Dumb Down No More

Me, in my younger days, seeking my tree-ness

You may have been told that you ought to keep quiet about your intelligence and your achievements. You may have been told that others will feel bad if you express enthusiasm for something that you know. You may have been called a show-off or a know-it-all.

Well, it’s time to stop dumbing yourself down. You can practice here.

Since this is my blog, I get to go first.

This month, June 2017,  is the one year anniversary of the birth of my book.

Here are a couple of excerpts from the introduction:

“As you better understand the workings of your rainforest mind, you can find greater purpose, meaning, and direction. With a clearer sense of your true self, you can live like the thriving rain forest–in balance, peace, grace, and beauty, and in support of all beings on the planet.” 

“…you will meet excessively curious, idealistic, sensitive, highly intelligent humans–individuals with rainforest minds. You will meet Billy, an adolescent with extraordinary empathy for all beings and a deep desire for precision, ethics, and excellence…Gina, a twenty-something grad student whose brain ran faster, wider, and deeper than many of her university professors. She overwhelmed and alienated her less effervescent peers… Steven [who] longed to find ways to heal his family’s legacy [of abuse] and access the creative and spiritual spark within his heart…”

A review on Amazon:
“I heard Paula Prober talk 20 years ago when my daughter was in the TAG program. I was so impressed that I have been using some of her handouts ever since in my counseling practice. I was delighted when one of my clients came in with her book. I bought copies to lend out and copies for my grown kids. It is inspiring and full of practical ideas for talented and gifted people who have trouble fitting in the success box.”

And for those of you who want to know some of my secrets:

I wrote the article below for an online magazine that you might enjoy. The magazine is called Rebelle Society and describes itself this way: “… a virtual country that gives a home and a voice to the creatively maladjusted rebels with a cause, the nonconformists, dreamers, the expressive troublemakers trying to rise above their circumstances and lead an extraordinary life by creating their lives and inspiring the world with their passion.” Might this sound like a place for you to visit, oh rainforest-minded ones?

I know I don’t share many details about myself here on my blog. So check this out for a peek into me:  Single, Childfree, Petless and Loved.


Now it’s your turn:

In the comments, let us know about your achievements, your blogs, articles you recommend, books that you love, your adorable children… Tell us something that you appreciate about you. Feel free to provide links. (Note: I realize that it’s important to select carefully the people with whom you share your intellect, your accomplishments, your deepest self. Some people just won’t be able to handle your radiance, so you’ll need to be discriminating. But here? On this blog? Go for it!)

To my bloggEEs: You can do it. Share something about you. We want to know. Go ahead. We’re listening. (And I welcome comments about my book and my Rebelle Society article, too!)

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.

33 responses to “Dumb Down No More”

