Why Do You Need To Know You Have A Rainforest Mind?

You are a big thinker. A deep thinker. A constant thinker. An analytical and creative thinker. Some might call you an overthinker.

photo courtesy of Kazi Mizan, Unsplash

You are a big feeler. A deep feeler. A constant feeler. (Unless you have learned your emotions are a sign of weakness. Or you have learned to repress them because of disturbing childhood events) An analytical and creative feeler. Some might call you an overfeeler.

You are a big perceiver/intuiter. A deep perceiver/intuiter. A constant perceiver/intuiter. An analytical and creative perceiver/intuiter. Some might call you an overperceiver/intuiter.

You have probably tried to be less of an *over* person. You may have seen it as a flaw or something you had to control or hide. Certainly not a strength or a sign of giftedness. You may have been bullied in school because of all of your questions and all of your answers. You may have lost friends because they thought you were bossy when you told them the correct way to play chess or conceited when you won the spelling bee for the third year in a row or weird when you swooned over The Lord of the Rings trilogy. As an adult, you may have been seen as irresponsible when you changed careers five times before you were 35 or too picky because you painted your living room twelve times in four years. Or judgmental when you grew impatient waiting for your coworkers to catch up.

But the truth is, your rainforest mind is enormous in its capacity to think, feel, perceive, and intuit. It is not a better mind than a meadow mind or a desert mind. It is just more vast or more complex or more hooked up or more connected. Or all of those things. It means you are managing a personhood that has a heck of a lot going on in its brain-mind-heart-body-spirit. A heck of a lot. That is why it is called a rainforest, doncha know.

And this enormous capacity is tricky. Not only does it mean you have difficulty finding others who understand you and want to geek out with you about the spiritual meaning of fractals and Foucault, it puts pressure on you to be a super high achiever in, oh, all areas, oh, all of the time. Not to mention, save the world.

That is a lot of pressure.

But rainforest-mindedness is not about achievement. At least not in the traditional sense. It is not about a 4.0 GPA or a six-figure salary at a Fortune 500 company. It is not about an Olympic gold medal or a viral video. It is not about being capable in all areas all of the time. Face it. Your garage is a disaster and you still can not find your keys. You are a wreck when your child scrapes their knee and you never can remember your sister-in-law’s third husband’s name. You read romance novels and binge watch The Bachelor. You have not solved the climate crisis.

You are not perfect.

But you need to acknowledge you have a rainforest mind. You might even use the word gifted, if you can manage it. Because that is who you are. You are the rainforest-minded variety of gifted. This is because you not only have advanced intelligence, but you also have a great deal of empathy, intuition, creativity, and multipotentiality. And you need to contribute in some way to create a better world.

By the way, not all who are gifted, have these other traits. In my experience, many do. But not all.

And if you accept your place in the rainforest mind clan, then, you can rethink your critical assessment of your thinking, feeling, perceiving, and intuiting. You will stop trying to be less of an *over* person.

When you accept that your *over* is your normal and it is quite fine just as it is, then who knows what might happen. Imagine thinking, feeling, perceiving, and intuiting to your heart’s content. Letting your creativity run amok. Analyzing. Inventing. Geeking out over fractals and Foucault. Creating a better world.

You are not *over.* You are not *under.* You are just right.


To my bloggEEs: So, my darlings, I hope you are staying safe and healthy. Do you deal with the conundrum that if you acknowledge you are gifted, then you have to do something phenomenal? Do you see all of your faults and so that means you are not so smart? Are you struggling to find someone who can keep up with you? Do you have painful memories of being misunderstood and bullied? Let us know your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Thank you so much for being here.

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.

31 responses to “Why Do You Need To Know You Have A Rainforest Mind?”

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  1. Kevin O'Connell Avatar
    Kevin O’Connell

    You always bring me to tearful [over] contemplation my own existence. :). Below is an excerpt that may resonate with other Rainforest minds, from the setup to my “Dr Know-It-All and the Curse of the Giftedness” musings.

    “…How is it that I could I be simultaneously amidst a crowd, pressed to the flesh, and still be separate. And how is it that I was blinded to that very paradox? How could I laugh so easily, heartily, naturally and genuinely with friends, and then walk away with complete and utterly unnerving lack of light into their reciprocal sincerity? How is it that all the while, I can never shake those feelings, of an ever so slight lack of… of not quite meshing… of not being quite in sync with both the speed and depth of my surroundings? Were my perceptions even valid? I endured this homeopathic, almost imperceptible, and certainly undefinable, yet continuous and nagging feeling of “something is just not quite right… something is in the way”. And is any of this… what I see, or know, or feel, or perceive real? appropriate? shared? normal? …and why would a higher-than-average intelligence have a g#d d#mn#d thing to do with any of this?!! It is the most insidious of curses – to be both blinded and unknowing of your blindness, and yet somehow sense you are suffering its effects…

    …At best, lacking an awareness of the life-long, non-consensually-bestowed-at-birth curse threatened my well-being. At its worst, it threatened my very existence. It is a curse that has silently and paradoxically both enriched and destroyed my sense of self simultaneously. It is the curse of peculiarity… Of “I can’t quite put my finger on it, but…” Of different… Of obstructed… Of, of, OF… “WHY CAN’T I JUST CLIMB OUT OF THIS G## D#MN#D AND UNSEEABLE WHEELCHAIR AND GO PLAY WITH THE OTHER KIDS!?”. “

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you for sharing, Kevin. Good to have you and your tears with us.

  2. Brett H Avatar
    Brett H

    Yes and yes again for the “overs” you called out, though I am not sure what to do about it. Your note on emotions being dangerous is all too true as well but I am not sure I can deal with emotional growth and what I want to do with my life at the same time.
    The image that comes to mind for me is frosting inside of a cake decorator thingie that puts the frosting on. In my case, the bag has not been punctured so there is no focused area for the concentrated goodness to come out and I am seemingly waiting for my life to begin.
    I am also on the hunt for a job. Again. Have been in technology sales for years with absolutely no interest in it but it paid the bills. I do know I want to do something meaningful, be a part of something and feel good about the effort I put in. Why can’t it just be easier to NOT think every thought all the time??

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I wonder if there is a way to allow some of that goodness out, in a safe way, perhaps, so you are not overwhelmed, Brett. Tools such as yoga, exercise, being in nature, writing, or dancing to inspiring music can help calm your nervous system and calm your busy thinking RFM.

  3. Someti Avatar

    Your posts do help a lot, Paula! I am so glad to have found this blog!

    “Us not being neither *over* nor *under,* just being right” is the perfect “icing on the cake” of this post.

    “Do you see all of your faults and so that means you are not so smart?”
    Definitely! But then, sometimes, something strange occurs: I see all of my non-faults too. So I start assuming I am a mixture of success and failures, like a superposition of mixed states (sorry for the analogy).

    “Are you struggling to find someone who can keep up with you?”
    Very often. But it seems it cannot be otherwise 😅. Hopefully I know a few friends with whom I know I can allow myself to be me 😂.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      But aren’t we all really a mix of successes and failures, Someti? Love those “non-faults!” Always good to hear from you.

      1. Someti Avatar

        We are indeed, complex mixtures 🙂

  4. itssue42 Avatar

    For me, after decades, the best part of realizing that you are a RFM is that it makes it possible to stop hating yourself and stop constantly asking yourself – Why, or why, am I so unlovable? … and What’s wrong with me? …

    Then of course, the new challenge 😉 — finding someone who will love me for who I really am. But it does add a lot of peace to be able to actually start to like and appreciate yourself.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      It may sound trite, itssue42, but as we all realize how lovable we actually are, we attract healthier, more loving friends and partners! So, be on the lookout! 🙂

      1. Cecile Avatar

        So you write beautifully as usual.
        But the mention of Foucault arrested me. I am guilty as charged to have spent my whole Saturday geeking out on YouTube videos from Cynthia Fleury’s, a French living philosopher and psychanalyst. Brilliant, beautiful, erudite, humanist, activist. Worked on Jankelevitch, Foucault, Adorno and many others.
        Like itssue42, I have stopped wondering what’s wrong, stopped disliking myself, accepted the difference, stopped trying to hide what they call me being too “intense” (*over* as you write).
        It’s still quite isolating, and we may attract healthier people eventually, but in Covid time the pool of potential friends and partners, which was already narrower for RFM, is gone. Like all, we stay safe and patient.

        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          Yes, safe and patient Cecile. Yes. <3

  5. veroniqz Avatar

    When I read your beautiful words, Paula, I realize I’m still struggling with this. I was very hurt, then tried to correct myself from being ‘over’, but now I feel ‘under’, and still not having a new job is not helping. I really need to find peace with this…

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Sending you some peace, veroniqz.

  6. marymarymar8 Avatar

    I really love your posts Paula. I always feel valued even though we don’t even know each other. It feels good to know that I am part of something and that otherpeople live something similar to what I do. Lately I feel very lonely, my partner is distancing himself from me and it is the closest thing I have ever found to a RFM… but then one of your posts arrives and I think that one day I will meet someone like me, It doesn’t have to be a couple, it can be a friend, someone who really knows me and understands me … Thanks for everything Paula, as always.

    1. cmd1122 Avatar

      You will find someone 🙂 There are many of us who feel in the same ways and go through the same things.

    2. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I am so glad my posts help, marymarymar8.

  7. ellabirt Avatar

    I love those meadow minds. Sometimes thoughts that bloom from a calm stroll through the meadow are so true and easy, their beauty rings out like a bird’s song. My rainforest may be brimming with life, but those meadow minds are certainly no less to love.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Oh yes. “…no less to love”

  8. Alyssa Walton Avatar
    Alyssa Walton

    “You are not over. You are not under. You are just right.” I can’t tell you how much I’ve needed to hear this lately as someone with a rainforest mind. Thank you so, so much. Your writings are always so comforting and I appreciate them so much. You’re amazing!

  9. cmd1122 Avatar

    You did it all again Paula (made me think you are living in my brain and the rest of me). It has been a rough time. My dog Mocha passed after a 9-day struggle and I am at a loss for how much love we packed into each and every day for the 366 days since I had adopted my old gal from the SPCA. Each and every day Miss Mocha would have me hold her paw for a full five minutes and balance on her other paws…and then switch so I could hold her opposite front paw for five minutes, all while having her nose glued to my nose while we would stare into each other’s eyes (souls) and fill each other’s heart with snuggles and fill each other’s brain with oxytocin (the love hormone).
    I spent all the time I could possibly spend with her, especially in the last month. But 9 days ago she lost her appetite and had other critical issues. I took her to the emergency vet last Sunday. He prescribed some pills, but refused to prescribe any pain meds. Her regular vet would not either. I made 37 calls to 13 regional vets from Sunday to Friday morning; no one would come give her pain meds at home and no one would come euthanize her when I knew her body was failing her. We cried and snuggled all night on the floor for most of the week and I diligently hand fed her with a big syringe I convinced the vet to sell me. Carried her outside to the hallway to pee in a tray, asked neighbours to help me get her outside to pee (if she could). Dragged Mocha on her bed down the hallway to reduce the walking. Mocha’s body and mind were in distress by Thursday, but she still had a bit of energy to wag her tail and stare into my eyes and had me her paw. She was happy when I gave her a good morning greeting and gentle cuddle. My Friday morning was spent calling vets, no one would come (not even due to COVID, I asked).

    On Friday at noon a colleague came to pick her up and we went to the emergency vet. What an ordeal (like the fist visit; somewhat due to COVID, mostly due to incompetence and carelessness). 30 min and $454 later I was allowed inside, and another dog-loving colleague accompanied me. We cried and cuddled Mocha and made her last minutes of life warm and snuggly on the floor with us, on her mat and in her blankets. I removed her harness and held her paws and stared into her eyes and reminded her that she was the best dog in the universe and loved by hundreds of people who never had the joy of meeting her in person (my friends abroad). Then I flicked the switch for the vet to come in and end Mocha’s suffering. I winched as the last energy left her body and continued cuddling her and talking to her throughout and for the next 20 minutes. My colleague took some priceless photos. I knew he had to go back to the office; I would have stayed until the vet made me leave my girl. We left at 1:04pm, wearing wet and sticky COVID masks, covered in Mocha fur and smell and softness and tears dripping down our coats (well, can’t speak for my colleague on this one). No one would give me a hug because, of course, we might have all died of COVID despite our masks. :/
    Heart-wrenching. Intense. Exhausting in every sense. You got me. I have a RFM. I am taking this week off to balance overtime I have worked for yoga on a mat with Mocha fur stuck to it, music, reading, writing about Mocha, cello, plants, nature walks without Mocha by my side, cooking food that Mocha will not beg to eat, sweeping up Mocha fur from my home, and maybe starting a painting of my girl and I.

    1. ewabs2 Avatar

      I am so sorry for your loss.

      1. cmd1122 Avatar

        Thank you ewabs. 🙂

    2. marymarymar8 Avatar

      I am very sorry for your loss.

      1. cmd1122 Avatar

        Thank you marymarymar8 🙂 Mocha was a sweet heart.

    3. veroniqz Avatar

      Terrible, so sorry to here that. And it’s soooo hard to ‘simply let go’…. Wishing you strength🍀

      1. veroniqz Avatar

        (Sorry for the correction error, that should be ‘hear’, this is so distracting😌)

    4. itssue42 Avatar

      So sorry. So much love

    5. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Sending you so many hugs, cmd1122. I know how much Mocha meant to you. <3

    6. Someti Avatar

      So sad to read your story, cmd1122. I am so sorry.
      I am sending big hugs!! 💐

  10.  Avatar

    Oh Paula.

    This one has topped all the rest.
    You’re capacity to translate feelings and alternative realities I connect with so easily is astonishing. A true gift I build upon myself everyday.
    Thank you for lighting that way for me. ❤

  11. halfofthetruth Avatar

    You always speak exactly to how I feel and what I’ve lived for so many years, Paula!