As gifted adults, we far too often find ourselves experiencing deep, intense emotions. We can swing from feeling sad and depressed to being frustrated and angry in the blink of an eye. But by knowing the likely source of these swirling emotions, we can begin to build the solution.
Many gifted adults don’t even know that they’re gifted. And if they have heard the term used for them before, they usually just think it means they’re smart. They aren’t always aware of all of the extra stuff that comes along with giftedness – the intensity, the strong need for fairness and justice, the intuitive perceptions of the world, and so much more.
So what happens?
They go through life feeling out of step and don’t understand why. They think there’s something wrong with them because their world doesn’t seem to look or work the same as everyone else’s.
In essence, they feel out of control in some way:
- Out of control of the circumstances in their lives that leave them feeling unfulfilled.
- Out of control of themselves because their thoughts and emotions are so strong.
- Out of control of their relationships because they can have a hard time connecting with other people.
When they feel that they lack control, their emotions go into a natural cycle – one of sadness and depression and then one of anger, resentment and frustration. They enter into the ‘Crazy 8’.
As human being we have 6 different kinds of needs that we fulfill. The first ones, variety and certainty, fall on either end of a spectrum, as do the second ones, love/connection and significance. The other two, growth, and contribution, stand more on their own, kind of like this:
love and connection…………………………………..significance
Our Emotional Patterns
When we feel like we don’t have control, we fall into one half of the Crazy 8 cycle. (Picture a sideways 8 or an infinity sign.) If we prefer variety and love more than certainty and significance, we jump into the sadness and depression side of the 8 first. We feel upset with life, we aren’t happy with ourselves or other around us, and overall things just look blue. We look to others for support (we get love), and we get people to behave in ways toward us that they wouldn’t usually (we get variety).
But because, as human beings, we can’t always stay in the same state, after some time we tip over into the other half of the Crazy 8 and become angry and frustrated. We yell, or demand things from others, or blame others loudly for things going on in our lives. And so from this we get certainty (for sure we get their undivided attention), and significance (they listen to us and do what we say).
(If a person values certainty and significance more than variety and love, then the same pattern of behaviour occurs but it begins on the opposite side of the 8, i.e., with anger and frustration. Can you tell which side you go to first?)
Understanding Our Giftedness
Remember, this entire roller coaster of emotion begins from a place of feeling a lack of control. So what can we do?
Learn about giftedness. Understand what it means and everything that encompasses it. Read about the social and emotional sides, not only the intellectual side. Identify the parts of you that are not ‘broken’ as you may have originally thought but are just different than non-gifted people.
Learn about yourself. What makes you tick? What do you value and what is most important in your life? What ‘rules’ do you follow?
The more you know about what makes you you, the more you’ll realize that the parts of yourself that you thought were out of control really aren’t.
The more you can see gifted characteristics in yourself, the more you’ll be able to find them in others and can begin to make more fulfilling connections with people like you.
The more you ‘get what makes you tick’, the more you’ll be able to make focused choices in your life and recognize that you are in control. And the less time you’ll spend stuck in the Crazy 8.
Now that sounds good, don’t you think?