If I’m So Smart, Why Do I Need Psychotherapy? Part Two

photo courtesy of Cheryl Winn-Boujnida, Unsplash, CC
photo courtesy of Cheryl Winn-Boujnida, Unsplash, CC

Things are looking kinda crazy these days. It’s hard to know what to think, what to do, or how to be. There are so many issues worldwide that need attention. So many. What should super-sensitive, empathetic, insightful, emotional humans do?

Well. Being the obsessed-with-psychotherapy psychotherapist that I am, you can guess what I’m about to say. Hang in there with me.

What if you start. With yourself. And your family. What if you take some time to examine your very own fears, doubts and despair. What if you take a trip into your past to understand the legacy your dysfunctional family handed to you. Locate your true Self. And pull her/him out from under the rubble. Think about it. If all humans would recover the self-acceptance, compassion and creativity that was smooshed or buried or broken or clobbered during those early years, might we create a path to a better world?

Heck, yeah.

Now, I know that what I’m asking isn’t easy. It takes great courage to make this journey. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And, in case you’re wondering: Examining the multiple ways you were clobbered isn’t about blaming your parents willy-nilly or irreverently dismantling the lovely coping strategies you’ve so cleverly designed or slashing open old wounds so that you bleed for years all over your so-impractical white sofa. No. It’s not that.

It is, however, about understanding what happened so that you can put the puzzle pieces together and answer the questions that have plagued you for years. Questions about your fears and doubts and despair. Questions like: If I’m so smart, why am I scared all the time?  If I’m so smart, why are my relationships so difficult? If I’m so smart, why do I feel like a worthless crazy catastrophizing ne’er-do-well? Questions like that.

You may say: But I do understand what happened and that hasn’t changed anything. I know. That’s because it’s not just about intellectual understanding. Although that’s the place to start.  It’s also about a safe supported grieving process. An opportunity to process the sadness, anger, shame and regrets that live in your broken heart. An opportunity to find and love those child parts of you that have been abandoned and trampled.

By the way? This is a big deal.

How big? Well. You ‘re stopping the legacy of dysfunction in your family line. Handed down through generations. The dysfunction stops with you. That big.

Not only that. In a deep therapeutic process, you’re healing your portion of the psycho-spiritual web. Where we’re all connected. So it’s not even just your family line. It’s all of us.

I mean it.

And just when you thought that was quite enough, there’s more. I am not making this up. Along with the sweet child parts that you rescue from the abyss, you will be astonished by spurts of creativity and sparks of intuition. (the voice of your true Self!) Expansion of your softened heart. An even greater compassion for others. Energy and inspirations.

And there’s your path. Better world?



To my bloggEEs: If you’re wondering how to find a good therapist who understands your rainforest mind look here. If you need to help your therapist understand your giftedness, show him/her this. And if you didn’t grow up in a dysfunctional family, we still love you and you can skip this post! Thank you for reading and sharing. Please tell us your thoughts about psychotherapy and other ways you’ve found to heal from past trauma, abuse and dysfunction.

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.

25 responses to “If I’m So Smart, Why Do I Need Psychotherapy? Part Two”

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  1. Inspiration, Beauty, Your Dysfunctional Family, and Human Evolution | Your Rainforest Mind

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  3. RainySunshine Avatar

    You are right mrs Prober. This IS a big deal. I am 26 right now and dealing with all of this. It’s so hard, to discover my repressed feelings and to accept pain and fear, overwhelming, drowning, that’s how it feels often. I don’t have kids yet. You’re right that the generational dysfunction will stop here with me and that that IS a very BIG deal! My goodness… Sometimes I forget (and beat myself up), taking amazing things for granted, I suppose. This is a hard thing, an important thing. Also, I’m majoring Psychology and really would love to pursue something in this line of work. To be able to use my talents, sharp perception and passion to help others. I think I’d really like that. One step at a time, though. Thank you so much for keeping your blog.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes, good to take one step at a time. But I can tell you from my own experience that being a counselor is very rewarding as a profession.

