Giftedness is not a hot topic in today’s world. Mostly it is left to teachers or HR managers. It is not something we deal with in our day-to-day life and want to explore, and the result is that the vast majority of our inborn inner gifts remain hidden.
We are satisfied with the conformity and indulge in crumbles thrown by limited society. But only if people would know how fulfilling and inspiring life is when we awake our gifts and inner intelligence and follow our life’s purpose! Humanity would thrive.
People usually learn about giftedness from movies, such as A Beautiful Mind, based on the life story of the mathematical genius John Forbes Nash Jr. His life story is dramatic. After rapid success in the academic world, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. His life soon turned into hell for him and everyone around him. However, with the proper support, he slowly put himself together and proceeded with everyday life, which allowed him to create further and win the Nobel Prize in 1994. His life story is an excellent proof that no one knows how to handle immense energy, called talent.
Gifted people are more or less left to manage their gifted needs and intensities by themselves. Sometimes they dive deep into depression and loneliness, and sometimes they are so bored that they are looking for different, not-so-healthy substitutes for creative flow and become addicted, or sometimes they burn out and burn all close to them. We see self-sabotage in gifted people in the movie Good Will Hunting, where an exceptionally gifted young man anonymously solves a complex mathematical problem while working as a janitor in a school. In the film, Will is forced to attend therapy sessions with a school psychologist, played by Robin Williams. His robust, almost violent behavior is an expression of his personality and his locked creative energy. As Will embraces his giftedness and begins to use it, his tension is released, and, with his therapist’s help, he could start to lead a balanced life. By choosing happiness and love, Will Hunting understood that he needed head and heart to support his giftedness.
In John’s and Will’s case, giftedness brings mixed results. On the one hand, a passion for, e.g., solving mathematical problems, astronomy, art, or philosophy, and on the other hand, feelings of alienation, misunderstanding, and rejection by others.
Traits of the gifted people
It is not only a high IQ score that is important to assess giftedness. Gifted people experience an intense pull to explore a particular domain (or more of them), a passion for clarification, a remarkable curiosity, a relentless drive for more knowledge, and a remarkable capacity to recognize patterns in complexity and to relate them in different ways, to recognize other possibilities of variant solutions.
Meanwhile, the diversity of each gifted person is enormous; they are like snowflakes, and each is unique, so the therapeutic approach for each individual must be tailored to their gifted needs.
Marylou Kelly Streznewski describes some of the traits of gifted in her book Gifted Grownups:
Curiosity and energy – an inexhaustible desire to know and understand more, an infinite number of questions about apparently simple things or events, the rejection of standard answers, the integration of ideas and information into new knowledge, a passion for finding solutions to complex situations, the ability to concentrate and to focus, ability to manage a lot of information. While combining and integrating data, the person slides into a unique state, like a trans, where the process completely absorbs him/her. A person in this state can completely shut out the outside world and feels it hard to ‘come back’ until the creation is complete.
Speed – recognizing and understanding the relationships and patterns of complex ideas and reassembling them faster. Speed also should be understood as space, capturing all the information at once, not just as finding a solution following step by step. The gifted person enters into an idea, formula, or invention and understands and manages it from within. Understanding and analyzing step by step is not how a typical gifted mind works. The mind of the gifted works differently. With exceptional, unique sensitivity and gifts, the mind, in its holistic dimension, perceives and manages information almost as an organic structure.
Oversensitivity – whether sensory, auditory, visual, or any other sensory perception, gifted people perceive information intensely: they can be oversensitive to smell, sound, taste, the touch of rough cloth, or even to emotions and feelings. Sometimes they are disgusted by particular food or chunks in the food. They can struggle with allergies, chronic illnesses, and complex mental states or be constantly in a state of anxiety but would many times appear as calm and composed. Due to the expansive cognitive development at an early age, the body and emotional world of the gifted person is often neglected, forgotten, or develops with delay. Thus, due to the asynchronous development, many gifted children can be cognitively 16 years old, physically six years old, and emotionally two years old. This child’s condition is highly complex, and if not supported by acceptance and validation (especially if they are not formally asses as highly gifted) from both the family and the school, he/she can become John from the movie A Beautiful Mind. Therefore, therapeutic help for all who are burdened and misunderstood is necessary. But those who are recognized and scored as gifted or even genius also encounter many problems. They must be aware of their different exceptional capabilities and weaknesses and invest in building a balanced life.
Overexcitabilities – Polish psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski, who is a pioneer in giftedness, categorized the reactions of gifted children to emotional tension into five categories:
Intellectual overexcitability: extraordinary infinite insatiable curiosity, love of knowledge, learning and search for truth, understanding the complex ideas and concepts and rearranging them into new content, focus, exploration, introspection, love of theory and analysis, and independent thinking. But also thinking about thinking, lack of understanding others, involve logic in every aspect of life.
Emotional overexcitability: intense emotions, wide emotional range, concern for others, a deep sense of injustice and hypocrisy, empathy, responsibility, and self-reflection. But also a tendency to feel guilty, anxious, depressed, and lonely.
Imaginative overexcitability: precision of visualization, vivid, powerful dreams, fantasizing, creativity, inventiveness, love of music and art, good sense of humor, interest in the unusual and original. But also fear of the unknown, and escape in the dream world.
Sensual overexcitability: heightened sensory perception through the senses, love of beauty. But also a need for comfort expressed through the senses in times of distress, e.g., overeating.
Psychomotor overexcitability: the physical expression of emotions, high energy, intense physical activity, competitiveness, and rapid speech. But also restlessness of the body, nervous habits and tics, impulsivity, quick reactions, and workaholism.
Later, spiritual overexcitability was added: spontaneous meditations, extraordinary intuition, spiritual experiences, perceiving the world as one, ‘peak experiences’, feeling all-encompassing vibrating energy, connection with nature, people, and everything around you, wisdom, compassion, and grace.
Humour – is a distinctive characteristic of gifted people that can be sometimes misunderstood. Gifted people can connect through humor while understanding the depth of the joke.
Boredom – kills. If gifted people don’t recognize that routine tasks are unbearably bored for them, they will try to find the reason for their inner emptiness in the wrong places. Routine tasks don’t tap into the creative flow of giftedness and have to be done by a step-by-step mindset, which is opposite to the abstract meta mind of a gifted.
Difference – gifted people are different in many ways; they are faster in thinking, asking more persistent questions, disturbing and upsetting more people, thinking more deeply, and have more significant achievements but also deeper downfalls in life. The feelings of alienation, present in every gifted individual, are often repressed and denied for a long time because there is no real visible reason for being and feeling different. Moreover, if the gifted person is not recognized as gifted, he/she perceives others on the same level, which can be very dangerous for his/hers mental health.
Due to the lack of recognition and neglect of giftedness, many genius minds are currently ‘asleep’ because they do not recognize themselves as geniuses. Unfortunately, there are not enough means to find, awaken and support all the gifted children and adults. Furthermore, there are not sufficient information, guidelines, and counseling available to help the gifted.
We don’t need to become a mathematical genius, Leonardo Da Vinci or Frida Kahlo. Each one of us is unique and carries valuable gifts. Realizing them as our superpowers and bringing them to the table is the maximum of what we can do in life.
Reviewing the traits and exploring them can help you to realize that you can also exceed your current capacities and realize your inner potential.
If you find a lost part of yourself in this article, I invite you to book a free call, and we can together find the right solution for you.