Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


Do you have a rainforest mind?

Take the following totally, completely and utterly unscientific quiz to find out.

image61. Like the rain forest, are you intense, multilayered, colorful, creative, overwhelming, highly sensitive, complex, idealistic, and influential?

2. Are you misunderstood, misdiagnosed, and mysterious?

3. Like the rain forest, have you met too many chainsaws?

4. Do people tell you to lighten up when you are just trying to enlighten them?

5. Are you overwhelmed by breathtaking sunsets, itchy clothes, strong perfumes, clashing colors, bad architecture, buzzing that no one else hears, angry strangers, needy friends, or global hunger?

6. Do you see ecru, beige, and sand where others see only white?

7. Do you spend hours looking for the exact word, precise flavor, smoothest texture, right note, perfect gift, finest color, most meaningful discussion, fairest solution, or deepest connection?

8. Have you ever called yourself ADHD because you are easily distracted by new ideas or intricate cobwebs, or OCD because you alphabetize your home library or color-code your sweaters, or bipolar because you go from ecstasy to despair in 10 minutes?

9. Are you passionate about learning, reading, and research, yet perplexed, perturbed, and perspiring about schooling?

10. Do your intuition and empathy tell you what family members, neighbors, and stray dogs think, feel, or need even before they know what they think, feel, or need?

11. Do you find decision-making about your future career and deciding what color to paint the bedroom equally daunting due to the deluge of possibilities assaulting your frontal lobes?

12. Are your favorite spiritual conversations the ones you have with trees, rocks, and babbling brooks?

13. Does your worth depend on your achievements, so that if you make a mistake or do not perform up to your standards, you feel like an utter failure as a human being now and forever more?

14. Do you crave intellectual stimulation and are you desperate to find even one person who is fascinated by fractals or thrilled by theology?

15. Are you embarrassed to tell your family and friends that you find it easier to fall in love with ideas than with people?

16. Have you ruminated about the purpose of life and your contribution to the betterment of humanity since you were young?

17. Do you get blank, confused stares from people when you think you have just said something really funny?

18. Are people awestruck at what you can accomplish in a day, but if they knew the real you, they would see that you are actually a lazy, procrastinating, slacking impostor?

19. Are you afraid of: failure/success, losing/winning, criticism/praise, mediocrity/excellence, stagnation/change, not fitting in/fitting in, low expectations/high expectations, boredom/intellectual challenge, not being normal/being normal?

20. Do you long to drive a Ferrari at top speed on the open road, but find yourself always stuck on the freeway in L.A. during rush hour?

21. Do you love skipping down new sensual paths and exploring imaginary worlds to discover beautiful connections between fascinating objects, words, ideas, or images?

22. Do you wonder how you can feel like “not enough” and “too much” at the same time?

23. Are you uncomfortable with the label “gifted,” and sure that if you were to use the word as a descriptor of people with some sort of advanced intelligence—which you would not because it is so offensive—that it certainly would not apply to you.

If you answered “yes” to at least 12 of the above questions, you likely have a rainforest mind. If you ruminated about the answers to many of these questions and often thought “it depends,” you, too, fit the profile.


(from my book Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth) ProberGuide_CoverCROP_72dpi_4web

336 thoughts on “THE QUIZ

  1. I cried while reading this. Thank you, thank you, thank you

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I relate to all 22 of the examples. What a relief to discover I am not simply fighting with my heart & my head all the time, nor am I odd or difficult. I am truly blessed, and have a lovely new goal of embracing, sharing and managing my newfound superpower, previously referred to as a ‘curse’. I feel as though, at 55 years of age, I have a brand new life ahead of me! Thank you! I can’t wait to read Rainforest Mind!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This really hit home for me. I’ve spent all my life feeling different or weird…glad to know I’m not alone

    Liked by 3 people

  4. “• Have you ever called yourself ADHD because you are easily distracted by new ideas or intricate cobwebs, or OCD because you alphabetize your home library or color-code your sweaters, or bipolar because you go from ecstasy to despair in 10 minutes?”

