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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If I’m So Smart, Why Do I Need Psychotherapy?

3282093961_aebeedf676Smart people don’t have problems. Smart people will be fine on their own. Smart people don’t need help.

Right?

Wrong.

But that’s what you hear. And that’s probably what you think.

If I were really smart, I would be able to solve it, rise above it, fix it, ignore it, rethink it, or forgive it. Fast.

Not necessarily.

Not when it comes to serious emotional distress, or high levels of sensitivity, or childhood trauma or your crazy Uncle Fred.

The thing is, you probably took on lots of responsibility in your family when you were younger. If things were dysfunctional or traumatic, you may have been the one who picked up the pieces. Or protected your siblings. Made everyone laugh. Or got out as soon as you could. You were likely quite resilient at the time and developed very effective coping strategies.

But now you may notice that you’re anxious or depressed. Maybe you keep picking the wrong partners. Or you’re way too angry at your kids. So, of course, you say you should know better. Smart people don’t fall into painful patterns that are the result of early losses—losses of confidence, identity, safety or trust. 

Oh, yes they do.

Sometimes, even you, with your gorgeous rainforest mind, need to find a guide, a counselor, someone to walk with you on the path when you run into all of those boulders and can’t see how to get past them. Someone who will hold the ladder for you as you climb out of the abyss.

Now I know what you’re thinking.

I’ve always had to solve problems on my own. No one will be able to help. I’ve tried and I can out-think them all. They can’t keep up with me. I’ll overwhelm them. I’ll talk too much. I won’t talk enough. I’ll end up taking care of them. I’ll be bored. I’ll be boring. I won’t do it right. I can’t be that vulnerable. It’s too complicated. The past is past. What’s the point?

Am I right?

I knew it.

Here’s the thing: Therapy is a very helpful process. Especially if you’ve experienced any type of abuse, neglect, trauma or even a garden variety dysfunctional family. At its best, it can provide guidance and support for healing the past and for rediscovering your creativity, your self-acceptance and your authenticity.

But how do you find the right person?

Shop around. Look for someone who understands g-g-giftedness or who is willing to learn about it. Ask your questions and see if they love your intensity or are intimidated by it. They need to love it. Use your intuition and see how you feel when you’re in the office. Find out about the different types of psychotherapy and look for a counselor who practices in the areas that appeal most to you. Make sure the person is highly sensitive and empathetic. Look for a rainforest mind.

Oh, yes, and check to be sure the counselor has been a client in therapy.

And has been to the abyss.

Personally.

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First photo: https://www.flickr.com/x/t/0099009/photos/lungstruck/3282093961/ CC

To my dear blogEEs: I’m a little anxious that you’ll think that this post is an advertisement for myself. Ack! Glug! I suspect that I’m just worrying for no reason, but I had to mention this anyway. Long distance counseling is not particularly effective as far as I know and licensed counselors can’t practice in states where they aren’t licensed. OK?

There are more types of psychotherapy than those listed in the Huffington Post article above. Another resource that explains more about therapy is here.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to hearing from you. If you’d rather write a private comment, there’s a form on the About page.