unreliable and self-absorbed, for example, well then, you likely have developed a remarkable ability to become anxious at a moment’s notice. Or to remain anxious all of the time on all occasions. Just in case. You never know. You need to be prepared for the worst.

And so, your anxiety may manifest in many ways:

You want to strangle your neighbor who uses her leaf blower to clear the dust off of her driveway every morning. The chaos at birthday parties leaves you and your child shrieking. Your very active, creative mind imagines unending catastrophes. You can’t stop ruminating about the horrific story you just heard on NPR. You have migraines, allergies, and insomnia.

What, then, are some ways you can help yourself?

  • Make a list of self-soothing techniques that work for you. Try the different apps that exist such as Calm, Insight Timer, and Headspace. It often helps to create a daily meditation practice or exercise plan. Some people have found morning pages from The Artist’s Way to be useful. Notice if food sensitivities or hormones are a factor.
  • Make a list of calming reminders. Here are some items on one teen client’s list: I’m a fallible human. I make mistakes, like everyone. I’m learning. I’m experimenting. Making a mistake does not make me a bad person. Am I catastrophizing? Do I need to be this upset? My body tends to be anxious, but I’m actually safe. It’s going to be OK. I’m older now and I have more control over my experiences. It makes sense that there are many things that I don’t know. 
  • Procrastination by Burka and Yuen is a good resource for perfectionism and procrastination.
  • You have great compassion for others. Let yourself receive some of that sweetness, too. Forgive yourself for not being perfect.
  • Understand that your perfectionism and anxiety might exist not because of something you have done wrong but because of the nature of growing up gifted. The complications begin at an early age. You have a right to take the time to focus on your self-understanding and growth.
  • You know how fear tends to make you want to freeze or shrink or hide or push it away? Instead, notice it and be with it. Where do you feel it in your body? Hello, anxiety. Then, remember that it is just a part of you. And you are bigger than it. Imagine yourself expanding. Breathe and expand. As odd as it sounds, welcome the anxiety. Bring it on, baby! And keep expanding. You will begin to feel your higher Self and the Love that is in you and around you. Breathe. You might start to notice that you feel lighter and more peaceful. The fear may still be there but you’ve become so large that it becomes insignificant. Imagine that! The more you practice this, the easier it will be to get into this more peaceful state. And if you want to take it one step further, turn it into a tonglen practice (from Pema Chodron) where you breathe in all of the anxiety all over the world (Seriously!), and you breathe out Love to everyone, including yourself.
  • Move your body. When worried, we tend to freeze. That only increases the anxiety. Try moving. Walk, dance, shake, exercise, sing.
  • If you grew up in a seriously dysfunctional family, get psychotherapy. Events in your present life can trigger PTSD symptoms where you are unconsciously re-experiencing trauma; feeling anxiety that makes no sense. Therapy can help you identify the triggers and learn ways to cope and to heal.
  • Keep a journal and write dialogues with your anxiety. Visualize the anxiety as a person and be curious. Ask why it continues to hang around. You may be surprised by the answers
  • Find your sense of humor. If you are alone in your car, scream obscenities at passing drivers. Avoid eye contact.
  • Try one of the research-based guided imagery CDs produced by psychologist Belleruth Naparstek. She has CDs on anxiety, stress reduction and many more topics. Experiment with emotional freedom techniques (EFT) also called tapping.
  • Read the research from the Heartmath Institute and see if you might want to try one of their devices to improve what they call your “heart rate variability” and reduce your stress.
  • Get hugged by someone you love, including your animals. Breathe and feel the connection deeply in your body.
  •  If you are a parent, share these ideas with your children. Listen to them as they share their frustrations and fears. Careful listening and reflection often works better than advice giving or rescuing. If they are very young, give them the specific words for their emotions. Let them know you will keep them safe. Don’t take their meltdowns personally. Take time away.
  • Consider working with a team of sensitive, capable practitioners (naturopaths, physical therapists, psychotherapists, doctors, acupuncturists, healers, shamans, teachers, artists, etc.) who will help you find the best tools for your particular needs. You are complicated so there is no one practitioner or one technique that will be the perfect answer. You do not have to be alone with your anxiety. Even though you tend to solve problems for others and you may be the smartest person in the room at any particular time, do not give up on finding help for yourself.

