#047 [Neurodiversity Week] Understanding Your Rainforest Mind with Paula Prober

Paula Prober in Podcast Understanding Your Rainforest Mind episode Cover

It is Neurodiversity Celebration Week and we are diving into neurodiversity and what it is like to figure out you are neurodivergent as an adult.

In the episode, we talk to the wonderful Paula Prober and seek to understand ourselves through her analogy of the Rainforest Mind; a subset of the gifted community that is especially creative.

We dive into what is a rainforest mind? What is a multipotentialite?

And why it’s important to work on yourself, especially if you’re a parent.

Hit play and let’s get started!

Memorable Quote

“The key thing, I think, is to recognize that you have a right to take care of yourself and it’s a big gift that you give your kids because you heal whatever wounding you have, you understand yourself and you’re more apt to understand your kids.” – Paula Prober

“One of the traits of the rainforest minded person, which is someone who is interested in everything, is they want to do everything, but it’s so hard to… settle into a certain career path because they feel like they have to give up all these other ones to do this one.

So then I talk to them about – you don’t have to do the same thing. Once you decide to do this one thing, you don’t have to do that for the rest of your life. You can do it for a while and then go to the next thing. And the next thing. I have a client who stays in a job maybe for two years, and then she’s ready to go to something else and not everybody can do that, but the multipotentialite gifted person is highly creative and, and so they have so many interests and ability, so many things that they are capable of doing.

So how do you decide, how do you choose?… So that’s where I come in. I help normalize that in a way, right?” – Paula Prober


Bio – Paula Prober

Paula Prober is a licensed psychotherapist and consultant in private practice in Eugene, Oregon, USA. She specializes in counselling gifted adults and youth (in the state of Oregon) and consults with parents of gifted children and with gifted adults internationally.

Before becoming a therapist in 1992, she was a teacher in public schools and she worked with gifted children in grades 1-8. She’s been an adjunct instructor with University of Oregon and a guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University, and a presenter at multiple conferences, podcasts, and webinars.

Her book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, was released in June 2016 by GHF Press. Her 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.


[00:00:00] Sophia Elliott: Welcome to this week’s podcast. It’s an absolute delight for me today to be introducing polar pro bar and. When I was thinking earlier, it’s like, how do I introduce polar pro? It was like, it’s just polar proba people. It’s like Paul Probar. And so if you, if you haven’t come across polar before she is an author, she was an educator of gifted students and she is a counselor.

[00:00:24] But I think more than that, the role polar plays on this kind of global giftedness community is almost this maternal matriarchal voice of you’re. Okay. You’re not broken. And there’s understanding, and this just soothing tome of it’s. Okay. You’ve just got a rainforest mind. And so it’s a delight to introduce Paula today to have a chat with us about what is a rainforest mind and more that first of all, Paula, welcome to delight to have you on the podcast.

[00:01:03] Paula Prober: I’m I’m very happy to be here. Sophia. It’s it’s lovely to be here. I love talking about this. This is my favorite thing.

[00:01:14] Sophia Elliott: Excellent. Me too. And so I thought we might just start with tell us a little bit about you and and how did you kind of. Ended up doing what you’re doing.

[00:01:26] Paula Prober: Okay.

[00:01:27] Sophia Elliott: I know when you start, right?

[00:01:29] Paula Prober: Yeah. Well, I can sort of be a little chronological, I think. Yeah. I I was in education first when I graduated from college, back in my twenties, I started as a teacher in a public school setting and I had a couple of colleagues tell me that the way I taught would be appropriate, really great for gifted children.

[00:01:53] And I w I, at that point, it’s kind of like, what’s a gifted child. What does that, so, I learned, I actually, there was a master’s degree program in education at the college nearby. So I took that and it was in gifted education and, and the people who told me that said that because I was not a traditional type teacher, I was not the center of the universe in the classroom.

[00:02:17] It was a very project-based class, and the kids were always doing different things together. And I had an independent reading program. So they weren’t all reading the same book at the same time. All of those things that I just naturally did because that’s how I loved teaching.

[00:02:33] And and it turns out those were all good tools for the gifted kids thrived in my classroom. Some of the other kids, maybe not so much, the kids who needed more structure and, and more I can’t even think of what that’s called, but you know, the basics more of the basics. I don’t know that they, they did so well, but the gifted kids thrive.

[00:02:51] So I learned what that was. And and then pretty quickly got a job teaching in a gifted program in a pull-out program, in a middle school. So I was a teacher. Pulling gifted kids out of the regular classroom. And that was interesting. I loved it. It was, the kids were amazing and the teachers were not real happy with me because, I was, they, they were, how every teacher thinks that the kids all need to be in every, every session.

[00:03:18] If you miss a class, it’s terrible. And anyway, it was, it was tricky trying to work with the teachers and talk to the teachers about why these kids needed this different kind of thing. And, and and that’s when I developed the analogy actually of the rainforest mind, because I needed a way to explain giftedness to people.

[00:03:38] Two teachers and really anybody who wasn’t sure what does it mean? What’s the definition? And, right. There are so many different definitions and people some people think one way, some people think it’s achievement. Some people think it’s, personality or brain, or there are so many different opinions.

[00:03:53] And so, I needed a simple way to explain it to teachers where they might feel more comfortable with it. And so it sort of was one of those moments, where, because I really loved. The metaphor of all people, it’s like people as ecosystems. So some people are like Meadows, some people are like deserts.

