When You Want to Send the Gift(edness) Back

photo courtesy of pixabay CC
photo courtesy of pixabay CC

I’m not complaining. You. A super-smart person. Have a lot going for you. A lot. You were born with a brain that is wired for extra-intelligence. It was a gift. You didn’t earn it. But there it is. I’m grateful. You’re grateful.

And you’re not complaining when you explain that there are times when you want to send the gift back. You’re probably seriously overwhelmed, exhausted and enthralled by what you see, what you feel, what you hear, what you intuit, what you smell, what you know, what you don’t know, what you worry about, and what you don’t worry about. And if you’re a parent of a child whose brain is wired for extra-intelligence, then, be sure to keep your receipt. Because you may want to send that gift back, too.

As a parent, you’re also probably seriously overwhelmed, exhausted and enthralled. Every day. All day. If you have more than one child, or if there are complicating factors, oh boy. Your sense of responsibility and ability to catastrophize may reach monumental proportions.

So, what do you do? What. do. you. do.

You get help.

Wha???,” you gulp.

I can hear you now. “I’m not supposed to ask for help. I mean, I’m the gifted person. I’m the one others go to for help. And hey. I’ve tried asking and it doesn’t work. No one gets it. Their ideas are lame or cliche or dismissive. Argh!! And what will they think? I can’t risk my reputation. And I can’t complain because, well, what do I have to complain about?” 

Take a breath.

I’m here to tell you that you, too, will need help. When the gift is just too much and your anxiety or your depression or your loneliness or your body chemistry or your thinking rage out of control or you are on the verge of returning your children to Walmart, permanently, you need to ask for help. (well, OK, your children didn’t come from Walmart…maybe they came from Macy’s)

The trick is: Give yourself permission to be persnickety. Take your time. Be selective. Help might come from unexpected places. If you try a practitioner who turns out to be inadequate, leave. If you join a book group that wants to read about vampires, quit. If you can’t find a Facebook group that is sensitive enough, start your own. If you’re dealing with trauma from childhood, meet with a few psychotherapists before deciding. Read blogs written by gifted individuals and go to websites that support gifted families.

You might need help from a team, especially if you have complicated physical conditions. Acupuncturists, naturopaths, massage therapists, energy healers, friends and pets can be great supplements to traditional medical practitioners. images

Tap into your spiritual support network. It may be your religious community or your mindfulness practice. Remember that you have a finely tuned inner wisdom — insight that can be accessed through meditation, shamanic journeying, hypnotherapy, guided visualization, journaling or various art forms.

And, if all else fails, if your gift(edness) came from Costco, I think that they have a lifetime guaranteed return policy.


To my blogEEs: First, I need to mention that after writing this post, I realized that my oh-so-clever idea of sending the gift back has been used before. Probably multiple times. But at least one time that I can credit. Jen Torbeck Merrill has a wonderful blog and has written a book published by GHF Press entitled: If This is a Gift, Can I Send it Back?: Surviving in the Land of the Gifted and Twice-Exceptional. If you are a parent of a gifted and twice-exceptional child, you’ll want to connect with her work.

Second, it looks like the webinar I mentioned in my last post is on. The date is October 6, 2015, 4:30-6 PST. You can register through SENG. Or try this link. Contact their office if you need help. If you’ve been following my blog and are wanting to hear my sultry voice, now’s your chance. The webinar is about gifted adults, of course.

And, finally, this post is part of a blog hop. Click on the link to read more from parents and professionals about how and when to reach out for help.







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.

34 responses to “When You Want to Send the Gift(edness) Back”

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  1. Single? Lonely? Gifted? Listen Up. | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] despair, powerlessness or terrified of intimacy. There are also support groups, journaling and mindfulness practices that can strengthen your sense of self. Journaling, in particular, can be useful for […]

  2. Gail Post, Ph.D. Avatar
    Gail Post, Ph.D.

    Beautifully written. So true that while people tell someone who is gifted how lucky they are, they often secretly lament how much they wish they were”normal.” Having that overthinking tendency creates burdens, and knowing when and how to get extra support is essential.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes, Gail. Your comments are always appreciated. In case my readers have yet to find your important blog, it’s at http://www.giftedchallenges.blogspot.com. Right?