You may be naturally inclined to worry. Because you think a lot, it is easy to slip into an anxious state. You have a mind that needs to be active, questioning, and dancing. Imagine that if you get more intellectual stimulation, you will worry less. And, yet, during times like these, anxiety will likely be a frequent visitor.

So, if all else fails, go for beauty. See the gorgeousness of the flower, the rainstorm, the laughing children. And the beauty of you. Worries and all.

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To my bloggEEs: I am sure we are all anxious about the horrific situation in Ukraine. Here is a place you can go to help. For the climate crisis, Jon Stewart is one resource. For racism, look for the work of Resmaa Menakem. I am sending you so much love. Let us know what calms your anxiety. Speaking of love, I am still looking for your thoughts on love and all types of relationships for my new book. And remember to tell me about the many forms of love you experience outside of partnership. Thank you!


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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!)


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Three Brazilian Psychologists and a North American Talk About Giftedness

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

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


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Gifted Adults Around The World — What Do They Have In Common? Meet Alice In Brazil

The more rainforest-minded souls I meet, the more hope I have for humanity. No matter where in the world they happen to be, I see similar traits. Big-hearted, creative, deep-thinking, sensitive souls. Humans who are so darned smart and who are driven to use their superpowers for good.

In case you missed them, profiles so far come from:

Brazil, Finland, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Malaysia, India, Chile, Canada (via Cameroon) (If you are from a country not yet represented and would like to be profiled, email me!) Of course, most of my experiences are with N. Americans. I feel so grateful to be able to learn and share this expanded view.

Today we are meeting Alice, a 25 year old Brazilian female. She came across my quiz and gifted information after searching for “people who don’t fit at school.” She ordered and quickly read my first book and The Gifted Adult, then she contacted me. Like so many of you, Alice was struggling with intensity, being misunderstood, passions for learning everything, depression, anxiety, and loneliness. The restrictions imposed by COVID-19 and the political tensions in her country, made it even harder for her to find direction for her future and the relief she would normally feel in the natural world.

(photo courtesy of Bruno Dias, Unsplash)

Alice described her experience this way: “I just want to follow my multiple and endless passions. I just want to be FREE to create and to travel the world. It feels like I’ve spent my whole life being a dormant volcano, without knowing what’s been going on inside of me. My anxiety and depression feel like lava. It seems to burn me inside and it hurts. I internalized that being the way that I am is a terrible flaw…When I was identified gifted, all of my traits seem to have erupted. The hidden, real, and even more intense Alice came out. I’ve been dealing with a kind of new me.

“…Oh, how unfair this world is! I hate this world! But, how can I love this world the way I do? I love the Nature SO MUCH that it hurts. I love you Planet Earth! I love Jupiter and its moons. I wanted to be a National Geographic photographer, a solo traveler, a documentarist, a multi-instrumentalist, a singer, an author, a visual artist and paint maker, a polyglot, a dancer, an athlete, I wanted to help people, wild animals and plants, etc. etc…I wanted to learn more about history, geology, archaeology, biology, astronomy…I wanted to do hundreds of things, I also wanted to live in many different places and experience diverse cultures.

Like most (all?) of you, Alice is a multipotentialite but she could not tell anyone for fear of criticism and rejection:

“…I can’t let them know my interests. I can’t let them know that I want to speak 10 languages one day, without being judged, without them thinking I am arrogant, without them telling me to be less, to question less, without them telling me not to share my interests, my vulnerabilities, my sense of justice…’keep that just for you, Alice, otherwise they won’t like you’…They’ve been treating me differently and I can feel it. But I just love learning 8,459,238 things at the same time. And also because I have no time to dedicate specially to one thing, and I always struggle with choices and procrastination, I often think I’m incapable, incompetent, and very unlikely to succeed…”

So many of you can relate to being called arrogant or being told you are too much, too sensitive, too intense. You’ve heard the complaints of others: Why can’t you focus? Why can’t you be happy with one language, one job, one book!?!