[00:04:14] Some people are like oceans and some people are like the rainforest and all those ecosystems are beautiful and valuable and important. And the rainforest ecosystem is just the most complex. And that’s like our gifted people. They’re they’re, full of ideas and many layers, and there’s so much going on and it’s colorful and it’s intense and it’s highly sensitive.

[00:04:38] And it really fits that, what a rainforest is like really fits with these, this population. And even to the point of we misunderstand them and we try to make them into something or not, we cut them down, like we do our rainforests and if it’s it’s I’m, I’m pleased with how the, how the metaphor works.

[00:05:00] And, some of the teachers still weren’t convinced, but it was at least a way to help them. See, we’re not talking about, better than, we’re not saying that these kids are, are superior human beings. We’re just saying they have these differences and this is what their differences are like. And so, so I did, I was in teaching them.

[00:05:19] A certain number of years. And then I, I was ready to get out of education and everything I was interested in was psychotherapy oriented and mental health. And I was a client in counseling and I loved that. And so I went back to school when I was 39 and got this counseling degree and worked in an agency for a while and then transitioned into a private practice.

[00:05:44] And basically it dawned on me that, I should specialize in counseling, gifted folks because I knew that they had particular mental health issues that that therapists weren’t didn’t understand that many therapists would have no idea because there’s no training or they’re at least then is very little training.

[00:06:04] Now I think too for therapists on understanding. What does anxiety look like in a gifted person? Or what does depression look like? And, and of course everyone’s different, but there are these particular needs that the gifted population has that that made it sense for me to focus on that. And then I was looking for something else interesting to do.

[00:06:27] So I started blogging and just was, I’m so surprised how much I love writing and blogging and having a larger influence, reaching people around the world with the blog. It’s it’s just, I just feel so privileged to be able to do that, to be able to live in the time when the technology exists so that, we can reach people around the world.

[00:06:52] And so I, so I started the blog and then this GHS. That’s they have a press, they have a small press. They noticed my blog and asked me to write a book for them. So then I wrote my first book and and then let’s see. I’m trying to think. So then, well then I I decided, okay, so I got people who are asking about putting the blog posts into a book, for people who wanted a book in their hands to yeah.

[00:07:20] So I took the. Four years of the blog, the most popular posts put them in. And that’s my second book. And and then at the end I organize the posts because they’re not really organized on the blog. I just write, whatever I’m interested in writing that particular day. So there’s some there’s perfectionism, there’s sensitivities, there’s loneliness.

[00:07:40] There are schooling, those are the many of the topics. So I got to put them into these chapters in the second book. And then at the end of every chapter have I’ve suggested activities that you can do exercises, you can do mostly journaling to get more, to find out more for yourself about how you relate to these topics.

[00:08:01] So that book too, and then just recently, I kind of discovered Instagram and I’m having fun, doing little videos on Instagram. It’s just, it’s just really funny because I’m taught, I didn’t think that I would enjoy that or that, that would be something I would want to do, but, but you know, on Instagram you write these means, right.

[00:08:26] And. A gifted people are more complicated than a little meme, but it seems like I can, I, I come up with the meme and then I can do a little video and and I’ve had, it just feels it’s, I don’t know what it is about my personality, but I, I enjoy, even though I’m not talking directly to the person, I feel like I’m talking to a bunch of people and, and reaching people.

[00:08:51] And then, and then getting the response, the little emoji responses or the questions or the comments on Instagram. And, and so that’s, I’ve enjoyed doing that too. So that’s kind of the, my path.

[00:09:04] Sophia Elliott: Well, I have multiple questions there, but I follow you on Instagram as well, and I really love your posts because as I said before, it’s just very soothing and comforting and seen.

[00:09:16] I think what you do is to help people feel seen and it is really lovely. So I definitely encourage everyone to follow Paula on Instagram. But we’ll take a step back there. Let’s start with, so we have, we’ve touched on what is a rainforest mind there in terms of the different ecosystems. And what I love about that analogy is, we, we get very, it’s easy to get caught up in the label giftedness because by.

[00:09:46] It’s just a horrific kind of label like it, it’s, I think there’s a lot of history and misconceptions around it and, and people find it really hard to resonate with that because I think because of those misconceptions and like you said, the, the million different definitions that are out there, all that, it just kind of makes it hard to find what it is about that that you can connect to.

[00:10:11] And what I love about the rainforest mind analogy is it just kind of says, I forget all that. Let’s reconnect with this wonderful metaphor from nature, which draws us back into what is, these really complex ecosystems and seeing our minds as an extension of that complexity. So I think it’s that it’s easier to kind of go well, yeah, I’m, I’m complex, I can, I can resonate to that.

[00:10:41] I can say yes to that. I might struggle with saying, yeah, I’m gifted, but I can kind of go. Yeah, definitely. I’m complex and I’m sensitive and and I like the way that you, you map out, all of the, a lot of different traits and experiences in your books. And, and I think perhaps we can dive into maybe a few of those in this conversation and we might start with multipotentialite versus being a specialist.

[00:11:13] Can you tell us a little bit about what a multipotentialite is?

[00:11:17] Paula Prober: Sure. Yeah, but you know, I I guess one thing, one point I wanted to make was that not every person who we would define as gifted is actually a rainforest mind. You know what I’ve learned as I’ve continued to work here in the field, it’s like the rainforest minded type of gifted is the more creative, the more the person who’s that high sensitivity, high empathy, many interests, and many career paths, and wants to do many different things and learn about everything.

[00:11:52] Not all gifted, not all people we would define as gifted. Are the rainforest mind variety. So I do sort of want to differentiate that because not everyone is a multipotentialite, but they may be brilliant scientists or mathematicians or, or even musicians in the one track. And that’s what they do their entire lives.

[00:12:16] And they’re satisfied with that. And they, and they are high achievers. So just, just, just to clarify.

[00:12:23] Sophia Elliott: Yeah, no, I appreciate that because it hadn’t occurred to me that that analogy might be just a subset of giftedness. Perhaps because it just resonates so much. But that’s really interesting. And and so do you relate the rainforest mind analogy specifically to multipotentialite creative?

[00:12:46] Yes, the personalities. Yep.

[00:12:49] Paula Prober: Yep. Yep. And so with multipotentialite I always give credit to Emily, Emily wept. Nick, do you know her? Right? W a P N I C K, because that’s her term. She, she came up with that. And so I, I use that, but I try to mention her every time it comes up, because it’s so lovely term.

[00:13:10] And it describes that one of the traits of the rainforest minded person, which is someone who is, they were telling me, they’re interested in everything. They want to do everything, but it’s so hard to, sometimes it’s challenging to. Settle into a certain career path because they feel like they have to give up all these other ones to do this one, and so then I talked to them about, you don’t have to do the same thing. You’re once you decide to do this one thing, you don’t have to do that. The rest of your life, you can do it for a while and then go to the next thing. And the next thing, and I have a client. She stays in a job maybe for two years, and then it’s ready to go to something else and not everybody can do that, but but the multipotentialite gifted person is highly creative and, and so it’s just, they have so many interests and, and ability, so many things that they are capable of doing.

[00:14:03] So how do you decide, how do you choose and they’re big thinkers and, and it’s you, you think about all the variables and all the complexities and all the variables within the variables. So that’s where I come in. It’s it’s I help, I help normalize that in a way, right?

[00:14:22] Because not every one is like that some well, I have I knew someone who, she was a first grade teacher for 30 years and she loved it and she was good at it, but that was what she did her entire career life. And multipotentialite would just die doing, the same thing. Although teaching can be, can have a lot of variety in it.

[00:14:43] And so it can attract some of these people. They can go into teaching because if they get. To do many things depending on the school system and this and the grade level and all of that. Certainly when I was a teacher of the gifted, I could write my own curriculum. I could do whatever I wanted with that.

[00:15:01] There were no, there were no rules. And so that was very stimulating. And then being with all these kids who were so funny, they were, sense of humor was so interesting. So anyway, I don’t know. Did that answer your question? I

[00:15:14] Sophia Elliott: think so. And I think it’s really, it’s like you say, it’s it’s really important to understand because when I first came across the term, multipotentialite I, I recall, I think I was, I was unwell.

[00:15:28] I had a virus. I remember just laying on the couch, watching Ted talks, on my phone as you do. And I stumbled across a Ted talk on multipotentialite and it was like I was like, wow. Because I’d always, gone through life feeling kind of inadequate because I didn’t have a thing. And, and I always just wish, when someone says, what do you do?

[00:15:53] I’m like, oh, I hate that question. And I always just wish I could just say, look, I’m an accountant or I’m a teacher, or are I am a something that my response is always like, well, I always kind of had these different paths and different kinds of jobs. And I felt very much like a Jack of all trades kind of master of none.

[00:16:16] And so when I came across that term and, multipotentialite or generalist, it, it helped me make sense of, where I kind of fit in the world and also a sense that that, that actually brings value in its, in itself having different interests and different abilities.

[00:16:34] And so I think it’s a really important notion for multipotentialite to understand. It’s kind of like, you’re not broken because you’re not just doing the one thing, your whole career, it’s just kind of like you have different abilities and, and different interests. And man, I’ve just got a list. As long as my arm of the things I’ve considered doing and being, and even some of the different things that I’ve done and.

[00:17:01] And it’s taken a long time to go well, that’s okay. That’s me. And why bring to things is actually a really diverse set of interests, knowledge and abilities, and, that’s a real strength. So, so yeah, like I, I, my undergrad is in visual arts, but my best subject at school was science. But I remember being 15 and looking at this picture of an Eagle and just kind of going, yeah, I can draw that and I drew it and that was it.

[00:17:33] I was then considered the art kid and I, yeah. Quite an aptitude for, I won an award. I did the degree, but actually I went to be a vet or like a biologist or a Marine biologist, except I don’t like swimming in the ocean. So that was a problem. But what I did instead initially, was a TAFE course and became a chef.

[00:17:56] And then I started studying literature in Japanese. Got sick. Then I did the undergrad in visual arts, but actually I got involved in politics while I was there, spent the next decade in politics as a policy advisor for a state minister and a campaigner even like in here in Australia, in the UK.

[00:18:16] And then I kind of got back to the arts as a program manager for this amazing social enterprise in Scotland, where we worked with vulnerable young kids and we use the arts to get them out of bed in the morning, came back to Australia and I was a development manager for a chamber music festival. And I had kids lost my way a bit.

[00:18:36] That was a bit challenging in terms of just I did become a stay at home mum, which I never thought I would have the opportunity to do. And that was great, but it was also really hard. And then as I’ve kind of tried to figure it out what to do next, I find myself doing a podcast on giftedness and diving into like psychology and things like that.