    I was thinking — autistic because you infodump on your favorite topics? 🙂

    Thanks again for responding to my panicked contact the other day. I think it’s going to be okay!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh boy, there I am. In just about every quiz question. What hit me between the eyes was “itchy clothes”. As a child I refused to wear wool. The texture drove me out of my mind! I am both relieved and terrified by this revelation for myself. I suffer from analysis paralysis — so many ideas and overwhelmed by which path to pursue. I am a great starter, a finisher — not so much. I get easily distracted (Husband jokingly nicknamed me Dory, the fish from Finding Nemo)… Added pressure of being 53 (married and parent to 3 teens). One of the most painful things ever said about me came from my father-in-law who shared with my husband that he thought I was “floundering”. Gut punch! So, there’s that. I will start with your book and reading the blog. Thank you for your work!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Have you ever considered the overlap with ADHD? I see the comment about “saying you’re so ADHD” (which is hurtful to people who have ADHD) but there has been a very obvious overlap with myself and many of my friends with ADHD who also process the world this way. I’m noticing a very large overlap.

    Liked by 2 people

    • There are definitely people who are RFMs and also ADHD. They are what are called twice exceptional or 2e. And there are gifted traits that can look like ADHD but are not. Multiple interests and nonlinear learners who are easily bored and don’t finish one thing before starting another can be misdiagnosed. Kids who are advanced in school and distracted because they are not being challenged can look ADHD. I’m sorry if there was a hurtful comment that I missed. I don’t write much about ADHD or other exceptionalities because I don’t have a lot of experience with them. But I have had a few clients who struggle with ADHD for sure. Thanks for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ok, so I answered and pondered deeply on all of those examples… now what? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That’s so me!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Hi there

    I’ve listened to you speak on your work on a couple of podcasts and it’s fascinating! In one you mention this quiz so I’ve read through it a few times. For years I’ve been thinking about my own abilities so I thought I’d try it. It’s really interesting to me because I can’t answer a single one! I keep wondering about the answers. My brain sorta short circuits and I can’t think of definitive answers…..🤓

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Words to my feelings! And accurately so. I have often doubted i am autistic for the above mentioned reasons, although technically i’m told i’m ‘fine’. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • There can be overlap with some gifted traits and Aspergers which can be confusing for folks. But there are also very clear differences. And if someone is twice-exceptional, they can be on the autism spectrum (Aspergers) and intellectually gifted.


  11. I’m glad I found this website. I wouldn’t have felt comfortable calling myself gifted, but relate to this list a lot. I actually stumbled upon the site after (in one day) I saw a couple of people I knew labeling themselves as gifted. So, I entered something weird about giftedness into Google to see what would happen and found this site. Can’t wait to read your books!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. holy frick,
    I really thought I have some weird mental illness that is a combination of ADHD, OCD, and bipolar depression(i know that sounds dumb)

    thank you so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This is all me but honestly the descriptor of ‘gifted’ is not at all me. I feel more useless than anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Two comment-y questions.
    1) Could you reformat this page so the reader can apply a check mark to a tick box by each item? I was a bit miffed when I got to the end and it said “If you answered “yes” to at least 12 of the above questions” and I felt compelled to go back and count, necessitating doing the quiz a 2nd time and pondering some questions even more.

    2) I think I meet 2/3+ of the designators, but I also wonder “doesn’t EVERYONE?” I can’t imagine a person who in their heart-of-hearts doesn’t think at least half of these apply, particularly since the ones which aren’t “me” must be many other people. So, I feel like I’ve encountered a webmarketer selling wondermops at 2a.m. and suddenly I’m agreeing with everything and reaching for my credit card…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! I probably won’t reformat the quiz. And, no, not everyone has these traits. Really! Although your response is something I’ve heard from others. And if I start selling wondermops, I’ll let you know! 🙂


  15. I’m reading this, late at night, letting the biggest sigh of relief out because I was on the verge of feeling like I was going absolutely insane and researching why me (an HSP which I already knew) is struggling so much with feeling like I’m not good enough and feeling like too much at the same time. I’m a Highly Sensitive Person with a Rainforest Mind. Who would’ve thought? But as I’ve gone through this quiz and read different articles on RFMs, I can’t help but suddenly feel so safe and understood. There was a comment that said they also felt that they were some weird mix of ADHD, OCD, and Bipolar…SAME! But, my mind is just a little more complex than the “normal” mind and now I can start to take the steps into accepting this gift that I have. Thank you so, so much for this.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. almost everything applies to me but how can I be gifted when I don’t even get the highest grades this year and so many others even those I used to top all the time started getting better than me I love reading researching I even love languages and sciences but I don’t believe I am gifted especially when I feel others around me are getting better grades while I used to get the highest grades did I just get less smart or did they get smarter I am not envious I just know I always got better than the grades I get this year . honestly, the word gifted or smart daunts me because I really want to be that but don’t know if I am and thinking I may be not smart annoys me