Alice was working so hard to understand where she might fit and who she actually is. She wondered where she stood on the gifted spectrum and how she might move forward in her life.

“…I just don’t want to be so afraid of being myself. I just don’t want to feel so much need for others’ approval. I just don’t want to be so afraid of the critics…I don’t want to be so afraid of success, too. I want to find at least a balance between my natural optimism and pessimism. I’ve written a lot about my pains, but I’ve had the opportunity to experience many, many beautiful moments, too…”

Like many of you, in spite of the challenges and pressures that would often overwhelm her, she could see the beauty in life and appreciate the little things, love them so much that it hurt.

As Alice and I talked, she was able to get a better understanding of how her struggles were not based in her own inadequacies but rather connected to her gifted traits. Because I had already written about two Brazilian young women, I suggested she try and reach them and the other Brazilian commenters through my blog, as a way to reduce her isolation.

Because she had experienced traumatic events in addition to the struggles of being gifted, I recommended she look for a therapist where she might get regular support and work through the traumas. Believe it or not, around the time I was speaking with Alice, I was contacted by Giovanna Strobel, a psychotherapist in Brazil who specializes in giftedness! How amazing is that?! (For those of you who speak Portuguese, check her out!.)

So, now, Alice is reaching out to Giovanna and her team. She is starting to understand more about the beauty and power of her rainforest mind. And I hope, one day, loving herself so much that it hurts.

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To my bloggEEs: Do you relate to Alice’s experiences? How are your feelings similar? Different? Remember in the comments not to give advice to others but rather to speak about your own experiences and insights. Thank you so much for being here. Much love to you all. And thank you to Alice for sharing your big-hearted, sensitive, creative, deep-thinking, rainforest mind with us.

(Note: Giovanna and I will be doing a live interview on July 3, 2021, 1pm PT. I’m not sure if it is on Instagram or somewhere else. If you follow her on Instagram or me, you will hear about it. Join us!)

(Another note: I was reviewing my first article on Brazilians and was reminded of another practitioner in Brazil who shared in the comments. Adriana Vazzoler-Mendoca. Sounds like she would be another good resource for Brazilians looking for a mentor or coach!)


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Awareness, Awe, and Your Wild Rainforest Mind

(This post was inspired by the writer, visionary, and extraordinarily rainforest-minded Geneen Marie Haugen*)

…I grieve and wonder why so many of our human kin don’t seem to recognize the astonishing miracle of our mutual existence on this precious, exquisite, watery planet that we share not only with fantastically diverse cultures, but also with our companion communities of humpback whales, hummingbirds, giraffes. Is such experiential awareness and awe not available to all of us?…” Geneen Marie Haugen

(photo courtesy of Dev Asangbam, Unsplash)

Maybe not. Awareness and awe seem to exist at different levels and intensities for each of us. Our capacity for awareness and awe might be related to how curious, sensitive, intuitive, empathetic, and perceptive we are.

When you have a rainforest mind, though, you are guaranteed to be living with high levels of both.

Let me explain.

~ Awareness ~

There are many things you see, feel, know, and intuit that others don’t. You may not even realize this. You are normal to you. But when you run into a conflict with someone, it might be because something is obvious to you but not apparent to them. You may think they are lazy or just not paying attention. But it could be they are not seeing what you see. My example from the RFM quiz applies here: Do you see ecru, beige, sand, and eggshell when others see only white? You experience multiple layers and several subtleties. Complexities. Maybe you hear the buzzing florescent lights no one else hears. Or the chewing person in the theatre drives you crazy. Perhaps you grok the solution to the architectural design flaw before anyone else realizes there is a flaw. Or maybe you can tell by the way someone smells that they need a root canal.

These types of awarenesses may seem odd to the non-rainforest-minded among us. They may seem odd to you, too. But they actually come naturally with your larger capacity for being. For knowing.

~ Awe ~

Because of your deeper perceptions and your capacity to appreciate beauty and wonder, chances are you do not take life’s opportunities for granted. Of course, you get irritable, frustrated, despairing, fearful, and angry. You are not always grateful or spiritually in tune. But there may be a sense of awe that always lives in your heart. Geneen Marie Haugen‘s connection with Nature is such a prime example. Here she is describing water.

“…am still in a mad love trance with water, still dripping, still sensing the body of that muscular river: clear, deep, sinuous, insisting on a mutual embrace. A wild adoration of water…” GMH

See what I mean?

This is the intense experience of the rainforest-minded life.

Can you relate?

And yet. You may be exhausted by all of the intensity. You may feel terribly lonely if you are the only one you know who is in a “mad love trance with water.”

But your awareness, your capacity for awe, can also bring you visions of possibilities:

“…I can see a possible world where human ventures are created in accordance with living systems, where (bio)diversity is cherished, where all voices and pretenses are honored, where individual human beings are nourished and encouraged by their communities and by elders to bring forth their unique expressions and offerings. This world is so near that I can even smell and taste it. Millions–maybe even billions–of others have seen and felt the shimmers of a possible world, too…” GMH

Not only that:

“…The circumstances or places in which we find ourselves most radiantly alive almost certainly nourish the wild soul who inhabits the depths far below the surface of our ordinary, everyday consciousness. Tending and cultivating the emergences of the wild soul may be a primary way toward revitalizing human existence on this great planet.” GMH

So, dear rainforesters, keep noticing those shimmers.

And do not forget to carefully tend and cultivate your deeply radiant rainforest-y wild soul.

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To my bloggEEs: Can you relate to being aware and in awe? Let us know how this fits or does not fit in your life. What are the shimmers you are noticing? What are your thoughts? Feelings? Experiences? Questions? And, thank you so much to Geneen for sharing your wild soul with us!

*Geneen Marie Haugen, PhD, grew up as a free-range wildish kid with a run amok imagination.  She is a guide to the experiential, intertwined mysteries of nature and psyche with the Animas Valley Institute (www.animas.org) and has been on the faculty of the Esalen Institute, Schumacher College, and the Fox Institute for Creation Spirituality.  Her writing has appeared many publications including Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth; Thomas Berry: Dreamer of the Earth; Parabola; Kosmos Journal; Ecopsychology; The Artist’s Field Guide to Yellowstone, and others.  


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“The Problem, Officer, Is That My Sister Is An Intellectual…”* –A Quick Guide To Your Rainforest Mind

(*quote adapted from the inspiring talk Surviving as an Organizational Heretic ; by Carmen Medina TEDx talk)

(photo courtesy of Fabio Fistarol, Unsplash)

Have you been identified as the problem in your family? Is your finely tuned sensitivity, unending research, probing curiosity, exquisite empathy, passionate creativity, accurate intuition, in-depth analysis, sweet optimism, and driven social conscience, misunderstood, misdiagnosed, and mystifying?

Do your parents, siblings, teachers, therapists, friends, neighbors, and pets, look at you with wonder, or confusion, or anger, or fear, or jealousy, or awe? (OK. Maybe your pets look at you with, well, unconditional love. Unless they are cats. Cats may look at you with disdain. Not because you are gifted, though. But just because.) Do you reject the notion you are gifted because you know how much you don’t know or because you were not a straight-A student or because it feels arrogant, elitist, and unfair?

I thought so.

Then, of course, there is the pressure. Oh, the pressure. If you are so smart, then, well, you better reach your potential. Wasted potential is not an option. You ought to be great at everything you try at all times. Maybe even “insanely great.” Mistakes, then, become failures and failures are unbearable.  

