Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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The Dark Night of the Soul — How Psychotherapy Can Help You Through

photo courtesy of Annie Spratt, Unsplash

I know about the Dark Night. I’ve been through my own. More than once. Now I join my counseling clients in their Dark Nights. I go with them because I know the territory. I have flashlights and provisions. It doesn’t scare me like it used to. And I know what comes after the Dark Night that makes it worth the journey.

There could be all sorts of reasons for your Dark Night(s). But chances are, there’s a connection to your early years. Your experiences in your family of origin. It’s often painful to discover and understand the roots of your distress. And yet, that process can be the key to your healing.

Let me explain.

We’re totally helpless when we’re born. You know this. But you might not consider the implications. We’re dependent. Open. Vulnerable. Learning, growing, and experiencing. Our brains are being wired. We’re forming our sense of who we are.

So, of course, our parents influence us. Their words, behaviors, thoughts, feelings, fears, hopes, anxieties, dreams, loves, hates, insecurities, and shame are absorbed by us. We can’t help it. Even though we have our own personalities, temperaments, and spiritual paths, we spend many years drenched in the crazy soup of our original families.

Drenched in the crazy soup.

Some soup is crazier than others.

Granted, all parents make mistakes and have insecurities. And yet, kids will be resilient if parents are mostly loving and kind. If they apologize for their blunders. If they have healthy boundaries. If they are striving for awareness and insight into their own patterns. Rainforest-minded children who tend toward perfectionism will benefit from parents who openly admit errors and make amends. Kids will learn that no one is perfect. And they will learn what to do when they inevitably make their own mistakes.

But if there’s abuse, neglect, abandonment, alcoholism, or shame, then, it gets tricky. There will be a huge impact including: anxiety, self-hatred, depression, poor choices in relationships and career paths, boundary issues, addictions, and more. And, if you were a highly sensitive gifted kid, you may become the family caretaker, sacrificing your own needs for everyone else. Learning that your needs and desires don’t matter. That you must be fine because you’re so smart. You’re seen as the one who made it out unscathed.

You aren’t unscathed.

Psychotherapy can be the answer. Not the only answer. Not for everyone. But an essential step for many toward healing and creating a fulfilling life. It’s the depth approach that your multidimensional rainforest-y self needs.

By taking the courageous step into psychotherapy, you can find your way through the Dark Night and back to Love.

In good psychotherapy, you– Gently unravel and understand your past. Experience trustworthy, compassionate companionship for the journey.  Rebuild a sense of safety and trust. Acknowledge and mourn your losses. Stop the legacy of trauma in your ancestral line. Heal, grow, and, ultimately blossom. Find self-acceptance and your authentic voice.

And, wouldn’t ya know, all of that takes time. But, hey. You’ve spent years learning and embodying your family’s legacy, right? Years. Shouldn’t it take some years to recover? And just for the record, a year of therapy, at most, is 52 hours, if you go weekly. Basically a long weekend. So, in reality, if you’ve been in therapy for 2 years, that’s actually 2 long weekends. Not all that much time if your crazy soup was terrifying and traumatizing.

Don’t just take my word for it. The School of Life, based in London, has a lot to say about therapy and is a fascinating resource for rainforest minds. They produce lots of articles and videos on self-awareness, growth, and relationships. They even have a global community that might help you find other RFMs. And they have therapists who work online. (I haven’t met them personally so, as always, you’ll need to evaluate them for yourself.)

“Psychotherapy is one of the most valuable inventions of the last hundred years, with an exceptional power to raise our levels of emotional well-being, improve our relationships, redeem the atmosphere in our families and assist us in mining our professional potential.

But it is also profoundly misunderstood and the subject of a host of unhelpful fantasies, hopes and suspicions. Its logic is rarely explained and its voice seldom heard with sufficient directness.” The Book of Life from The School of Life

And so, my courageous ones, if you’re in a Dark Night, have faith. You can do this. It might take several long weekends of therapy but you will survive. You will thrive. You will come back to Love.

And on those darkest nights, remember to look up at the stars. They’ll be at their brightest. Shining for you.

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To my bloggEEs: You’ll need to select your therapist very carefully. Give yourself time to find the right fit. This post will help. And this one. Even though I would like to be therapist to each and every one of you, I’m only licensed to practice in Oregon. And, for dark-night-of-the-soul therapy, it’s best to find someone you can work with face-to-face. You can contact me for a consultation, though, about your rainforest mind and the non-family-of-origin concerns you might have, particularly about being a wizard in a muggle world. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, concerns, feelings, and questions here. They add so much.

And if you’re wondering about my book, it’s going to stay on sale with GHF Press. If you read it, a review on Amazon would be lovely. Thank you!

 

 

 


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Shame and Resilience–Chainsaws in Your Childhood

You are like the rain forest. Highly sensitive, colorful, intense, and complicated. Vulnerable to chainsaws. And the chainsaws are everywhere. They’re the coworkers who can’t keep up with you. The relatives who think you’re too sensitive. The teachers who want you to stifle your effervescence. The friends who disappear when you forget to modify your vocabulary. The neighbors who paint their houses orange.

But what if the chainsaws lived with you? What if they were your parents?

photo by Dave Young creative commons flickr

photo by Dave Young creative commons flickr

Being a psychotherapist, I know a lot about chainsaw parents. It’s my specialty. And like many counselors, I studied them in my own childhood.

If, in your family, there was abuse, neglect, shame, rage or fear, in some form or another, you suffered. You were changed by it. You found ways to cope by blaming yourself or parenting your parents or escaping into addictions. You found ways to cope by getting good grades in school or getting bad grades in school. You found ways to cope by reading Lord of the Rings twelve times. You found ways to cope by hiding your radiance and shutting down access to your true Self.

And now you’re living with the results. Anxiety, self-doubt, depression, shame. Oddly enough, it doesn’t show. Right? You’ve learned how to cope so well that you’ve managed to put together a good life. Maybe you have a fulfilling career. Maybe you have a compassionate partner. Maybe you’re raising your children in a loving, safe, trustworthy home. Maybe you didn’t become a serial killer.

This is what your rainforest mind has done for you. It’s made you resilient. Because even with all of the shame, fear and self-deprecation, your rainforest-y soul kept you off of Skid Row.

Now, I’m not saying that you don’t need therapy. There’s definitely work to be done. Lots of work. Good therapy or some other deep healing modality can make an enormous difference in how you view who you are. And how you live.

What I’m saying is that just because you’ve been resilient, doesn’t mean the chainsaw parents weren’t impactful. You may be minimizing the dysfunction you experienced because you turned out OK.

Don’t do that.

Instead, I’d recommend that you–

jinterwas flickr creative commons

jinterwas flickr creative commons

1. Thank your rainforest mind for its fabulousness.

2. Find a therapist who knows his or her way around the jungle.

3. Recognize that it’s now safe to be your radiant Self.

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To my bloggEEs: I know that it may be hard to be your bright shining Self, for numerous reasons. In future posts, I’ll write about that and help you sort through the obstacles. I also know that this post may not apply to you. I’m writing about my personal experiences with gifted adults and there’s great variety within that population. Not everyone comes from a seriously dysfunctional family! So, don’t be discouraged if this post or another one isn’t quite right for you. OK?  In the comments, let us know your thoughts and questions.

 

This blog is part of a collection of posts by various writers on the topic of giftedness in adults. To read more, click on the image below.1546415_10204610136200684_2591280822836276826_n