How To Deal With Under-Thinkers When You’re An Over-Thinker

photo courtesy Yeshi Kangrang, Unsplash

You’ve been called an over-thinker. You never. stop. thinking. Deep, wide, fast thinking comes naturally to your rainforest mind. You may need to learn to appreciate your capacity for complexity, analysis, synthesis, and learning instead of seeing yourself as obsessive, neurotic and diagnosable.

But what about the under-thinkers in the world? I’m not mentioning any names. How do you manage to work with them? To befriend them?  To live with them?

I realize that this is a tricky topic. I’ll try not to offend.

You may have been frustrated in your interactions because you experience many humans as slowish or lazy or rigid.  You think that they could do what you do or understand what you understand. If they tried harder. If they listened better. If they read the books you’re reading. You don’t realize that what’s obvious to you may be baffling to them.

Maybe you think everyone loves to wonder about dark matter.

Maybe you think everyone’s happy place is the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Maybe you think everyone would like to teach themselves chess for fun.

Maybe you think everyone in the Air Force could also learn Arabic if they wanted to.

Uh huh.

Here’s how I see it: Your capacity for thinking, wondering, knowing and feeling is large. You were born that way. The under-thinkers just have less capacity. A less powerful operating system. They’re meadows not rain forests. I don’t know the brain equivalent. Maybe you have more neurons firing? More synapses connecting? (If there’s a neuroscientist reading this, please help me out by commenting below.)

This I do know. It’s not about trying harder.

This is not to say under-thinkers are lesser humans. Noooooo. And actually, they’re just under-thinkers in relation to you. Most of them are regular, normal, fine upstanding thinkers.

All that said, understanding this may not decrease your frustration with regular, normal, fine upstanding thinkers. (formerly known as under-thinkers) It may still be hard for you to wait for them to catch up with you in a business meeting. It may still be hard for you to watch their eyes glaze over when you gush about neutrinos. It may still be hard for you to listen to your self-righteous colleagues explain feminist theory and dismiss your questions as a sign of your missing PhD-ness.

So, I don’t have any specific suggestions right now on how to deal with regular, normal, fine upstanding thinkers. But at least you can stop pathologizing yourself. You can stop trying to undo your over-thinking. You can find other rainforest minds and jump into the depths with them. You can seek a career path that values your complexity. You can find an online group that loves curiosity. You can express your frustration using the art form that you’ve avoided all these years. You can go to a conference where other rainforest-y folks mingle. You can learn self-soothing techniques for when you overwhelm yourself and others.

And when you meet humans formerly known as under-thinkers and they harass you because you think too much, remind yourself that you’re actually a deep, wide, fast thinking rainforest-minded fine upstanding human.

Formerly known as an over-thinker.


To my bloggEEs: Giftedness may be about being differently wired. What do you think? Do you know of any recent resources/articles that would explain this well? How do you deal with the under-thinkers in your life?

And, by the way, I will be presenting at that conference I mention above that’s in Chicago, USA, August 4-6, 2017. Just imagine, a whole conference full of rainforest minds. If you go, I’d love to meet you!

(For those of you concerned about my spelling: I suspect that over-thinker may actually be two words, over thinker. And under-thinker may actually not be a word at all. I apologize. I know this will annoy some of you. Please forgive me. As you know, I mess with words occasionally. After all, I took “rain forest” and made it into an adjective and spelled it rainforest. Thank you for putting up with me.)





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.

64 responses to “How To Deal With Under-Thinkers When You’re An Over-Thinker”

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  1. Nick Avatar

    Just discovered this beauty of a gem. Covid has played with my mind but this article spoke some sense into me thank you!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      You’re welcome, Nick! Keep reading. There’s more! 🙂

  2. Arshdeep Singh Avatar
    Arshdeep Singh

    i just avoid them because i dont know how to deal with them.. they just end up blaming me or accusing me so i justu ignore them and keep moving

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  4. aristobulonietoalcaraz Avatar

    ! I actually found it EASIER to talk of the town to the artistic creation majors – and got a point in artistic creation without the tenseness or contest, which was about to geological fault me.