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amelia. I think you wrote this comment twice so I’m just posting this one. One idea is that high grades are not necessarily a sign of giftedness,. They can be– but some gifted kids don’t score well on tests, don’t complete homework, or choose not to complete assignments for various reasons. If you find yourself answering “yes” to many of the quiz questions and if many of my posts resonate with you, there’s a good chance you have a rainforest mind.


  17. It’s like living in technicolour and surround sound when everyone around me is living in black and white. There’s a quote in one of my favourite books that says something like the whole bloody world is crowded with absences. I feel that. The absences are deafening.

    I’m exhausted from holding back but I’ve got no idea what else to do. Every time I let go even a fragment I’m too much: “too smart”, “too intense”, “too passionate”(all direct quotes). The word quirky follows me around like a dog.

    I don’t even think I’m especially clever or anything. I just don’t get why people seem so wilfully obtuse about what’s right in front of them a lot of the time.

    The world is full of these amazing weird and wonderful things, you know? The golden ratio and shamanism, poetry and altered states of consciousness, mythology and anthropology and symbolism and semiotics of colour and how different combinations and patterns of letters can catapult you into ecstasy and despair.

    And there’s all the terrible things too like FGM, and violence and murders and the way we grossly abuse animals and our natural world and it feels sometimes like that can just squash you flat. Every action we take is like an indelible footprint and sometimes I think back on my indelible footprints and how much I’ve inadvertently harmed just by existing and it leaves me breathless.

    Liked by 2 people

    • ABSOLUTELY 100% RELATE TO EVERY WORD SAID HERE! I have to work hard to conserve my energy, I find, since everything moves me so!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for this beautiful description of what it’s like to have a rainforest mind. Just a thought: People seem to be “willfully obtuse” but it may be that your RFM actually sees what they don’t actually see/know/feel.


      • I’m 89% sure you’re right and yet, these things are so obvious. I’m loath to say “maybe they can’t” because I’ll have to forgive them for their inability to see, and everything else that stems from it and I’m not sure I want to. I don’t want to be the one who has to give. Why do I have to meet them where they are? Why FOR ONCE can’t they meet me where I am?

        Liked by 1 person

  18. I used to fit this criteria, or thought I did, before abuse burnt me to a crisp. I’m hoping the rainforest can reflourish, shoot by shoot, tendril by tendril…

    What a lovely description of a mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Hi Paula,

    I am writing this comment in the hope that it reaches you. I can see that you have liked or responded to most of the comments on this page, so I feel that there is a good chance that you may read this.

    I was wondering if I could get your advice on the matter of high+ giftedness.

    To make better sense of the problem I will just provide a bit of background information. Despite being identified as gifted by a government standardized assessment in grade 3, I had no idea that giftedness meant anything more than a test score, until about 3 years ago. I was actually just beginning my recovery from depression when I stumbled upon your website. It was the first time I had ever encountered a complex model of giftedness, in fact, I had not even thought about giftedness in years. Your post, along with a few other key peices of literature, began my journey into human psychology. It is not that I had not thought about psychology before, but that I had never held it in such esteem. I never knew just how much essential truth was held in the field of psychology. Of course, the same lense was later pointed towards philosophy, which held just as much if not more essential truth. Ignoring the broader multivariable implications, your post set my sights upon giftedness as a model for explaining the differences in experience that I percive between myself and others. Fast forward three years. I have developed my logical reasoning capability to a far higher degree, and built my own theories and, even further, models regarding philosophy and psychology. I have also extended this understanding to many more areas. Yet, I have never been able to quite, for lack of better word, “nail” a model that explains the full breadth and depth of difference in experience. Giftedness did not prove to be fully adequate; consequently, I sought out other theories to supplement its shortcomings. Positive Disintegration was revolutionary. I had a hard time getting a hold of the full work, but when it arrived I devoured it quickly. I then set out to create a combined model to explain my differences in experience. Giftedness in conjunction with Positive Disintegration was initially very promising. Unfortunately, when I put myself in environments with other gifted individuals (online communities, Mensa, looking back to the gifted program, gifted programs in high school, etc.) I did not encounter the levels of Positive Disintegration that I predicted. In fact, I did not find a single individual who I felt sympathized “completely” (not an exact version of myself, but similar in the ways that matter). As I sifted through more and more gifted literature and communities the problem persisted.

