Your Rainforest Mind

Support For The Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


42 Comments

Smart, Sensitive, Intense And In Love

80124274

photo courtesy Wilson Sanchez, Unsplash

Do you occasionally overwhelm your partner with your intensity? Does the depth of emotion that comes so naturally to you, scare your sweetie? Is your enthusiasm over your fascinating study of ant behavior not matched by your spouse? Do you find that the love of your life just can’t keep up?

Or is it the reverse? You’re the one who is overwhelmed, can’t keep up, not enticed by the study of ant behavior and frightened by your darling’s emotional intensity?

Or is it this? You’re both super-smart, highly sensitive and terribly intense. It’s thrilling and exhausting to be living in your jungle. Together.

Here’s what not to do: Do not panic. Do not start binge-watching reruns of Gilligan’s Island.*

Instead, here are some things to think about:

~ What do you need from your relationship? Make a list. Verbal intimacy? Shared values? Humor? Love of Reality TV? How many of those needs are met by your partner? How many of them can be met in other ways? How do you take time to celebrate your connection?

~ Is there a balance in what you give and what you receive? How might you create a better balance? Look at careers, child raising, household chores, emotional support, financial support, friendships, extended family, holiday celebrations, spiritual well-being, and other elements of family life. If you have children, how do you make time to nourish your couple-ness?

~ How important is intellectual equality? Where might you and your partner get your intellectual needs met outside of your relationship? Can you feel nourished and supported by your partner without being intellectually similar? Or is intellectual compatibility necessary for you to feel fed by the relationship?

~ If you often communicate like a fire hose and your partner gets overwhelmed, set up a signal so that you can change to a garden-hose-communicator (GHC) when needed. Decide how often you’re being asked to be a GHC and if you’re OK with that.

~ Have your partner read some of my blog posts. Talk about them. What parts fit? What parts don’t fit? If you wrote your own post for this blog, what would it say?

~ Remember what first brought you together. Share those early stories with each other. If you’ve lost your sense of humor, go find it.

~ Share books on relationships by John Gottman, Sue Johnson and John Welwood. Learn more about what draws particular people to each other. Find strategies in the books that will improve your communication skills and deepen your intimacy.

~ If you or your partner have experienced trauma, your relationship will be that much more complicated. Working through past traumatic experiences with a professional will soothe your soul and allow you to open more deeply to love.

~ If you have some differences that are particularly challenging, look for a good couples counselor, preferably one who understands rainforest minds.

Note: Thanks to Anne Allanketner, poet and couples counselor in Portland, Oregon, USA, for her help with this post.

(*For those of you too young or from outside the USA, this was a really ridiculous North American TV show.)

_________________________

To my blogEEs: If you’re in a partnership, tell us how you navigate your differences and your similarities. How do you manage your intensities, sensitivities and intellectual curiosity? What are the benefits of rainforest-minded partners and what are the downsides? Thank you for sharing your thoughts. They add so much to my blog!


61 Comments

If I’m So Smart, Why Am I So Dumb? Part Two

Photo by Cindi, Flickr, CC

Photo by Cindi, Flickr, CC

The following are my top ten reasons why you may feel “dumb,” not so smart and certainly not gifted :

#10. You’re highly sensitive, emotional, idealistic and lonely. Gifted people are cynical, logical and objective and prefer being alone to think.

#9. You have multiple interests and can’t decide on one career path. Gifted people pick one thing, stick with it and achieve greatness.

#8. You start many projects that you don’t finish. Gifted people finish things.

#7. You didn’t excel in school. Gifted people always get straight ‘As’ and never have learning disabilities.

#6. You grew up in a seriously dysfunctional family. Gifted people come from happy homes.

#5. You daydream a lot, can’t decide what color to paint your bedroom, and forget to tie your shoes. Gifted people make decisions easily, don’t daydream and never forget anything.

#4. You’re terrified of failure and have exceedingly high standards so you avoid taking risks and you procrastinate. Gifted people learn quickly with no effort and get things done on time.

#3. You’re afraid of success so you hide your abilities. Gifted people love to succeed and always do.