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  6. Mary Avatar

    Apologies for any typos I am not in an area with spell check

  7. Mary Avatar

    Thankyou this post has helped me today. I can see where things go funny with communication in the work place -trying to have big picture conversations with my supervisor sometimes. I like how this post observes people’s approaches and experiences as ‘different’ not superier or inferior.

    I came from an underpriveleged background and have pride to say I did not finishe highschool but have studied at post grad level. I excelled as a student years ago. I found my areas of interest & had difficulty settling to one area with interest in two disparate ends for research- which in true life sat very close together. After I found those areas, my journey with research was ‘multidisciplinary’. I could not continue due to various reasons which include a former partner whom did not approve of undertaking research or shared interests. He did not like me being a thinker and was actively derisive of my academic work.

    I have also enjoyed the comments here from others that have found happiness with their current partners who also ‘think too much’….I feel more open to returning to studies or research as a part of my life’s journey with my current partner & okay day to day to ‘think too much’

    Thanks I will read more of your writing.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Welcome, Mary. Yes, please read more! And thank you for your comment. As you can see, the comments on my blog add so much.

  8. Robert B. Avatar
    Robert B.

    True. There are different factors that could affect how our intelligence is expressed. After all, even the gifted brain has to be nurtured in order for it to grow properly during its earlier years. However, it is not too late for gifted adults—thanks to the power of neuroplasticity! We do have the power to continually develop our brains throughout the course of our lifespan.
    We could gradually introduce things into our lives (i.e. healthy diet,exercise, sufficient amount of sleep, proper intellectual stimulation, etc.) that would help us reach our potential to become what we were meant to be—geniuses! 🤓

    Oh, this reminds of one of Ms. Prober’s post in which she mentioned the growth mindset that was pioneered by Carol Dweck.

    1. willskde Avatar

      Robert B. – Finally, I can be a doctor after all! I’m my own neuroplastic surgeon, LOL :-p

    2. RheL Avatar

      I am truly enjoying following the comments here – seeing others who are trying to follow their own muses. I think one of the reasons I have never truly excelled at anything is because it is too much social work and I am a terrible introvert. Even when I do make a success in something I back off, because I don’t want to be what they want me to be. I would love to go speak with physics and math professors, a botanist, join a language group – but it is too scary to try unless I shoot for that one thing and push myself at it. When I was in Architecture/Engineering school I wanted to learn but I didn’t want to talk to the people. I actually found it EASIER to talk to the art majors – and got a degree in art without the stress or competition, which was about to break me. But then when it came to showing at galleries I retreated again, because I didn’t want to put myself out there and be rejected. I put so much of myself into things if I do them at all… I think that is it.

      Now I work at a home improvement parts desk recommending, designing, explaining and fixing things. People from all over the county know my name – which is okay but nervewracking at the same time. They bring me small bits from their items and tell me as much as they know and I go into research mode and scour the internet to find out the model of their item and find a replacement part. I have solved problems and rescued things that are older than I am for grateful people. I am proud of these accomplishments and am truly glad to have helped someone in need, even though it isn’t a new math concept or a precise description of plant processes… the interactions are small and controlled and they usually don’t even expect me to succeed. In my free time I still scour math and physics, chemistry and botany, read great classics and a myriad of new books. I am learning French and Welsh, and tried to learn Japanese a long time ago (could read Robert’s sentences still and translate them!) I am passable in Spanish and German but don’t keep either of them up and I should. I have a novel I’ve been ‘writing’ for three years that I might self-publish if I ever get the courage up. I haven’t even let my husband or his mother read it yet…maybe soon. I appreciate your site Ms. Prober. Thank you for having it.

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        I’m so happy to be providing this venue for people like you, RheL. So happy. Your description here will be very helpful to others. It’s so rainforest-minded!! I think the competition issues and the introversion is what many deal with. Also being highly sensitive, it’s hard to find a good place to land!

  9. Robert B. Avatar
    Robert B.

    Hello, Ms. Prober and rainforests minded folks! I have a question for you. Do you think it is possible to have multiple scholarly and artistic pursuits (interests) but be average or a little bit above average in one’s intellectual capacity?

    Here are some of the reasons as to why I’m asking you this question.

    Firstly, I was a terrible student in grade school. I was placed in a SPED class due to poor academic performance (though I’m certain my severe depression, poor diet, unsupportive parents, etc. had contributed to this). I graduated high school with a low GPA of between 2.00 and 3.00—I wasn’t one of the “top dogs”!

    Secondly, I’ve attended college but never managed to graduate. Like in grade school I also did poorly academically, and I dropped most of my classes after only a few weeks of the first semester.

    Thirdly, I wouldn’t be considered a child prodigy or a “boy wonder”. I never skipped grades. However, I’ve truly enjoyed gardening, listening to classical music, watching Masterpiece Theater on PBS (I got my British accent or received pronunciation by watching them), debating people online as a young boy (before I turned 20 years old). Also, if I had my way I would have dressed myself like an Oxford don (but unfortunately my parents usually chose the apparels that I wore as a young lad.)

    Fourthly, I don’t learn an entire language within a month or even a week! It takes me a year or two just to become fluent or proficient in a new language.

    Fifthly, I’m already 30 years old yet I still haven’t achieved remarkable things (except for the many scattered thoughts or ideas written on different mediums).

    Sixthly, there are times when I need to review what I’ve learned before I forget them or when I’m starting to forget them. Aren’t gifted people suppose to have photographic memories or an almost perfect ability to remember things?

    Seventhly, I don’t think my parents are gifted. They don’t exhibit a lot of the characteristics that are usually associated with gifted individuals.

    Eightly, I’m currently unemployed and still living with my parents. By Jove!–I should have had my own secluded island with a mansion on the middle of it by now.

    And I almost forgot—I’m also terrible at math!

    (I believe that gifted people themselves do have their own misconceptions of what it means to be gifted. Some even have these false notions that you have to be a human calculator, or that to experience friction or have the need to work hard would disqualify you from being one. What does it mean to be gifted?)

    I think these things made me question my intellectual ability. There are times when I feel like giving up, but I would like to give something back to society before I die at the age of 70 or 100—it would make the ride that much more meaningful! I don’t think I’ll be able to bear living that long without trying to fulfill my passions.

    Here are some of my plans for the next decade before I turned 40 years old:

    1. I already know a couple of languages and I would like to add several more during the next 10 years or so. I’m currently studying Japanese (Kon’nichiwa! Watashi no namae wa Robato desu. Anata wa?), gradually memorizing Latin words, and I would like to eventually learn Mandarin Chinese, Korean, Hebrew, Ilocano, and Koine Greek. And I would like to add several more after 10-12 years.

    2. Learn at least one or two musical instruments (I would like to eventually compose some music, probably in my 50s or 60s?)

    3. I’m currently developing my poetic skills—I’m an amateur poet! (I would like to eventually learn how to write plays and novels). Here is a sample of one of my poems.

    Who shall comfort me in this dreadful night?
    To be my moon to guide me with its light;
    A ray of hope!—To lift me up from this flight
    To give warmth in the coldness of night to my heart’s delight.

    3. Join a martial arts class.

    4. Find two part time jobs, even minimum paying ones in order to save money so that I would be able to build a business outside of the U.S.—help a community somewhere!

    5. Continue developing my drawing and sculpting skills.

    6. I would like to continue developing my philosophical skills and use it as a foundation for my future studies (e.g. theology, sociology, jurisprudence, psychology,etc.)

    I would like to learn other things, but I know I wouldn’t be able to learn all of them within 10 years. I can always do that in my 40s, 50s and beyond.

    Do I think I’m gifted? Maybe. Do I think I need to work extremely hard in order to reach my potential? Definitely!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Hi Robert. Here are some quick thoughts: The first clue that you might be gifted is that you wrote a comment this long. Gifted folks can be wordy. 🙂 There are many stories of gifted humans not doing well in school. There are multiple reasons for that. I’ve written some posts about schooling that might help. A year to become fluent in a language is probably pretty fast! 30 is still very young. It takes time, even for gifted people, to have a list of achievements. If you relate to many of my posts, chances are good that you’re on the gifted spectrum. You don’t have to be a genius to be gifted!

      1. Robert B. Avatar
        Robert B.

        Thanks for replying to my comments Ms.Prober. I truly appreciate it!

        You’re right that one doesn’t have to be
        a genius in order to be considered a gifted individual. Also, a genius I.Q. or potential does not necessarily equate to genius level performance and contribution.

        I’ll leave you with this quote from The Improvement of the Mind by Isaac Watts (which the famed Michael Faraday [estimated I.Q.- 175 to 180] read during his 7 year apprenticeship at a bookbinding shop).

        “Presume not too much upon a bright genius, a ready wit, and good parts; for this, without labour and study, will never make a man of knowledge and wisdom.”

        P.S. I grew up around “underthinkers”; this may have negatively affected my intellectual growth.

    2. Mark V Avatar
      Mark V

      I am a “multipotentialite”: multi-sport athlete, artist, musician/composer, inventor, etc etc…. it sounds like you are too so you may want to check out Putty Like for more information on “renaissance people” who may be Jacks and Jills of all trades, but masters of none. Putty Like’s Emily also did a Ted Talk:

      I didn’t start playing an instrument and composing music until I was 30. I’ll never be the next Glenn Gould or Mozart, but then again I got good enough at what I do that a corporation deemed it worth the risk to “borrow” without permission one of my recordings for an advertisement.

      Moreover, despite many small successes in a variety of endeavors, I too feel overall to be somewhat of a failure. I started out as a very good student and almost immediately went downhill until eventually dropping out of high school. It has taken me a long time to accept, but I realize that failures and unfulfilled potential are almost inevitable if one is constantly trying new challenges and never able to settle on one or two areas of interest to specialize in and become successful at.

      Society at large, which includes most of our education systems, employers, bank loans officials, therapists etc….currently few of these are able to identify or reward the many infinitely curious, multi-talented individuals out there, and what unique abilities and perspectives we have to offer.

      That’s the bad news. The good news is I sense that this is changing. The appearance of websites like Putty Like and books such as Barbara Sher’s “Refuse to Choose!” are indicators of this. But aside from what multipotentialites can do for themselves, I also think we may have a lot to offer society at the moment because we may be better equipped to see the “bigger picture”. In difficult times when so much ignorance, doubt and misinformation is going around, I believe society needs more people who are able to sift through a lot of extraneous muck in order to see new connections between seemingly unrelated areas of knowledge.

      1. Robert B. Avatar
        Robert B.

        Yes, I do consider myself a multi-potentialite or a budding polymath.
        And I agree with many of the things that you’ve just said.

        There is no doubt that it is impossible to learn about every single thing in existence—we’re not omniscient! Also, it is never a good idea spreading ourselves too thin, or we’ll ultimately end up with nothing. However, the figure of speech “Jack of all of trades, master of none” doesn’t have to be the case. I believe it is possible to master a few things and achieve a certain level of proficiency in others within the course of a lifetime. It is all a matter of prioritizing where we devote a lot of our energy and time towards, but also giving ourselves sufficient amount of time to focus on a few things. Besides, wouldn’t you agree that by simply mastering a few things it would be easier for us to transition to transition to other areas of interests?

        Philosophy—–> theology
        —–> psychology+sociology
        —–> jurisprudence+law

        Drawing and mathematics—–>


        Drawing —————————> painting

        Also, we shouldn’t forgot how our health affects our overall mental or intellectual performance—I found that out the hard way.

        Thanks for recommending those resources!

      2. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        Emily now has a book, too. I heard on NPR that Sweden is opening a failure museum. Let’s celebrate failure!! (What is it anyway??)

        1. Mark V Avatar
          Mark V

          What is failure? By gosh I finally realized THAT’S what my singular specialty is. LOL 🙂

          1. Robert B. Avatar
            Robert B.

            Keep failing our way towards greatness!
            It is never too late while there is still an ounce left of strength in our bodies.

            The world depends on us (the “unreasonable man” or woman), we can’t afford to give up!

            “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”- Thomas Edison

            1. Paula Prober Avatar
              Paula Prober

              Yes, “failing our way towards greatness.” Indeed.

    3. willskde Avatar

      Gifted people are not perfect; they can have a number of shortcomings like everyone else. Judging by math skills (or any particular skills) is irrelevant. And yes, becoming even moderate in a language in 1-2 years is very good. I taught English in China while learning Mandarin, and I’ve read a bit about language learning. Learning from books only, people studied English for 10 years and still were not fluent. Being immersed I would call myself moderate after 2 years. By that I mean I could get along easily in normal daily life in public (asking for specific variations of things in stores or restaurants, giving the taxi driver directions & making small talk, etc). You could blindfold me and drop me in the middle of China and I could find a job and an apartment and live, but I could not understand the news or TV shows, or topics I didn’t learn about such as sports, politics, science, etc.

      Anyway, your list of things you’d like to learn is quite long & varied, and that list alone would make me think you are “above average” for sure! I had a childhood similar to yours; poor diet, blue-collar family who didn’t expect much of me, although my grandfather who lived with us had nothing better to do than to teach me to read & write before kindergarten and teach me to play poker, use tools & help him fix things, LOL, I loved it! But school beat that all out of me. 🙁 God forbid I wrote my name in script; the teacher told me not to write like that and I never dared again until they taught us officially, grrrr! Then when I moved and the new school was out of synch with the old one, and I had some severe emotional issues come up, I started doing poorly, believing I was not good at math, losing my sparkle… so…. my point is that our childhoods or accomplishments are not always an indication. There are so many factors in how we turn out. Genetics, environment, teachers, parents, wrong beliefs that we kept inside and could not be corrected on… it is now up to us to create ourselves anew. Sounds like that’s where you’re at! The sky’s the limit!

      1. willskde Avatar

        My above reply was in response to Robert B’s original post (not sure where this is ending up) 😉

        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          I think it got to the right place!

      2. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        Yes, so many factors influence us. And it’s never too late to become your true self!

  10. RheL Avatar

    One of the ‘diagnosable’ things I’ve always struggled with in overthinking (of the deep and wide variety) is the feeling that I am not allowed to tread where my own brain wants to go… such as the strong cycles where I must delve into articles on nuclear physics, crystal structures, advanced math concepts… I hop and skip and dance over dozens of books of philosophy,art, mythology, fiction, languages… scooping small pieces out here and there and somehow trying to make ‘something’ fit in my mind. Its like it will just suddenly coalesce in the air when I find the right thing – but I never get far enough or find the right piece. It feels frenzied at times – stealing minutes here and there in between things and its not like I’m solving huge world problems so what is the benefit? I barely passed high school with a B average because it was just too HARD to fit in their boxes. I didn’t want to be what they wanted me to be.. but I couldn’t be me with anyone. Eventually in these cycles I either get tired, convince myself that it really was ‘above my head’ to begin with or just get distracted by the normal flow of life and its requirements again. Those ‘grind cycles’ feel like the goose carrying a book under its arm.. I can’t possibly understand half of those topics – especially all at once – . but I’m reading bits and pieces hoping to learn some hidden language that always eludes me… and I feel like an imposter because ‘Hey, you’re just a (insert job title)… what in the world are you doing with that in the first place?’ I don’t know either, but I have to, I just do. //Without my husband who considers this puzzling but endearing I would still feel like the alien changeling that can’t possibly belong anywhere… he actually participates sometimes, like Sarah’s husband, in bantering the minutia.. and it amazes me that we have each other…even if he isn’t interested in a tenth of the things I am, he accepts I must follow the strings and sits back and watches the show…

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I’m so glad you have an understanding husband. Thank you for this description, RheL. I’m sure others will relate to this and find it helpful. The comments here on my blog add so much richness and detail. The blog would not be the same without them. Thanks to you and everyone for taking the time to share and for being so sensitive in their interactions.

  11. Mark V Avatar
    Mark V

    As a self-taught multidisciplinary artist I am an equal opportunity offender: too highfalutin’ for the working class, too wild and weird for the middle class, and having a complete lack of any redeeming credentials for the elites. Which gets me thinking….

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Of course, it gets you thinking!

      1. Mark V Avatar
        Mark V

        The mere act of being gifted and talented is kind of political, isn’t it?

        I mean, whether we intend to stick out or not, inevitably somebody is going to notice we’re different, and perhaps if we aspire to do things or to be something that those around us do not… Essentially this makes us a part of an elite no matter how egalitarian we may be, and that can put a target on our back whether it be by jealousy, fear, or a need to maintain control.

        I’ve recently had some flashbacks to when I was younger and was a frequent victim of jealousy or attempts by authority figures to stamp out my independence.

  12. Sherri Avatar

    I was mulling over the concept of self-soothing techniques, when I realized my favorite technique is to separate myself from a situation by finding something to think about. Ha!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Well, well… this woman must have a rainforest mind! Thanks Sherri.

  13. j'adore champagne Avatar
    j’adore champagne

    Reblogged this on Jadorechampagne's Blog and commented:
    I really like how she understands these things. Worth a read if you, like me, have ever been accused of “thinking too much”.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you for reblogging. I loved the subtitle of your blog….adventure as a remedy for menopause. Yeah!

  14. Charmaine Coimbra Avatar
    Charmaine Coimbra

    Once upon a time, many men in my life told me, “The problem with you is that you think too much.” Of course, this was the usual personal slam toward me when I had called that man/men on some likely BS, and explained why. Unfortunately, that comment, often thrown at me, including by my father with whom I had an oil in water relationship, made me think that I was off-kilter. “What’s wrong with me?” I often self-queried.

    Oh what I would give to go back in time with the knowledge that I have finally grasped with age (and a long-standing relationship with a man who loves it that “I think too much”) and defend my ability to think, and to think outside of the lines — both literally and figuratively,

    Thanks for the post.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      You’re welcome, Charmaine. I’m glad that you found it helpful.

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  16. Alice Hawthorne-Allen Avatar
    Alice Hawthorne-Allen

    Love this discussion and hope you share a list of suggestions for the work place and for the hallways and classrooms at the college level! Academia is filled with rainforest minds who don’t understand the point of your post, leading to harm and frustration between those that make up the campus community. Normalizing all levels of thinking is so important for healthy learning spaces. My colleagues have teased me for my “obsession” with trying to effectively teach, engage, and mentor the top students in my classes while also not losing or leaving behind the “bottom” ones. The A-ha moment was when I redefined “bottom” and “top” as just different students with different types of brains that need different types of engagement. Dr. Ruf’s levels of gifted was profound for me too in understanding the diversity of the rainforest levels where I work.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I will work on that list, Alice. I’m glad you mentioned Deborah Ruf’s book about the levels of giftedness. It’s a good one. We love those teachers who work to meet each student at their level and rate of learning! Thanks for sharing.

  17. Winona Avatar

    The I grew up thinking I was the under thinker, with an over thinking mom and brother. It turns out they over think far more than I do while I am considered the over thinker in my life. Friends, co workers, even ex boyfriends, all told me “you think too much!!”. Even my husband says this, but he understands the difference between me being overly worrisome and me just ‘thinking’. It took me years to find friends who stopped telling me I thought too much, felt too much, expressed too much, was ‘too much’ anything and it was too much for them. Either I left them or they left me. And I felt weird, odd, lonely, and like I would never ever fit anywhere, the piece without a puzzle. Eventually, I found my puzzle. “Over thinkers” are not over thinking, they simply THINK.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes, indeed, Winona. Thank you!

  18. Barry Avatar

    I like this. I think that the best part is knowing that you are not alone or need to accept shaming for using a five syllabus word. … and no, we don’t need to be taken down a notch.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Would that be “syllable?” 🙂 We’re not alone, Barry, even in our typos…

  19. Nimue Brown Avatar
    Nimue Brown

    Thank you for this. i get so frustrated when i see people treating ovethinking like it’s some kind of problem. No! Overthinking is a superpower! It makes all kinds of otherwise unthought things possible!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Love this, Nimue: “It makes all kinds of otherwise unthought things possible!”

  20. TCG Avatar

    I hope this comes across well…

    I would offer that there is a difference between ruminating (overthinking) and thinking more deeply, faster, more completely. The former is often counterproductive. It is fretting. It is rocking faster in a chair–you still aren’t getting off the porch. It is generally emotional and habitual and like a tape on a loop–nothing new, nothing productive, nothing soothing or powerful or peaceful. Just a lot of repetition that wounds the soul and heart and mind.

    However, thinking WELL in a faster, deeper, more complete way is not pathological at all. It is not fretful, it is powerful. It is determined and driven. It is learning and experiencing and broadening and deepening.

    I have done both. One led to an anxiety disorder (which is no longer an issue, thank the Lord. I had to retrain my brain from ruminating to thinking well). The other led to incredible learning and abilities.

    As for how to deal with those who think in a neurotypical fashion–I think what the Outlier community needs is some hard examples of what is “normal” (neurotypical) and what is Outlier. When I realized that my experiences were actually, quantifiably, objectively different, I stopped expecting more from the neurotypical than they were capable of. And you are EXACTLY right–they are very fine normal thinkers and worthy of respect. It is not fair to ask more of anyone than they are capable of.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you, TCG. It’s important to make the distinction. I’m calling overthinking, the deeper faster variety. But we can definitely separate it from ruminating. And finding ways to reduce anxiety is quite important. I do think creative people can worry more because they can come up with so many extra reasons to worry! So self-soothing and self-care are very important.

    2. medleymisty Avatar

      This is helpful. It always confused me when people acted like “not being able to turn off your brain” was a bad thing. Because who wants to turn off their brain?

      I’m guessing there was a miscommunication there where they didn’t specify what sort of thinking they meant, and so I interpreted it as them meaning that any sort of thinking was bad. Thanks for the distinction!

  21. Sarah Avatar

    Thanks for this. It actually helps just to know we’re not pathological. I grew up with family members rolling their eyes at me. I married a fellow rainforester, albeit in a slightly different way, and we have insanely petty arguments over minutia just for fun at least once or twice a week. It’s awesome. The downside is that everything–absolutely everything must be discussed and negotiated ad nauseum. That sometimes gets old. 🙂 At least our kids are treated like normal people at home, even if they sometimes aren’t out in the big, bad world. They’re already conscious that not everybody thinks like us and that that’s OK. Nobody is better than you, and you are no better than anybody else. We’re all different and we have to respect each other if we’re going to survive as a species. And repeat.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Sounds like a lovely family you’ve created, Sarah. Thanks for sharing.

    2. Gabi Avatar

      That is great. I thought we were the only family who had arguments over ridiculous details. I laugh when my four year old calls me out on using absolutes when I chastise them. “Mama, do we really “always” leave our clothes on the floor? The hamper has a lot of clothes in it. If we “always” put clothes on the floor there would be nothing in it.” I give a hard stare at her impudence then just laugh.

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        The challenges of raising a rainforest-minded child! They don’t miss a thing!

  22. willskde Avatar

    This topic reminds me of my adorable 4yr old neighbor and his ever-thinking mind. I was walking past as he was digging with a little shovel in some flower boxes and he said hi, as usual, and I went over and asked what he was doing. He said, “I’m …. uh…” … His impatient grandmother near him said,
    “You’re planting seeds, honey.”
    “I’m, uh… I’m planting….uhhhh…”
    “seeds, seeds, you’re planting SEEDS”
    “you’re planting–”
    “MARIGOLDS! I’m planting marigolds!” (with pride at remembering that big name)
    It was so wonderful to see him striving for what he *really* wanted to say, in his own words, which was more than what those around him expected of him, and I actually took a lesson from that. I reminded myself to not be afraid to use bigger words, LOL, both literally & figuratively.
    Also, I hope that we all can try to remember that little ones have their own minds and we can help make sure those precious minds don’t get squashed as we try to make them think like we do. I guess we all have to be patient with each other, older or younger, faster or slower than we are. We will all bloom in our own ways…. the rainforest is very diverse 😉

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Oh, yes, we need to give them time to respond! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

  23. litebeing Avatar

    This is a topic dear to my heart, especially in the workplace. I find that I think faster and more abstractly than most I encounter at the job, even graduate level professionals. As a result, I do no fit in and feel alienated. With friends and romance, this is not a problem. But it is a big one in my family of origin. I think I will leave it at that for now. Looking forward to a follow up to this post. 🙂

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks, litebeing. What are your questions for the follow up post?

      1. litebeing Avatar

        I am hoping you will follow up with suggestions on how to deal with “under thinkers” effectively, especially at work.

        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          OK, Litebeing. Will put it on the list. I’m sure others are interested in that, too. Thanks.

          1. litebeing Avatar

            You can call me Linda, lol!

  24. FredB Avatar

    Don’t worry about your spelling. A committee has been formed to get official recognition for “Proberisms.” You are going to be famous.

    1. Themon the Bard Avatar
      Themon the Bard

      I’ll upvote that.

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober


    2. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Ha! Thanks, Fred. I assume you’re the head of the committee…

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