San Diego Cancer Research Institute

The Curse of Being Special

by admin on March 20th, 2019 at 9:40 am

Over a number of years I have had clients who demonstrate the curse of being told in childhood, how special they are. Special comes with a dark side: anxiety, pressure to succeed, perfectionism, isolation and failure to meet expectations; and in time may lead to illness. “The gifted” may either burnout or self-sabotage to prove their family or teacher were wrong or to validate to themselves how they truly feel about themselves.

The beauty in life is found in its imperfections, the source of difference and ordinariness. The expectations placed on the special child are not only unrealistic, but impossible to achieve. Post childhood, these children find out that they are not alone. There are other individuals who are just as intelligent, just as successful, just as intelligent, just as athletic, just as creative……..more proficient.

The now adults becomes filled with a sense of failure, and they tend to sabotage themselves. Too often they may have illnesses that are difficult to diagnose and often associated with their gastrointestinal tract. Most recently, the gastrointestinal tract is referred to as the “second brain”. The gut produces the same bio-chemical substances in response to stress, fear and pain, as does the brain.

In parenting, we don’t need to do anything other then love our children and realize they, like all children, are love made visible. We should teach them to accept their ordinariness and follow their dreams. We should teach them that there is no such thing as perfection. We should teach them that there is no such thing as “the perfect job” or “permanent success”. We should teach them to mimic life by living in the present and embracing uncertainty, for the only constant in life is change and the beauty that can only be found in
difference.

Paul Brenner, M.D., PhD