#2. You feel overwhelmed by the suffering in your community, your country and the world and you need to do something about it. Gifted people don’t get overwhelmed and they solve problems easily. They’re self-absorbed and only care about how smart they are.

51lwGdYA0tL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_#1. You aren’t Elon Musk. Gifted people send rockets into space, build fancy electric cars, and create thriving clean energy companies all at the same time. And they’re rich.

Here’s the thing, dear readers. What gifted people supposedly do or supposedly are, as listed above, may be true, for some. But from where I sit, in the world of the rainforest mind, it’s not so simple. All of these other things that you probably are– sensitive, emotional, idealistic, empathetic, perceptive, analytical, daydreamy, terrified of failure, curious, questioning, compassionate, creative, loving learning, perfectionistic, overwhelmed by suffering, needing to make a difference–all of these things, and more, are what make you smart, what make you gifted.

And I bet, if you asked Elon Musk, well, he’d agree.

_______________________________

To my blogEEs: I’ve heard from several people how your comments are just as intriguing as my posts. (well, maybe my posts are a teensy bit more intriguing…) So, my dears, keep them coming. Your thoughts, feelings, reactions and questions add so much. Thank you.


11 Comments

Most Popular Post of 2014 — If I’m So Smart Why Am I So Dumb?

photo from Casey Fyfe, Unsplash

photo from Casey Fyfe, Unsplash

People may have told you that you were smart. But you may not feel smart. Why? Because you graduated from college with a 2.65 grade point average after changing your major 5 times. Why? Because you never finish any of the projects you start. Why? Because you can’t decide what color to paint the bedroom and it’s been three years. Why? Because you still daydream all the time and forget to tie your shoes. Why? Because you haven’t won the Nobel Prize. In fact, you haven’t won anything except the spelling bee in third grade. Why? Because you still cry when you gaze at the stars. Why? Because you know how much you don’t know.

 

Let me explain. It’s complicated.

• If you have multiple interests and abilities (multipotentiality), you may want to study many topics and not want to narrow yourself down to one field. One day you’re fascinated by marine biology and the next by philosophy. How do you choose?

• Perhaps, college was the first time you were challenged academically. You didn’t know how to study and you couldn’t stop yourself from procrastinating, so your grades suffered.

• You love learning new things and once you learn what you need, it’s time to move on. This may mean that certain projects don’t look complete even though they are complete for you.

• You have very high standards for your work. If you’re feeling pressure to be perfect, you abandon a project because you feel paralyzed.

• You’re very sensitive to color so it really matters what colors you live with. Decisions, in general, are hard because you can think of way too many possibilities.

• Daydreaming still gets a bad rap and you believed what your teachers told you about it. Some of my best friends are daydreamers. And who has time to tie their shoes?

• Winning has never been your objective.

• Crying gets a bad rap, especially if you’re a male. But you see the incredible beauty in the sky and are amazed.

People may have told you that you were smart. You may not feel so smart. That’s OK. Nobody said living with a rainforest mind was going to be easy.

____________________________

To my bloggEEs: Even though it hasn’t been a full year yet (I started this blog in March 2014), it still feels like a good time to thank you for finding me, reading, sharing, commenting, liking and being with me, here, in this astonishing blogworld. Thank you! I look forward to joining you in 2015 and beyond. Please continue to read and share your thoughts, feelings, questions and insights. And remember to LOVE that sensitive, complicated, creative, and curious rainforest mind of yours.


45 Comments

The Hazards Of Praise And Too Much Smartness

Flickr Creative Commons Brad Flickinger

Flickr Creative Commons Brad Flickinger

Perhaps you were a curious, effervescent 8 year old. You adored your books and your teachers. You excelled at academics and got straight A’s. Your parents were thrilled by your accomplishments and told you how smart you were. Teachers appreciated your helpfulness and praised you for your grades. The attention was well-meant but excessive. It felt good, and yet, you questioned the truth of it; you felt that there was so much more you could do. As the years went by, you got used to being at the top of the class and good at everything you tried. It was easy to excel. You could wait until the last minute on any assignment and still get an A.

Then things changed. Here are three possible scenarios. Do you find yourself in one of them?

