7 tips for you who lost yourself

An advantage and a disadvantage of being highly intelligent is that it is possible to learn almost everything and do it with excellence. Like adapting to other people’s expectations and becoming the one they wish. We are many who learned early how we would do to belong, who we would be to belong. In the family, at preschool, at school, at leisure and later among friends and at work.

Choosing to be someone that suits others may be because we get appreciation or other positive results from it. It may also be a coping strategy, a way to protect yourself from the pain of not belonging when you bring out your true colors. Find out more about coping in episode 21.

Protecting yourself from pain and seeking rewards in interaction with others is fully natural. But when it leads to losing ourselves, we pay a high price.

Well how do I do then?! If I lost myself? If I change roles like others change clothes and still do not feel like I belong?

Here are seven tips on how to do

1, Get to know yourself. Read about giftedness. Listen to and accept your feelings, thoughts and experiences. Find more about it in episode 13.

2, Find a context where you can meet recognition in other people’s eyes, where you can relax and not limit your choice of words, your thoughts or your intensities. A context where you can experience that you are okay as you are.

Finding the people you can be really close friend with can require a lot of work and take time. I believe it’s enough if there’s a handful of them in life.

But even before you find those close friends you need to feel you’re belonging. There is a lot of research showing how important fellowship is for our well-being (I learned that when I did section 19, about loneliness). As gifted, it’s easy to focus on what separates me from others, because it is often so obvious. Therefore, it becomes extra important to weigh up the feeling of alienation with a sense of belonging. The next two tips are about ways to … ..trick your own brain to believe that you are more attached than you are.

3, Sense of belonging through interests. Spending time on something you’re really interested in along with others who also have it as an interest, can be a way.

For me, different groups online have become that kind of fellowship. There I can immerse myself in specific areas, enjoy other people’s knowledge, share mine, and at the same time skip most stuff that I think are uninteresting in the groups. Outside the net you can find fellowship around sports, music, LARP, board games, volunteer work, outdoor activities and a lot more. It may be an advantage to choose a context that is as heterogeneous as possible, with great age spread, because it is likely to be more open to differences there.

4, Synchronize your body with other’s and your brain perceives that there is a bond between you. Join a choir, practice aikido, yoga or dance class, something where you do the same kind of things synchronously. Something where you and the others reflect each other’s movement pattern or do something in parallel. An advantage of that type of activity is that it doesn’t require as much social or intellectual exchange to function.

It doesn’t have to be people there who you want to talk to, you don’t have to be really interested in the activity and you can be quiet (not in a choir, obviously). The essence of the activity is that you can do it without hiding behind a mask while at the same time giving your brain a sense of belonging.

Even if you’re sitting in an arena and the “wave” goes around, the moment you get up and stretch your arms in the air, you get a sense of belonging. The brain is so easily affected of our behavior.

5, Expand your coping strategies. It has turned out we feel better if we have more and different coping strategies to switch between. So I, as often was a clown in school, might have felt good if I sometimes had been a teacher or maybe one with the wallpaper. See more about this in episode 21.

6, Note when you have been yourself, at any time during the day. Think through the day and consider if there were moments when you were without a mask. Write down when, what you did and if you were with someone. If you are lucky there is already someone close, in whose company you are feeling well. Maybe with an old aunt, a cousin, your coach, a teacher. Note often, if possible daily, and eventually you will clearly see in what context you can be yourself.

Are you involved in contexts that require you to wear a mask all the time? What do you get from that kind of belonging? Is it worth the price? Can you find contexts of belonging elsewhere that cost less? Think about it.

7, Give yourself confirmation that you are okay. This is a simple exercise that works – there is scientific proof of it! Cherish yourself, give yourself a hug and say loud “I like me as I am and I’m worth feeling well.” I usually start the day like that. Nobody hears or sees it. But my brain hears what I say and feel the hug. I meet with a “you’re okay” in my own eyes. Dare to try. So simple and you have everything to win!

Some of the tips give results faster, some require more persistent work and others are tips to return to time after time. Start with what seems easiest.

It is with yourself and in fellowship with others, you can find who you are behind the masks. It takes a lot of energy to protect yourself behind a mask. How plentiful power you will get when you don’t have to both hide yourself and running and looking for a lost you. Do you see how much fun and rewarding things you will gain energy to!

Oh what I hope you want to use the tips. Go for it!

See you!
Vera

 

More to read:

Linda Kreger Silverman, Särskilt begåvade barn (Gifted children). Chapter 5, especially page 167-172 (Swedish edition of Nature & Culture, 2016)

Here is a quote that clearly describes the process of losing yourself:

“When stock in stock of me is created in answer to the question Who do you want me to be today? the I must be me gets buried deeper in the unconscious mind and become a falling glow. For each year that goes, rewards in fulfilling the expectations of others will attract those gifted away from consciousness and contact with their own inner being.”

Katarina Gossip, Den sociala hjärnan (The Social Brain), Bromberg Book Publishing, 2013

Piercarlo Valdesolo, Harvard University, David DeSteno, Northeastern University, Synchrony and the Social Tuning of Compassion
https://static1.squarespace.com/static/52853b8ae4b0a6c35d3f8e9d/t/528d25dae4b059766439b87e/1384981978770/synchrony-and-the-social-tuning-of-compassion.pdf

Christopher Germer is a clinical psychologist and part-time lecturer at psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Article in Harvard Business Review.
https://hbr.org/2017/01/to-recover-from-failure-try-some-self-compassion

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Are you hiding your intelligence?

“Just be yourself, and all will be fine.” Have you heard that? I have, and I know that it’s not entirely true. Whilst it is true.

Are you yourself? Do you stand firmly and confident in who you are? Or have you lost yourself? As gifted, you may have been treated with extremely different attitudes, either overwhelmingly positive or very negative. And it may have made your self-esteem fragile.

I’ll explain why.

To become a me in interaction with others
In order to have a good interaction with others, we must have met a glance in the eyes of others who say, “You are okay and we understand each other.” We have this need with us from the start. Think about small children and how often they say “Look! Look here mama! Look daddy! Look!” and for the child to be satisfied and able to continue, a look, gesture or word requires confirmation that the parent is seeing, and that it is okay. In this way we check with our environment to know what a good behavior is. Eventually, we will have a sense of what is accepted and not, a sense of whether we are okay or not.

The necessary interaction between children and their caregivers can be described in different ways. Within psychology, this has been described, inter alia, in the theory of attachment. And neuroscience explain how the brain works in the creation of our self, how the interaction with others affects the brain and what in the brain that makes us need to interact with others. These are different ways to explain, which leads to roughly the same conclusion:

To feel good as a human, you and I need to have others around us who show that we are okay and that we understand each other.

Not being okay hurts
To hear how bad or how strange you are, or to hear how amazing you are but without being met with the understanding from the other, do not lead to a mutual “you are okay and we understand each other.” And when your nearest and dearest do not confirm you and that you are okay, it hurts. One way to reduce what hurts is to protect yourself behind a mask, a role. Do you recognize yourself in any of the following roles? And in what context do you use them?

Picture at a clown

Teacher sitting beside a student

Picture of Florence Nightingale helping patients

A student sitting alone in the hallway

Picture of young person in shackles

Picture of colorful wallpaper

With a mask no one can see who you really are and you reduce the risk of getting glances telling you that something is wrong with you. A role will give that confirmation in the eyes of others that you need. The painful thing is that you know that it’s not your true self who gets the confirmation, but anyhow it hurts less. It is a kind of coping strategy.

Coping is a term used when it comes to people’s handling of crises and a definition is as follows:

“Coping means an attempt to reduce physical and mental pain that is associated with negative life events. Successful coping reduces the pain.” *1

Protecting yourself with a mask is a kind of coping strategy. Which coping strategies you use depend largely on which ones worked to reduce your pain as a kid.

Giftedness and coping
In the book How the Gifted Brain Learns, there is a section on Social Coping. There, the authors refer to studies which shows that what coping strategies gifted choose, vary with age and with socioeconomic background. Among other things, it is more common for older adolescents to try to hide their high intelligence. By, for example, stop opting for “nerdy” interests or underperforming to appear more normal. Below is an excerpt from the section on Social Coping. Read it!

Lost yourself?
If you hide yourself for a long time, you eventually find it hard to find yourself. The masks grows stuck and become you. You lose parts of who you are. Do not know what you are anymore.

I know what I’m talking about because I lost myself among all my roles. But when I met people who I recognized myself in, and eventually dared to be entirely myself with, I began to find the fine person I am. It has taken time, but I was there. Similarly, you are also there, behind your masks.

Being able to use coping strategies in different contexts is constructive. It is good being able to wear masks for protection on certain occasions. The important thing is that you find the context you can be yourself in. Where you can belong in an obvious way and where you can be you. Just be yourself. Completely. And how to find such contexts I’ll talk about in the next episode.

Take care!
Vera

 

References:

* 1 Barbro Lennéer Axelson, Förluster, om sorg och livsomställning (Lost, About Sorrow and Change of Life), page 75.

In chapter 4 the author briefly addresses theoretical perspectives on attachment theory and coping theory, pages 64-77.

Linda Kreger Silverman, Särskilt begåvade barn (Gifted children). Chapter 5, especially page 167-172 (Swedish edition of Nature & Kultur, 2016)

From the book How the Gifted Brain learns. The chapter is written by Maureen Neihart and Vivien S. Huan.

”Gifted adolescents tend to employ coping strategies that are quite different from their non-gifted peers. Much of the work on social coping has been done by Tracy Cross, Laurence Coleman, Mary Ann Swiatek, and their colleagues. Some gifted adolescents involve themselves highly in extracurricular activities in school, underachieve, or exhibit negative behaviors in order to be perceived differently by others. Others engage in behaviors aimed at denying or hiding their high ability and distance themselves from the stereotype of the gifted group.

Some gifted adolescents cope by helping others or by cultivating relationships with adults, while others seek out-of-school talent development opportunities, avoid special programs for the gifted in school, hide their high ability, or deliberately underachieve in order to cope. Engaging in conforming and avoidance behaviors to devalue conventional popularity and focusing on the importance of peer acceptance are also used. Deliberate attempts to highly involve themselves in activities that are unrelated to their being gifted are also made.”

“A common, though not universal, finding regarding gifted adolescents is that many struggle to manage the need to belong with their need to achieve, especially females, African Americans, Latinos, and those from low-income or disadvantaged backgrounds. Over time, these tensions appear to corrode their aspirations and self-concepts. In effort to minimize or avoid these conflicts, gifted adolescents may deny their talent, lower their aspirations, or underachieve.”

“Several writers have suggested that making these assumptions explicit, normalizing the tension as a societal phenomenon, and openly discussing the hidden costs of success help students manage such tensions and stay the course of upward achievement.”

With this excerpt, I just want to show that it is common for gifted to use coping strategies and what strategies they use may differ from strategies others use. As you can see in the last paragraph, it can help resonate back and forth about what you win and lose on different coping strategies. And I will talk about that later on.

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Closed doors and the normal as key

It has been a little quiet here for a while. This is because my focus has been directed elsewhere.

It started with someone who said, “Vera, don’t stand here, you belong in the room over there, on the other side of the heavy oak door. You have been ready for that a long time and now it’s time to go in there”. What I know about room has been enticing and I have long been curious about how it would feel like being there. Much more was not needed to wake up the desire to go there.

The fact is, I have knocked on that door repeatedly without being let in, and then the concierge has said “if you just change this and that, you’ll get in.” Previously, I tried to change everything that seemed necessary.

Now, with the encouragement and support of others, with more personal experience and maturity, I was ready to make sure to get into the room. I started knocking politely and explained my intention when the concierge opened the door a bit. He shook his head, repeated all I had to change, and pulled the door again, but I was faster and got my foot between. Yeah that hurt, when my foot got squeezed. Then I tried to pull the door up, pushing me in, bump me past him. And I was doing it for a long time. But I did not come in.

I ended up crying on the floor in front of the closed door. Again.

Not at the price of denying myself
I did not want to make me normal to pass the door. Like it is possible to make yourself “normal”. Instead, I tried to push myself in this time, even though the concierge showed that only those who belong to the norm got round. Maybe you have experienced that too? That those who belong to the norm are let in to places you wished for, but not you.

One thing I discovered there on the floor, was that I’ve got used to being myself. As I am. Why would I squeeze myself into a standard template to enter that particular door? If there is a room where only normal fits maybe I should not be there? Or mabye that’s exactly what I should do? I do not usually give up, but it’s stupid to hit the head in the same wall too many times. So if or when I want to get into that room again, I might climb through the windows, finding a maple door or blasting holes in any wall.

There is a lot of here where I am
When I had taken care of my wounds for a while, I turned my back on the door. And with the back leaning towards the closed door, the perspective became different. I saw, the light from the high windows, the dust that danced in the sun rays, the shadow game over the parquet floor. I heard the voices from people I like and the stories who are gathered in this room. A room where I can be, without a requirement to fit into a standard template. Here are also more doors leading to other rooms.

In a Ted talk, illustrator Safwat Saleem describes how it is when you are not the norm people expect to get. How others have difficulty accepting, what is beyond the norm. That’s precisely why our voices need to be heard. For all of us to get used to, that other than the norm exists. I was both comforted and encouraged by the youtube clip. Listen!

So I gave you a break for a few months. It was not planned (I just made a lot of noise elsewhere) but I hope the break may have given you something. Time for reflection. Time for new acquaintances.

I’ve still got wounds to take care of, but I have planned for new episodes. My hope is that it will not be as long a break again, but I promise nothing. The healing may take the time it takes.

Until we meet next time – take care!
Vera

Link to inspirational, comforting and uplifting clips:
Safwat Saleem: Why I keep talking up, even when people mock my accent

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How do I handle solitariness?

Today the fog is soft over the mountain tops and I’ll stay inside the log cabin. After having been here for a few days, it’s good to record an episode on solitariness. Solitude in general and the loneliness experienced by many gifted in particular.

I have understood by many around me that it’s common to avoid solitude. I have thought of it as a sign of immaturity with others. That they will eventually realize the importance of solitariness and begin to appreciate it. Ha ha! It turned out again that I am the one who has to learn.

The dangers of solitude
In my world, solitude is a healthy basic mode. But when I began to search literature for this episode, I met with completely different messages. Almost all books and scientific articles concerned the dangers of solitude. About the illness it leads to. How the brain is affected and degraded, and how solitude leads to increased mortality.

To be expelled from the flock has been fatal since the beginning of time. Even though we do not risk being eaten by predators now, it is still the same mechanisms that starts in our brains when we get rejected from the group. It signals a danger of life. For example, during bullying. Therefore, exclusion is so harmful to us.

That is information I have not taken in before. Because like most of you, I see, of course, what I want to see. My truth about solitude suited me perfectly. After all I read about loneliness, I have become more likely to balance the self-time with moments of belonging. I hope this episode can help you make use of the solitude you’re probably already familiar with. And courage to venture fellowship too.

Alienation – a usual feeling among gifted
You have probably heard the phrase “It’s better to be alone alone, than to be lonely together with others”. Perhaps my self-chosen solitude can be derived from such experiences. In interviews with gifted people, the feeling of alienation and the difficulty of finding genuine reciprocity, are often described. To me, fellowship has become easier to experience since I learned more about giftedness.

Being alone is still my basic mode. One that I enjoy. I believe in solitude, at the right dose. In relation to others, my right-dose seems to be great.

Discover your inner core with curiosity!
It’s in solitude you can meet your inner core, what you really are. And feeling alone, being alone, is part of what it’s like to be human.

Meet yourself with curiosity. What is there? What thoughts are there? When I’m for myself for several days, like now, I meet most feelings in myself. Feelings of restlessness, meaninglessness, fear, anger, sadness, joy, trust, love, gratitude. Strong feelings, but they pass. Feelings do. I let them arrive without trying to control them. Feel what I feel, and notice what I feel.

A small addition only. It is important not to act on all the feelings that occur. A second addition, if you feel bad, it’s not the best time to get to know your own solitariness. Then closeness or distraction is often better.

Break patterns of isolation
If you feel that you are alone too much, it is important to dare to break those patterns. Only you can break your loneliness. No one else can save you from it. I’m glad to tell that we live in a country with the world’s best conditions for breaking patterns of isolation. The likelihood that in your presence you have people who would like to have company, is sky-high.

If you lack for friendship with other gifted, I recommend the networks that are available. For those over 18, Mensa and Filurum adults is available. You who are younger, need help from your parents or any other adult, to access the networks available to young people.

Being alone is part of being human
If you avoid at all costs being together with yourself, then you will miss a part of who you are. Begin by accepting that solitariness is part of being human. It is said that everyone dies alone. What could be better than having become friends with yourself when you live, to enjoy and be safe in your loneliness?

Outsiders provide perspectives that can not be achieved among the many. Several of the individuals we have had great respect for throughout history have been characterized by an exclusion. There is a different distance per definition, to be able to look from another perspective. So it has been in all times.

Many people we admire for strength, knowledge, integrity and differentity have been characterized by periods of loneliness. Hope the pictures below give you inspiration to embrace and develop your loneliness.

Monks in the mountans

Medicine man

The dangerous Witches

Hermit under his tree

Adventurer, solo sailor

How do you feel loneliness? Have you found ways to handle it? Way to break lonely patterns?

Kindly
Vera

 

More to read

Easily accessible in Swedish about the brain and about loneliness. It summarizes much of contemporary research. Katarina Gospic, 2013, “The Social Brain”

Networks for gifted
Filurum.se
Mensa.org

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Make what’s simple into complicated – so gifted!

Then I’ve done it again! Made what’s complicated just as complicated it can be, when it’s most complicated. Typically gifted. Why scan on the surface and make it easy?!

It is also called to have the elephant attitude. In a job context, it turns out to me in two ways.

The first way is when I get a shapeless lump of a projects in my knee. A project I quickly structure and divide in different parts. The entirety in neat and named parts. After my analysis, it appears that the project is an elephant. I love the process of finding the structure of the mess, the context in the fragmentary, the relevant in the muchness.

I go to my boss and show how I structured the project into an elephant. “It’s good that you see the whole elephant, but it’s supposed to be a pig. Can you make it a pig?” And of course I can. Chop off some here and there, but retains the essential and abracadabra, it’s a pig.

The other way the elephant attitude is noticeable, is that I dislike working with parts of a project if I don’t have full comprehension of the whole first and how my part contributes. It is usually possible to resolve by asking questions. Do not just give me an ear without telling me how the whole elephant looks!

Handle the difficulties with an elephant attitude
So far, the elephant attitude doesn’t matter. Well, well, during the process there is a risk that I will start working in the wrong format. Sometimes I see it myself and can ask if it’s okay that I switch from pig to elephant. Other times, it’s my colleague or manager who reminds me of the size and simplicity of the task.

It is not often the customers want to pay for elephant projects. What I heard from gifted around me, is that a great variety of complex tasks can be found in different professions, industries and organizations. Some people are skilled at creating the conditions themselves to get the complexity they need to have an elephant attitude in their work life. Others learn how to handle the difficulties an elephant attitude can cause at many employers.

Get a hobby elephant
In my work I have the opportunity to work with complex projects but they rarely get as difficult as the elephants. Therefore, it has been important for me to have elephant projects in my spare time. Like this YouTube channel. I’ve been given suggestions to pack it in pig-format, kind of like hotdogs, to make it more sellable, and appealing to many. But then I can not make the project fully as complex. In addition, my purpose is to provide you this bitwise very chewy elephant. To serve you who need elephant meat. Even if you’re the only one listening.

When I prepared the YouTube channel I had a handy plan. All the experience and knowledge I’ve gathered about giftedness, structured into thirty fine delineated chapters. Just like a meat cuts chart. A red thread in the form of a walk. I’ve told you about it in an earlier episode. The whole in neat order.

When the projects begin to live their own life
But then that happens as so often happens when a project goes from theory to practical reality. I end up here. Here where it doesn’t work in accordance with the plan. Because, of course, I discover new things I want to share. And I allow myself to abandon the plan and just share that piece of elephant I want to.

There is still a red thread through everything. This is what it looks like:

The red thread

If you feel sick when you see this, I recommend that you wait a few years to watch episodes. Right now it seems messy. But in the end it will be a clear overall picture. Even though I am currently in the midst of the swirls.

I console myself that I’m not the only one who experiences projects in this way. Do you recognize it? You find out, or get a mission, a well-defined and manageable project. Then when you get into it and discover how wonderfully comprehensive and complex it may be, the target image expands to something astronautically faraway and amazing. And then it became complicated. But you squeeze it into a proper project plan. It’s just that it is not realistic. Too much. Too difficult. In too short time.

Then it is crucial to dare to adjust the target image or project plan. It’s crucial to have a working relationship with your boss and colleagues so that you can ask them for help. Anyway, that’s how I have solved my difficulties. I’ve told them of my elephant attitude and what that means.

Respect the needs of others for meat cuts chart
In job situations, it is usually a prerequisite that you can keep up with the plan. Partly because your manager and your colleagues have to feel safe with the process and partly because there may be reporting requirements in different phases of the plan. It will also be easier for your boss to have an overview if you and other project managers stick to their plans. And if you find it difficult, ask for help. Tell where you need support, be clear about it, and that usually facilitate cooperation.

Avoid to lessen others – ask for help
The elephant attitude can cause difficulties in school as well. Perhaps you can explain to your teacher how you work? Say that you have to make the task complicated enough, like an elephant, to make it interesting. Ask what the purpose of the assignment is and how it is part of the whole you’re about to learn. Then maybe together with your teacher you can decide a way to show that you learned what the task was aimed at? It is important not to disparage the teacher’s task, but instead turn it around, ask for help and explain what you need, to do it. The book “The Gifted Teen Survival Guide” contains many tangible and useful tips. Do not be fooled by that silly title. I’ve benefited from it the past year, even though I’m not even a teenager.

Below, I have linked an article about gifted people in working life. It is written by Mary-Elaine Jacobsen, a clinical psychologist and consultant to schools in Minnesota.

If you are ok with the roller-coaster ride along the red thread – see you next time!

For those of you who prefer perfect structure – see you in a few years!

Kindly
Vera

 

More interesting to read

Article about gifted adults in working life “If Only I Had Known: Lessons from Gifted Adults” Mary-Elaine Jacobsen
http://tip.duke.edu/node/919

“The Gifted Teen Survival Guide: Smart, Sharp, and Ready for (Almost) Anything”, September 7, 2011
Judy Galbraith M.A. (Author), Ph.D. Jim Delisle (Author)
https://www.amazon.com/Gifted-Teen-Survival-Guide-Anything/dp/1575423812

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Make the unreasonable possible

Then you have practiced to dream unreasonably and with the help of imagination extended habitual thought patterns. Now it’s time for action. First, with both dream and action, there can be movement in one direction.

Before you can start acting you need to know in what direction you want to move. In what direction have the dreams brought you?

To unreasonable places? Yes of course. That is what the dream exercise in episode 15 aimed at. And to unreasonable places you will not get in a single step. On the other hand, a couple of steps can be enough to get you to the reasonable. Therefore, it’s a good idea to pan for the reasonable in the dreams you just dreamed.

Example Astronaut
In my exercise I tried a dream of being in space and focused on how I experienced being astronaut. And, of course, I found a good cause chain. To figure that chain out, took a while.

The space is an unattainable place for me. But what was it that I felt and experienced in the dream? Among other things, it was about the satisfaction of having made an effort to the utmost professionally, mentally and physically for many years, to be competent enough to do what I wanted to. It was about rewarding cooperation with colleagues. The joy of being in environments far from what I am used to, contexts that provide a different kind of beauty experiences and new life insights. Pretty so, my experiences in the dream can be summarized.

These are experiences and feelings I can surely get in other ways than being an astronaut. In the same way, I believe it is with the experiences you had in your dreams. If I skip the space part but write down what I want to experience, it may look like this:

  • Use all my skills to perform a given task
  • Strive for a goal a long time and reach it
  • Collegial exchange
  • Experience new environments
  • Experience beauty experiences
  • Get life insights

There is the direction I get from my unreasonable dream. One direction I can go towards. And a feasible one, definitely.

Exercise

  1. Explore the dreams you practiced. What is it in the dream scenario you like? What are you like? How does it feel? What is it that drives you in the dream?
  2. Purify the feelings, thoughts and experiences. Lift them out of the dream scenario. Write them down.
  3. There you have your direction. As a dot list.

Priming when it comes to dreams of friendships?
An area that many have been exposed to priming, without choosing it themselves, are friendships and relationships. We have seen in films and series how it works. It’s priming that can affect us without us being aware of it. The recipe is often a group of people who look good and are successful. A recipe with unreasonable ingredients that most of us can not get. Like a loft in Manhattan, metropolitan atmosphere and cool friends.

If you release focus from the ingredients and focus on how it feels for you in a dream of friendship, what are you actually experiencing in such dreams? Focus on the feeling. Friendship has nothing to do with how perfect the friends are. Friendship is something completely different.

Those I meet occasionally in the local Mensa-association, we do not fit in any movie and there is not much New York atmosphere in the small town where we hang out, but belonging to that bunch, feels just like the movies convey. Joy and an obvious belonging.

So start from what you’re experiencing in what you dream. Whether it is friendship or anything else you’re dreaming about. Because what you feel in the dream is possible.

My plan was to advise on how to take the first steps in the direction you want, but that’ll have to wait until next time. Anyhow, it’s an advantage to have turned your nose in the direction you aim at, before you start walking. So focus on turning your nose right now!

See you!
Vera

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The Genius battle*, IQ, Mensa, compound eyes and stuff

“Hi fly girl” said the stranger.
“I’m not a fly. I’m a Girl ”
“You’ve got compound eyes just like flies have. Then you’re a fly-girl. Like me.”

A little later. And to another person.
“Compound eyes? These are those nasty eyes that flies and insects have. Such nobody wants to have?”

Compound eyes – compound eyes – compound eyes. An echo that bounces back to you wherever you go. Compound eyes. Once you’ve heard it enough times, you find out more. “Compound eyes make the wearer able to see more nuances and faster than others. They work so that the wearer can see everything happening without turning her head.” And some evenings in front of the mirror, you’ll see something similar to compound eyes and you wonder “am I a fly-girl?”

Time goes by. And you hear the echo sometimes. Compound eyes.

Someday, something flickers in the sunlight and lands with shimmering wings next to you. By that time, you’re used to your compound eyes and see when others have them, saying “Hello butterfly-boy”
“Hello fly-girl”
“What beautiful wings you’ve got”
“You have that too. But they only appears when you use them.”
“But I can not fly. It’s just that I’ve got compound eyes.”
“With compound eyes, wings always follow. You can fly.”

Then you see how the butterfly-boy unfolds the wings and stretches for your hand.

Do you dare to trust that you also have wings, just like the other fly- and butterfly-people you met with?

For me it took time. The first time I met the members of the local Mensa association, I noticed how easy it was to hang out. Not having to limit the mental field of view, not having to constrain the nuances of the analyzes or the speed of the arguments to be understood.

Everyone around the table at the Chinese restaurant had compound eyes. This meant that we could talk about everything that happened around us and no one had to turn his head to understand. Nobody thought it was strange that the conversation jumped rapidly from topic to topic, and that so many conversations could run parallel in a single conversation.

On my way home, I walked with enamored, lightly steps. None of us seven who had met shared specific interests, acquaintances, occupational roles or life situations. Nevertheless, I felt that instant understanding, which came from the fact that they had compound eyes and also perceived the world in a different way than most others do.

When we had known each other for a while, I dared to try my wings. My kind of flying does not resemble any of what they do in the Genius battle on tv. Had someone told me after the first episode of the Genius battle, that these are typical fly- and butterfly-people, that it is how high intelligence turns out, then I had not seen anything of myself in them. Then I hadn’t seen that we have the compound eyes in common.

Yet by meeting a lot of gifted people, I have seen that our wings look different and I became confident in that if my fly- and butterfly-friends can fly, I can do that too.

Perhaps it’s the friendship with other gifted you will dream big and free about? You do remember to exercise and priming yourself, do you? What I talked about in episode 15. Below I’ve linked to a few pages where you can read stories of others who are gifted. There is also a link to an interesting article about compound eyes.

Continue exercising on dreaming! Later on I will give you tangible advice on how to use your new priming skills to experience what you’re dreaming about. Maybe it’s friendship you are looking for?

Take care!
Vera

 

*The Genius battle (Genikampen) is a Swedish entertainment program that has been produced by the Swedish national public TV broadcaster (SVT) since 2014. Some of Sweden’s geniuses meet in a unique contest where only one’s ability to use the brain plays a role.

Link to article about facet eyes:

http://www.dn.se/nyheter/vetenskap/insekter-har-ogon-for-farger/

Links to pages of stories from other gifted adults:

https://rainforestmind.wordpress.com/

https://christinefonseca.wordpress.com/

http://www.filurum.se/berattelser-fran-vuxna-sarbegavade/

Other links:
Mensa

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Therefore, analytical realists need to dream more!

Now is the startup time for schools, jobs and leisure activities. It’s usually a time of talk about goals and ambitions, about plans and strategies. I love the start of the semester, among other things for that reason. The tickling ambition in me. Mmm to make it tangible into plans and visualize how I achieve what I want.

However all talk about goals falls flat if you do not first know what you value in life and what you dream about.

Hence, before I talk about how to get manageable goals and what pitfalls gifted often stumble into, I’ll talk about the necessity of dreaming.

Dream and action belong together
Perhaps you think that dreaming belongs to spare time, and doesn’t have to do with work? Some people seem to think that there is a contradiction between dream and action. To some people the former is finer than the latter. To others, it’s the other way round.

For me, one can not exist without the other. Dream and action are interconnected and if you take away one, the circle is broken and there will be no forward motion. The best constructions have the dream as a base.

Here are some historical examples of how dream and action drive development:

  • Martin Luther King with the vision of the future where white and black lived as equals
  • Marie Stopes, who dreamed about and worked for it to be possible to have sex without getting pregnant, which was impossible at that time
  • Aung San Suu Kyi, in house arrest for the dream of a democratic Myanmar (Burma). With hindsight, it was not a good idea to have Suu Kyi as a model for dreaming. Myanmar security forces have driven out half a million Muslim Rohingya from northern Rakhine state.
  • The aviation pioneers, the brothers Wright, in their bicycle workshop
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe, who believed that slavery was unjust and immoral, wrote the anti-slavery book Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Dreams have an important function to fill and are necessary for our society. Even more now than then. I also think that dreams are necessary at the individual level.

Over time more sustainable than goals based on reality
Dreams are that important because they goes above and beyond reality. Do you only have goals based on how it looks around you now, you’re skating on thin, thin ice. All of a sudden, reality changes drastically. A bubble burst somewhere and your career is as gone as the market you were working at, or something happens to you so you no longer have the same conditions you had when setting up your goals.

Dreams float freely and can work in several realities. With the dreams in mind, you can reformulate your goals depending on how your surroundings or you change.

Necessity of dreams at the individual level
Dreams have more important functions in life. Sometimes they can be the lifebuoy that keeps you floating. The dreams can also be a projectile that blows the limitations of how you think about yourself and life.

As a highly intelligent and analytical person, dreams are not easily given a chance to develop. Before the dream has taken shape, you have already come up with ten logical arguments why the dream is unreasonable. Therefore, I’ll give you further arguments why you should practice your ability to dream (if you don’t already have it).

Anchor and priming
Should I find arguments which holds for you, I’d rather lean towards people who have far more knowledge than I have. Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman. That’ll be okay? He received the Economics Prize 2002 and 2011 he published the book Thinking fast and slow. A popular scientific version of what he and others researched about how we think.

There is a chapter that deals with something he calls Anchor. By way of illustration, I take a practical example from my profession.

Say that an advertising agency will provide a campaign for us. As a customer, I have defined what we want. The agency will be back with three proposals. One suggestion is the campaign I requested. Another is the slightly more extensive campaign. That campaign the agency is sure will provide the results we want. Then they have another suggestion. The third option is sky high, much more than we wanted, and obviously costs a lot more. The purpose of the proposal is simply to act as an “anchor”. That is to say that in comparison with the third giant, huge proposal, option number two seems quite reasonable.

This is no news. But in the book you can read about why it works. And how completely unreasonable “anchors” affect as much as reasonable ones. How it is possible to use priming as manipulation, for better or worse.

To dream of totally unreasonable things is self-priming. It works! Practice your dream ability and create some dreams you can use as an anchor. Then when the anchor is stuck, you can start making goals.

Read Kahneman! You will get so much evidence that there is wisdom in the old saying “Aim for the sky and you’ll reach the ceiling. Aim for the ceiling and you’ll stay on the floor.”

Exercise

  1. Imagine something that is impossible for you. Hence impossible by definition.
  2. Dream of how it would be. Imagine the dream has become a reality. Dismiss all objections. Do not worry about the logical somersaults you have to do to imagine the dream.
  3. Invent a way that could have made you achieve that dream. Miracles and incredibilities are completely ok methods. But it should be a causal chain you can derive back to where you are now.
  4. If you think it’s very simple, you probably have not chosen to think of something that’s completely impossible.
  5. From the beginning again.

For every time you do the exercise, you’ve put out a new anchor, a little bit further out. A way of priming yourself.

In the next episode, I will discuss how to find the campfire and how to take steps towards what you want.

But now the semester has begun and it’s time to dream!

Only dreams are stable enough to be the foundation of reality

 

Kindly
Vera

 

Reference
Daniel Kahneman, Think fast and slowly (Swedish Pocket Version) Chapter 11 Anchor, page 177 -192.

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“Too much” it’s just the way it’s supposed to be

The episode I published last week, the school principal’s speech, got such a spread and amazing response, which I couldn’t have reckon. What I understand is that there are more hearts than mine that beats in harmony with those who struggle.

The response started up a tombola of emotion into me. Deep joy, gratitude, expectation, fear of influencing and saying wrong things, the desire to compete and see what I can find to get even more spread, and I end up in performance anxiety.

Again, I remind you that the advice I give you is the advice I need to hear. All the material I publish is what I wanted to say to the younger version of me. Obviously, I need to hear the advice even now.

My advice then? (from the episode about performance anxiety)

  1. What’s the purpose of what you want to achieve? Well, it’s not getting as many viewers on YouTube as possible, even though the response of the previous episode triggers that ambition in me. The purpose is that you who are gifted and struggling, would get some kind of benefit and enjoyment of what I share.
  2. Lower the bar. I wonder what the mechanisms are that make me always want to raise the bar? Lower. Lower. Lower. Damn, it’s that difficult!
  3. Refuse now or never! Just the advice I needed to hear. There are more chances to jump at.
  4. Just do it! Ok. Here comes the episode:

“Too much” it’s just the way it’s supposed to be
Whether you’re told that you’re too sensitive, too fast, too intense, think too much, have too much energy or feel too strong, it’s not true. For all you are and all you feel is ok to be and feel. Just as much as it’s impossible to request someone to feel more, if that someone isn’t able to feel more than she does, nobody can say you should be less intense when it comes to one thing and another. However, it is not always smart to react based on how it feels. But that’s another matter and I’ll delve deeper into that later. What you feel is okay. How you feel is ok.

Being “too much” can simply be a part of what it is to be highly intelligent. See previous episode “You are just too much!”

Trust your own feelings – they are yours
Knowing yourself is a foundation for building the life you want. It’s a part of what’s in your backpack, which you carry with you. Knowing how you function as gifted is another part of what you have in your backpack. To know how you feel and to trust your own feelings is basic and something you carry with you too.

When it comes to this, I have understood that people are different. Some people know their own feelings well and have always done that in an obvious way. I learned early that if my feelings differed from others in a given context, it was the experience of others that was the true one. They were more. Nowadays I have more self-esteem and can often find that I and others experience and feel different and rest in that it’s ok. It’s ok to feel in different ways and it makes neither my nor other’s feelings less true.

Accept what you feel
It’s only when you’re aware of how you feel, you can choose to accept that you feel like you do. And acceptance of how you feel is part of liking yourself. In terms of self-esteem, the author Petra Krantz Lindgren has described it so well. Quote from her book can be found further down.

3 initial steps on the road towards enjoying being “too much”

  1. Get to know your feelings. Observe yourself. Take notes or use voice recorder on your cell phone. When you are more intense – how does it feel in the body? What thoughts and wishes do you get? Put words on the feelings. Or do flow charts, mind maps, comic strip or photo collages that describe how it feels for you. Or find the perfect mathematical formula for what you experience. In order to be able to observe yourself in this way, you need to decide not to act on the basis of your feelings. Just observe and study.
  2. Accept that you feel, think and experience as you do. Whether it’s a feeling you think is good or not. For all the feelings you experience are there, and those you least want to be aware of, are often the ones who chafe the most. Accept those feelings too. Accepting is about acknowledge that the feeling is there, not evaluate it, just letting it be there.
  3. Surround yourself with others who also have strong intensities. As long as you are the only one being gifted in your environment, it can be difficult to trust your own feelings. This because your feelings might be so intense compared to most others. In an environment where your way of being is perceived as the normal, it may be easier for you to affirm the whole of you. Then, if possible, find other gifted to meet.

Does it sound commonplace? The fact is that it works. When I first asked other gifted how they had done to not feel like UFOs all the time, several responded that they like being UFOs and that it’s only about accepting themselves. Easy for them, I thought. They had never felt as weird as I did. Nevertheless, I began to do as they said.

And maybe others think I’m still too much. But I have begun feeling that I am completely as I should be.

Are you urged not to feel like you do? Do you dare to trust your feelings? How have you worked to accept your intensities? Please share your experience and comment below.

Kindly
Vera

Ps. I lowered the bar by just making one recording and publishing it, although in my opinion it was not perfect. But published it is, and then I reach the purpose.

“No, I do not look down, I look up to the sky.” Laleh

More interesting to read

Petra Krantz Lindgren “Nurturing Childrens Self-Esteem”
The whole book is very good and I have had great use of it. Read Chapter 1. Self-esteem! Here is a quote from the beginning of Chapter 1 that simply and accurately describes self-esteem. The quote is translated by me from Swedish.

“I assume that self-esteem consists of two dimensions. The first dimension holds awareness of myself: about my abilities, my thoughts, my feelings, my needs, my desire and my dreams. The second dimension is about what acceptance I have for what I know about myself. A person with healthy self-esteem accepts herself and likes herself, just as she is. She feels she is good enough, with all her thoughts, emotions and needs. With all her desire and longing. With all her strengths, but also with her weaknesses.”

Here is a link to Petra Krantz Lindgren’s web “Another You”

David A Sousa “Some Strategies for Working with Students Who Exhibit Overaxcitabilities”
Read pages 38 – 41! Although the text addresses teachers, I think that you may benefit from reading it. The entire chapter is very interesting.
Link to the book the text is taken from
David A Sousa “How the Gifted Brain Learns”

 

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The principal’s speech to all truants

Dear nonattenders,
You are one of over 12,000 with repeated invalid school absence in Sweden. One of the truants, one of the candidates for the school’s award of bravery. I’m glad to pay attention to you today at the end of the school year. Pay attention to how you struggled during the year.

From the school’s management we want to give you this diploma “To you who fought the past year without visible results. To you who stood alone in school, in an overwhelming situation, and done as well as you could. To you who did not experience any other opportunity and therefore became a nonattender”.

The reason for your invalid absence is not important today. It’s only important when we’re going to work to find ways forward for you. Perhaps you are not entirely aware of the reason. But you have felt the anxiety in the evenings or known the stomach on everyday mornings. Known how it gets harder to breathe for each step you come closer to school. Or the migraine struck down already on the first lesson. You have tried to nerve yourself for what you know will happen. Harassment, or exclusion, or meaninglessness, or what is part of your normal school day.

Leave the diploma to you
Since I will not meet you here in the auditorium today I wonder if I may get past your home or if you prefer meeting in another place, the library or a cafe? Then I want to pass the diploma to you.

I also want to show that I see you. You are more than just a name of one of the school’s nonattenders. I have understood that truants are commonly accusing themselves of the situation. Think that you’re amiss, because you don’t get to school and stay there as the other students do. That accusation I want to lift off your shoulders, and say that I and my colleagues have failed to do what we should have done. We have failed to implement the changes you would have needed at school. And for you, maybe we would have had to ask for help from outside the school too.

I want to promise you a safe and meaningful school to come back to. Promise you to stop the bullies from harassing you, whatever it takes to make it real. Promise you to provide the adjustments you need in the surroundings or when it comes to speed of learning and level of difficulty.

When we have shaken hands, this school year is complete for your part. Do not care about opening the rating. Instead, hold the diploma high!

Then leave the school mentally. Do not think about it anymore. Or maybe you ought to be really mad or mourn. Be angry and sorry for all the good things at school you have not received. The comradeship among schoolmates, new knowledge, shared experiences and rewarding relationships with teachers.

To teachers who see and show that you care – thank you!
There is a teacher I want to thank, who managed to reach a truant like me. It is Ingemar Johansson. History teacher at De la Gardie School. Probably he has no idea what significance he had for me. I never told him. Even though I had high score on the exams, he showed that he saw me and my absenteeism. He showed that he cared for more than my achievements. He showed that he cared whether I was in class or not. Hopefully you will meet an Ingemar in the future, who can show by little means that he cares about you being in school!

The conspiracy about the importance of the rating for life satisfaction
Before I leave, I will disclose a secret that all school principals know, but cannot say. There are completely other things than the final grades in elementary school and high school that determine what life you can live. The straight roads, those with good grades, are perhaps the fastest, but there are always roads to where you want to reach. Don’t let one or more wretched school years stop you from reaching your dreams, whether it’s to be a technical physicist, a stylist, a horseman or a game designer.

With the wish for a good summer!
I wish you a benignant summer. Because the school is anchored in science, you’ll get an advice from scientific research. In order to have a salutary summer and be able to feel good you need:

  1. Something that brings joy
  2. Physical activity
  3. Be in touch with others
  4. A certain amount of effort

And you need all the parts every day.

The easiest variant: Look at cute cat photos on Instagram. Take a lap around the block. Write a chat message to anyone in the world you like. Solve a sudoku. Abracadabra. So you have scientifically created feel-goo-opportunities. Your feel-good-day variation lets you compose in a way that suits you. With all four ingredients.

Shrink the reality and dream unlimited
In conclusion, I give you a more personal advice. When life feels really hard, I usually shrink the perspective. This means that I focus on one day at a time. Focusing on creating a feel-good-day and thinks no further than so.

As I shrink the perspective of reality, I completely release and let the dreams sail to higher heights. To the heights that do not have to do with my reality. Where dreams can float freely and easily. Where ALL is possible for me. Because through those dreams, I am lifted up.

So dream! And finish the school year with the diploma in your hand and head high.

Have a good summer!

Kindly Vera (Principal for a day)

 

The facts and figures of more than 12,000 students with recurrent invalid school absence, I have taken from the report “School absence and the way back” published by The Swedish National Agency for Education

 

 

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