[00:18:59] So I guess if you’re listening and you’re thinking, yeah, that sounds like my career can dive into multipotentialite pick up Paula’s book and explore that a bit because this apparently is not unusual. This is a rainforest smart. But uh, I I think at the big question, in our, in when we don’t understand something, we can often feel.

[00:19:26] Like we don’t fit like way broken when we don’t kind of perceive ourselves fitting into what would be considered normal. What I want to ask you is, well, what are the dangers of pathologizing that experience of being a rainforest mind on gifted? Because it’s something that you touch on in the book.

[00:19:48] And I think it’s a really interesting conversation because, it’s kind of like, I felt like, with my career, it’s kind of like, well, what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just pick one thing and be this or people might feel like, well, why am I so sensitive that my must be broken? Why am I so intense?

[00:20:05] I must be broken. So we don’t actually have to look at it that way. Dewey there’s other ways of looking. That definitely

[00:20:16] Paula Prober: city. Yes. And that’s, that’s sort of feels like that’s my job, my, that I’m called to be, I was talking with somebody today about that. I love what I do. And she was saying, it’s, it’s not just even not just a career, it’s a calling, I feel like, yeah, this is what I’m here to do to help gifted people understand who they are and love who they are.

[00:20:40] And because they don’t often don’t fit in often pathologize themselves or think something’s wrong with them because even, even in communication they’re often not, they could be not understood, they’re trying to explain something, but they see it. In so many dimensions and so much nuance, and they’re excited about it and explaining whatever it is to someone and the other person doesn’t get it.

[00:21:06] Or the other person simplifies it or narrows it down or sees one thread and you are presenting 10 threads, and they can see one and there’s nothing wrong with them. It’s just that their capacity is more limited and there’s nothing wrong with you. And even there’s nothing wrong with your ability to communicate it’s that you are the, the other person can’t receive the complexity of what you are seeing and understanding and trying to explain.

[00:21:36] And so there’s so many things like that where I can help, the, the rainforest minded person see their traits so that, oh, this is just being a rainforest mind. This is not an illness or you’re not diagnosable or it’s not a pathology. It’s, it’s a way of being, it’s a wonderful way of being, and it’s unusual still on the planet, and it’s hard to find others like you.

[00:22:05] And so that can be sad and lonely and frustrating. And you can, that the gifted person is often highly sensitive and has a lot of empathy. And so they’re inclined to blame themselves. At least that’s what I see in the people that I work with right there. There’s less of a it’s that’s that person’s fault.

[00:22:26] It’s more, I get so many clients it’s, they’re, they’re just examining themselves. What did I do? And what did I do wrong and how, it’s like, oh no, it’s just that you haven’t rainforest mind. And so yeah, a lot of what I do is just normalize. Just explain what that is and yeah. And help people go, oh, oh, oh.

[00:22:48] Cause I see it on my blog too. It’s there, in the comments people are just saying, oh, it’s just such a relief. You know what, what you’re saying is just such a relief for me to know that, oh, you mean there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m not, I’m not even actually a bad communicator. It’s just that people can’t receive it because it’s, it’s more complicated than they understand.

[00:23:10] Sophia Elliott: Does that make sense? Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So perhaps what are some of that. Key traits of a rainforest mind. Maybe we can dig in a little bit there. And you’ve mentioned a few sensitivities and intensity and creativity.

[00:23:24] Paula Prober: Yeah. Yes. Empathy is very common. The multi potentiality and just big intellect, just, very intelligent.

[00:23:33] It’s like, it’s sort of like, I tell people that all reinforced minded folks are gifted, but not all gifted folks have reinforced minds, it’s not a trait, but it’s an issue often for gifted people. They have difficulty with school. There’s a, there’s a love of learning. There’s a passion for learning about everything.

[00:23:56] And but schooling can be difficult. Schooling can be problematic if, if there, if it’s, if they already know the material, there are two, two years or so above grade level, and they’re in a, they’re in first grade and they’re already reading. And so, and the teacher is teaching letters because that’s what most of the kids need.

[00:24:13] And this, this six year old is reading Charlotte’s web or Harry Potter. And so there can be schooling, I would work with the adults. I don’t work with the kids. So, so it kinda, I can hear stories about bullying and school and, and being so bored in school or just feeling out of place and feeling like they don’t.

[00:24:34] So there are, so I write, so those are the chapters kind of in my book, sensitivity and empathy in schooling and loneliness the, the trouble, the difficulty finding peers, finding other main force minded folks to feel, to have friends trouble, with friendships and sometimes in partnerships because of the intensity, because of the drive to learn often, there’s a, there’s a social conscious conscience, where there’s a social sense of social responsibility being aware of what’s happening on the planet and wanting to make a difference.

[00:25:09] Sophia Elliott: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And how integral is creativity to that process?

[00:25:19] Paula Prober: It’s it’s it’s part of it. Yeah. Like being a divergent thinker, it doesn’t necessarily, right. It’s not necessarily just artistic. Right. We sometimes say creative means you are able to draw, or you were a poser or, musical or yeah.

[00:25:34] It can be that, but it can also be how you think and problem solve, you love problem solving and you, you don’t fit in the box. You’re an out of the box thinker. You’re a divergent thinker. So that’s, that’s with the reinforce mine, not necessarily the gifted, all the gifted, but many gifted people too.

[00:25:57] Yeah, yeah, yeah.