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  1.  Avatar

    I am in middle school. now, i don’t _feel_ smart. never have. I get all ‘F’s EXCEPT of course, band. the one classi enjoy. the one class that, to the school system, doesn’t really matter. and so i obviously am NOT excited for school, which starts very soon. the day after tomorrow to be exact. yay. fun. ever since around….fourth grade I’d say, i’ve been getting worse and worse grades. and so now im getting ‘F’s in everything except band. and I’m stressed. REALLY. stressed. terrified actually. because i know what has been happening in middle school. i constantly hear the same phrases. “oh you’re so smart” “if you really just _tried_” i mean, the same two phrases constantly. they seem to not think i’m trying, like for some reason i don’t want out of this never ending spiral of stress and disappointment and waking up every day and thinking “oh no its a school day. two more days until the weekend.” and then sunday having complete PANIC because i have school tommorow and i am NOT ready to go back. i mean, my own grandmother says those two phrases to me for crying out loud! my parents are the only ones who don’t say those things, and that’s because they see me come home every day and they know how stressed i am about all this. because every time we try a new strategy to keep me focused or something on the work and actually do it, it fails. but that doesn’t stop me from getting my hopes up. every time i think _”this. is. it. i’m doing it this time. i’m going to get out of this.”_ and every time nothing changes. i go back to wanting to cry every time we even turn on the road towards school because i know what’s coming. and with school coming up, i’m terrified. I don’t expect this year to be any different. i’ll pretty much explain what’s causing this though seeing as i don’t believe i have. this comment probably has the worst grammar and spelling anyone has ever seen. oh well. so pretty much in class i get bored. not “this is too easy” bored but “this doesn’t interest me” bored. somehow I end up doodling in class rather than doing the work, and am left with dread of when we turn assignments in tommorow or whenever the deadline is. I’ve never known what stops me, but i have see an article that explains it pretty well. the thought process is somewhat of a “will this help me in the long run? no. will this stressful paper help me become who and what i want to be? no. why am i putting myself through this? i mean, it’s as if they think I’m going to actually need to know how the fishing industry ran in the 1920’s. WHEN will i ever need this information?! i mean honestly you’d think they would give us useful information like how to get a good job and how to be successful but NO all we care about is the mitochondria. why? knowing what 67-23 x 45 or whatever is going to help me become what i want to be?” and then the rant just goes on and on until the bell rings and i realize my paper has been covered in scrawling flowers and trees and cakes with faces. I mean, I didn’t know what the problems even were! i was too busy thinking first about school, then about llamas, then about film theory and how the dory faking theory got thrown out the window with finding dory. maybe. and then i go to the next class to do it all over again. and then the next. and the next day. and the next week. and it just goes on and on. but as it goes on and on, the teachers get more and more annoyed. the phrases start popping up. they start bugging me to do my work. i just crawl into my room with my headphones and just wish that i could just maybe DO something for once tomorrow. but it never happens. and so that’s where i am. dreading school and reading up on things i can do and wishing i could just not think about it and just curl up in a corner and not have to go. that way i wont have to interact with people, i wont have to do the work. i’ll be okay.
    but then i get violently ripped from that fantasy and back into school where I just think to myself “wait until you get home to cry and implode. wait until you get home.”
    i mean, it’s really stressful and upsetting and if anyone read this whole thing and has advice PLEASE give me anything you have no matter how ridiculous it is i’ve tried everything and am open to anything.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Oh, I’m so sorry that school is so difficult for you. There could be many reasons. One idea would be to see which posts on this blog feel true for you and to show them to your parents as a way to start the conversation. It may be hard for you to know all the factors that are contributing to this. You could talk with your parents about other options for getting an education. Some kids find alternative schools that fit their needs better. Or homeschooling. Or online classes. Some kids get tested for learning disabilities that make regular school difficult. Sometimes it’s the sensitivities of the rainforest mind that make school overwhelming or meaningless. It would be important for you to talk to a caring adult about this. Your parents will want to know. Is there a counselor or a teacher in school who you have liked? Don’t keep this to yourself. There are ways to get help!!

  2. EJ Avatar

    Loved getting to learn a little more about the woman behind the magic (and looking forward to reading much more at Rebelle, which was new to me). Overwhelm is my M.O., too.

    I feel the opposite of accomplished these days, as primary daytime parent to 3-year-old rainforest-minded boys, whose rainforests seem populated with a surfeit of monkeys. (MY monkeys: https://goo.gl/photos/spzBKJMJZ3q493S1A)

    I advocated for them to not return to preschool next fall (they have late birthdays + too young to test gifted + our state won’t allow early Kindergarten admission = preschool wouldn’t advance them), but I’m curious (terrified) about how we’ll get on with and in spite of one another those extra 12 hours a week when they were in someone else’s patient, professional care.

    Have you considered working with someone to write a version of your book for little kids? I want so much to spare mine the unnecessary burden of not understanding *that* they are different, and *how*, but I’ve found precious little for our precious littles. Your warmth and humor and compassion would be as perfect for them as it is for us.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Your monkeys are adorable, EJ. And I love the name of your blog. I’ve been wondering lately if I should write another book. Hadn’t thought about one for little ones. I don’t think that would be my path but I’ll think about it! Maybe there’s someone here reading this who might want to give it a go! You, EJ? From your blog, it looks like you have a great sense of humor…

  3. Mark V Avatar
    Mark V

    Hi Paula, it’s nice to know more about the person behind this blog!

    I am currently reading “Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite” by Bruce E. Levine. Levine takes a therapist’s approach to analyzing some of the roots of society’s ills and how people are dehumanized and disempowered within it.

    I came to Levine’s work through my own experiences as a “psychiatric survivor”, someone whose unique characteristics of giftedness, creativity and anti-authoritarianism were instead misunderstood and misdiagnosed as symptoms of disease, a process that very nearly broke me.

    In attempting to explain why so many people passively accept a system they know to be cruel and corrupt, Levine addresses the process of breaking people in a passage that may resonate with other gifted folk:

    “People can be broken by their acceptance of others’ labels, especially by the labeling of a natural aspect of their humanity as sinful, shameful, or pathological…..
    Not too long ago in the United States, there was nothing pathological about a kid who hated school. Those days are gone. There are now millions of American children who are not complying and conforming to school systems who are being labeled, diagnosed and drugged.”

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for the book suggestion, Mark. It looks intense. Will look into it.

      1. Mark V Avatar
        Mark V

        I’m glad I could share it, and yes it IS intense.

