Welcome to Your Rainforest Mind

Like the rain forest, are you intense, multi-layered, colorful, creative, highly sensitive, overwhelming, complex, idealistic and influential? Like the rain forest, are you misunderstood, misdiagnosed and mysterious? Like the rain forest, have you met too many chain saws? If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions or to parts of these questions, read on, you may have a rainforest mind. Perhaps, you’re more familiar with these terms: nerd, geek, bookworm, dork, or brainiac. Some of you may have been called precocious or gifted. I use the metaphor of the rain forest because it cuts through the controversy. If people are like ecosystems, some are meadows, some are deserts, and some are rain forests. Each ecosystem is beautiful and valuable. The rain forest is just the most complex and maybe the most misunderstood. Kind of like you.

I’ve been working with children and adults with rainforest minds (RFM) since the 1970s when I was a teacher of gifted children in the public schools. Now I’m a counselor in private practice counseling rainforest-minded adults and consulting with parents of gifted children. In this blog, I’d like to share what I’ve learned over the years about the mental, academic, creative, emotional, social and spiritual needs of this population. I’ll share stories, resources and strategies. My plan is to help you live like the thriving rain forest itself: in balance, peace, grace and beauty, and in support of all beings on the planet.Image

Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

19 responses to “Welcome to Your Rainforest Mind”

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    […] Maybe, that’s because you have a rainforest mind. […]

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  3. zeldakunsartgifted Avatar

    Thank You Paula… this is much needed topic… and I sure need advice… May I share how I handled the funeral?
    I for the first time told myself, Girl, it is ok to cry.
    Then my most beloved Grandson came running down the church benches, and was so surprised to see me sit alone in the back row.. (he is gifted too.) he is at the age of NO affection… but he grabbed me and gave me a quick hugg before running for the Bathroom… he is 11 years old, and also Artist, like me. After the church service, he came and stood next to me, we have a very very special bond. And he offerred me his last chappy…. only later his Mom, whom I love dearly told me that he NEVER share his chappies…. How blessed I am… and for the first time in my life allowing Zelda to Mourn a special friend, my first Granson’s Great Grand Momma… she was quite a figure!!! And my best friend.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you for sharing that, Zelda. Yes, “Girl, it is ok to cry” Yes. What a deep sweet connection with your grandson and other family members. Beautiful.

  4. zeldakunsartgifted Avatar

    Hi, Zelda here. Please give me some more info on the following. I acsepted that I am a Rain Forest mind… I prever not to Use the word Gifted, because humans disregard and even scold. So I go on in my own way. And grateful to have this site.
    I have a question?
    How does “Normal” Rain Forest minds cope with Sorrow, confrontation and Emotions? We experience it so deep, and my first reaction is to flee….
    I used to portray my emotions via my art. Amazing stuff. But for the last 10 months I had no time to do art and it is a killer on Emotional level..
    Anybody with some Much Needed advice?

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Art is a great way to be with those emotions so I’d recommend that you try and make the time, even if it’s only to write/draw in a journal for ten minutes. Some people do yoga or zumba or some other form of physical release. Some people get out into nature. Others see a therapist or an energy healer. Or meditate. Maybe some other blog readers will share their ideas here. I’ve been thinking of posting about this topic so will start writing it today! Thanks, Zelda.

  5. Brennan Avatar

    Dear Paula,
    Id like to give you a summary of my life.

    Im 24, Irish/Engllish mixed blood. Childhood was a mixture of an Irish working family living in London, but also seeing the crime side of life from a very young age. Then moved to Ireland to a beautiful country of scenery, smells and execitement. I adapted well to the Irish side of life, I played the national sport Gaelic, I was an all round sportsmen from cross country running to boxing. I played chess and reached national finals along with checkers. Also was part of a national winning volleyball team and quiz team. I excelled in horse riding and understanding the concepts of money making on sales of livestock. I studied in my own time on stock trades and gambling. I had bad things happen in my childhood but not bad enough not to experience life. At the age of 17 school became boring along with everything else, I studied Gaelic fluently because i was bored and wasnt attending school. The reason for this is because the teaching system was to generic and was concentrated on an over all population, rather than specific talents within individuals. I then joined the British Army looking for a physical and mental challenge but even after 4 years I got bored of it. I suffered an injury and was medically discharged. Hearing loss. I then returned home to Ireland, from what i learned about myself i figured out i wouldnt go to college or work because the end goal was to easy to reach. Which in turn i thought maybe I had a mental illness which stopped me from living a live others consider normaility and reality. As my perception of life is totally different from others. Others consider routine as getting up for work, paying bills, minding the kids etc. Where as my concept of life is trying to do everything and anything but not really achieving at a socially acceptable standard. Yet I am happy doing nothing but wanting to do everything, but in reality doing nothing in society isnt tolerable. At the start of this year I was tied up in my home because of my service in the British army. This has resulted in PTSD, but I feel I have considerable power of it. The PTSD has not changed my ideas on life or who i am or what I am capable of. I get jumpy with association and thats about it. MY biggest struggle is trying understand others idea of reality and trying to impose there ideas of there reality onto me. I am active and study alot but not in college just in a libary as one day ill do philosophy and the next physics to something like vehicle mechanics. Genetics has been my lasted crave. I have also done minimal drugs like Weed and ecstasy. As i read about them scientifically and gave them a go and used them accordingly. I am now doing a personal trainers course which i know ill complete but wont work at. I come from an intelligent family and have had a wealthy back ground in which i have never used to my own means. I am an independant person and live within my own means. I have lived a life in which i have learned from books and the practical living of those theorys. Yet the society around me dont see life the way i do. I dont feel lost but i dont feel iv found something either. Im sorry for any spelling mistakes as i know i have dyslexia. I suppose id like you or anyone else to explain to me why i think the way i do? could my own intelligence destroy me because i dont conform to everyone elses concept of life and reality? I also suffer from insomnia and OCD, i believe this to be because i cant find anything stimulating enough to tire my mind. I have dubbed my endless thinking as ‘chasing the rabbit’ because i never get to a conclusion. If anyone has feels the way i do you are not alone. I believe we are the way we are genetically and mentally to survive modern day living because of ancestors and naturally deeply connected to human survival, to adapt and live in any reality apart from our own. Is it a possibility were the strongest of our species or the weakest?? ANY ANSWERS to these questions would greatly be appreciated from anyone.

    Thank you for reading, the world is vast

    kind regards


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Hi Brennan. I’m not sure what to say. There’s a lot here to think about. What I’d suggest is that you read more of the posts here on my blog and read the comments. You might find some comfort in seeing that others share some of your confusion and questions. And you can see how they deal with the challenges of having a gifted mind. It sounds like it’s hard for you to find a place where you feel that you can be yourself or get enough intellectual stimulation. I’m glad you’re here with us!

  6. Being Told That You’re Gifted — Good News And Bad News | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] make a pretty convincing argument in this blog that you have a rainforest mind. In spite of yourself, you have to agree. […]

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    […] I’ve just started blogging about gifted adults. The address is: yourrainforestmindbbwpc.wpcomstaging.com. […]

  8. Cynthia Avatar

    I love your choice of the ecosystem metaphors to correlate to different personalities, especially to the use of “rainforest mind” to characterize those with gifted characteristics. As a child of the 50’s, I was lucky enough to get educated when the U.S. was involved in the space race and, thus, giving advanced students some extra leeway was encouraged. I hated the term “gifted” the first time I ever heard it – a term guaranteed, in my mind, to make people resent anyone who is given the label.

    All that said, I’ve always found my “rainforest mind” to be a double-edged sword. I’m looking forward to learning more about the resources you are familiar with, as well as hearing about coping techniques and any advice you have to offer.

    Incidentally, both of our children were “gifted” in schools that didn’t do much in support of gifted programs. While both of them have transitioned to adulthood reasonably successfully, I think all of us struggle with some of the gifted characteristics that clash with societal expectations, such as fitting in, maintaining focus long enough to finish projects, finding friends who understand our enthusiasms, and similar issues. I really appreciate that you are sharing your expertise and experience through this blog!

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Hi Cynthia. I thought I responded to your comments but it looks like I didn’t. I’m just getting used to the whole blogging phenomenon. I appreciate what you’re saying here. Yes, I’ve seen a lot of resentment over the “gifted” label. It’s so tricky because children who are precocious have different needs in school but it’s often assumed that they’ll be fine. Ultimately, it seems we need to overhaul our education system for everyone’s benefit! Future blogs will include resources and coping strategies along with ways to grow into your authentic self.

      1. Cynthia Avatar

        I’ve been blogging about gardening, ecosystem restoration, insects, wildlife, native plants, etc., etc., for over 7 years now. Nothing that’s drawn the response you’ve drawn, but sharing a passion of mine. (If you click on my name, it should take you to my blog, if you’re interested.) It’s fun, but it can get overwhelming and/or time consuming. You’re off to a wonderful start with your blog. You’ve certainly hit a chord with many people. Best of luck to you.

        1. paulaprober Avatar

          Hi Cynthia. Thanks so much for your encouragement. I love the photos on your blog and the message. So important. Your description of yourself as “perennially questing” is a certain sign of your rainforest mind.

          1. Cynthia Avatar

            Thanks for stopping by my blog, Paula. It’s always great fun to have visitors!

  9. Mary Avatar

    Wow. I feel like I’m “smart enough,” although I wouldn’t categorize myself as gifted, but this completely described me. During undergrad I changed my major 4 times, about every year. After feeling like I understood things enough I was ready for a new challenge.
    I have now stayed at home with my kids for 10 years, and with the youngest starting school I am ready to work. I fell a little crazy trying to decide what I want to do with my life. There are so many things I am interested in, I just can’t decide which one to pursue. I will be following your blog to get all the enlightenment I can.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Hi Mary. Somehow, I missed this comment. Thanks for writing. So many people who are quite bright shy away from the label “gifted.” It’s such a loaded word. I feel like ‘rainforest mind’ is a description that people are more comfortable with. Certainly, having so many interests fits with the profile of giftedness! I’ll be writing more about it in future blogs. In the meantime, Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher is a good resource. I also have a webinar at sengifted.org on careers and work that you might like. And Noks Nauta from the Netherlands has articles on her website about gifted adults and work.

  10. paulaprober Avatar

    Hi Marian. Thanks so much for this comment and question. It really requires a thoughtful response. I will address it in my next blog post which I hope to have out in few days, if not sooner. Let me know what you think!

  11. Marian Sandmaier Avatar
    Marian Sandmaier

    Very interesting. I admit that I’m accustomed to using the word “gifted” to describe these individuals. How and why is this term a source of confusion?

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