[00:25:59] Sophia Elliott: Yeah. That’s interesting. I I mentioned before I did an undergrad in finance. But then I went and worked in politics and I had a colleague who used to say I had a papier-mache degree, which is obviously really kind of nasty. And, and so I kind of went, oh, what’s the most opposite thing I can think of.

[00:26:20] So I did an MBA, just kind of, kind of just to balance out the visual arts right now. No, one’s going to take me seriously, obviously, unless I do something, bland, but what I realized I’m in that phase of my career was. What the arts gave me and, what the creativity gave me was actually my strength, because I’ve always been a great problem solver.

[00:26:48] And I realized even then I was a great problem solver because of my creativity. And so that papier-mache degree as such, had helped me hone that creativity. But was the basis for which you know, very much my strength in that role and in that kind of, part of my career, although yeah, my whole life definitely.

[00:27:07] But it was, but it’s that link between understanding that creativity is not just drawing or painting. It’s actually a way of thinking and participating and having that sense of depth. And there’s a lot of references in your book to. Like a real intense sensitivity, and I’m the kind of person who will cry watching a TV ad.

[00:27:31] I’ll be like, oh my God, that’s so beautiful. Or watching cartoon movies with the kids and I’ll be like, oh, that’s just so beautiful. So, and I’ve learned just to roll with that because it’s like, well, these are beautiful things and I don’t care. But that can be quite hard to assume, I guess, assimilate and confront as an individual to kind of go actually, well, I’m not too sensitive.

[00:27:53] I am just sensitive. And there’s a lovely quote actually in the book, which I really loved was about, one of the stories that you were telling, and she was, she was always told that she was too much, she was too deep and too intense and, and it was kind of relating herself to the ocean. And she was like, well, the ocean is also deep, but how could the ocean ever be too much?

[00:28:16] And I really loved the way that. The analogy of the rainforest mind keeps bringing us back to that connection with the earth and our place within it to kind of make sense of ourselves because I think we can get very, cerebral and, and co you know sort of in our heads and think that we’re actually very connected and I think like all of nature and extension of that as well,

[00:28:40] Paula Prober: What that makes me think of too, is the bet.

[00:28:43] So many of my clients go to nature to feel centered and calm their nervous system. And actually there’s a spiritual component for many of them connecting to nature. And that, I guess is another trait, the intuitive, the intuitive and spiritual and spirituality is such a broad topic, but there is definitely a.

[00:29:12] Some kind of, and it’s usually not within a particular form of a religion or a dogma, but it’s more, open-ended spirit love in the universe, that sort of thing. And, and it often comes through the connection to nature, at least in the clients that I see. And I, and I tell those clients, it’s not, you’re too sensitive.

[00:29:35] It’s that you’re highly sensitive. Right? Yeah. And it’s, it’s a beautiful thing. And that the challenge is living in this world as that. And how do you, what are the strategies you use. Two on one hand, calm your nervous system relaxation tools and techniques respect yourself and what your limits are and setting boundaries and not necessarily, spending time with people who tend to be toxic, let’s say, or, and how do you nourish, nourish that sensitivity?

[00:30:08] And also I guess I would say like use body somatic tools to help whether it’s, whether it’s even breathing and meditation and exercise and knowing what your hormones are and what are you eating, it’s going to be sensitive on those levels of food, sensitivities and chemical sensitivities and and allergies.

[00:30:30] And so there are a whole lot of it’s it’s really important to look at that issue. And, and really take care of yourself.

[00:30:41] Sophia Elliott: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that’s been a big thing for me as well. Certainly getting back into the body and learning will actually, how do I feel in this moment? How can I ground myself and just breathe?

[00:30:55] And I think that’s definitely a tool we need as parents, in that kind of what can be very intense without intense gifted complex children is just actually learning to breathe. But what advice might you have for like an adult? We think if the child who at the moment is kind of going well, my child is gifted and my child is neurodivergent.

[00:31:19] But he’s starting to realize as they learn more about what that is, Actually, that’s sort of starting to resonate with me a little bit, but I really don’t like this gifted term because a big part of doing this series and dive into these topics, but, as an adult was my experience last year of, of being diagnosed gifted and autistic which was quite unexpected.

[00:31:48] And so I guess I just wanted to provide people with some, I don’t know, some ideas of what is the next step in exploring that if I think that some of those traits, I see myself as well,

[00:32:05] Paula Prober: Well, I think one of the first things is to understand that your child needs you to work on yourself.

[00:32:17] That that taking time for yourself will only benefit your children. And, and I granted it’s hard to find that time. It’s hard to make that time when you have kids. But there’s, but it, it not only helps you be more patient with your children, right. And have more energy for them. It’s It’s it’s essential that you, that you model self care and self-understanding, and one thing that can happen is you get triggered by, whatever your child is doing.

[00:32:51] If you are kind of you’re unconscious of your own past, let’s say your own family, even family of origin, and that what happened to you as a child when you were being raised by your parents and your child is, maybe the same age as you were when you had this terrible experience growing up yourself, this can create, triggering and you can get angry and you don’t understand why you’re so angry because this child hasn’t really done anything terrible.

[00:33:16] And it’s like the more you are aware of your own issues and your own giftedness and what that means, the better parent you are. And so, and it’s not easy. T to look at that. And it’s not doesn’t mean you all need therapy necessarily, but you know, parents can start with the books, start with my, or my blog, you start with the blog and and then, and the books and just to, just, and to the key thing, I think is to recognize that you have a right to take care of yourself and it’s, and it’s a big gift that you give your kids because you heal whatever wounding you have, you understand yourself, and you’re more apt to.

