Your Rainforest Mind

Support For The Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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.






Are You Too Smart To Fail?

photo courtesy of Fabian Blank, Unsplash, CC

photo from Fabian Blank, Unsplash, CC

You don’t like to fail. In fact, you may be terrified of failure. And you have trouble not seeing any minor mistake as a monumental failure. Right? Am I in your head? Yeah? It’s pretty wild¬†in here. So many monkeys.

But what is failure? What are the advantages of failure? Why do I think you should start failing as soon as you can, especially if you’re a parent?

( Just so we’re clear. I’m not suggesting that you begin to fail, as in, become a serial killer. Or start a cocaine habit. Or forget to pick your kids up at school for several days. Just so we’re clear.)

You weren’t born afraid to fail. Watch a child learning to walk. Lots of failing. Early learning includes much¬†trial and much error. When did you become too big to fail?

And now, do you worry that you’re¬†too smart to fail?

If you were a fast learner, if you were an early reader, if you used words like “entomology” when you were five, if you were told over and over how smart you were, ¬†if there were piles¬†of praise every time you aced a test, then, you may have felt that your abilities and your achievements were what made you worthy, what made you lovable. You may have concluded that anything less than perfect was a failure and failure meant that you were not such a¬†smart person after all.

It’s time to start failing.

You don’t have to fail like Elon Musk and blow up a rocket. You don’t have to fail like Steve Jobs and be fired from the company¬†that you created. Small “failures” will be just fine, for starters. Excellence instead of perfection, for example. A “B” on your final exam. A loud emotional outburst in the middle of a¬†board meeting.

Eventually, you may even rethink the word failure. Instead, you’ll make a mistake, an error, a gaffe, a blunder. Small stuff. No big deal. And even if you experience an actual failure, you’ll know it’s something that you do, not something that you are.

Trust me. You’ll still be smart. You’ll still be lovable. And, you will learn much more from failure than you’ll ever learn from success.

Your children will thank you.

And your stand-up comedy routines?¬†Well,¬†they’ll be so much funnier.

“You gotta learn to love when you’re failing‚ĶThe embracing of that, the discomfort of failing in front of an audience, leads you to penetrate through the fear that blinds you‚Ķ” ¬† ¬†Stephen Colbert


To my darling¬†blogEEs: (We’ve known each other for two years now, I think I can call you darling.) Yes, I’ve been blogging now for two years this month. I’m so grateful to all of you for reading, sharing, and commenting. Tell us how¬†you feel about failure and if you’re able to accept and appreciate your blunders. When have you had a good outcome from a failure?