What Is Obvious To You Is A Mystery To Them And What Is Obvious To Them Is A Mystery To You

No wonder you have trouble finding friends and partners. This explains so much, does it not? With your rainforest mind, you are always reading, researching, pondering, diving deep into the mental, emotional, educational, imaginative, intuitive, and spiritual caldron. With glee, I might add, when no one is getting in your way. You are enjoying yourself. It comes easily. So, when you share your thrilling findings, your musings, your perplexifications, they can be, well, dense, thick, multi-syllabic, abstruse, unfathomable, and, thus, impossible for the average muggle human to grok. But, you think to yourself, Why don’t they get it when it’s so obvious?

(photo by Afif Kusuma, Unsplash)

But what about the reverse? How is the obvious to them a mystery to you? Have you heard the expression that the simple is complex and the complex is simple when you are gifted? Well, that’s how. Your talent for deep thinking may lead you to make something more complicated than it actually is. Take multiple choice tests. Unless you figure out what the test designer had in mind, you might score poorly because you can explain how all of the choices could be correct, depending on the circumstances. A simple test stumps you because you naturally create connections or layers or intricacies where there are none. Right? This can also happen in conversations where you are flummoxed at the mundanities you hear being bandied about with such sincerity. You think: Surely, this must be code and these people are secret agents inventing a way to rid the world of single-use plastics. They can not actually care about these things. Can they?

Yes. Then can.

Please do not misunderstand me. (How often do you say that?) I am not wanting to create an us versus them situation here. It is just that you need to grow in your self-understanding and self-acceptance for the welfare of yourself, your family, your community, and the whole darned planet, so I am risking using what might be misconstrued as ridiculification. Apologies. (Oh, I love making up words!)

By the way, I was inspired to write about this from an email I received from a 55 year old female who also wrote a few other things you might relate to. So here are her words:

“… I am faced time and time again with the fact that I am fundamentally different from the people that I find myself surrounded by. I can pretend to be “normal” but it’s grueling and SOOO boring. If I am loved, it feels to me like it’s in spite of who I am, and not because of who I am. In recent days, this has really hit me like a brick over the head. Sometimes, I wish I weren’t so aware. Like REALLY aware. And when I find the places within me that I’m NOT aware of — that I hadn’t seen or understood — I tunnel through those as well. I never stop learning and searching. I can identify discrepancy, tension, and misalignment. I began to hunt for truth when things didn’t make sense as a child in a dysfunctional home with an alcoholic (but sensitive) father and an emotionally absent (but very present) mother. It felt impossible to unfurl. It was a debilitating mission for a sensitive kid like me. I’ve had to fight all my life to feel like I exist…”

And this:

“…But in my defense, I’ve spent most of my life trying to bend into the shape of the person that other people need. Because I care so deeply about other people’s feelings and can easily see their talents and strengths, I’ve advocated for and supported them without asking for anything in return. But part of that “brick over the head” I mentioned referred to the sudden realization that no one has ever treated me in kind. In fact, they’ve treated me quite poorly & I’ve let that be ok. But why? Don’t I deserve to be heard? I think I do.

You do, indeed, dear rainforestista. You do, indeed.


To my bloggEEs: We would love to hear your thoughts. You, too, deserve to be heard. And there is a lot here to respond to, right? Please do. Your comments add so much! Sending all of you much love as we struggle to find our way through these frightening times.

(Note: I was interviewed by Marije Hofland of the Netherlands for her podcast just out today. Here is the link. Thank you, Marije. After the Dutch introduction, the rest is in English!)

Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in counseling gifted adults and consulting with parents of gifted children. The label “gifted” is often controversial and confusing. I use the metaphor of the rainforest to describe this population. Like the rainforest, these individuals are quite complex, highly sensitive, intense, multi-layered, and misunderstood. They’re also curious, idealistic, highly intelligent, creative, perfectionistic, and they love learning. I’ve been an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, and Advanced Development Journal. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, was released in June 2016 by GHF Press and is available on Amazon or at your independent bookstore. 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, was released in June 2019.

39 responses to “What Is Obvious To You Is A Mystery To Them And What Is Obvious To Them Is A Mystery To You”

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  1. itssue42 Avatar

    O yeah, that resonates on lots of levels. I feel for that woman — just want to be loved for me, the actual real ME. sigh.

    But on cheerier notes, my current annoyance is trying to do crossword puzzles with a non-RFM almost-friend. I often get the “harder” ones immediately, but… I find the oversimplification and inaccuracy of most of the answers to be really annoying and feel almost compelled to explain why that just isn’t a legitimate clue 😀 And of course my friend, being not remotely rfm, gets these “simple” answers quickly, while I realize it would probably take me hours to do this simple puzzle by myself 😀

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for the example, Sue. Sounds like you might be a good team! 🙂

  2. keithkenobi Avatar

    Exactly! And yes, YOU deserve to be heard, held, comforted, accepted and EVERY thing else you do for everyone!
    It is soooo frustrating when you want to take a conversation down to the nitty-gritty and look at ALL aspects and they just see SIDES and immediately label you and discard your thoughts or even YOU yourself! Thanks for being YOU!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      So, it sounds like this is your experience, too, keithkenobi. So painful to feel discarded. Thank you for sharing.

  3. itssue42 Avatar

    p.s. so it’s a lot more fun to do those puzzles with a ‘normal’? human friend — one of the many benefits, as an rfm of having non-rfm friends. 🙂

  4. Carol Avatar

    I’ve had to learn to draw huge boundaries so that I no longer “give myself away”. I spent most of my adult life giving myself away to depletion because my love is so big and I care so much. But that led to nothing but a wrecked life. So I had to learn to stop depleting myself, to care for myself, to draw proverbial lines in the sand, to acknowledge and love and work with my rainforest self! It takes work – every day. I’m learning from legit energy worker folks to help myself, since I feel energies SO powerfully. Gotta learn to cultivate that garden to produce glorious fruits and veg 🙂💕 Thank you for this blog – it helps and lifts us!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Boundaries are so important, Carol. Good to hear you are getting support from energy workers!

  5. catherinegruener Avatar

    Love this post! I relate to the writer and to you both. The desire to be understood, accepted and loved (belonging and significance). Here is what I’ve worked on over the last 20 years-radical acceptance with love and compassion for others and myself, while playing with and learning how to set, maintain, and defend my own personal boundary. (I don’t always get it right). That each one of us holds our own unique perspective based upon not only what happened to us, but how we processed it, and the meaning we made of it. To hear for boundaries of other people and respect them. To learn from someone’s else’s perspective that might be drastically different from my own. And yes, to find those that hear me, see me and understand me, but for those that don’t-look for those that respect our differences and those boundaries. It’s a life journey for all of us. ❤️

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes, thank you, catherine. A life journey for sure.

  6. keithkenobi Avatar

    You have to take care of yourself, FIRST! It did not come across well, but I told the mother of my kids that *I* come first because then I can do TEN-FOLD for others. It can simply be described as in the morning, you have to go to the bathroom, get dressed, brush your teeth and wash your face, right? THEN you are good to go to get everyone else the help they need. And it applies to our “other” needs/wants too. Looking forward to some exciting event, the weekend, or the rest of my life keeps my energy up.

  7. Jack Avatar

    Yeah, it’s so strange to realise it’s *not just me*. After so many years of thinking that I’m a puzzle piece that somehow got into the wrong box, it seems there are some pieces that maybe don’t fit in pre-made puzzles.

    I’m not sure I’ve ever had any glee, though. But it sounds nice.

    I just wonder what happens to people like me. Like us.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Keep reading, Jack. You will find out more as you read the blog. You are not alone.

  8. Sheep’s Wool Avatar
    Sheep’s Wool

    I relate, keithkenobi 😀
    I also relate to what you say, Carol.
    Thank goodness that I am able to read these testimonies from you – it truly helps me to understand myself better.
    I send you and all readers of the blog much love. You are wonderful.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes, all of your comments support each other so well. Thank you, Sheep’s Wool!

  9. keithkenobi Avatar

    I have started an email to Paula about “Relationships” for her next book. Of course it is not “good” enough yet to send. I do not want to leave anything out, ha ha. But it is finding someone who is conversely accepting of each-others capabilities, talents, and can commit 100% to be on the SAME “side” so you can be as ONE when experiencing everything.
    Please share you experiences with her, I still need to learn after multiple failed committed (so I thought) relationships.

    1. Marina Avatar

      That sounds very encouraging, keithkenobi! Perhaps I should also write something… I’ve lived with a non-RFM but highly sensitive man for 35 years now, so perhaps my experience might be interesting to Paula? Paula, do you have a dealine for a contribution?

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        Yes, please do, Marina. No deadline yet. I’m just figuring out a structure so still wanting very much to hear from everyone!

    2. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Send it now, Keith! It does not need to be perfect. 🙂 You can add more later, if needed. I’m still in the early stages of writing.

  10. The Eccentric Blogger Avatar
    The Eccentric Blogger

    Noone should feel compelled to bend in any form that “others” want them to; the majority ain’t exactly smart as it’s plainly obvious. Just watch some curb your enthusiasm, take inspiration from Larry David and just be yourself..cheers!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks, Eccentric Blogger. Nice to see you here.

  11. Casey Cappello Avatar
    Casey Cappello

    Oh wow! This hit hard right now: “Because I care so deeply about other people’s feelings and can easily see their talents and strengths, I’ve advocated for and supported them without asking for anything in return. But part of that “brick over the head” I mentioned referred to the sudden realization that no one has ever treated me in kind.” I’m going to need to sit with that one for a while… and that’s saying a lot!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Glad to hear you resonated with this, Casey. Thank you for sharing.

  12. Joy in HK Avatar
    Joy in HK

    Funny you should say that, about the obviousness paradox, as I was just thinking along similar/adjacent/tangential lines this morning. How, maybe it is a kind of stupid to have to understand something, and quite thoroughly, before I can learn it when so many people learn things without ever understanding it. How do they do that?
    For example, I am taking a new class online and, slsthsough I am learning quite a lot, I really am very annoyed and frustrated by the organization of the materials, or, rather, the lack thereof. So I have to spend a fair amount of time trying to put it into some sort of coherence. I have to ask frequently whether there is some order to the way it is being presented, because if there is, I want to know what it is. Unfortunately, it is basically arbitrary and random, until suddenly it is alphabetical when nothing before it was. ????? How can anyone stand this? And yet, apparently they do. I seem to be the only one with this issue, or do they all feel this way but I am the only one willing to express it?
    This is a great deal of what is wrong with almost all educational environments I have ever encountered. IT seems so totally dysfunctional and yet ever perpetuating. Sorry for the rant but, well, you asked, right?

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yep. I asked. I’m guessing others here grapple with similar frustrations. Thanks Joy.

  13. Marina Avatar

    Dear Paula, thank you for this post, how wonderful to read all the comments. I was so impressed by it that I became quite speechless, because I recognised myself in everything. And it made me cry. I do care so much for others, but I have not been treated kindly, just as the lady in the e-mail explains. So I hope I’m a little wiser now that I’ve understood that I’m important, too!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes, Marina. You are surely important, valuable, worthy of kindness and love!!!!

  14. Licensed driver Avatar
    Licensed driver

    On my drivers license test, there was one safety question that I read and instantly thought I knew what I would do in that situation. My idea was none of the options, so I asked a staff member and she said “your idea is actually better than any of the options, I have never thought of this one like that” but then I got it wrong because I had to guess which option was the “right” one. Instead of feeling any pride in my idea, I left feeling stupid.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Great example. Thank you. Next time you will know you are not stupid. You have a rainforest mind!

  15. Stormy Avatar

    I’m thinking about Easter egg hunts right now. As a child, I never found any eggs at public egg hunts. I was always seeking secret hiding places in the flower beds or shrubberies. Meanwhile, the eggs were simply strewn on the open grass…

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Ha! Of course. Great example, Stormy. Timely, too. 🙂

  16. Meredith Avatar

    I think there are FAR more things that are obvious to me and a mystery to them. And I do not think that I do overcomplicate or overthink things, nor do I think I have overexcitabilities. I think that “muggles” underthink, oversimplify, and are underexcitable. Don’t try to make it sound like it’s all even, because it’s not.
    This is still the best explanation of it all that I have ever seen:

    “If you’ve ever felt that this is a mediocre world society run by and for mediocre people, you deserve credit for your readiness to see the truth, even when it hurts.”

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for the link, Meredith. I will check it out. Sorry if I made it sound “all even.” Not my intention.

    2. hksounds Avatar

      Thanks for the link. It’s an interesting post and blog. Unfortunately, the last post was a decade ago. Do you know if he has continued elsewhere?

  17. hksounds Avatar

    For some reason, I have ended up posting on this page under two different accounts, without asking me. Hmmmm.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Do you want me to delete anything, hksounds?

      1. hksounds Avatar

        Thanks, Paula. – I don’t think so, but I just want to be sure you know that I am also ‘Joy in HK’ who posted on April 12, 2022 at 10:05 pm. Who knows why I wouldn’t let me post under hksounds one day, but it wouldn’t so I reregistered. Then, this one came back?

        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          Oh! Of course. You are Joy in HK. Good to know. Yes, the technology can be mysterious. But I am so grateful for it!! 🙂

  18. kholopainen Avatar

    I could have written that e-mail. But after 30 years with someone who “put up” with my “weirdness” because I was so good at so many things and made his life so much easier, I am now with another RFM. And it is astonishing revelations every day, I never knew life could be this amazing. I feel like I have finally come alive.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      So happy for you, kholopainen!

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