Advice for your Sensitive Soul

photo courtesy of Anne Allanketner
photo courtesy of Anne Allanketner

You will never be normal.

And this is good.

You have too much compassion. Too much awareness. Too much curiosity. Too much emotion. Too much thinking. Too much intelligence.

You have an uncontrollable thirst to know. You live with ethical standards that seem excessive to others. You strive for a perfection that only Nature understands.

Your heart breaks when you see others suffering. Your heart sings when beauty sneaks up on you.

You expect yourself to know better. You expect yourself to achieve greatness.

Life is devastating and magnificent. Overwhelming and glorious. Disturbing and transcendent.

You will never be normal.

And this is good.

________________________

To my bloggEEs: Please share your thoughts, feelings and reactions. I can not tell you how grateful I am that you are out there.

(Note: On October 6, 2015, I’ll be presenting a webinar If I’m so Smart, then Why am I so Dumb: Understanding the Complicated World of the Gifted Adult. If you go to the SENG website, you will be able to register for it soon. It’s $40, from 4:30-6pm PST. You’ll receive a copy of the talk whether you can attend at that time or not. As of this writing, registration isn’t open yet but keep checking. I’ll post notes on Facebook and Twitter when registration is open. I’d love to “see” you there. There’s also a slim chance that the webinar will be postponed. Contact SENG for details.)


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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.

41 responses to “Advice for your Sensitive Soul”

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  1. Simi Avatar
    Simi

    Thank you for your consoling words, Carla! I wrote them down in my notebook and keep on looking at them whenever I’m in my “if this is a gift, can I give it back” – phase..
    I just love your blog! 🙂
    Lots of Love from Switzerland, Simi


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you, Simi. Glad to know you’re reading in Switzerland! Love back to you!


  2. Sarah Avatar
    Sarah

    I just saw this post after being gone during September. It can be so frustrating thinking so many things and then having others scoff at you because of the way that you think. If I’m panicking because I see that Donald Trump had gained eight percent of the polls and I can’t afford college and I’m not as smart as people think I am, most people just brush it aside. So what if Trump becomes president? It’s not a big deal. You shouldn’t be worrying about it, or, everyone gets through high school, and most people don’t go to college. You’re smart, you’ll figure out a way. Or worst of all: you’re smart, you shouldn’t worry about this. After all, everything you do is perfect. This, combined with other aspects of my personality end up causing intellectually stimulating arguments with people that don’t hurt me, but more than likely will offend/bore the other person. It’s hard not having “normal” mind.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes, Sarah, I hear you. “It’s hard not having ‘normal’ mind.” And, yet, what a lovely mind it is!


  3. Kajuana Avatar
    Kajuana

    Alas, I’ve found my Tribe! Wow. After years of being called crazy by people who know about such things, I was beginning to believe it. Until now.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Welcome! Welcome, Kajuana! We’re happy to have you.


  4. Terri J Avatar
    Terri J

    I love how this post resonates with the sensitive soul. I’m quite sure the kind of emotional intensity you describe is not always a gift. Clearly, that intensity is most always misunderstood by others. Even my son, who lives this intensity, is embarassed when I tear up at the Pope’s choice of words (I am not religious), and he hides when I can’t finish my story about the video of the little girl who cried when her Mom gave her tickets to a Patriot game, b/c he knows I do the same when I get tickets behind the bench of my NBA team. It’s embarassing to cry during the national anthem and other patriotic songs and to prefer reading books about drafting the Constitution and how to identify bumblebees. Though my family wants to go to a bird migration festival, they shrink at the thought of sitting through the dragonfly workshop. This is my life. Not always a gift, but at least I know now why I look at others and can now understand why they do not share my passion for the beauty I see in unexpected things. Like carefully chosen words in an address by a religious figure who stands for everything wrong about organized religion. But those words about goodness. <> Welcome to my world.


    1. Terri J Avatar
      Terri J

      That was a sigh between those “” signs at the end. But you knew that anyway.


    2. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      And, Terri, what a world we would live in if everyone cried more often. (and loved dragonflies!!)


  5. KtCallsita Avatar
    KtCallsita

    Thank you so much, Paula! I tell my kids all the time that they don’t need to be normal, that normal is so limiting. I think the oldest are starting to understand. It’s always a struggle because it never quite feels like you really fit in. I guess that goes back to the imposter post. Not just with intelligence, but in the social situations.

    Anyway, it’s an awesome reminder. I will never be normal. My children will never be normal. That shouldn’t be expected to change.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I always appreciate hearing from you, KtCallsita. Perhaps fitting in and being normal aren’t conditions we ought to aspire to!


  6. holbart Avatar
    holbart

    This is my third post in response to this topic. Feeling a little embarrassed for posting so much. It’s just that I suffered so much around this subject of loneliness, and I am now starting to find my way out of the deep, deep darkness of isolation. Linda Silverman on her Gifted Development website has a nice little article i recently found on the differences between social development and socialization which I found helpful. I was specifically able to make use of the developmental stages that she lists:

    http://www.gifteddevelopment.com/psychological-needs/social-development-gifted

    1. self-awareness;
    2. finding kindred spirits;
    3. feeling understood and accepted by others;
    4. self-acceptance;
    5. recognition of the differences in others; and, eventually,
    6. the development of understanding, acceptance and appreciation of others.

    Developmental stages that you are supposed to go through in childhood, I was addressing in my 30’s due to the layers and layers of self-censorship and external social pressures to conform (which were fairly extreme, in my case). I agree with her suggestions for developmental sequencing, even if you are just starting to become aware in your 30’s, although the stages seem to have a reciprocally reinforcing quality to them.