• You became increasingly uncomfortable. The pressure to achieve was overwhelming. The praise continued. You didn’t believe it but you relied on it. You felt like a fraud. Some day it’ll all come crashing down. And it did. You attended a high-powered college. Suddenly, you weren’t the smartest one in the room.  You had to study. You didn’t know how. Your worst fears were realized. You started to lie about your grades and identify as a loser.

OR

• You hit high school and started to question the meaning of life more often. School seemed pointless. You stopped handing in homework. Your grades dropped. None of your peers seemed to care about the melting ice caps; they stayed glued to their iPhones. (Actually, this was probably before iPhones. Maybe even before the internet. You’re how old? But you get the idea.) You became lonely and disillusioned. You were appalled at how you were disappointing your parents and teachers but you didn’t know what to do or how to explain what was happening. They wondered why you were suddenly “lazy.”

OR

• All went well through high school as you continued to achieve but were terrified of failing. So far you’d never failed at anything but you feared the inevitable. So you chose a safe college. One where you knew you wouldn’t be challenged academically. And you weren’t. You could procrastinate and still get A’s. But you felt shame at your choice and wondered what would have happened if you’d chosen the university that frightened you. Where would you be today? You worry that your anxiety will always control you and it’s too late to change your future.

Do you recognize yourself in one of these scenarios?

OK, then.

You aren’t a loser. You aren’t lazy. It’s not too late.

These are the hazards of praise and “too much” smartness. It’s what can happen when we don’t understand how to help our precocious kids navigate through the school system and through life.

But it’s so tricky.

There isn’t a simple solution when you’re talking about a rain forest. How could there be? All of those thick, tangled vines and flying monkeys.

Well, OK, the monkeys aren’t flying.

Flickr Creative Commons Lars-Goran Hedstrom

Flickr Creative Commons Lars-Goran Hedstrom

But still.

It’s complicated.

The things you need to know: Your worth as a human is not based on your smartness or your achievements. You are lovable because of your kindness, your compassion and your sensitivity. Your you-ness.

Don’t believe me?

Take a moment. Sit down with your child self. Look at his or her eager, idealistic, adorable face. Breathe. Hold this child close and say: No matter what you accomplish or don’t accomplish, you are a dear, kind, sensitive soul. No matter what you achieve or don’t achieve, you are loved. Achievements may come. Achievements may go. Love is the point.

Now embrace that child’s tender sweetness. And know your own heart.

______________________________

To my blogEEs: Let us know in the comments if you’ve had similar experiences, how they’ve affected you and how you manage your fears. What are your questions, feelings and thoughts? And thank you, as always, for reading.

 

 

 


29 Comments

The Most Unnecessary Blog

Why would anyone write a blog for smart people? Gifted adults, no less. Isn’t that the most unnecessary blog you can imagine? Gifted people are busy in their labs curing cancer. Or they’re writing Pulitzer prize-winning novels. Or they’re designing the next even smarter phone. They don’t need a blog. Right?

Yes and no.

Of course, some gifted people are doing all sorts of complicated fabulous things. And they’re living fulfilling super-productive prize-winning lives.

Maybe they don’t need a blog.

But what about the ones who aren’t doing all sorts of complicated fabulous prize-winning things? What about the ones who don’t know that they’re smart but just think that they’re freaks? What about the ones who grew up in environments that didn’t allow them to flourish? What about the ones who are lonely, anxious and depressed? And what about the ones who have achieved greatness (whatever that is) but are still in despair? What about all of them?

They need a blog.

Why?

They need to know how to navigate in a world that doesn’t understand them.

P1050317

photo by Gary Higbee

They need to know how to appreciate and manage their sensitivities, curiosities and emotions.

They need to know how to choose from the many possible paths available.

They need to know how to help their kids navigate in a world that doesn’t understand them.

They need to know that they can walk many different paths based on their particular needs– not based on what society says they should be doing.

They need to know that they’re not alone.

They need to know how to make a difference in the world without being overwhelmed with hopelessness.

They need to know that it’s safe to be who they were born to be. 

___________________________________

To my dearest blogEEs: Does this make sense to you? What else do you need to know? How can I help? For those of you who are parents, if you click on the links below, you’ll find some great articles on raising your gifted kids, whether you’re a homeschooler or not.