[00:34:02] understand your, kids. When you, you get centered, you know how to calm yourself, and then you model that. That’s the other thing you model that you make a mistake and you don’t, go into a whole self-deprecating, tirade on yourself because you weren’t the perfect parent.

[00:34:19] You learn how to take care of yourself under that’s the other, I guess, trait right. Of gifted people. That perfectionism is a big one that we’d have mentioned, right? So that’s the thing. And if you haven’t grappled with your own perfectionism and something happens where you, of course make a mistake as a parent, you show your child how to, how to apologize when you make this mistake, what to do.

[00:34:46] When you mess up so that they have permission to not be perfect and you model that skill for them. So, so there’s a whole, there are a whole lot of good reasons why you as a parent should, give time, take time, take breaks from your kids and, and really understand what it means for you, because it seems to be genetic.

[00:35:07] It seems to be that if you have a gifted child, the odds are fairly good that you will also be gifted, however, rainforests mine. So that’s, I guess the big piece that I can tell parents.

[00:35:20] Sophia Elliott: Yeah. And I have to say any of the big parenting breakthroughs that I’ve had because something in me has shifted.

[00:35:27] It’s actually had nothing to do with the kids. It’s kind of like my perspective changed my insight or mindset changed and that created the breakthrough. Like in nothing the kids did. And so, yeah, certainly in my experience, the best thing I can do is deal with my stuff and grow and, and work on me because then I become a better parent and it’s not that my kids change or even need to change.

[00:35:54] I get better at understanding their needs and understanding them and being there for them and in better and better ways. And so, so yeah, I can’t agree enough. That’s certainly been a huge thing. And even like in the last 12 months as a family, we’ve been diving into really trying to understand all of our sensory issues and between all of this, like with, as a menagerie of, sound.

[00:36:23] A few of us crazy and textures and sensory seeking and pool, that’s just like, and it’s even just getting a meal, you’ve got to consider everyone’s sensory and textural kind of things. And, but kind of getting real with myself and starting to understand myself is actually giving me a language that helped me relate to my kids.

[00:36:45] And I can kind of say, well, sometimes I now kind of recognize sometimes I get overwhelmed sensory overwhelm and previously I didn’t have a language for that. I just, I just called it life overwhelmed. I’m just tired. I’m just overwhelmed. But now I know sometimes I’m tired.

[00:37:02] Sometimes I’m like totally naked. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with life and sometimes I am overwhelmed, like S like in my senses, and it’s almost like a progression. They do build on each other, but now I know, well, if I feel that way, this is what I do. If I feel that way, this is what I do. And it’s given me a language as well.

[00:37:27] So I can say to my kids, oh, do you ever feel this way all the time? Like, oh, okay. My goodness. Well, let’s see what we can do about that. Right. And it’s it’s a really powerful thing. And I think that’s probably the one thing that I wanted to share out of all this it’s that it’s tightly worth, in my opinion, taking the time and energy to, to do this work.

[00:37:49] And it does take time and energy and sometimes money. But what you get out of it can be so great, for yourself and just. As a language with your kids as well, the understanding so huge benefit there. I think in exploring all these things I was interested we, we were exchanging a few emails and you had asked whether or not that diagnosis resonated for me.

[00:38:13] And I was interested in that inquiry. If you, if you don’t mind. Sure.

[00:38:20] Paula Prober: Sure. Well, so just so some background, I don’t, I don’t work with many, twice exceptional clients. Most of the clients that I have are kind of like straight up rainforest mind without the complexity of the twice or thrice exceptionality.

[00:38:37] And so we haven’t really talked about that. Yeah. But I, that’s not my field. So I’m glad you didn’t ask me questions about that, because know, I refer people who are looking at autism spectrum or ADHD or dyslexia, some of those other issues exceptionalities. Yeah. So, but I, I get, I think why I asked was I think that it depends on the, the evaluator, how you want to really get a good evaluator.

[00:39:07] You want to get someone who understand. Understands all of this giftedness at these other traits who really knows it well, because as right. Gifted people can be misdiagnosed and they can look, they can like even the sensory issues that you and your kids have that can absolutely look like autism spectrum when a not be, it might be necessarily and the, and the creative mind and that divergent thinking can be misdiagnosed ADHD.

[00:39:42] And because I have seen that, right, you’re you have so many interests, you have so many things that you want to do and you go, you’re, you’re a, a random. Thinker, you’re not a linear sequential thinker. So when you’re random, it looks like ADHD. And again, it might be, but it isn’t necessarily. So I think I just wanted, I just was curious to see, did you get a good evaluator?

[00:40:06] You can count on that as it being true. Yeah.

[00:40:10] Sophia Elliott: Yeah. Yeah. And I think that is really important because like you say the impact of giftedness on all these things. And, and even before, like, my experience last year, I was grappling to understand the line between autism and profoundly gifted, which I was failing, like was some that coming out with one of my kids, because like you say, the trait.

[00:40:34] Can be so similar and it’s kind of understanding where that comes from. And even, even now as I’m still processing my whole assessment experience which was very thorough in any, my first appointment with the psychologist, she was like, well, you can self-diagnose.

