Gifted Shmifted

Time to address the elephant. The one in the room. You know what I’m talkin’ about.


I’m starting to hyperventilate. I really don’t want to do this.

But it was going to come up sooner or later.

OK. Sigh. Just do it.

You may identify with the label geek, nerd, bookworm, or brainiac.

If you’re following this blog, you probably know now that you’re a person with a rainforest mind. You’re excessively: sensitive, curious, creative, complex, emotional, smart and analytical.

Perhaps, you’ve noticed that I’ll occasionally use the word gifted in place of rainforest mind. This might be where you frown or pause or look at me quizzically.

You may not relate to being gifted. For many reasons:

1. You haven’t created the iPhone or sent your own private rocket ship to dock with the international space station. You haven’t played your violin at Carnegie Hall.

2. You know many people who are smarter than you.

3. You didn’t get straight A’s in school. In fact, you failed a few classes in high school because you didn’t do the homework or you couldn’t hand in work that wasn’t up to your standards.

4. You have ten books on your nightstand that you’ll never finish. In fact, there are a lot of things you’ll never finish.

5. You feel that it’s not fair to label someone gifted. No one really knows what it means. You’re offended by the label because it implies that some people are not gifted. You often fight for justice and equality for all. Calling anyone gifted feels unjust.

6. When schools identify children as gifted, you wonder if they’re just picking the high achievers or the children who fit the stereotype of the smart kid. It seems elitist to you. You believe that all children have gifts. How do the kids feel who aren’t selected?

Does any of the above ring true?

Is there an answer?

We’ll see.

You may have heard the argument that all people have gifts but not all are gifted if, by gifted, we mean advanced developmentally. We all can agree that Michael Jordan is a gifted athlete. He has abilities the rest of us don’t have. That doesn’t make us bad or inferior humans. It just makes us less competent at basketball. No big deal. We admire Michael for his giftedness.

But if we apply that argument to intelligence, we start to sweat. And we can’t measure intelligence by number of successful free throws. We get all mucked up in the details. What about talent? What about achievement? What about multiple intelligences? What about IQ tests? How do we make sure all kids get an appropriate education? What happens to gifted kids when they become adults?

Maybe there are more questions than answers.

But, perhaps, we can agree on one thing. What if humans are like ecosystems. What if some are like meadows, some deserts, some tundra, some rain forest. All are unique, beautiful and necessary. All contribute to the well-being of the planet. The rain forest just contains more species than any other. It’s more intense, sensitive and abundant. Not better. Just more.

And what are we doing to our rain forests? And our rainforest minds?


We’re clear cutting them because we don’t recognize their value. We want to turn them into something that they aren’t and use them for our purposes.

What’s the alternative?

Let’s  appreciate  them and allow them to flourish. In all of their intensity, sensitivity and abundance.

Maybe even in all of their giftedness.


photo of elephant from brittanyhock; creative commons; photo of rain forest from Gary Higbee, hubby.

This blog is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page inaugural Blog Hop on The “G” Word (“Gifted”). To read more blogs in this hop, visit this Blog Hop at



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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.

28 responses to “Gifted Shmifted”

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  1. Danielle Vargas Avatar
    Danielle Vargas

    I’m so lost. Im 52,a female and lost in generation of Male domination. Where do I start? Where do I learn to love my life and my chosen path? I feel that half my life is gone and nothing accomplished.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Oh, I’m so sorry, Danielle. There are many places to start depending on where you live and what resources you have. My bias is that therapy can help a lot– or support groups. There might be a Facebook group you could join. Barbara Sher on Facebook might be one to try if it’s more about your particular career path. Books by Martha Beck are often helpful for general personal support. My book can help if the issues are due to your rainforest mind.

  2. You’re Not Crazy. You’re Gifted. | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] of course, you can tell people that you have a rainforest mind. That’ll make it easier for you and them. It’s a lovely analogy, if I do say so myself. […]

  3. fxwrk Avatar

    I’ve tried to talk to my friends about the fact that I really am gifted/ a genius in some ways. The responses are always neutral or negative, like, who do you think you are? They don’t say that explicitly but I can read it in their faces. And they also don’t understand why I would even think of myself along those lines. My friend said last night that IQ and giftedness just makes others feel inferior and that I should use a different term because of the ‘connotation’. It seems as if in society, no one wants to be seen as someone who believes they are a ‘special snowflake’ or something. For once I stood up for myself and said, I am dammit. And it’s not made me feel superior, it’s actually made me very isolated for most of my life. This is a tough one to explain and I am now focused on looking for likeminds so that I don’t have to. Thanks for this article and blog, currently devouring every entry!


    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Coral, this is one of the reasons I started the blog and came up with the analogy. It’s very hard to talk to others about giftedness. There is often a negative response. People are extremely uncomfortable with the idea that some people may be smarter than others. I understand where that discomfort comes from but it makes it very hard for the gifted to know how to talk about themselves and their challenges. Finding others who are like you is a good idea. Know that they may also be uncomfortable with talking about it. (show them my blog as a way to start the conversation…) If you say that people are like ecosystems and you’re like the rainforest, that might be a place to start. Perhaps there are some people who are reading your blog and commenting who might also be gifted. Thanks for sharing. I know other readers will have similar experiences.

  4. Are You A Multipotentialite*? | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] as we talked more, she began to accept and appreciate her gifted rainforest mind. And we started planning her next career move. I suggested she read Barbara Sher’s Refuse to […]

  5. Munchkin Avatar

    1-4 hit the nail on the head I’m surprised the hammer didn’t split. The last two not so much. I think that might be only because my greatest, most flourishing time in school was in GATE class, and I was very hungry for my parents’ pride in me.

  6. Connor Avatar

    I’ve never considered myself gifted to any degree, but I can relate to almost EVERYTHING you’ve mentioned (short of anything doing with college. *I’m only 17)

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      The fact that you can relate to so much of what I’m saying is a good indication that you are, in fact, gifted. Giftedness isn’t only about academic performance. Many schools don’t recognize gifted kids, especially if they don’t get good grades. And if someone else in your family is the high achiever, you may have been overlooked. I’m glad you’re now considering the possibility that you do have a rainforest mind. Maybe share this information with your family???

  7. Connor Avatar

    I don’t know if this sounds pretentious. I feel my mind is more of an ocean than a rainforest: very deep with familiar and unfamiliar beings, the biggest chasm filled with tsunamis and hurricanes of thought, searching to completely understand the thing that allows us to live, knowing that so little of it has been uncovered.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Not pretentious Connor. The ocean is a great metaphor. I can see how it applies. Thanks for sharing it.

  8. Deidre Avatar

    “Calling anyone gifted feels unjust.” That is one of the first things I felt you needed to know about me. Called me on that one didn’t you. The thing I find interesting about this list, it also fits fairly neatly into an ADD diagnosis. Another label I don’t like.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Yep. Called you on it. Actually, many of the rainforest-minded people I know have this same concern. Thus, the metaphor. Thanks for the link to your blog. I look forward to reading it.

  9. JS Avatar

    This is so beautiful. Thank you for your work.

  10. Jay Piltser Avatar
    Jay Piltser

    This is my first time running across your rainforest mind analogy and I love it, as well as the ecosystem way of looking at it. Really good breakdown of the resistance to the gifted label as well. Thank you.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      I appreciate your comment, Jay. I’ve found the analogy to be so helpful in explaining giftedness. Thanks for writing.

  11. Terry Avatar

    Thought-inspiring. May we share with our followers of Illinois Association for Gifted Children?

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Oh yes, please, Terry. I want my blog to help as many people as possible. If you could include a link to the blog so others could follow, I’d appreciate it. I’m glad you found it inspiring!

  12. Gigi Avatar

    In particular I find the comments helpful that state: I have not created some brilliant marvel that has made me rich 🙂 and I have a lot of projects that I never finish. I tend to downrate myself for these characteristics because aren’t I supposed to finish my tasks? and if I’m so smart why aren’t I rich? LOL
    The first time I saw the temperate zone rain forest that is parts of Oregon, I knew I belonged here. And here I am. My current work in progress will by its very nature never be finished: the small native plants and foods garden here where I live.
    It is very satisfying to attend to a sustainable garden. Even after a brutal winter that pruned and killed a number of members of the garden, it is good to celebrate what is left and mourn what is gone.
    Even if I have not created something that has made me wealthy, I did fill my freezer last fall with home grown foods. It’s been a joy to shop in my freezer all winter. 🙂
    Time to begin again, make more mistakes, wander off in new directions, and let the spirit of the place be my guide. And not worry about wealth in a monetary sense. What’s that about anyway?

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Hi Gigi. I’ve never seen any connection between intelligence and financial wealth! But I’m sure the myth is out there and the pressure to be “rich” if you’re “so smart.” I’m guessing that rainforest-minded folks have other priorities, like sustainability, that make it harder for them to just follow the money, without regard to the larger impact of their actions. Sounds like you have quite a bit of real wealth in your garden and in your openness to new directions and the spirit of your place. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  13. RoseAnn Avatar

    Love this post! I grew up in Oregon so felt a connection when I read your bio as well! 🙂

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Thanks for reading, RoseAnn!

  14. marta Avatar

    dear paula, thank you for this article. the last senctences they are exactly …especially in the last years i fell, as if the our whole surrounding, including chaotic school, is a pure, big missunderstanding,….for ourselves it feels like just “one way-ticket”…people, who don’t belong to the “rainforest minded”…- when you talk to them…- even if there is an absolutly high level of education and understanding….,, – after some time I recognize a kind of “missing-link-point”….it’s the point, when you yourself start communicating just on polite level…, and then you draw back your inner, which before opened somehow…cause you know exactly, the other can’t understand you..- even if they try and would like to understand…..the point of missing link…and this something, what made me sad a lot of times…even in relation-ship to near friends.., you draw back for protect yourself…in a way.., please excuse my unperfect the long untypical-internet ….long writing…of mine….maybe you know somehow what i mean..? , thank you!,.,,marta

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Hi Marta. Your English is great! I absolutely know what you mean. And I think as rainforest-minded people read your comment, they will relate to your sadness and need to protect yourself. Thank you for writing. I appreciate it. I’m glad my blog is helping.

    2. Melyssa Stone Avatar
      Melyssa Stone

      My rainforest-minded son told me at six years of age that he had to hide his heart while at school… We are now a homeschooling family and I have gone to great lengths to protect his amazing spirit…because he is just like me and I understand… Loving thoughts to you

      1. paulaprober Avatar

        Oh, what a dear little guy. He’s so fortunate to have you as his mom. Sending love back to you.

  15. Lynn Story Avatar
    Lynn Story

    Very good analogy. I enjoy reading how we are all unique and necessary to the success of the planet. But what we do to our rain forest and our gifted children, very good.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Thanks for your comment, Lynn. Yes the analogy fits so well as a way to describe giftedness in kids and adults. Even the way we’re cutting down our rain forests can be compared to how we’re misunderstanding our gifted folks and not appreciating who they are and what they have to offer.

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