The Inner Experience of Xi

In my previous blog, an XIP in full view, I explored how relevant it is to be aware of one’s way of processing sensorial information, and how this operates in a completely different manner compared to one’s way of rational information processing. The uncommonness of XIPs and gifted people expresses itself in both modalities, but the sensorial mode may be noticed and valued less as one’s intellectual smarts get all the attention.
In the past years my interest in the role and influence of emotions, of feeling, of senses in general and of perceiving one’s own body has grown: All these experiences impact how you perceive and express your extra intelligent and intense self every hour of every day.
Last year, my research led to a paper about giftedness and authenticity in Volume 17 (2019) of the American journal Advanced Development, with the title Being Gifted, Being Me. More information, and a pdf can be found in this webpage of my Publications section.

To my surprise, it also led to becoming the guest editor of Volume 18 of Advanced Development. Volume 18 was published August 2020 and is available as an e-journal on the website of the Gifted Development Center at Westminster, Colorado.
In this blog I want to explain the Journal’s background, my choice for the theme “The Inner Experience of Giftedness” and give an impression of the production process. I will also provide a brief overview of the five theme-based articles and their authors, to give an idea of its contents.

Advanced Development

Advanced Development: A Journal on Adult Giftedness is an international juried journal published by the Institute for the Study of Advanced Development Inc. (ISAD) in Westminster.
From its first issue in 1989 onwards, it has a unique and clear focus on the world of gifted adults and on their personal development, often with special attention to the potential and role of gifted women. It publishes theoretical articles as well as clinical findings, therapeutic applications, essays, case studies and poems.
When in the spring of 2018 Linda Silverman, director of the Gifted Development Center, asked me to be the guest editor of Volume 18, it felt like an offer I should not refuse, but I was completely surprised by the idea that I would want / have to do something like this: I replied that I needed a couple of days to think about it.

Did I dare to stand on a larger platform and express what actually affects me most about giftedness and – of course – extra intelligence, Xi? To ask for attention to be paid to what it means to be Xi 24/7 and how to find ways to handle this experience more consciously and use it to your advantage? At the time, this topic had already become much closer to my heart than the usual focus on achieving excellent results for society or for yourself.
For years now, it has actually been the question that triggers me whenever an XIP comes to see me: “What is it like to be you all day, and what does being Xi or gifted do/mean to you. Currently as well as in your past. What do you like or dislike about it?”
When we enter a conversation about those questions, I get a different story every time: I may recognize some aspects and may be amazed by others. But it is always special to share these stories with each other. Often, people tell me about feelings or experiences that simply but unfortunately cannot be explained to non-XIPs. But they can nevertheless seriously bother you, especially if you cannot, or dare not share them with someone else.
“If this topic is so important to you, act accordingly.” I said to myself. And “Yes, I will certainly do it!” I said to Linda.

The Inner Experience of Giftedness

I proposed the theme title The Inner Experience of Giftedness, and formulated the following questions for possible authors to ponder on:

  • Can you generally rely on your emotional reaction to upcoming situations, the way you rely on your ability to solve complicated cognitive problems?
  • Mindfulness is becoming more popular: Does mindfulness work in a different way for gifted people like you? Does it influence the impact of your emotional overexcitability, and how?
  • Can you reflect on whether the opinions about giftedness in your family have influenced your personal discoveries in this field?
  • Are you aware of having intuitive abilities, and how do they relate to your uncommon intellectual abilities in your daily life?
  • And, of course: How does it feel to be gifted 24/7, and which factors affect your feelings either negatively or positively?

I expanded these questions into possible topics for an article, and they were added to the Call for Papers, which was published in Volume 17, spring 2019. Around that time, I also started looking for authors whom I would like to involve.

Around the fall of 2019, five authors were planning to contribute, including myself. With two other articles already in the pipeline, plus poems and reviews, the Volume was sufficiently filled, and we (that is the regular editorial staff and me) could focus on comments, reactions, changes.
And then it was August 2020 and Volume 18 was finished. That was actually a strange feeling: after more than two years of working on it, suddenly there was a real journal with my name as guest editor in it, plus my editorial and an article written by me (it thrilled me, and somehow felt natural). And it had been a wonderful experience how everyone involved had been supportive and patient to bring this volume and its special theme into the world.
Volume 18 can be purchased through this link to the website of the Gifted Development Center.

The papers

As mentioned, there are five papers in the volume that are specifically written with the theme in mind, plus two more. I have put all abstracts together in a pdf, which you can open and download through this link.
Below I give a brief impression of these five papers, mentioning titles, authors and a summary of a few lines per article and author.

Intuition—The Mystery of Higher Intelligence, by Stephanie S. Tolan

Stephanie Tolan describes her ongoing journey (being well over 70) of research, reading, and experiencing that has given her more clarity on what intuition is, and what it means to trust and act on one’s intuition.
She has published 26 novels for young readers, and many articles and books about the needs of the highly gifted, including the widely published and often translated essay “Is it a Cheetah?” that hit me right between the eyes when I read it for the first time, and fueled my drive to delve into the subject of adult giftedness.

Befriending Our Gifted Minds: Mindfulness and the Inner Experience of Giftedness, by Kelly Pryde

Kelly Pryde weaves in her story a pattern of modern and Buddhist psychology, of personal and of peer reflections, to introduce her approach to using mindfulness as a tool to deal with the inner experiences of intensity and complexity that many gifted adults have.
She is a coach and mentor but also the founder and guiding teacher of the Gifted Mindfulness Collective which offers secular meditation community, courses, and resources for gifted and twice-exceptional adults. She lives in Canada.

The Challenges of Identity Development for Gifted Individuals and the Role of Persona, by L. Frumau-van Pinxten, J. J. L. Derksen, and W. A. M. Peters

The authors describe seven so-called personae (masks of hidden doubts, fears, and anxieties) that they were able to identify in the gifted population in stressful situations. They outline characteristic conditions for a persona to appear and offer strategies to support (a return to) a healthy identity development.
Mia Frumau has been working as a psychotherapist for gifted children, adolescents and adults for decades. This has led to scientific research toward a PhD. Jan Derksen is emeritus professor of clinical psychology, a practicing psychotherapist and also a passionate writer of hundreds of publications. Willy Peters worked at the Center for the Study of Giftedness at Nijmegen University for many years and has since worked as a behavioral expert at the Child Protection Board. He is also a researcher, advisor and teacher on the subject of giftedness.

Finding Your Balance Between Gifted Verbal and Imaginal Thinking Across the Lifespan, by Willem Kuipers

I connect the characteristics of verbal thinking / visual thinking with those of the rational system / experiential system, as briefly described in my blog An XIP in full view. And I introduce a scattergram to characterize someone’s use of both systems and how that position often gradually changes over the course of life: Do you follow your head or your heart when making your choices?
More information about me can be found at this webpage. More information about the article and a pdf can be found at this webpage of my Publications section.

“We Are Not That!” A Focus Group Study With Gifted Adults: Direction for Future Research, by Maggie Brown and Elizabeth Peterson

In four online so-called focus groups, the participants discussed desirable research themes around giftedness. They were unanimous in their conclusion that existing research does not do justice to their own experiences with being gifted and mainly confirms existing stereotypes.
Maggie Brown is a private practice psychotherapist and PhD student at the University of Auckland on the topic of “giftedness research.”
Elizabeth Peterson is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Auckland, conducting research on learning and personal development.

And now?

It was a profound “inner experience” to be a guest editor. In terms of professional content, it fitted in beautifully with what I increasingly wish to spend my time on, and it has brought me into contact with various like-minded people. I sincerely hope that the varied articles in this Journal will inspire many XIPs and gifted people to pay more attention to their own inner experiences. I also hope that they will feel supported to acknowledge that what they experience can indeed be uncommon, but nevertheless is exactly what is inextricably part of being an extra intelligent and intense person.

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