No wonder you would like to hide out rather than shine too brightly. No wonder. But honestly? You can not really hide. Not really. You can try. But at some point, your rainforest mind will sneak out from under your cloak. The truth of who you are will be revealed. How? Well, for starters, it could be that any one or more of the following occur:

The foundation of your house finally cracks under the weight of all of those darn books. You can’t stop crying over nature’s fecundity.  It takes you 11 years to get through college because you keep changing your major, start two businesses, learn the Argentine tango, join the board of an arts organzation, travel to Nepal to lead treks, teach yourself watercolor painting, and write a screenplay. You still reread Jane Austen, Ursula LeGuin, and Toni Morrison, again and again. You raise a gifted child. You start a nonprofit, or three. You become an overworked, underpaid, and adored-by-your-students middle school teacher. You swoon over your fascination with fungi. You dive deeply into psychotherapy to heal from your traumatic childhood. (Yeah, I know. You thought I’d say, you win a Nobel prize. And, perhaps, you do that, too. But prizes are not required for rainforest mind membership.)

In other words, because you have a rainforest mind, you have an extra large, perhaps enormous, capacity to think, feel, know, perceive, analyze, evaluate, discern, observe, empathize, intuit, create, imagine, and love. All humans have these abilities to greater and lesser degrees, of course. Your capacities are just much deeper, wider, and multi-faceted. You experience layers and levels and complexities and controversies and visions and worries and energies and influences that others may not. 

This is not arrogant, elitist, or unfair.

It is just you.

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To my bloggEEs: Do you need to find more self-acceptance and understanding? If you experience conflict in your family or in other relationships, it could be, at least in part, because of these differences. Let us hear from you. Thank you for sharing your comments, feelings, thoughts, and questions. They add so much. Love to you! (Note: If you get a chance, watch Carmen Medina‘s TED talk. She explains how to create change in an organization and you can hear the whole story from her about what her brother said!)


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Gifted Girls in Brazil — Intense, Insightful, Introspective, Inquisitive

“I always wondered too much, thought too much, felt too much, craved too much. And I always kept it all to myself. I was disconnected from my peers. Things hurt more, mattered more…I take every single person seriously and I do all I can to never hurt them. Friends found me either silly or too serious or annoying…”

Carolina, 21, and Camila, 18, are Brazilians. They have rainforest minds. They are extremely sensitive, intuitive, socially responsible, perfectionistic, emotional, passionate learners, and highly intelligent.

“I used to freak out every now and then because I just thought I was not normal but I also didn’t want to be like other people. It was so frustrating and it used to drive me crazy, I always thought ‘what am I doing here if there’s no one like me? when am I actually going to say what I think? when will I find somebody like me, to understand me?’…”

“l’ve always complained too much about the clothes I wear, I don’t like labels, embroidery, or any shirt not made of cotton. I’ve always hated loud sounds and sneeze when perfume is strong. Screaming, fighting, someone crying, and criticism: I am very reactive to all of this… I trust my intuition a lot. I feel like I can read people, what they are feeling or needing, or what the chances are of something going wrong with my decision… I am always reading. I learn fast. People like to ask me for help…When I don’t understand something new or when something is difficult to do, I usually get paralyzed…I’m afraid I won’t succeed, and if I’m not the best, I’m not smart…”

Barbara Kerr has studied gifted girls for over forty years. At the end of her most recent book, she includes suggestions for parents, educators, and for the gifted girls and women themselves. She writes:

“…Once or twice in a lifetime, you will meet that smart little girl who seems wise beyond her years, who ponders the great philosophical questions, and who seeks knowledge not only in books but through her dreams and visions. She is the spiritually intelligent smart girl, who may transform our society with her transcendent vision. Find all those girls and then nurture them…”

We found two in Brazil.

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To my bloggEEs: Do you relate to what Carolina and Camila are saying? What is it like where you live? If you want to know more specifically about gifted girls, Barbara Kerr’s research is a wonderful resource. And fellas, I haven’t forgotten about you! Remember this post? Thank you all for being here. Much love to you. (And thank you so much to Carolina and Camila for sharing your stories with us.)


