The intersection of trauma and giftedness is not a fun topic to explore. But it’s a real one, because there are many gifted adults in the world struggling to heal from their past trauma. I’ve been wanting to write an article on this topic for a long time, but I’ve struggled to do so, ironically, because of my own trauma. If you’re working through trauma, I hope reading my story and healing journey will help you on yours.
As a gifted person, what should you do with your life? How should you use your talents? How can you find your inner callings and attain excellence in your domains of interest? Robert Greene’s fifth book Mastery is an exceptional step in helping all of us in search of answers to these often complicated life questions. Greene’s process toward mastery mirrors my own coaching method and process remarkably well, outlining the specific steps of the very same process I have been intuitively guiding my gifted clients through for years. If you are curious about where the coaching process would take you, are currently coaching and want to accelerate your progress, have been coached before and want a useful review and resource, or plan to start coaching and want to ‘get a head start’, I highly recommend you read this book!
Chaos, disorder, volatility, turmoil, errors, and uncertainty – among other factors commonly perceived as negative – are not necessarily our enemies. Nassim Nicholas Taleb points out once again in his latest masterwork, Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder, that we live in a “Black Swan” world where unpredictable events that have maximum impact on our lives happen necessarily and, well, unpredictably. These events are “Black Swans” in Taleb’s prose. In our complex, modern lives, these factors – chaos, disorder, volatility, turmoil, errors and uncertainty – are not a matter of choice; they exist and in ever-increasing quantities. We will run into them, or they will run into us. So, instead of positioning ourselves against them, why not use them as “friends” or at least as “allies” in our development of self?
How many years do searchers of peace spend looking, but never finding it? And how many conclude that, just maybe, it’s not possible at all, resigning themselves to isolated moments of peace within a more general state of chaos and inner inquietude? Peace is possible, but seems impossible until you find it. We in some way expect to find it as an external “thing,” some physical object found in our outer environment, or as a lifestyle that provides an inner security. But once found, we are often surprised to learn that peace is different than we thought it would be. It is not external. It arises as if spontaneously from a more internal process – a self-catalyzing end-process that springs from an inner “organized” chaos. Thinking about collectively autocatalytic systems helps understand why this is the case, and how we can encourage the seemingly spontaneous arousal of peace in our lives.
Often accompanied by an intense inner disharmony, giftedness has more than once been confused with pathology in the course of history. Kazimierz Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration offers an astoundingly positive and hopeful approach to understanding the seemingly pathological disharmony that the gifted often experience. Rather than mental weakness or illness, he argues that this inner disharmony is the great catalyst of self-actualization.
Many of us conceptualize “struggle” as “bad.” In our limited view, we consider that to struggle means to be in pain, and that to be in pain is bad. But it is exactly this reasoning that has caused so many of us to fall repeatedly into cycles of struggle recreation (often called self-defeating behavior patterns): to avoid struggle is to short-circuit a natural and necessary growth process, keeping us in a “Groundhog Day” pattern of personal and relational problems. How can we resolve this dilemma?
The little girl with no needs. The little boy who takes care of mom. Premature maturity, is in fact, no escape from having needs or needing to be taken care of. It is not an escape from being a child, and it is in fact, not often maturity at all. Premature maturity is something else more painful: it is our childish attempt to buy (negotiate) a sense of security in a world of confusion, chaos, pain, death, illness, and feelings of loneliness and abandon. If we are just mature enough, maybe someone will care, will love us, will help us. Or if we are just strong enough, maybe the family can stay together, mom can get better, dad will love us, we’ll find our place in life.