[00:40:53] And I was like, no, I need data. I need this to be rigorous. I need to know that like, it’s, I, I need the, the examination and the data to feel confident in this process, which in itself probably says a lot. But even now I kind of will be like, really. Is this, and I kind of go, well, I did the whole thing.

[00:41:17] It was, and like, yes, those things certainly, I, and even like getting the written rapport at that point, even though I was kind of like, yeah, this matches my experience. It was still a shock to see that I ticked all the boxes. Cause I thought, well maybe just be a little bit to know, like I’m still grappling.

[00:41:36] But I, I just think it’s undeniable, how much crossover there is. And I wonder on this journey of exploring neurodivergence, if we don’t get to some point in the future where it’s just kind of, I dunno, you’re a divergent or you’re not, and you’re just, your neurodivergence is just expressed in these ways, whereas at the moment we’re still going.

[00:42:02] Different labels. Because what started me off was thinking I was ADHD, but, and I, and even sometimes I’m like, should I get that looked at? I don’t know. I’m like, no, I don’t think so. I think it’s just a ASD, but yeah. So I guess what I’m just saying is it is it’s really complex and, and it’s, it’s kind of, I don’t know, I think very much worth exploring, but if you try and have lines that are too rigid, And then I feel like I would break if I had to have very rigid lines around my understanding and of that.

[00:42:40] If that makes sense, I’m happy for it. Just to feel like there’s a bit of grayness around that, but then I tend to be a very gray person. So maybe that’s just me. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just waffling there, but yeah, in summary. Yeah. It’s really complicated. Isn’t it is Brian’s it

[00:43:00] Paula Prober: is quite quite complicated.

[00:43:02] Yes, yes. Yeah. Especially I think, well, I don’t know for women with the autism spectrum diagnosis, it’s really, I think it’s much harder to see in, I, again, I’m not studied in that field. I know, I know a young man who who’s friends with his mom and she talks about his characteristics kind of like pretty clear.

[00:43:26] I had a young woman, a client who diagnosed herself as on the, on the spectrum. And I never saw it because, and some of it is that masking that goes learning mask, the social skills issues and that thing. And so, I’m just a beginner in that field, but she educated me. And that’s sometimes if, I mean, that’s kind of a trait, sadly, if you have a rainforest mind, if you’re a gifted person and you’re working with a practitioner sometimes you educate them.

[00:43:59] I’ve even had clients who diagnose themselves with a physical ailment when their physicians couldn’t figure it out, they figured out. That’s a whole other discussion, I guess.

[00:44:11] Sophia Elliott: Yeah. Yeah. It is. It’s really interesting. And I was lucky to have a neurodivergent assessor, so very much understood because I had therapy on and off, throughout my whole life.

[00:44:22] And it’s certainly never been picked up before. And there’s one assessment you do, which is about masking. And I just remember filling that out. It’s only a short kind of questionnaire, but like, I would have been like a nine or 10 on everything and I marked myself a bit lower on some of them because I’m like, I can kind of just tick all the top boxes, but I was every line.

[00:44:44] I was like, what do you mean people don’t, everyone doesn’t do this. And I, and as I filled them out, I’m like, what do you mean everyone doesn’t do this. That was just a questionnaire. Doesn’t everyone do this. So it is, yeah, it is really interesting. And like you, like you, I’m still very much learning about autism spectrum and sort of interacts with giftedness and it is very complicated and and just really speaking from my only from my own experience about those things.

[00:45:13] But getting back to the rainforest mind a bit as we, as we come to the end of our conversation I think, I think I’d be remiss not to ask like over the last sort of. I don’t know, over the last sort of your experience, as a teacher and then coming through counseling, you’ve been in this gifted community for a while.

[00:45:36] If that’s okay to say, and, be interesting to see if you’ve seen changes or, have, have things stayed fairly stagnant or have you seen shifts over that time? Just in the community or understanding of it?

[00:45:54] Paula Prober: Yes and no. I okay. So in schooling, sadly, I don’t see a lot of change. Yeah. I hear, I, I was w it’s been years and back when I was working with educators, I would, I would do And what is it workshops for educators on how to work with gifted kids in the regular classroom.

[00:46:18] And, and there’s just a lot of misunderstanding and a lot of resistance that I still see today. I still hear people talking about the same things we talked about 30 years ago. Yeah. So in schooling, sadly, I haven’t seen a lot of, a lot of growth in the field in gifted education. I think there is change and growth.

[00:46:39] And I think with this whole, the defined, the founding of the finding of the word neurodiversity, that’s pretty new. Yeah. And, and the understanding of twice exceptionality and the practitioners, more and more practitioners who understand that and who now with the technology and with the internet that parents can find so much more information and, and the GHF learners and the, the parenting gifted children and, your podcast.

[00:47:09] I mean, there’s a lot of access to information that there never was years ago, so that the growth of the internet and social media has been a big advantage for parents and and practitioners and finding parents, finding practitioners and practitioners getting the information out and more books. There are more, more books for parents on raising gifted kids.

[00:47:34] For sure. Yeah. So that has been a big change that I’ve seen.

[00:47:39] Sophia Elliott: Yeah, so some good things there, but yeah, I that’s really interesting what you say about education and incredibly sad to see that we haven’t had any big shifts there, but I have to say that isn’t, it doesn’t feel surprising that that’s your experience.

[00:47:53] But now,

[00:47:54] Paula Prober: oh, I was just going to say, I shouldn’t, that is just my experience. So it could be different. Yeah. I just haven’t seen it, and granted, just, just the disclaimer, that teaching is really hard. Wells are under so much pressure. I mean, with COVID and it’s just, it’s just, just surviving as a teacher is, is challenging.

