Your Rainforest Mind

Support For The Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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Giftedness, Achievement, and Guilt

photo courtesy Samuel Zeller, Unsplash

How are giftedness, achievement, and guilt related?

I’m glad you asked.

Here’s how:

People find all sorts of ways to define giftedness: High IQ, exceptional talent, 10,000 hours of practice, task commitment, academic achievement, high test scores, straight A’s in school, Nobel prizes, eminence, etc. Typically, high achievement is the main requirement.

If you don’t fit into the high achiever category, your teachers, relatives, therapists, and pets may not think that you’re gifted. And you may agree with them.

Not so fast, sweetie pie. Can I call you sweetie pie?

In my humble opinion, based on my many fabulous years communing with gifted kids and adults, high achievement may or may not be part of the picture.

And what is high achievement anyway, I ask you. Wealth? Awards? Good grades in school? Celebrity? iPhones? But I digress.

The gifted humans that I know were born with their rainforest minds. Whether they’re creating masterpieces or not, they’re highly: sensitive, intuitive, empathetic, curious, perfectionistic, analytical, creative, smart, and emotional. They’re obsessed with learning when they’re interested in the topic. And, their interests are many and varied. They’re fast, deep, and wide thinkers.

So far so good?

Here’s where the guilt shows up:

Pressure. Expectations. “If you’re so smart why aren’t you…rich, famous, like Elon Musk?”

Feeling like you’re disappointing your parents and teachers. Being impatient with slower people and excelling at everything you try.¬†Changing jobs every 2-5 years.

Not living up to your own high standards. Not living up to your potential. Not saving the world.

Those are just some of the reasons for guilt.

Looking for more? Read this post. And this one.

And, yes, even gifted “high achievers” can feel guilt. Such as: When is your achievement high enough? With all of your success, why are you still depressed and anxious? If you’re so smart, why are you so lonely?

See what I mean?

The achievement-thing, the guilt-thing. They’re tricky if you have a rainforest mind.

So here’s one idea:

Having a rainforest mind, being gifted, may involve designing energy-efficient electric cars and sending rockets into space. It may involve intense compassion, empathy, intuition, and generosity.

That all sounds like high achievement to me.

And, I promise not to feel guilty about it.

_____________________________

To my bloggEEs: How do you define achievement? When do you feel guilt related to your smartness? Can you describe how you deal with pressure to achieve “greatness” because you’re “so smart?” Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts and feelings. I’m writing a little less often (I’m feeling guilty!) because my body has been tweaking out a little from all of the sitting/typing. But know that I’m still thinking about you.

For those of you who’ve read my book, I’d be so grateful if you’d write a review on Amazon. It doesn’t need to be long or perfect, ok? And you don’t need to feel guilty if you don’t do it… ūüôā

If you want to read posts from other bloggers about giftedness and achievement click here.

And, finally, please know that I’m not saying that you shouldn’t find your work/purpose in the world or you needn’t make a significant contribution. I’m just suggesting that your giftedness isn’t dependent on what you do. It’s much more about who you are.

 

 

 

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To Achieve Or Not To Achieve — That Is The Question

photo courtesy of Juan Ramos, Unsplash, CC

photo courtesy of Juan Ramos, Unsplash, CC

What does it mean to achieve or to be successful?

You’re smart, so you’re a high achiever, right?

Maybe. Not necessarily.

And what is a high achiever anyway?

And then. More questions:

What is a reasonable expectation for your particular abilities and interests? Where can you find adequate feedback? If you’re proud of something you achieve does that make you arrogant? How do you deal with accolades when something¬†was easy for you to achieve; do you feel guilty or undeserving? Does praise for your achievements feel empty? Are you always expected to achieve but¬†the pressure makes your brain turn to jello? Have you decided that it’s easier to go underground rather than risk achievement or risk not meeting expectations? How do you help your kids find a real achievement experience¬†in school if their academic needs aren’t being met? Where do you even begin when there’s so much suffering¬†everywhere you look?

To achieve or not to achieve.

It’s a good thing that you’re smart so you can manage living in this jungle. It’s intense. So many mosquitoes ¬†questions.

Here’s a place to start: You’re asking these questions because your ability to think, understand and process complex ideas is fast, deep and wide. You are not being too¬†dramatic or too sensitive or too obsessive or too self-absorbed. These are real concerns. And the answers will require thinking time, research, chocolate and conversations with others who understand what it means to have a rainforest mind.

Here are some places to look for answers:

‚ÄĘ Intergifted.com¬†— an online resource for gifted adults; classes, Facebook group, coaching

‚ÄĘ Paula Wilkes Coaching and Consulting — a coach with many years of experience in gifted education and in working with gifted children and adults, including 2e issues

‚ÄĘ GHF Press and GHF bloggers — an organization supporting parents of gifted/2e children (particularly homeschoolers) and gifted adults, the publisher of my book

‚ÄĘ Hoagiesgifted.org — an online website¬†with a gazillion articles and resources, blog hops from parents and professionals

‚ÄĘ SENGifted.org — an organization supporting the social-emotional needs of gifted kids and adults through articles, webinars and conferences

‚ÄĘ Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth available now to order at Amazon.com¬†and your favorite independent bookstore by Paula Prober (that would be me)

‚ÄĘ The Gifted Adult by Mary-Elaine Jacobsen

And, of course, inside your own compassionate intuitive heart.

