Until recently, the culture has had little understanding of the nature of giftedness. Giftedness has been associated with mental processes that are quantifiable and measurable. We now understand giftedness to exist in all realms of intelligence – from emotional to kinesthetic. Giftedness has more to do with unique ways of processing and relating to information than to a product or to what can be measured in a test.
Giftedness is an unusually developed ability to perceive, understand or relate to a field of information – whether it be in the field of the mental, emotional, spiritual, imaginational or the energetic.
Most gifted individuals have never known they are gifted. They are reluctant to accept the label which has many associations. Instead, they tend to view themselves as aberrant or in someway defective.
Adults who were gifted as children tended to grow up using their gifts to adapt to the family and the culture – to fit in. Since their gifts threaten to set them apart from others,they patrol and regulate their own urges to creative and unique self expression.
It has been the nature and tradition of any group to maintain itself through common beliefs, actions and ways of living. Harmony is valued to carry on knowledge, habits and lineages. The gifted person is faced with the challenge of always seeing beyond, or outside of, what is currently accepted as “the way”. At the same time, most gifted people are intrinsically designed to value human interaction, and they desire to belong.
If you are gifted, your preferences for unusual ideas or ways of doing things, your passion and intensity, your sensitivity and your unusual level of perception are all qualities that have made it difficult for you to fit in or to be like others. To belong, you would have to slow down, curb your natural enthusiasms and self expression. Gifts of perception, which made you an astute observer, may have enabled you to use your gifts to manage the needs of others, to be socially adept.
Until you are at home with your giftedness you can experience:
- a highly critical inner voice
- an absence of joy or enthusiasm
- use of alcohol, drugs or food to self medicate
- disappointment with the lack of high standards in others
- inordinately high expectations of yourself
- despair resulting from feeling like an outsider
Until you understand the nature of your highly developed awareness, you may turn your gifts upon yourself – scrutinizing and monitoring yourself.
Growing up in a world that did not have a way to understand or support all the unusual qualities of a gifted child, you most likely lived with your gifts in one of two ways. You may have responded to your otherness by unconsciously creating a false self that blended in. You used your gifts to fit into the world. As an adult you may have become highly successful in your field of endeavor. Otherwise, you may have felt like a failure, or that you had missed the boat somehow, because your gifts prevented you from adapting or feeling that you belonged. Your gifts may have overwhelmed you and left you unable to cope with the world’s expectations, unable to find “your groove”.
As a gifted person, you may be plagued by:
- chronic self doubt and feelings of being an impostor
- feelings of despair
- alienation from culture
- too many interests, problems prioritizing
- a high level of sensitivity
As a gifted person, you may interpret your complex inner life and thoughts as signs of craziness. In a culture that does not value the abstract or complex, you may have grown up thinking nobody else was like you. You had no models who could provide a vocabulary for your experiences of the world outside of you, or for your subtle awarenesses. It is likely you viewed yourself from the perspective of the culture, not as the highly gifted individual you were.
When highly gifted people are able to live in their gifts, there are many qualities that set them apart. Highly gifted people tend to:
- have high standards for themselves and others
- have strong moral convictions
- have a high degree of sensitivity to inner and outer stimulus
- be perceptive and insightful
- be extremely curious
- need lots of stimulus – in the area that is their passion
- value novelty in their area of passion
- be innovators
- be independent
- think outside the box
- question authority
As a highly gifted individual, you are compelled by an inner creative imperative to explore the unexplored and to give form to the previously formless. Your high level of awareness of subtleties in mental, emotional, spiritual, imaginational, energetic or physical realms is unusual (and unavailable to most people).
As you step into your gifts, you learn to trust your unique ways of relating to the world. You define the qualities of experience that you need in order to thrive. You come to understand how you differ from those around you, without placing value judgments on these differences. You understand your uniqueness to be part of what you offer to the world.
Phrases that may apply to you, as a gifted person: too smart, feelings of despair, alienation from culture, authentic existence, meaningful life, critical inner voice, highly motivated, driven.