    Eventually, I encountered a few resources that posited that the existence of multiple significantly different levels of giftedness was responsible for this discrepancy. In other words, what I hoped to find in the gifted population, I would supposedly find in the highly gifted population. (I neglect exceptionally or profoundly gifted bc those IQ brackets have not been scientifically supported). Unfortunately, I have not been able to find many reliable resources on high+ giftedness; especially its impact beyond mechanical achievement (which is the classic flawed societal perspective) or its presence in adults. This leads me to my question.

    What is your view on high+ giftedness? (Does it exist? Is it significant? (beyond scoring higher, does it designate a group with a dramatically different experince))

    If you are familiar with the term/feild/group, are there any resources that you can suggest? (nothing is too technical or complex)

    I would really appreciate anything you can offer.

    Finally, I am very grateful for your work; without it I may never have found the theory of giftedness, which I now consider indispensable to my understanding of psychology.

    Thank you for your time,


    Liked by 1 person

  20. They all apply to me in a profound way, apart from the one about other people being in awe of how much I can achieve in a day. And I don’t find that anything I read about gifted people applies to me because I am not highly academic and have spent my life so far doing almost nothing – barely ever working, creating or even reading. I’ve spent it all just escaping to count the hours away.
    So I’m not sure if I have a rainforest mind because while I relate to the emotional experiences of others who have this, I don’t at all relate to the achievements they have all made.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Keep reading my blog, ionaa. You’ll see that highly academic people may or may not be gifted. There could be many reasons why you are not achieving like you think you should be. Thanks for writing.


  21. This list! It’s strange, even though I was in the gifted programs as a child, very high achieving student etc… I weirdly never thought about it after school or perhaps I just assumed the other kids eventually ‘caught up’ and things evened out more in adulthood. But as I’ve begun the journey of figuring out the needs of my gifted 5yo, I have suddenly come to realize that it is a form of nurodiversity that never goes away. It’s funny how your kids often hold a mirror up to you. It can be painful and illuminating. Suddenly a lot of things make sense to me. The ways in which I have always struggled, my sensitivity, the intensity I constantly battle to hide, my feelings of being awkward and on the outside despite being very successful in a field many lable as their dream career. The shame and embarrassment I feel around people knowing the true extent of what I am capable of. And the anxiety! The over-thinking and worrying, the future predicting and strategizing…
    Thank you for creating a space to learn more about this.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. “Are people awestruck at what you can accomplish in a day, but if they knew the real you, they would see that you are actually a lazy, procrastinating, slacking impostor?” THIS. In my whole life I found 2 types of people: the ones that was amazed by me, thinking I was so smart and capable and that I was probably working the whole day for these achievements (I promptly say “no way, I do nothing at all” cause I feel that way) and the second type, the ones that always bothered me because I’m a stay at home mama, cause I lived my pharmacist job, cause I don’t work anymore, cause I do nothing according to them (jeez, I can’t stop organizing the day and starting 100 different projects and studying 3 or 4 different disciplines a day, always at little pieces and in a whole daily chaos. Actually to stay at home is sooo consuming to me).
    By the way, almost all the points here resonate to me😊

    Liked by 1 person

  23. My therapist, new therapist, after 4 sessions requested I take this test, and she plans on sending me a copy. I am very much isolated and feeling apart from. I am very sensitive and rigid too, in my values and morals. I didn’t realize til I was in my late 20s that not everyone sees or feels as I do. I always thought I was less than. So I work hard to be the best at everything I do. I am diagnosed OCPD which stems from parenting and PTSD events. I always end up in managing positions as I can’t take it when others don’t work up to my standards. Yet even I crash trying to keep up with my standards. I’m so alone and want to be apart of. But I don’t feel I got anywhere and don’t know my purpose. I wish my purpose could be, just being the best at being content with what I have.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Sounds like you have a good therapist, Gina! Keep reading. You might find some answers here.