This post is part of the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Blog Hop. Click on the link to read other posts on the topic of why understanding giftedness matters. 10590412_10204240729565749_4628241033220783722_n

 

 

 

 


33 Comments

Paralyzed by a Plethora of Possibilities

You would think that a smart person could make decisions easily, quickly, and definitively. 

But the people that I know?

Don’t.

How can that be?

Let me explain. Which of the following are true for you:

Your wild mind generates many ideas, options, possibilities and perspectives.

You can argue all sides of most issues.

When you took multiple choice tests in school, you could explain why all of the answers could be true.

There’s never an end to the “what ifs.”

You see beige, ecru, sand and eggshell when others see white.

Your decisions impact others, now and in the future. Choices need to be ethical.

All possibilities have their appeal so you can’t let any of them go.

You need to optimize every decision.

You feel pressure to look intelligent so you need to be right.

You want to keep all of your options open.

You have to make the best choice or you’re a complete failure.

You can generate an unending list of questions. You can’t decide until you answer them.

You care about justice, equality, sustainability and future generations.

Finding the right word matters.

If you make one choice, that means you experience a loss of what you didn’t choose. You want to avoid that loss.

You second guess yourself. Often.

It’s wrong to not take advantage of all of your opportunities.

Procrastination is your middle name.

You want to accommodate others and not hurt anyone’s feelings.

You’re highly sensitive so your choice of  restaurant, movie, soap, fabric, beverage and every other assorted thing, matters.

(And, if you’re a parent, making decisions about your kid, well, multiply all of the above by a gazillion.)

You wondered why you have difficulty making decisions?

Now you know.

One more thing.

Nothing is ever simple in the rainforest mind. Take it from Donald Antrim who wrote:

“The simple question “What color do you want to paint that upstairs room?” might, if we follow things to their logical conclusions, be stated, “How do I live, knowing that I will one day die and leave you?”

              (from The New Yorker, Dec. 27, 1999 & Jan. 3, 2000. The Pancake Breakfast)

__________________________

To my blogEEs: Does this describe you? Tell us more. What helps make decision-making easier?

Thanks to Pamela Price and her Crew for their ideas and thanks to my commenters for their topic requests. And thanks to you, dear blogEEs, for reading.

 

 

 

 


52 Comments

If I’m So Smart, Why Am I So Anxious?

Feeling more, sensing more, thinking more, knowing more.

Extremely sensitive 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 gazillions 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’re anxious?

_______________

OK then.

Let’s get practical.

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 sad story you just heard on NPR. You have migraines, allergies or insomnia.

What can you do?

Becoming un-g-g-gifted is not an option.

1. Make a list of self-soothing activities and do them. What calms you down? Classical music? Herbal tea? A walk in the woods? Make a long list. Did I mention that you need to do them?

2. At public events: Leave early. Move chairs so you aren’t right up next to someone. Breathe deeply and imagine peoples’ undesirable energy moving through you and out your feet into the ground. Let the earth transform it.

3. As suggested by Jade Rivera, in her blog post on gifted children, move your body. When worried, we tend to freeze. That only increases the anxiety. Try moving. Walk, dance, shake, exercise, sing.

4. If you grew up in a seriously dysfunctional family, get psychotherapy. Events in your present life can trigger PTSD symptoms where you’re 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.

5. For lots of specific techniques, read The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Bourne, recommended by author and blogger, Pamela Price.

6. Start that meditation practice that you say you’re going to start. Learn how to connect with your inner wisdom.

7. 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.

8. Be aware of any food sensitivities, hormone imbalances, or sleep deprivation. Naturopathy, acupuncture, massage or energy work can be helpful.

9. If you’re a parent, don’t take your child’s meltdowns personally. Take time away from the kids.

10. Find your sense of humor. If you’re alone in your car, scream obscenities at passing drivers. Avoid eye contact.

11. Don’t do yoga in traffic.

 ______________________________

To my blogEEs: Are there ways that you calm your anxiety that you can share with us? Are there questions you have that I can address in a future post? Thank you, as always, for reading.