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  11. JC Avatar

    I am glad you added the statement near the end about counselling not necessarily needed as a result of past trauma or dysfunctional family or even bad parenting…. I get confused, frustrated, guilty, tired of feeling like my parenting or personality caused the anxiety and depression issues in my child. I know that they had a role, but I like (and NEED) to feel like I wasn’t the major factor. I think of it as a combination of things… family history (of anxiety, depression, giftedness, perfectionism), plus giftedness characteristics (analytical, sensitive, perfectionistic, emotional, asynchronous…), teenage hormones and development, relationship issues, educational/societal considerations, and so on… a “perfect storm”… we are trying our best to ride the waves, keep our heads above water, and appreciating the sunny breaks in the turbulent weather of the “storm”.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes, JC, there can be multiple factors that contribute to anxiety and depression. Absolutely. You’ve named some of the complexities of giftedness that are factors that I have written about in other posts. My intention here was to write about ways that psychotherapy can be helpful. I appreciate your comments because I’m sure other readers who are also parents will be worried about their own impact on their kids. Maybe I’ll write a future post on that topic. Something about parenting guilt, confusion and frustration… Thanks, JC!

  12. Sheila North Avatar
    Sheila North

    I loved this “If all humans would recover the self-acceptance, compassion and creativity that was smooshed or buried or broken or clobbered during those early years, might we create a path to a better world?”

    Yes. Although I do wonder to what extent “recovering” may kill a creativity born of ageing, and mental health problems.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I think that there’s a belief that healing from trauma can stop the flow of creativity that seems to come because of the trauma. I’ve also heard it applied to writers who think they’ll lose their muse if they stop abusing alcohol. I haven’t seen that to be true. In fact, I believe that there’s a deeper well of creativity that can be tapped when your energy isn’t going toward coping with anxiety and depression or the chaos of managing triggers from past events. (I’m not sure what you mean by “creativity born of aging.”) Thanks for sharing, Sheila!

      1. Sheila North Avatar
        Sheila North

        I think that ageing, ie, life experience, can help creativity, but it also bring some bitterness, and a fair amount of sorrow. If we heal the negatives, do we keep the power? I’m not sure I want to find out.

        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          In my life, as I’ve healed from my past trauma, I’ve become more compassionate and creative, even at the ripe old age of 64! I feel more “powerful” than ever. I see this in my clients as well. That said, I understand how you’d wonder about it all and have many questions. Thanks for sharing them, Sheila!

  13. Heather Boorman Avatar
    Heather Boorman

    Being a therapist myself, I suppose I’m a bit biased (Ha!), but I adore the way you describe the benefits and necessity of understanding, grieving, processing, healing. Beautiful. Thank you for putting it down in such eloquent words.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Oh Heather, I’m so glad to hear that. I want to get the gifted information out to therapists and appreciate your feedback about how it’s written. Thank you!

  14. singlemoeder Avatar

    Wow. Again. As ever. How well do you know me? It’s almost scary 😃
    I do read this ‘loud an clearly’ – I have found a bit of the ‘I can do great things’ in me but the ‘I am truly alone in this world’ is quite big. Being 46 I can say I only just met friends who are like me which is so wonderful. And being a mom to my kids is challenging but extraordinary great. But dealing with feelings like you suggest is toooooo much to handle. For me.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      It’s important to know your limits and to take care of yourself, singlemoeder. So it’s good to know whether therapy is right for you or not. OK? I’m glad you shared this so that I can tell readers that if they feel like therapy would be overwhelming, it’s fine to wait or find other ways to grow. Therapy isn’t for everyone. Thank you for reading and for sharing. You aren’t alone! We’re here.

    2. catbadel Avatar

      This was some time ago I see, but I am just reading this article now as a link from an article a few days ago. I was going to say almost exactly the same thing… except I am 47. I am currently in psychotherapy and my first thought was, I talk too fast and too much and probably overwhelming my therapist. Paula’s article has come at an uncanny time for me. But I just want to say to you that I know how you feel. when I read this article, I thought, another article by Paul that hits the nail right on the head. It IS almost scary.

      I am 47 and have decided I want to live alone (I have had it with relationships – always seem to choose abusive men) and raise my 8 year old gifted son alone. I want to pursue a Masters degree and go for the career I have always dreamed of but never knew how to achieve – or never had the support or guidance at an early age (dysfunctional family).

      As a few years have passed since you wrote this post, I hope you are doing well in this crazy world we live in right now.

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        It’s never too late to pursue your dreams, catbadel! And if you worry about overwhelming your therapist, you can ask. It’s good in therapy to check in now and then about how the process is going. Thank you for writing.

      2. Single Moeder Avatar
        Single Moeder

        Just read this comment!
        I raise my two highly gifted children by myself and we enjoy life as good as we can.
        Society turns its back on me, as it always did.
        Not sure therapy could change that. I am from another frequency I guess.
        I am raising my loves the best way I can so their lives will be good. I wish every gifted soul to know love, be loved and pass it on to next generations.
        Wish you all the best!

        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober