It Is Time To Stop Denying You Are Gifted

Photo courtesy of Miguel Bruna, Unsplash

“Humanity’s most consequential decade is now upon us. Your permission to play small has been permanently revoked.”   Van Jones

I know you may not think you are gifted. Perhaps, if you have been following my blog for a while, I have convinced you that you have a rainforest mind. But you may still question yourself because you did not do well in math or you dropped out of college or you are a stay-at-home mom or learning 5 languages was easy. Anyone can learn 5 languages easily, right? The Katakana/Hiragana alphabets? Can’t everyone teach themselves software engineering? Isn’t everyone a ravenous researcher-reader?

Um, no.

I understand. You do not want to be a narcissist. To be accused of arrogance. You want to recognize everyone’s talents. You still do not know what you want to do when you grow up and you are 50. You are not famous. You have met people smarter than you. You do not finish one project before you start another. You change jobs every few years. You can not decide what color to paint your bedroom. You feel distress when asked the question: How are you?

Distress? How are you?

Heck, yeah.

Then again, you may be denying your giftedness because it feels safer to “play small.” Being the smart kid was not so great. You may have been bullied for your intellectual enthusiasm. Parents may have assumed you would be fine, so you were the neglected child. The pressure to be a high achiever may be the reason for your endless anxiety. No one understood why you cried so much. You heard “who do you think you are” too many times. You may have been burned at the stake in a former life.

And, who can you tell you are gifted if you finally decide you are???

Honestly?

No one.

Well, you can tell me. Your partner should know. It will explain a lot. Your close friends. Who may also be gifted. Your acupuncturist, if she is also gifted. Your psychotherapist. Your gifted kids.

What’s most important is that YOU know. It will explain a lot.

And then. And then, you need to stop playing small.

Because, as you are aware, this is the decade where we all need to step up. Hiding is no longer an option. You have to risk the bullying and the neglect. You have to learn how to soothe your anxiety and appreciate your intuition. You have to reignite your intellectual enthusiasm.

And then?

From the wise words of Clarissa Pinkola Estes:

“…One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these — to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do…”

You need to be “…fully lit.” “…to stand up and show your soul.”

In other words, just be you.

________________________________________________

To my bloggEEs: I know it is not necessarily so easy to “just be you.” You may need some guidance. Maybe some self-compassion work. Encouragement about the future. Activism. Esoteric philosophy. Rebecca Solnit. Climate crisis action.  Soul Collage.  Psychotherapy. Relationship articlesMy books!

I have been reading some old posts and find your comments so deeply sensitive and enlightening. Please continue to share your experiences here. We all benefit so much. Tell us how you feel about accepting your giftedness. Share what you are doing in these challenging times to know your soul and show your soul. And thank you so much for your courage and vulnerability. Sending big love.

 

 

 


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.

50 responses to “It Is Time To Stop Denying You Are Gifted”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


  1. Eric Larson Avatar
    Eric Larson

    Whoa… I think I may have read this earlier, yet just came across it again tonight (after reading part 2 of these posts). There is energy in the universe that looks out for us. It is taking care of me. I needed to hear this again tonight. Thank you for being an igniting spark.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Happy to be the spark, Eric.


  2. It Is Time To Stop Denying You Are Gifted — Part Two | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] have written about the reasons you may be denying you are gifted. But I missed […]


  3. frenchc1955 Avatar
    frenchc1955

    Paula, thank you for your blog and posts. I appreciate them and the inherent and crucial messages.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you for being here, Charles!


  4. unschoolingNL Avatar
    unschoolingNL

    It is so wonderful you are online as an infinite energy wishing well. So many benefit from your words.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      “infinite energy wishing well” Lovely! 🙂


  5. Gail Post Avatar
    Gail Post

    Great article, Paula. You so clearly get to the heart of the matter – how so many of us are afraid to admit/recognize/open our minds to the possibility of our strengths. I adore the Estes quote also.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you, Gail.


  6. Angie K Avatar
    Angie K

    “One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul.” Just reading this gives me heart palpitations. It’s much easier to laugh off being “weird” and pretend it’s my fault that people don’t understand my joke(s) or see the connections I do between two seemingly random ideas than telling them why…


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I hear you, Angie. It could be that you show more of who you are but that you don’t have to explain it as giftedness. People are still so reactive to that. You can shine your light more without putting yourself at risk for ridicule or rejection.


  7.  Avatar
    Anonymous

    and I love you


  8. Paula Prober Avatar
    Paula Prober

    Thank you, Sarah. Sadly, the “small-minded bullies” are often in our families.


  9. rachelmiller1511 Avatar
    rachelmiller1511

    It freaks me out to accept it- I am so scared of being narcissistic! I’m pretty sure I can get this way and have done in the past. I don’t know how to “shine” and not be taken over by it.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      It’s OK to be gentle with yourself and careful with how you shine, rachel, especially if there are multiple factors involved that complicate things such as another exceptionality (2e) or childhood trauma. Self-care and self-compassion need to be in place for sure. If your fears are intense, you might consider professional help as well.


      1. rachelmiller1511 Avatar
        rachelmiller1511

        Thank you for these words- I appreciate them.


  10. Paula Prober Avatar
    Paula Prober

    And a pleasure to have you here, Someti!


  11. Someti Avatar
    Someti

    I love your posts, Paula. The degree to which your words match my thoughts and feelings is more-than-often outstanding.

    I still remember that one day, when I was 24, my thoughts about myself were so messy and I was so fed up of not fitting in, that I went to a psychologist and I asked for an IQ test. As soon as I got the results, everything started to fit in place and I started to accept myself. Lots of questions were answered that day.

    I also remember I had a really, really hard time when I tried to tell my parents that I discovered I was gifted. (I can say they were (and still are) the persons I rely on the most on Earth!)

    Several days later, when I plucked up courage, I really gathered all my courage… and let them know and I show them I had taken a test, they said: “Hey! We already knew! It was so obvious to us! and your teachers told us many times” And big hugs followed. That was rewarding.

    Apart from my parents and a couple of close friends, I haven’t told I’m gifted to anyone else, although I feel some of my friends and coworkers are aware that I am… somehow… like… “special”? 😅

    I think I currently understand and accept myself, but I still have hard times when dealing with people in “great numbers” (e.g. large groups of people, society in general…) and trying to find brainmates. (I know, I know. I just made up that word.)

    It’s always a pleasure to read you, Paula 🙂

    Kind regards from Spain!


  12. Julia Avatar
    Julia

    I’m sitting here in tears over this article. Sometimes I feel like I am crazy because I have these ideas that people think I am crazy for, and I can’t figure out how to fit in the every day box, it makes me feel so broken. The thing is a lot of the struggles in our lives feel like they are my fault, if I could just for in somehow I could fix it. But we are struggling in so many ways and I feel so guilty.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      You are not crazy, Julia. Thanks for being here!


    2. itssue42 Avatar
      itssue42

      Julia – Please know that you are not alone. You are not broken. You are in fact a gem. Don’t ever give up. It gets better. Hugs


  13. Nicole Avatar
    Nicole

    I just keep on being who I am and at age 40, it feels a little easier to accept and embrace my unique nature. I’ve accepted I am not great in large groups of people standing around chatting and that it’s OK to be quiet and introspective. If that makes me weird to some people, than so be it! I have been kinder to myself and that really helps!


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      So important to be kind to yourself, Nicole.


  14. Jill Avatar
    Jill

    I wrote your not you’re and it’s killing me. 🙂


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      We feel your pain, Jill! 🙂


  15. Jill Avatar
    Jill

    when you come from a family of profoundly gifted people, being “regular” gifted seems like your nothing special, and saying “I’m gifted” is laughable in this context.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I do know that there are differences in the qualities of giftedness as you go up the spectrum. PG can be very different from someone moderately gifted. But still it’s important that you recognize your own gifted traits, Jill!!


      1. Robert B. Avatar
        Robert B.

        Jill, I do agree with Paula that giftedness has an spectrum from moderate to PG. However, she may or may not agree with what I’m about to say next, but I personally believe that you could grow or improve your natural abilities/talents. Now, in saying those things, I am not implying that you could turn into a ‘natural’ profoundly gifted person or acquire specific abilities that those in the higher spectrum may have (like photographic memory), but it is still possible to acquire a very high level of performance. In addition, there are other factors which may negatively affect the natural trajectory of one’s cognitive development that could make one appear as less gifted (I had TBIs during my earlier years which are still affecting me up to this day, but I’ve experienced things which are considered uncommon in the general population: I do know what having a photographic memory is like, being able to hear sounds which most people are not even aware of, I have the desire for greatness or self-actualization through my own development as a person and ultimately being able to contribute of something of great value to society, I often felt bored by the things which many people take for granted [going to stores, beach, watching sports programs,etc.], and so forth.


        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          What I would say, Robert, is that there is a certain amount of ability and personhood (traits?) that appear to be innate, what we are born with, but there is always room to grow and evolve intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, etc. Most certainly. Studying, practicing, learning, research, effort, introspection, meditation, psychotherapy, and yoga are some of the ways to grow and develop your talents, beliefs, abilities, self-awareness, and perceptions. Gifted folks at all levels still have to struggle and work on themselves in many ways.


          1. Robert B. Avatar
            Robert B.

            Agreed, Paula. You’ve summed it up quite beautifully! Thank you.


  16. May Avatar
    May

    The problem with the denial of being gifted is that, the risks of not being one. It scares me – to think that you are gifted when you aren’t. It will make me feel horrible, like a loser who is constantly seeking for a fake acknowledgement and worse, I’m afraid of hating myself even more. even though I can relate to all these posts deeply to the details, it’s still a struggle to fully embrace it myself, and I hope to see more posts like this (well, I’ve read all your posts for many times anyway) but I will keep trying to love this not-so-normal side of me. thank you Paula😊


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I understand the conflict that you feel, May. And if you relate to so many of my posts, chances are that your “not-so-normal” side is gifted! And so worthy of love.


  17. Carole Avatar
    Carole

    Thank you. How do you do to always post a text that I just need at the moment ?
    I still find hard to choose what I must prioritize , not young enough to do all (51), and not enough time anyway.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Perhaps I am hiding in your kitchen, Carole! 🙂


  18. Carlita Avatar
    Carlita

  19.  Avatar
    Anonymous

    Hola Paula. Como Siempre, sigo los artículos con atención. Si. Ser “tu misma” puede ser toda una batalla, porque simplemente decirlo es obviar toda la carga que llevamos desde la infancia, desde la adolescencia que es el momento en que definitivamente se imprime nuestra personalidad y nuestra alma. Es mucho lo que hay que revolucionar y romper. Y no es sencillo. Lo sé, porque llevo tres años transitando ese viaje, el camino a mi “muchosidad” (me encanta esa palabra de Alicia, bueno, de Absolom)… Pero creo que por más duro y doloroso que de hecho es, no hay ninguna otra alternativa.
    Para mi, el primer paso fue construir espacios de paz interior. Para ello, he tenido que entender quién soy (y aún lidio con el síndrome del impostor a diario); eso significo confrontar la negligencia familiar y darme el valor de comprender que lo que entendía por mundo, por realidad, no era un error, sino que era MI perspectiva -tan válida como otras-, porque una cosa es decir: -no hagas caso cuando te digan que está en un error-, o no des poder a esto o a aquel… y otro es romper con la autoridad de las personas significantes en tu vida que te dicen: -Estás mal… no es nada fácil.
    Lo siguiente fue silenciar el tumulto interior, empezar a escuchar a lo interno palabra por palabra, voz por voz, lo que tenía que decirme durante años en “ejecución múltiple de líneas de pensamiento” y discriminar lo que no era sano para mi. Dejar fluir… Juro que es difícil! mucho!… aceptar donde estamos, de dónde venimos. Cuánto me determinó y no pude controlar y cuánto si puedo controlar ahora. Entonces de ahí empiezo a construir a dónde quiero llegar… Y con franqueza, hay que “bañarse en aceite” porque vendrán un montón de ataques, de incomprensiones de tu alrededor, y tendrás que aprender a que te “resbalen” las más hirientes palabras…..
    Para mi, en lo personal… Ha sido el camino más duro, y muy solitario. Pero cada paso a valido la pena en función de mi propia reconstrucción.
    ¡No se pierdan su viaje!


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Hola! This is beautiful. Can you perhaps add a translation into English of your main points so more people can benefit? Although, they can also drop it into Google translate. Thank you.


    2. itssue42 Avatar
      itssue42

      You capture so well the intense tumult that we all are going through in trying to be our real selves, and the immensity and necessity and loneliness of the journey.


  20. John Avatar
    John

    Thank you Paula.

    It was your book (along with a few others) that finally convinced me that I may actually be the gifted child my parents were told I was. But it took more than fifty years for me to finally accept the truth. And, as you say, it explained a lot – for me and for my spouse and family.

    What am I doing now to know and show my gifted soul? I continue to read, reflect, and learn about what this means for me. I have left the career I’ve spent most of my adult life in, and started a whole new venture – an online, on-demand spiritual community for people who are tired of narrow, rigid, and compassionless organised religion. You can find it at EvoFaith.com

    Thank you for being a companion on the journey.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you, John. I will check out your site!


  21. M. J. Cuthbertson Avatar
    M. J. Cuthbertson

    A significant portion of the problem embracing giftedness is the tremendous variability and intangibility of determinIng intellectual potential. Unlike very specific skills that are observable, giftedness often has gaps and overlaps that create too many ways to dismiss it even when it’s one of your greatest strengths. Something I’ve done it on multiple occasions.

    Which leads to the problem I have on a regular basis with others. Too many people are under the impression that giftedness is binary. It’s either on all the time for all things or never on for anything. I find giftedness to be complex and nuanced. Few others do and I have not found enough ways to help them to understand. It would be easier to accept it for self, if more people had even a basic and real understanding.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes. “complex and nuanced” for sure. Thanks M.J.


    2. itssue42 Avatar
      itssue42

      Hi M.J. — You really hit on a problem that resonates. If people get any glimpse into who you are, then they expect you to know everything and often make fun of you when you don’t. I think that a lot of them feel intimidated; as if somehow being really talented in certain ways is something to be afraid of. Or somehow their own insecurities make them feel like they “should” be more talented, so they treat you badly.
      I spent my whole life trying to stay hidden to avoid the mistreatment of others, whether it be “friends” or co-workers or bosses, but am beginning to think that the best way to deal with it is to be fully OK with ourselves. And then when someone says something cutting or unkind about your talents, you gently explain to them … e.g. yes I’m very good with plants, but no that doesn’t mean that I know the name of every single flower I see. Or if they’re intimidated by you, then you try to focus on their strengths and remind them of other things you’re not so good at? At least that’s a theory I’m working on. Still at the stage of trying to feel fully OK with my abilities and sharpen them back up to speed, and be proud of them and not afraid to show the world who I am, and that I like a lot of who I am. 🙂


      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        Supporting you in your journey to accept your abilities and be unafraid to show them to the world, itssue42!


      2. M. J. Cuthbertson Avatar
        M. J. Cuthbertson

        Hello itssue42 – Thanks! I’m glad to know you’ve had a similar experience. I hope you find some success.


  22. Cheri Miranne Avatar
    Cheri Miranne

    Your blog is so comforting. Thanks.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      You are most welcome, Cheri!


  23. Kevin O Avatar
    Kevin O

    I am trying to get it. I feel like I’ve looked down after 50+ years and finally saw that I have no feet. I somehow managed to walk amongst the bipedal folks all my life, sensing my gait was a little off, and shrugged it off. But know that I KNOW I have no feet, I am struggling just to stand. It is a difficult realization, and I hope to outlive the challenge, if just to allow myself “See, it was worth it”.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for sharing, Kevin. Good to have you here.


    2.  Avatar
      Anonymous

      Vale la pena. Tiene que ser así… A veces tan sólo mantenerse de pie, es toda una batalla.

%d bloggers like this: