In this blog I explore different perspectives on dealing with solitude for the Gifted and extra intelligent people (XIPs). My question is: Does a different perspective lead to different feelings and is that helpful?
When I look up “solitude” in a dictionary, I find:
1. the state or situation of being alone.
2. a lonely or uninhabited place.
Various perspectives emerge: Who or what is the cause of being “alone”? The XIPs themselves, their environment, society, fate or the cosmos? Is it a permanent condition? Is there a guilty party? Or should someone feel ashamed? How pathetic are the XIPs or their families? Do “extra intense people” feel solitude relatively strongly – but does this also apply to their being together, so that there is a kind of balance? And finally: Can solitude be enjoyed?
Many questions, a few possible answers:
Being far apart from others
I constructed this graph almost ten years ago and it has since then appeared in many places: the “dot diagram” (more explanation here).
The well-known Gaussian curve of IQ-scores visually suggests that those types with an IQ> 130 are happy together at below right. This scatter plot immediately shows that “those types” are mutually very different, and also somewhat or even far removed from the 98% majority.
When they see the graph many people react emotionally, saying: “That does look rather lonely.” A few people say: “Isn’t that great, so much free space around you!”
In any case it is immediately clear that there is something about XIPs and Gifted that makes them inevitably and undeniably “far apart from others”.
The more their intelligence and intensity is extreme, the larger that “distance”. Their dots are located beyond the frame of the graph. The picture therefore also illustrates why many extreme XIPs feel like an alien when they walk “on earth”.
An exclusive collection of qualities …
In my presentation at the SENG Conference in Williamsburg this summer, I compared two partial descriptions of giftedness:
– Giftedness is an exclusive collection of specific measurable qualities at a very high level that society favours or even needs.
– Giftedness is dealing with asynchronous development of an extensive collection of qualities, that may or may not have practical use for you at a certain moment, but that may be intensely present nevertheless.
What is your opinion on these two descriptions, do you have a preference for either, do you experience that you have a choice?
Is “intensity” included in that exclusive collection?
Lately I have written a lot on the “inevitability” of intensity, for example in my blogs: Welcome your Intensity, and Too much, or just Right?.
Considering recent results of scientific research, intensity is definitely part of this extensive collection of qualities, that may or may not have practical use for you at a certain moment and that is so characteristic for extra intelligent or gifted people.
But is intensity also a measurable quality, at a very high level, that society favours or even needs?
So it is not surprising that in the past intensity was rarely considered to be a part of that exclusive collection. Nowadays, it is included more often, but mostly as a possible risk factor that should be kept at bay.
It also seems to me that national culture determines to what extent personal development and expression is considered subordinate to the needs of the collective or its ruler.
Dramatically phrased: The Gifted are the elite task force, serving the National Interest or Progress. So, as an individual, you should refrain from petty complaints: Your intense loneliness is your proud sacrifice for the greater good.
This attitude has brought our societies various excellent discoveries and results.
Multi-pin attracts multi-pin
Intensity, however, has another relevant property: Intense and / or highly sensitive people have much more in common with “exclusively measured gifted” than with averagely intelligent / intense people.
Remember my earlier blog Let there be Complexity and the metaphor of the multi-pin connectors.
You will feel lonely and only partly valued by the other if you do not experience an exchange of information and energy on the majority of your “pins”. The more your Xi is extreme, the more “hungry pins” appear on your connector.
You can bet that intense and / or highly sensitive people have many pins on their connectors too!
Such an exchange can be very inspiring for XIPs and gifted people, and may contribute to excellent and innovative performance.
The more exclusive the lonelier
The central point of this blog is that the more exclusive a label is defined through a specific set of properties, the rarer its occurrence will be and the more the bearers of this label will be distanced from their surroundings.
Consider that a label is a specific way of looking at things and therefore it also implies a way of “not seeing”.
Given this mental frame of an exclusive label, will you still be able to see and value all the pins of other people’s connectors?
And how well do you see and value your own pins that are not included in that exclusive definition of your label?
The more you are aware of, and accept the diversity of the target group, the more you are able to recognize appropriate company. Also the more you may discover what is truly connecting, rather than what is separating.
There is so much to enjoy and discover with multi-pin peers of any kind!
The multi-pin family
This is also seamlessly applicable within a nuclear or extended family: It is my passion to stimulate awareness of the many facets of extra intelligence through generations, see e.g. my page on Xinasty.
If for instance one member of the family is officially gifted, what can then be discovered about the uncommon intelligences and intensities of other members, including siblings, aunts and uncles, (grand-)parents? While letting go of the limitations of what officially qualifies for giftedness, can one recognize and be inspired by the expression of intensity by other family members?
If the phrase “as the twig is bent, so is the tree inclined” also applies to feeling lonely, there is a good reason to be attentive to making all multi-pin members of the family visible and truly perceived, instead of focusing on and isolating the gifted members.
Welcome to solitude
I really enjoy temporary solitude. And rightly so when I have organized it myself. It is a natural consequence of being intense and sensitive that now and then having oneself as company can be entirely sufficient: “The state or situation of being alone”, “a lonely or uninhabited place”, wonderful!
It looks like introversion, but there is more to it:
The “horizontal” contact with the people around you can make you feel lonely or very appreciated.
As an XIP, it is for me also essential to consciously establish a “vertical” contact with up above and down below, with that which is greater than yourself.
You can leave your overdose stimuli down below, and gather the meaning of it all from up above. Or vice versa, that may be different for each person. But it comforts and supports me that I can always rely on up above and down below to help me cope with that feeling of existential aloneness that is so characteristic for the gifted and XI population.
That is powerful.