  25. Hi Paula

    How is this different than an INFP type of personality?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s pretty similar, Mary. Many RFMs also are also INFJs. One difference is that RFMs are also advanced intellectually and have multiple interests/abilities and love learning. I’m not sure if all of these traits are part of INFPs. But there is plenty of overlap.


  26. I’m just like… WT…actual F.
    Eye opening! Thank you, I definitely hit more than 12 of them :O

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I’m 20 Yo, and after reading this among other articles, I realize that what actually matters to me today, is to accept my ways of thinking. Most importantly, to accept that sometimes people don’t believe me when i solve something intuitively without being able to recall how i actually solved it ; or accept that i need hours of reflexion and writing my thoughts and that it’s not a waste of time, and other points cited in this quiz.

    Thank you for this little quiz. It doesn’t really matter to me to know if i’m actually gifted or not. I just can’t see myself as highly intelligent because i think that my difference of thinking had been the main cause of the sad or traumatic episodes in my childhood. Today i’m doing my best to hide my special traits. However, i’ve been doing a lot of research about it lately and it’s such a relief to -at least- realize that there’s people out there who share similar thoughts as i do.

    Thank you again and my apologies if i made little mistakes, English isn’t my first nor second langage ^^

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for writing, Beatrice. I’m glad you found my blog. It can help a lot to know you are not alone in the different ways you think, feel, intuit, and more! I hope you will keep reading.


  28. So, a person *isn’t* ADHD. A person *has* ADHD.

    A person *isn’t* OCD. A person *has*OCD.

    A person *isn’t* AS. A person *has* AS.

    A person *is not* a condition. A person *has* a condition.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Yes, I relate to so many questions. More, it seems through time, as I am currently a retired widow living out in the woods and often feeling alone but not really lonely. I have a few neighbors and I am only fifteen miles from town but I choose to stay home as much as possible. Since I live on a steep mountain it is easier for me to want to stay home all winter. Many neighbors drive up and down everyday but I find it easier to stay home. My step kids rarely visit nor do I hear from them much. Over the last 12 years since losing my husband I have finally developed my art interest so I am totally consumed but I realize it is not too good to really being alone. As I sometimes try to mingle at times it is difficult to relate personally with anyone. Just a social gesture seems to be limited by lack of deep common interests. So I have concluded, its ok…..I have already been there over my many years of work and marriage and step kids and grand kids in the gifted program…..and so many wonderful times. Its ok … efforts to communicate or make new friends seems thwarted by my real passion of late. Some day I will branch out but today I will paint….I am a watercolorist and that seems to be all I want to do…..but I do often worry at times, does this make me seem a little nutty….oh well. I read these comments and I find so many struggles others are having that I have had over my years….somehow I survived. But I do remember the similar hardships that others are having and feel for them. I married late in life but remained in that marriage for 22 years so I guess I did something right. My years of work and career have been rewarding. One of my positions was working for a Psychologist and testing many kids for I.Q. and academic concerns and also major in college. My personal abilities, though not important enough to me to worry about, was often given a lot of attaboys by my boss so I understand many of your posts. But most of my positions were as a Buyer for large manufacturing companies and then we started our own company in aviation when I met my husband. So I have travelled in many areas.

    Recently, my struggles have been finding someone to communicate to on the deep level of my husband. I guess over time, I didn’t really know how rare our communication was but I do appreciate it now and find that extremely difficult. It is extra difficult due to the fact that I am now single and even though I have no personal interests but my motives may be mistaken so real communication is hard to come by. Most of my interests over my years have seemed to be with men either over cars, or airplanes so I am left with that. Its not really a struggle to find someone, as I don’t desire a partner but I would just enjoy an in depth conversation once in awhile……and my struggle of being alone I do go over and over in my head a lot… own worst enemy…..saying, “this is a little nutty to be alone” but it is not serious enough to make the changes necessary, such as location, moving, relationships, major changes etc. I would rather just branch out through communication and getting to know others. I am glad to have found your blog and I hope I can be of some help to someone. “Downwind”…..if you need a friend.

    Liked by 1 person

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