It Makes You Sleepless, Cranky and Annoying

When you were young, were you the one helping the injured child on the playground? Did you start a campaign to ban the use of plastic water bottles in your neighborhood? Did you make valiant attempts to save ants from obliteration? Were you unable to sit through a discussion of the Holocaust without crying?

And now, do you avoid listening to the news even though you feel extra responsible for knowing what’s going on in the world ? Are you anxious when you’re doing the laundry because you aren’t helping the homeless? Are you feeling guilty because you haven’t saved the most endangered animals from obliteration? Are you unable to sit through a discussion of the genocide in Rwanda without crying?


Welcome to your empathy.

Can’t live with it, can’t live without it.

And, if you’re so smart, why haven’t you saved the tigers, developed a cure for AIDS,  stopped sex trafficking, or at least  raised several foster children?

Welcome to your social responsibility.

Can’t live with it, can’t live without it.

Smart people don’t just win spelling bees or regurgitate facts. But you already knew that. What you may not know, is that your rainforest mind is made for empathy. Your rainforest mind is made for social responsibility.

But that doesn’t make it easy. It doesn’t make you Mother Teresa.

It makes you sleepless, cranky, annoying and no fun at parties.

But still.

You can’t live without it.


Note to blogEEs:

Tiger photo from Creative Commons–

Your comments and questions, your curiosities and conundrums, your rants and  reflections, are most welcome.

I promise to share my thoughts about what to do with all that empathy and social responsibility. Soon. Stay tuned.


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.

7 responses to “It Makes You Sleepless, Cranky and Annoying”

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  1. ~michele Avatar

    I am really enjoying your blog. Like the other person who commented previously on this post, I wouldn’t assess myself as gifted, per se….maybe on the bright side of average? However, I have been doing a bit of reading about MBTI and I would love to hear what you have to say about personality types and these rainforest mind ways of thinking. I’m an INFP and a lot of what you are writing about on this blog are also (it seems to me) quite similar to this type indicator and maybe some of the others as well, although I’m less familiar with most of the others. Anyway, keep up the good work. It’s very interesting!

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Michele, Yes, the MBTI is a great way to understand oneself and others. I love that model and I can see what you’re saying about how certain types fit with the rainforest mind description. I don’t know enough about it, either, to say which types are the most fitting. But it’s helpful for readers for you to point out other models. Are you familiar with the enneagram? It’s another fascinating way of understanding one’s personality and behaviors. Thanks for writing Michele. I appreciate your encouragement, too!

  2. River Avatar

    Thank you so much for this blog. I get so excited when I see new posts. Can’t wait for more!

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Thanks for writing, River!

  3. Lynn STory Avatar
    Lynn STory

    I know I’m not gifted but I have a strong empathy factor in my brain. Can’t wait to figure out how to deal with it. I realize I can’t save the world but then who will save it for my grand daughter?

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Hi Lynn. Just so you know, most of the gifted adults that I’ve known over the years didn’t see themselves as gifted. Typically, it’s because they know how much they don’t know and they haven’t achieved what they suspect a gifted person would achieve. Their abilities are normal for them and don’t seem to be particularly unusual, in their minds. So, you, too, may be gifted. In future posts, I hope I can provide you with some ideas for dealing with your “empathy factor” and for finding your particular path to “saving the world” for your granddaughter and all of our grandchildren.

    2. paulaprober Avatar

      Another quick thought: Giftedness isn’t one size fits all, as you probably know. So there’s a continuum of abilities and characteristics. People can be highly gifted or profoundly gifted. They’re quite different from each other and from those who are in a more average gifted range. (I like to say that I’m probably in the “barely gifted” spot on the continuum!) That said, it’s all quite complex and controversial. Which is why I prefer to use the analogy of the rain forest. But whatever you call it, there are many differences, particularly in the cognitive abilities. There are lots of opinions about this. In future posts, I’ll share some of those. Thanks again for commenting.