    Also, here’s a little inventory on self-compassion.

    http://selfcompassion.org

    Re: Step 4- Self-Acceptance, Silverman also did a nice job of helping me distinguish neurotic perfectionism vs. conscientious perfectionism. I’m in a lot healthier place as far as self-compassion goes, yet I still feel very free to challenge myself.

    Paula, thank you for holding such a good therapeutic space for us all as we seek to find ourselves and find our true peers. It’s been so helpful.

    Warm regards,

    holbart


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Dear holbart. More than one person has said that the comments on my blog are just as interesting as the posts. So, keep on talking to us! We all benefit.


  7. Sally Avatar
    Sally

    This really spoke to me today! Thank you Paula. I feel as though someone understands 🙂


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I’m glad, Sally. Thanks for writing.


  8. willenajeane Avatar
    willenajeane

    Thank you for this wonderful space of hope and learning how to accept my quirks and craziness. I have always felt as if I was outside looking in at a world I don’t understand.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I appreciate your description of this place, willenajeane, as a “space of hope and learning…” Thanks for being here.


  9. ginajess Avatar
    ginajess

    Such words of hope, and at a time when I really (desperately) needed to hear them. With all my untamed heart–thank you.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      You are very welcome.


  10. the glimmering girl Avatar
    the glimmering girl

    Yes, this.
    And I need some people like this, too.
    Thank you for the beautiful affirming words, Paula.
    <3


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      You will find those people. Yes, you will. In the meantime, you glimmer, without even knowing it. You glimmer.


  11. holbart Avatar
    holbart

    Seatac Airport had lovely acoustic music on Wednesday. They were playing this song. Seems to be a good song for the exiled parts of the rainforest soul. Let’s learn to fly. Together.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Ah, yes. The Beatles! Great song. Thanks, Holbart.


  12. Antarmukhi Avatar
    Antarmukhi

    I used write under antarmukhi, therapist from India. My name is Karishma, as you can see in my user name.


  13. Antarmukhi Avatar
    Antarmukhi

    Loved the last few lines, “Life is.. ” I just experienced this in matter of 30 minutes. I, embarrassingly, cried buckets because my new clinic painstakingly furnished & decorated, had a water leakage that could be easily fixed, yet broke my heart. In a matter of minutes, I heard news that made me jump with joy! If I hadn’t known better, I would have considered bipolar as a diagnosis.
    Though I must share that this is only possible because I am learning to allow myself to be ‘me’. Thank you Paula for your kind & wise words, reading them have helped thaw the walls around my sensitive soul.. It almost feels normal 🙂


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I’m so glad that you’re allowing yourself to be you, Karishma. I’m smiling, too!


  14. Old Soul, Lonely Soul Avatar
    Old Soul, Lonely Soul

    Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s overwhelming. Mostly it’s just lonely, I’m tired of being the only one of my species.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Welcome to your species. 🙂


  15. holbart Avatar
    holbart

    http://fb-3753.lifebuzz.com/divorced-parents/

    Not sure how I am feeling about even reposting this. This little girl’s heart should be protected and not made public on “lifebuzz.com” for all to see. I’m sharing it mainly because she is able to give words to a sensitive little girl’s heart that perhaps not all little girls and boys can. She’s fighting for the wellness of her sensitive little nervous system. She’s a courageous little girl, I think.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Oh, I’ve seen this and it’s so touching and beautiful. I think it’s a great example of a rainforest-minded child. Thanks for sharing, holbart.


  16. singlemoeder Avatar
    singlemoeder

    Will translate this to ‘7 year old’. The ‘you will never be normal, that’s good’ is positive power that is needed.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I hope it helps your 7 year old. I hear so many gifted folks say they just wish that they were “normal.” So this might be an answer to that. I always appreciate hearing from you!


  17. Mark V Avatar
    Mark V

    “You will never be normal.”

    Nope.

    I like the term “untamed”.

    The untamed are those of us who cannot or will not submit our emotions, thoughts or behavior to the standards set by the will of the normal majority (or oftentimes even to our own will or wishes).

    Thanks!


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I like it. Untamed. Nice to hear from you Mark.


      1. Mark V Avatar
        Mark V

        Thank you. Just to expand on the concept of being “untamed” a bit, one of the reasons giftedness was not something I easily relate to is because gifted people are supposedly sophisticated, and I am not very sophisticated. I am disorganized, messy, distracted, impulsive, highly reactive….. and that just describes my INNER world! 😉

        Because of that, I feel a lot more comfortable in more unstructured environments where my “wildness” is an asset rather than a liability. Of course, short of dropping out of civilization to become a caveman, finding that kind of environment in this highly structured world is pretty tough!


        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          Thanks for the clarification, Mark. I wonder what the outcome of a study would be if we asked gifted people to rate their levels of sophistication versus their levels of disorganization and reactivity.


  18. Kristi Avatar
    Kristi

    So true. I see this in my son, too. I hope never to forget the first time he heard the story of the ugly duckling. He was 5. He looked so sad to hear what happened to the poor bird — and then his face filled with delight when he realized the ugly duckling was really a swan. Yep, just like us!


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yep!


  19. Corrina Avatar
    Corrina

    Once again this is perfect!


  20. litebeing Avatar
    litebeing

    Life is devastating and magnificent. Overwhelming and glorious. Disturbing and transcendent.
    I love this!


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you, Linda. As always.

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