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To my bloggEEs: This is such a complicated topic. What are your thoughts and questions about achievement and success? What other resources are you aware of? Your comments make my blog so much richer! Thank you for sharing. (And if you’re feeling distressed about recent events, my post on sensitivity and compassion is here. Sending you love.)

 

 


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If I’m So Smart, Why Aren’t I Successful?

photo by Kevin T. Houle, creative commons, Flickr

photo by Kevin T. Houle, creative commons, Flickr

Smart people are rich¬†and¬†famous. They win Nobel Prizes and Genius Grants. They’re high achievers and arrogant. They don’t waste time on the little people. Right?

Wrong.

Well, OK. I guess that some smart people are all of the above. Or parts of the above. Maybe your Uncle Charlie. But how many are, say, none of the above? And if you are one of the none of the above, do you believe that you just aren’t all that smart? Do you think that you’ve fooled¬†everyone only¬†because you happen to be witty every once in a while, and people¬†are so darned gullible? Do you believe that you’re really an impostor? In fact, most days you’re a total failure for now and all eternity?

But: What is success, anyway? What makes a successful life? Is it some grand achievement? What is achievement? Some people refer to “greatness.” What exactly is that anyway?

Oh boy. I think I’m getting in way over my head with all of these questions. This is a blog. A little itty bitty blog. Not a dissertation.

Speaking of dissertation, I never did get that PhD. Did I mention that I took Argentine tango lessons instead? Does that mean that I’m a total failure for now and all eternity?

(Note: Now, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I’m not really using myself as an example. After all,¬†I’m barely g-g-gifted. But it’s just so convenient. So hang in there¬†with me.)

(Another note: Yes, I do realize the irony in the fact that I’m writing about giftedness and impostor issues and I’m telling you that I’m not really really gifted when it comes right down to it. My qualifications come from years of teaching gifted kids in schools and now counseling gifted adults. I’m really good at it. But I can’t explain why. And stop looking at me like that.)

Back to the tango.

photo by Elvin, creative commons, Flickr

photo by Elvin, creative commons, Flickr

What if success and achievement have to do with something other than college degrees and how many rockets you’ve fired into space? I mean those things are nice but what if your compassion is an achievement? What if finding your authentic voice or stopping the cycle of abuse in your family qualifies as success? What if parenting¬†sweet, loving, empathetic humans¬†counts as greatness?

Now,¬†this doesn’t mean that you can’t win a Nobel Prize or shoot rockets into space.¬†That’s OK, too. What I’m saying is that¬†I want you to use that rainforest mind of yours¬†in a way that has meaning for you and for others, maybe even for the planet.

And I want¬†you to rethink what success really is. Maybe you already have it.¬†And consider that if you feel like an impostor it’s not because you are one. It’s¬†because you aren’t one.

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To my blogEEs: How do you define success? What are your experiences with impostor syndrome? Share your thoughts, feelings, questions and insights. Please. Your comments are meaningful to everyone who reads this blog.


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I’m Not Gifted, I’m Just Lucky–Part Two

I know. You’re not gifted.

Humor me.

If you were gifted, here are some things you would need to know.

1. Intelligence is not a fixed, hard, immutable thing. ¬†Intelligence is¬†not an either you-are or you’re-not situation. Sure, you have a rainforest mind. You’re smart, sensitimindsetve, empathetic, analytical, creative, intense, perfectionistic and complicated. But that doesn’t mean that your traits and abilities can’t shift, change and grow. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be confused, dumb, embarrassing¬†and a complete failure some of the time. The key, according to Carol Dweck, author of¬†Mindset,¬†is that you’re open to growth. That you love learning. And, when you think about it, it’s all learning. One way or another. And, I know your mother told you this but maybe you’ll listen to me: You learn more from your mistakes and failures than from your successes.¬†Think about it.

2. Your mistakes, failures, and embarrassments. Entertaining stories for holiday gatherings, memoirs, and TED talks.

3. Intelligence is not the same as achievement. Some people who are extremely bright, have not graduated from college, have not discovered relativity, have not won a Nobel prize and are not billionaires. I might also suggest that the reverse is true. High achievers and rich people are not necessarily extremely bright. I won’t mention any names.

4. Effort and sustained practice are required for outstanding¬†achievement. You may have believed¬†that if you were truly gifted, you shouldn’t have to exert effort¬†to produce greatness. You’d be wrong.

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5.Remember that long odd conglomeration of things from my last post? The list of reasons you might feel like an impostor? Valerie Young makes sense of them in her book The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women. Check it out.

6. And, finally, here’s the thing. The Thing. As you struggle to understand and accept that you have a rainforest mind, that you may, in fact, be g-g-gifted, imagine that there’s something you’re here on the planet to do. No pressure. Don’t get all nervous on me. Well, maybe a little pressure. It doesn’t need to be something “insanely great.” It’s not about that.

You know what I’m talkin’ about. You’ve felt it. Begin to open to the possibility that now is the time to find it, feel it, do¬†it and be it.

 

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To my darling bloggEEs:

I hope I didn’t just freak you out with that last part. I promise to help you figure it out. That’s why I’m here. That’s what I’m here on the planet to do.