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Exceptional and Profound Giftedness In Adults — What Does It Look Like? Why Should We Care?

photo courtesy of naveen kumar, Unsplash

Diya, 35, was struggling with anxiety, career decisions, graduate school, and loneliness. She left a prestigious professional school in the final year because it was too rigid and restrictive. Professors and other students ridiculed her and left her feeling embarrassed, particularly when she asked penetrating questions. At times she felt compelled not to ask questions or even go to class because she did not want to stand out. When she contacted me, she had recently graduated with a more open-ended degree from a different prestigious university where she had hoped to find intellectual freedom, deep human connections, out-of-the-box thinkers, and most importantly, people like herself. This school was more open to her creativity and needs for a flexible, interdisciplinary approach but she was still disappointed with the restricted and inadequate levels of intellectual opportunities and the conformity of many of the other students.

It became clear as we talked, that Diya was exceptionally, probably profoundly, gifted. Her interests were many and varied and she excelled in all of them, ranging from the sciences to languages, religion, and the fine arts. Her speech was fast and her thinking faster. She struggled with repetitive tasks and was often forgetting things because her mind was constantly reading and processing new information.

Diya felt a lot of pressure from her intensity of thought and worked best independently in a non-structured environment. Her perfectionist tendencies made it difficult for her to work quickly, and she often felt a lag time between her mind and her body. She had a deep emotional intensity, often feeling emotions that were complex and layered as well as visions and insights that were intuitive and wholistic.

Like many of my clients, though, she didn’t recognize herself as gifted. This may have been partly because she was slower at test taking and at answering simple questions. She did not score well on standardized or IQ tests. With multiple choice tests, she could explain why all of the answers could be correct. When professors asked her to explain her reasoning for a problem, she often couldn’t break down the non-linear jumps or easily explain the patterns that she found. Or it would take too long to respond to a simple question because of all the possible answers, causing teachers to grow impatient or think that she didn’t know the “right” answer. In her mind, everything was related. How could she finish anything when there was always more to consider and how could she determine the right answer when there were so many possibilities existing within constantly evolving frameworks? She was always looking for better models or better words to respond to the questions. At the same time, she was a high achiever in school and was able to build friendships. But the relationships were not satisfying. People could not keep up with her and she often found herself speaking on a different wave length and not being understood. 

Diya loved the fine arts, including performing music and dancing. She found pleasure in learning the Argentine tango because of the depth of connection she could create with the right partner. In the tango, she did not need to worry about her partner getting lost in her verbal complexity. This was an intimate collaboration that was successful and less complicated, unlike at school or in the workplace. She was relieved when I told her that collaborating in general might be difficult because of her facility with grasping and integrating ideas; an entrepreneurial path might work best for her. She thrived in designing her own way and not following others’ directions. She was in the process of creating a startup that would weave together a number of her interests.

Diya’s South Asian background exposed her at an early age to yoga, tai chi, chanting, meditation, and other eastern practices. These were quite helpful spiritually and on a body level, particularly when she felt disconnected and alone. Spiritual practices worked in tandem with performing music to help her stay physically grounded, express her visual mental imagery, and sustain her through her distress around relationships and schooling. 

Diya, had a highly developed sensitivity. She could pick up what her friends and colleagues were feeling, and often knew intuitively how to help them, but struggled with not getting emotionally and mentally drained by the needs of others and with knowing where and how to set boundaries. She was concerned with ethics and justice, within relationships, but also in the larger world where she was driven to make a positive impact. 

As we talked, I could see that Diya was relieved to finally have a “diagnosis.” To have it explained to her that her difficulties with schooling, peers, career decisions, and anxiety, could all be understood within the context and framework of living at the highest end of the gifted spectrum. She finally understood why she felt so different and now could start learning how better to survive and thrive in a world that did not easily reflect her. 

I recommended the research of Miraca Gross. This article from the Triple Nine Society. I suggested connecting with Femke Hovinga in the Netherlands and Sue Jackson in British Columbia. Tom Clynes’ book on the profoundly gifted Taylor Wilson and The Gifted Adult were also excellent resources, along with the SENG organization

Getting to know Diya was an opportunity for me to see, once more, the vast potential of the human mind-heart-soul. This is what gives me hope and purpose. In these times of great uncertainty, upheaval, and change, it is of the utmost importance that we all understand, nourish, support, and love the most evolved among us.

Our survival may depend on it. 

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To my bloggEEs: What do you think? How are you similar to Diya? How are you different?  We want to hear from you. Your comments add so much. Sending you all big love during these most challenging of times. And thank you to the client who gave me permission to share her story.

Attention Spanish speakers! I have been in touch with a wonderful RFM woman in Spain who would love to find other Spanish speaking RFMs. Her name is Miryam. You can contact her at midorenedo@hotmail.com. 

 

 

 


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Gifted In The Netherlands

photo courtesy of Robin Benzrihem, Unsplash

Lieke, 20, lives in the Netherlands. Like many of you, she is not sure she is gifted but she relates to the traits of the rainforest mind. As I read her description of herself, I wondered, once again, why humans are so uncomfortable with the super smart. Or even the very smart. The ones who are deep divers into their hearts, minds, and souls. And into meaning, purpose, and justice.

And speaking of diving, I had a counseling client this week who was pressuring herself to “get over” the trauma of her childhood. Why was it taking so long to unravel her past and heal the mistaken beliefs she’d acquired at an early age?  She was told by friends to let go of the “story” she was telling herself and move on. To stop being so intense and introspective. I told her there are folks who are water skiers, snorkelers, and scuba divers in life. She, and I, and the RFMs I know are the deep divers. They are compelled to examine themselves and their worlds thoroughly because they strive to live authentic, compassionate, meaningful lives — for themselves, their communities, and for the planet. They know that “diving into the wreck,” as Adrienne Rich called it, will lead to the discovery of the hidden treasures that have been buried under the generations of trauma, loss, and fear. And this will change everything.

Lieke is a diver.

“I learned to hide my feelings which were pretty intense. They still are. Deep down I am a perfectionist and idealist. Always thinking about what is happening in the world, always trying to understand what is going on. I like to observe and I discuss everything in my head. My mind is always working. Always. Even when I sleep. I think people around me don’t really know what I know about them and how I understand them, because I am always acting like a typical average person. Maybe I am. I don’t know. But I do know that there is always more going on in my head than other people can imagine. I just adapt very quickly…I love being surrounded by beauty. I enjoy watching the sun set and I thrive when I can have deep conversations about meaningful things. Sometimes when I feel really comfortable, I can show my crazy and intense self, too. These moments are rare, though…”

We love your “crazy and intense self,” Lieke.

The world needs you. And all of its deep divers.

Wherever you may be.

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To my bloggEEs: If you are in the Netherlands, and even if you aren’t, you might want to explore these resources. Femke Hovinga-Tiller runs an organization for the highly/profoundly gifted. Annelie Neuteboom is a therapist for gifted families. And Noks Nauta is a writer and researcher. Do you relate to what Lieke is saying here? Does it help to understand that there is nothing wrong with you if you live your life as a scuba diver? Do you know many water skiers or snorkelers? Share with us what being gifted is like in your country. (here in the comments or in an email to me for a future post) And thank you to Lieke for sharing your experiences. And thank you all for being here.

(Note: Those of you who are fans of Barbara Sher’s work, know that she refers to divers and scanners in her book Refuse to Choose. My reference to diving is not what she is talking about. Using her definition, RFMs are both divers and scanners. The book is a good one for multipotentialites!)

(Another note: If you are feeling particularly overwhelmed right now by the pandemic and general upheaval and uncertainty, here is an older post that might help. And here’s another.)