[00:48:14] So, so there’s all of that, that, that needs to be said. It’s a hard job.

[00:48:19] Sophia Elliott: Absolutely. It’s yeah, it’s, it’s really hard and we’re not, and we’re still not adequately preparing our teachers. To identify gifted kids or how to, how to sort of, educate them best is certainly I think a fair statement even here in Australia, we’ve done numerous Senate inquiries over the last 20 years.

[00:48:45] And they’ve all come back with the same kind of comments about the lack of servicing. And I really don’t think that we have shifted a great deal there’s policies do come and go. But I guess the word on the street is,

[00:49:03] yeah, they’re not always as effective. Yeah, but anyway, I think. Teachers do such an amazing job and it’s a really hard job. It’s a very undervalued and under supported and men, maybe that’s, it’s definitely part of the problem, but certainly part of the shift perhaps that we need before gifted kids we’ll kind of get the, the real support that they need.

[00:49:24] But like you say, there’s a lot of teachers in schools out there doing their best to try and meet the needs of these kids. And we, we certainly talk about about those on the podcast as well. So it’s definitely a while I think we acknowledged the, the challenges were not intending to give teachers a hard time either.

[00:49:41] We know it’s just really, it’s really challenging. It’s systemic, to a systemic issue.

[00:49:45] Paula Prober: Yeah. All our whole education for all

[00:49:48] Sophia Elliott: kids. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. So that’s that’s really interesting, but like you say, even in the last sort of five years or so that I’ve been on this journey, it’s like, there’s so much more around today than there was even five years ago.

[00:50:05] So in terms of information out there for parents and books and it’s really exciting that I get to talk to quite a few authors like yourself on the podcast and share some of those amazing books with parents and, and help connect to parents a bit more quickly to sort of resources and, and professionals out there that can help on the journey.

[00:50:27] So anyone listening today who would like to keep in touch with you, how can they like follow what you’re doing?

[00:50:37] Paula Prober: Probably the best place would be getting signing up for my blog so that you get it. There’s a sign up thing on the whatever. However you call it on the first page where you can get the blog and your email.

[00:50:50] So I’m becoming part of the blog and then probably Instagram, following me on Instagram, Paula prober, I think you can just try and type in my name or, and find me on Instagram. So those are probably the two best places. And then, and then, and then my books would be, and going to your independent bookstore to get the books or your library, the best places

[00:51:11] Sophia Elliott: to go.

[00:51:12] Yeah. And so the first book was you’ll rainforest mind, and you got them there. And the second one was journey to your rainforest mind.

[00:51:21] Paula Prober: That’s right. That’s right. Those are the titles. And the first one I described the second one, but the first one is the more in depth look at giftedness and a lot of case studies of clients that I’ve worked with and lots of resources recommended.

[00:51:34] Yeah, and it it’s, it’s more, it’s, it’s more complex than the second book, which is funnier and more lighthearted. So in a way, I tell people, use the second book to introduce the topic to people who don’t quite understand it. And you read the first book, those of you who are already into it and, and are really more.

[00:51:54] In-depth information. I just quickly I had a client the other day, tell me, she’s read, she read my book twice. She read it through twice and I was just so you know, I’ve heard that from other people, they read it more than once and it makes me so happy because I intentionally made it dense. Because I know as a gifted person, right, you read a self-help book and it’s they say the same thing over and over and over again.

[00:52:17] And you it’s like, why read this? You read the first chapter and you’re done because you are no, one’s going to say. I wanted to make sure my book was full of information and it always pleases me when somebody tells me, yeah, your book is all dog and it’s, I have marked all these places up, read a few times.

[00:52:37] And that’s just to describe

[00:52:40] Sophia Elliott: the first book. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I don’t know how many times my husband has said to me, oh, how is that broken? I’m like, yeah, it should have been a pamphlet to know. I like they should have just said that in in like five pages, it’s a glorified article. But I have to say yeah, your, your book is a meeting.

[00:52:58] And after each chapter, there’s a lot of really great resources, which is always great because then you get to dig deeper. Right. Which, who doesn’t love that. And and some, and just the topics. And I think the case studies, while I certainly try to do with the podcast is provided. Opportunity for people to see themselves in other people’s stories.

[00:53:21] And I think it’s really great for that as well. And I know in, in having another look at it, before meeting up, I was like getting teary bits, where I was like, oh, I’ve got work to do there because that’s really hitting me. And and yeah, and it’s just nice to find that connection in other stories that kind of mirror parts of yourself.

[00:53:41] So highly recommended as a way of kind of going well, I think I might be a rainforest mind. What do I do now? Like Paula said, check out the blogs, which are great and on her website and we’ll put the website in the show notes, but. What’s your website, reinforced

[00:53:59] Paula Prober: mind.com.

[00:54:01] Sophia Elliott: Nice and easy to remember rainforest mine.com and Paul, a private on Instagram and that’s well worth the follow because you get these lovely posts that are really just affirming and fabulous.

[00:54:12] So well, it was absolutely delight to meet you today. Thank you so much for making time for this conversation. And yeah. Thank you. It’s just been really lovely to, to catch up and have a good chat about everything.

[00:54:27] Paula Prober: It was great to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me.

[00:54:30] Sophia Elliott: Thank you.

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