  3. Rachel McManis Avatar
    Rachel McManis

    “energy healing”? Really? Disappointing coming from someone who purports to be intelligent.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Hi Rachel. I’m sorry to hear that you’re disappointed. My experience is that there are people who are exceptionally intuitive/sensitive. I work with someone like this who has helped me and many people with both physical and psycho-spiritual issues. I don’t know how to describe her work but it has to do with intuitive abilities and what might be called “energy fields.” I appreciate that you are skeptical and questioning and might not agree with all of my ideas or suggestions.

  4. Natalie Avatar

    Yes, being a rainforest with two little rainforests and no one to understand you ( inc hubby) is exsushasting .
    Friends don’t really get you , it often times is very lonely!!!!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      We’re here for you, Natalie. Not the same as people in the flesh, I know. But something!

  5. unnahbar Avatar

    Sometimes it’s refreshing to talk to other people who understand how it feels when you want to switch your mind off – but I’ve also learned to appreciate the differences of having a rainforest mind. Thank you so much for writing all these great articles! They sometimes make me think a bit about some issues I tried to push to the dark corners of my mind where I don’t see them that often, but now I know it helps to address them.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you for sharing, unnahbar. I appreciate hearing that my blog is helping you.

  6. Colleen Kessler Avatar
    Colleen Kessler

    Lovely post and perspective, Paula. Thank you. Yes… between my four kids and my own swirling thoughts, I’ve often wished for a bit of normal.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks, Colleen. Nice to hear from you!

  7. KtCallsita Avatar

    This is everything I have been feeling lately. I don’t really want to change who I am and what I can do. But I could use a break. I could use a break from my mind, and my kids – I’ve got three little rainforests.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      That’s a lot of rainforest! Hope you can get a break.

  8. Kristi Avatar

    Thanks for the reminder that being gifted is a gift. It doesn’t always feel like that, but maybe that’s b/c it’s not the gift I would have chosen for myself.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I wonder what gift you would have chosen?? Thanks for commenting, Kristi.

  9. Ro Avatar

    Less and less I want to ‘give it back’ – though I do wish I could tease apart my giftedness-related social issues from trauma-related social issues. Mostly, I’m just glad I can communicate with my daughter so well… I’m there for her in ways I never experienced as a child. She seems to feel supported and has a super quick wit which she shares with me more & more as she ages.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      That’s what’s so tricky, Ro. Figuring out gifted issues versus trauma stuff. I hope my blog helps with that. Hm. Maybe I’ll write something specifically about that. You’ve inspired me, Ro!

      1. Kat Avatar

        Yes, please do. So far I’m finding they are quite inter-twined, my natural not-fititng-in compounded by parents who took every opportunity to separate me from the culture of my peers created an adult who doesn’t connect well–with anyone :-(.

        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          Not sure when I’ll get to it, Kat, but I’ll put it on the list.

    2. holbart Avatar

      Re: trying to understand the connection between trauma and giftedness (see posts above), the book, The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel Van Der Kolk, may be a good starting point for understanding the neurophysiology of trauma, for those who are interested. Van Der Kolk has spent his entire professional career researching and treating trauma. You can get the book on Kindle and use the WhisperSync technology to listen to it if you don’t have time to sit down and read.

      I very much agree with the above posts; I find it difficult to have both giftedness and developmental trauma on board because they both significantly impact identity formation and the ability to self-regulate. Humans are meant to co-regulate, to some extent, through bonding and touch, etc, so it is very difficult when you have a nervous system with very big amplitude, compared to an average nervous system. Average folks, I think, may feel overwhelmed just on a physiological level. They have less capacity for the level of energy we bring. The cost of the “gift,” unfortunately, for us, is that we either become disregulated because we have to chronically dampen our nascent intensity for the group or we become disregulated because we get negative feedback from the group when we begin to try to organically regulate our big nervous systems. Either way, for me anyways, living in a dampened society feels pretty much like an inescapable attack.

      I am finally finding those people with whom I’m able to “coregulate”, but it has definitely been a costly journey. I’m just glad that the last four years is behind me and new life is starting to emerge.

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        Wonderful insights, holbart. I love Van Der Kolk’s work. I’m sure your thoughts here will stimulate others on this very important topic.

