Guest Post, by Paula Prober
For this holiday season, Paula Prober has graced us with this special gift: a blog post especially for the InterGifted community! Read along for her characteristically helpful and humorous words, this time in the form of reminders that will keep our self-esteem and sanity high during this holiday season. Plus, there's a short Q&A where we asked Paula's advice for making the best of this holiday for us sensitive souls.
15 Reminders to Help Rainforest Minds
Make It through the ‘Holidaze’
You’re not too sensitive if you’re easily overwhelmed by the holiday muzak, the florescent lights, the crowds, the frenetic meaningless pace, the likely psychopathic Santa and the smell of stale popcorn at the shopping mall.
You’re not a failure as a human being if your siblings went to Stanford and are all doctors and have two and a half kids and you’re still wondering what to do when you grow up because you took a detour into drug treatment and psychotherapy because your soft heart and gentle spirit needed to heal.
You’re not lacking in empathy if you’re frustrated and irritated, well, OK, enraged by society’s focus on the status of having more and more stuff, the bigger the better, while they’re oblivious to the impact of said stuff.
You’re not socially inept or paranoid if you have to abruptly leave a gathering of people who seem happy and charming and delightful but who make your stomach ache because unbeknownst to your conscious mind, they’re really miserable.
You’re not an arrogant know-it-all if you choose to wrap the kids’ gifts in newspaper, or if you give your nieces homemade light switch plates instead of Barbie dolls, or if you choose funding a homeless family over yet another plastic giraffe for your adorable nephew.
You’re not a bad daughter/son if you have mixed feelings about attending the family event and if you make a plan to leave early when your alcoholic relative starts to berate you about your political or religious beliefs or about why you didn’t go to Harvard when you had so much potential.
You are not being inauthentic if you consciously avoid certain topics with family members who you know will react with anger or misunderstanding to your attempt to explain, say, your logical reasons for changing your college major for the fifth time.
You’re not too persnickety if you start your own holiday rituals and don’t allow your toddler to watch reality TV, use your iPad, or learn how to operate a cell phone.
You’re not a failure as a parent if your holiday meal is a flop, if your kids throw their biggest tantrums ever just when the grandparents arrive, if you still haven’t gotten your hair cut or trained your dog not to beg for food.
You’re not an oddball if you question the traditions, religion or the obsession with television that organizes your extended family members. Well, maybe you are an oddball in that regard but there are times when oddballs are needed. This might be one of those times.
You’re not rude and obsessive if you are still avoiding eating the jello marshmallow carrot salad that your Aunt Gracie always makes.
You’re not too dramatic if you cry when your relatives tease you, well, OK, bully you, because you’re following yet another career path, you’ve stopped straightening your hair and you’re still single.
You’re not too intense if you can’t totally enjoy the holiday because people around the globe are suffering, the ice caps are melting and you’re distracted by your need to find and manifest your purpose on the planet.
You’re not too idealistic if you believe that it’s still possible for a transformation to occur where the peoples of the world embrace compassion over fear.
You’re not alone if you dread the stresses of the holiday season and look forward to the end of said season. And, you’re not wrong if you understand the following to be true: You are sinfully sensitive, effervescently empathetic, indescribably intense, awesomely authentic, prudently persnickety, illustriously idealistic, and resplendently rainforest-minded. (And, hey, when you get a chance, could you send me the recipe for Aunt Gracie’s jello marshmallow carrot salad?)
Holiday Q&A with Paula
How would you recommend promoting authenticity at family gatherings?
I define authenticity in a particular way when it comes to family interactions. If you come from a family where there’s been some form of abuse, trauma or serious dysfunction, you may have to set clear boundaries for yourself around what you share and what you don’t share. This might also apply if you have a fairly healthy family that doesn’t understand your giftedness. You may have to protect your sensitive self from attack or criticism or ignorance or just the unspoken pain that you feel from family members. Consider that you don’t need to show all of who you are in a setting that feels unsafe or unwelcoming. This is not inauthenticity. In my opinion, authenticity isn’t the same as saying everything that you feel or think. It is authentic and loving to assess a situation and use your intuition and reason to decide when and how much to share.
How can I help myself to relax for at least one day during the holidays, even though I know the world outside is struggling with all its craziness?
If you’re able to relax, self-soothe, be centered and calm, you’ll help the world be a little less crazy. And that is good. So give yourself permission to find the ways that work best for you, such as hiking in nature, meditating, listening to music, reading, singing, or skate boarding. You’re extra sensitive and empathetic. You will be particularly affected by the craziness. Soothe your soul in any way and every way that you can.
What would you recommend doing to create, even if for only an afternoon or a day, the perfect holiday for ourselves?
First, let go of “perfect.” Then, recognize that nourishing yourself gives you the strength and energy to nurture others. Gifted folks tend to be very skilled at taking care of family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, pets and plants! This can begin at a very early age. You may feel pressure to take on more responsibility because you’re the most capable person around. But just because you can do it, doesn’t mean that you should. A holiday is a fine time to pause, breathe, and reflect. What about creating or expanding your own spiritual practice? How might you spend some time with what is sacred and meaningful in your life? Notice if you feel guilty or selfish or lazy. These emotions may rear their ugly heads. Acknowledge them but don’t let them stop you. Go deeper than those emotions into your quiet, peaceful, loving Self. And there’s your holiday. Maybe it’s even perfect.
About Paula Prober
Paula Prober is a well-loved member of InterGifted's community. She's a well-known expert on giftedness, therapist for the gifted, and the author of Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth. Her blog is a favorite of gifted people around the world (rainforestmind.wordpress.com).