        And just to be clear to anyone not sure why I would recommend such a book, I am by no means an aggressive, raging anarchist. I am for the most part a shy, introverted loner so my anti-authoritarianism is not really about any established political stance, but is really about the fear of coercion by illegitimate authorities and the systems they run.

        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          Not worried, Mark! It looked like something I might want to read. So many books, so little time!

  4. Ro Avatar

    Hello Paula, the excerpts from your book are great – and what a review! I think I’m getting closer to being able to finally read your book without the fear of 1) not being able to relate to it at all because I’m a ‘loser’, and 2) too much self-flagellation. In short, I look forward to reading it one day – and congratulations on your one year bookiversary!
    Your ‘Single, Childfree, Petless and Loved’ article was fabulous. It’s probably a helpful one for young people to read too, because you set such a good example, I love how you have been aware of your needs and chosen a lifestyle in accordance to those needs instead of blindly kowtowing to societal mores. I personally really admire that, and will keep your example in mind – I’ll be an empty-nester in just a few years and the idea of certain freedoms appeals.

    I have a blog, which is roonajourney.wordpress.com . I will warn though, that it is a recovery blog – and recently has been quite grim/potentially triggering. So anyone who wishes to, should visit with that caution in mind.

    Children – I have one child (‘A’) a nearly-15-year-old daughter. She has played drums for 5.5 years and her signature style is to bash the heck out of them. She’s a great player – got ‘chops’, as one of her teachers said the first time he heard her. A was provisionally diagnosed with ADHD by an educational psychologist when she was 11, but D (husband) and I did not take her to a paediatrician for formal diagnosis because we are anti-meds in her case for very specific reasons. Teachers at A’s high school have most definitely picked up on the ADHD & use specific ‘key words’ when talking about her during parent-teacher interviews. She attends a great school though, and teachers see what a hard worker A is and are tolerant of her differences. Now she’s in her 3rd year of high school, A has chosen subjects more suited to her personality and that has definitely helped matters. Her teachers give her one-on-one tuition during lunchtimes & after school because she learns a lot better one-on-one, and they know A is a motivated person worth spending the time with.

    What I’m happiest about is that I see A growing up into a young woman who knows herself pretty well, and doesn’t try to be someone she isn’t. She can laugh at her quirks and share stories with me about tripping up in front of the school assembly for example – but she’s not abusing herself when she does this. She’s just gently allowing herself to be human. A said recently that one day after school she was working in design class and the 3-D printer was running. She started drumming a complicated beat on the desk, and her teacher said “Are you drumming in time with the printer?”. A replied “Oh yeah, I am!” and she & the teacher laughed. A has found places where she fits. Nothing could make me happier or more proud of her.

    I’ll finish by sharing the title of a book I love: A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin. Le Guin says she wrote this book before she even knew about Jung and the concept of the shadow; you’d have to read it to understand how astonishing that is. Le Guin is a genius. I’m not even going to add a caveat to that proclamation.

    Best wishes Paula! I love the photo, by the way. Gorgeous.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I appreciate hearing about your daughter, Ro. She sounds lovely. Consider giving yourself some credit for the person she’s becoming… I love Le Guin and did read that one. She is amazing.

      Interesting about how you’ve avoided reading my book. I didn’t think about that as something people might do but it makes sense. That said, honey, I can tell through the blogosphere that you have a rainforest mind!! Yes, you do. You will relate to a lot.

      Now to your blog…

  5. Chiquita Avatar

    I love your blog and will need to read your book! I’ve always been a person with a wide and ever-changing variety of interests. I’be always been able to learn new things easily, but I’ve always been frustrated with my inability to just pick & follow one path. In the past few years – thanks to your writing & other sources of support – I’m learning to understand, appreciate and enjoy my unique gifts. Thank you so much for your good work! Your writing has been an invaluable source of support and encouragement for me.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you for letting me know, Chiquita. And it sounds like you’re aware of the information about multipotentiality. I’m glad you’re here!

  6. Clara Avatar

    Hi Paula, I’ve been following your blogs for a while and they have been so helpful!

    I can definitely emphasise with this post. As someone who had very supportive parents and good teachers, I was always able to fit into the schooling system, though I did get bored. Always achieving easy As in highschool meant that I was worried about what a challenge University would be, because it was such a big step up and I’d have to work really hard. I was excited for the challenge. But that did not materialise, and I am still getting easy As and this makes it hard to talk about my achievements. People don’t like to hear that I always get great marks with little effort, and it makes it hard for me to be motivated. I’m hoping that the next year of my degree will present more of a challenge, but those close to me tell me not to expect it – I’ll probably sail through that as well. They say I have to make my own challenges by thinking outside the box, but it’s hard to be motivated to do that. I hope that moving to a new place to do a Masters in a few years may present that challenge, but that doesn’t really help me now…

    I always find your posts great because they remind me that I’m not the only one, thank you 🙂

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Sadly, not even college is challenging for some gifted folks. Sometimes people find a particular professor who recognizes their abilities and provides support and new ideas. I’m glad you’re here, Clara.