      2. Ro Avatar

        Holbart, thank you so much for sharing some of your experience. I really hear you about receiving ‘negative feedback from the group’. This has happened to me a lot throughout my life. I remember posing a philosophical question as a 10 year old to one of my friends… she couldn’t really deal with what I was pondering, and shortly thereafter she exploded violently, breaking something and throwing it across the classroom before bursting into tears. There had been no malice in my question, just curiosity and a desire to share. All the other kids (rightfully) ran to their red faced, bawling classmate. A lot of angry faces turned towards me as I stood there, very confused, wanting to comfort my crying friend but being shut out and not knowing what to do. It was around that time a lot of classmates started calling me ‘alien’.
        What you have written is really interesting, and I can relate to parts for sure. I used to say that it felt like I was alive but with no skin on.
        It’s brilliant that you are moving into a new life Holbart. Very happy for you. The same is happening in my life – it’s such a delight. I’m going to get my hands on the book you recommended. Thank you. Sending my best wishes

        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          Oh, Ro. Such a painful memory.

      3. Ro Avatar

        Holbart: Thank you so much for the book recommendation. I’m up to the last section of the book ‘The Body Keeps the Score’ by Van Der Kolk, and it is the most important book I’ve read. For lack of a better description; it is explaining my life to me. It even explains how my daughter may have inherited my neuro-immune condition (methylation process). It has also explained – well, I won’t go into details here. All I can say is that through the process of reading, the puzzle pieces of my experience have been laid down in place, and I can see the picture, finally.
        Sending my best wishes.

        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          Thanks, Ro. It’s good to hear that you also recommend this book.

  10.  Avatar

    Beautiful post! Thank you for the validation and encouragement. I want to give back the giftedness the most when I can’t find understanding and acceptance that I so desperately crave – from relatives, friends, and even acquaintances. Now, every school year, I pray that my gifted child will get a teacher who understands or at least accepts him. I’m not as worried about whether he will get the curriculum he needs (we’ve been lucky to find a school that successfully differentiates), or what he will do or learn in school that year or who he will be friends with.

    The most important thing to me is that my child has a teacher who at least tries to understand him and will approach him with compassion first and who my son feels that that he can relate to. He’s had three years of school so far, and we’ve been 1 for 3. One teacher has understood or at least accepted him as he is, and the other two have not understood him at all and wanted to change him – or at least his behaviors. Unfortunately this is one of the school years with a teacher who doesn’t “get him”. Now my only prayer is that she shows compassion first and tries to accept him as the school year goes on even if she doesn’t understand his actions or the way his mind works.

    Thanks again for helping me know that I’m not alone.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Compassion and understanding, so important! Thank you for sharing.

  11. Alessa- Everday Learning Avatar
    Alessa- Everday Learning

    Probably one of the most common refrains I hear from gifted kids I work with is “Why can’t I be normal?” It’s a hard journey to walk when you feel like the core of who you are is seen as so wrong or flawed by the rest of the world. There’s no easy answer, but finding an empathic listener is definitely a first step to working through those dark feelings.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I’m so happy to have a teacher following my blog, Alessa. I used to teach gifted kids myself. I’m so glad they have someone like you who understands them. It makes a big difference!!

    2. Colleen Kessler Avatar
      Colleen Kessler

      Alessa — my son is now saying that to me, too. 🙁 I was always so sad when my students said it to me.

  12. Amari Avatar

    Paula, I jump for joy when I receive a notification of a new post from you and I’m always delighted with it. Thanks you so much, your posts are a HUGE comfort and support to me. It goes a very long way in helping me feel validated, less isolated and connected. Please keep on writing…

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I will, Amari. I always appreciate the feedback. Thanks!

  13. Noks Nauta Avatar
    Noks Nauta

    I like the idea of sending my giftedness back… but only as an experiment of my thoughts!
    Because my giftedness is a part of me and I am so used to it. I see and hear with it, I think with it, I feel with it, I laugh with it, and: I can do a lot with it.
    I am never bored because there are so many interesting and rewarding things to do when you are gifted. And I think about all those very nice other gifted people I meet and then I never want to send my giftedness back any more. I hope other gifted people will feel the same.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes, Noks, you might be lost without it! Thanks for writing.

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