  7. singlemoeder Avatar

    Getting out of the gifted closet at 39 and at the same time learning about being highly sensitive I had a full recharge year and all pieces of the puzzle fell into place. When I shared this with my friends I lost about half my ‘addressbook’.
    I went looking for other RFM’s and found some! These 2 things, getting to know me and finding others like me have changed my life for the better in do many ways. And this blog, well, I think I can’t find any more superlatives to celebrate it!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I’m so glad that you’re found other RFMs and yourself! Thank you for being such a loyal follower!

    2. Sarah Avatar

      I can relate. I was 42. My counselor asked my why the heck I hadn’t mentioned my IQ to him before….I told him I didn’t think it was relevant. This is what my parents had instilled in me.
      Now, a few years later I’ve read up on the topic and it’s like walking out of Plato’s cave. Paula has been a huge help. And for some reason, the posts always seem to pop up when I need them the most!

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        I’m glad to hear that my posts are timed well! 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Sarah.

  8.  Avatar

    Hi Paula – I loved your post on Rebelle Society. I have been feeling much the same way recently and find that writing is a great help. I am not quite as prolific in my blogging as some, but I’m challenging myself to write everyday and am becoming a better writer, editor and thinker as a result. I am slowly starting to blog more (here is a link to an open letter I recently posted on Medium: https://medium.com/@audlaq/an-open-letter-to-my-fellow-citizens-7b21bdd51c9a), and even when I don’t finish a post, I always feel better for having expressed my voice. Thank you, as always, for your blog and your truly helpful guidance through this rainforest! Audra

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Good to hear from you, Audra. Thanks. I’ll go check your letter on Medium.

      1. Audra Avatar

        Thanks Paula. Not sure why that came up as Anonymous – didn’t do that on purpose!

  9. Antarmukhi Avatar

    Hi Paula, I enjoyed knowing reading about you in the rebelle society post! Thank you for sharing a part of you. I am struggling with the very thing you write about in the post for the past few days, but to admit that I am struggling is to also accept that I have a rainforest mind!! What a painful paradox!
    With great trepidation, I am sharing a part of me that I like to keep masked in a pseudonym. I write a blog.. I haven’t managed to own it completely, so I am in my mind daring greatly to post it here..
    Antarmukhi – a peek into the inner world

    This is believe is only just about scratching the surface.
    Thank you for the wonderful post!


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you. Thank you, Karishma. I so admire your courage. And, yes, you do have a beautiful rainforest mind!

  10. shebeeste Avatar

    Love the Rebelle Society post! It is just what I needed to hear today, thanks!

  11. j'adore champagne Avatar
    j’adore champagne

    Paula, sometimes it starts even earlier – like when you bring home a report card with 12 “A”s and 1 “B”; because I always got a B in math – and your parents only notice the B. “Try Harder.” “Not good enough”. You are capable of more.” I am certain you have run into that in your practice! I am in my 50s; I can still hear this in my head! So not only are you quiet about your achievements – you don’t even actually believe you deserve them.

    Just recently introduced to your site by a friend – we are both “rainforests” and it is a great description! Look forward to learning more from you.

    1. lilurazko Avatar

      This. –^. :'(

    2. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I definitely have seen that in my practice. So painful. Welcome to my blog. Glad to have you here!

    3. Nimue Brown Avatar
      Nimue Brown

      Similar story, it was always about what I’d got wrong, never about what I got right.

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        I can’t understand how parents can do that. Thanks for sharing, Nimue.

    4. EJ Avatar

      Brought home a 96 on some test or other in elementary school. “Where are the other 4 points? ha ha ha.” NOT FUNNY. They weren’t even tiger-parents, just uncomfortable with my gifts (and their own). Decades later my mom, who went back to work when i was 9, said, “I thought you and your sister were average kids, until I started teaching school.” That was as close to an apology as I’m likely to get.

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        Sending you a hug, EJ.

  12. A Allen Avatar
    A Allen

    Your Rainforest Mind and Living with Intensity are the two stand out books that have revolutionized the life experiences of young gifted and 2e college students in my corner of the world.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you. So happy to hear that.

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