Brain Rain Go Away – Calming the Storm Inside Your 2e Head

I record a video blog (vlog) once a month. Last month my vlog subject was “Brain, Brain Go Away.”. The essence of the vlog was exploring the twice exceptional “hurricane mind.” The 2e storm looks like this: one thought leads to another thought, leads to another discovery, leads to another activity, leads to another conclusion, and on and on. Oftentimes this happens at night when things are quiet, there are fewer distractions, and these thoughts – held at bay during the day by diversions and obligations – become amplified. 

In the vlog, I spoke about the deep desire we often have to turn off our brains. I’ll never forget when a good friend shared that during one of her maelstroms, she said to her husband, “At least you can leave the room! Wherever I go, my brain is still with me!” In the vlog I shared strategies for staying present, for being kind to oneself, and how to notice thoughts and then release them.  

In response to the vlog, I received an email asking me to expound on this concept applying it to social interactions. The listener described his “Brain Rain” as storming while he interacts with others. He shared that he struggles with knowing where to put his attention while managing all the input he receives physically, cognitively, and metacognitively while simultaneously processing the environment and the person with whom he is interacting.

First, I adore the concept of “Brain Rain” way more than “Brain, Brain” so I’m switching to that wonderful moniker. (I adore my listeners and readers – they always make my work better!)

Secondly, I’ve pondered this excellent question and have several ideas to help quell your storm to right your social skills. Here are some to try as you navigate your own choppy waters.

  1. Anticipate your conversation.

Obviously, you don’t always know who you are going to run into or with whom you will engage in a certain setting. However, having some preconceived questions can help anchor your brain to the present. Think about what you’re interested in knowing (or what you think the person is interested in sharing) so they feel enamored with having a deeper conversation – which is, after all, what 2e people want. 

Questions might start with where, when, why, how and what – where are you from? How did you end up here? What is your goal today? What great book are you reading? These are general but perhaps having a few in your back pocket will help ground you and focus your mind.

  1. Write things down!

When I recommended these strategies to my listener, he wrote back with the following response:

I began to make little notes during the day, when others crossed my mind; putting their name at the top and a list of questions or curiosities to follow. When I eventually encounter them, it’s easier for me to visualize the note and bring up those subjects even if I don’t open it! It’s truly given me a rush of positive brain chemicals when, despite the millions of things going on internally, I’m able to pull out a meaningful subject seemingly from thin air! Otherwise, I’d be dealing with and trying to sort something out of the many thoughts and sensations arising in the present. 

My listener anticipated and made this strategy even more intentional by customizing topics to people he knew he would encounter during the day. This strategy can also work when you feel stymied by someone. Whether it’s your partner, a professor, or a boss, writing down a few bullet points will help you stay on course. Otherwise, if you feel intimidated, you may find yourself inside your feelings brain (amygdala), becoming emotional, and having a hard time devising rational, cohesive comments or replies, and regretting your interaction later.

  1. Consider processing speed.

2e people often feel like they should have an immediate answer, comeback, or pithy observation. If you need to think about something, it’s okay to say so. Likewise, if you feel triggered or become emotional, give yourself some time to work through those intense feelings. 

On the other hand, many times, 2e people are way ahead of their listeners. We tend to finish other people’s sentences or know their conclusions before they say them! 2e students often get into trouble for skipping ahead in this way. If you know you are talking to someone who isn’t as well-versed as you are on the topic you are discussing, you may need to afford them some processing time. Don’t be afraid to pause and give them a bit of silence to think through the complex thoughts you just shared.

  1. Adjust your expectations.

Twice exceptional people frequently struggle with perfectionism. We want to live up to our gifted reputation. We also want conversations to be meaningful and not a waste of time. It’s important to know yourself and recognize when your expectations are inappropriate for the moment. If you find your mind wandering because you’re bored, or you say to yourself, “When will she stop talking so I can say something?” or “Ugh, let me just solve his problem so we can move on,” I’d like to give you permission to apologize and say that you lost your train of thought. Remember, it’s okay to say to someone – “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry, my mind totally wandered there for a minute. Do you mind repeating what you just said?” It’s so much better than faking it and risking saying the wrong response.

Have you ever received feedback that you appear not to be listening because you aren’t looking someone in the eyes? Have you ever actually tried to look someone in both eyes simultaneously? It’s actually impossible! Literal 2e people struggle with this concept and can’t figure out which eye or where they are supposed to look. Rather than look away or refuse to look at the person, try this hack; focus intently on a place on the person’s face – between the eyes, the tip of the nose, or where their hairline starts. This takes the pressure and stress away and helps you to ground yourself.

  1. Honor your feelings.

Ever taken a feelings bath? It’s what I call it when you recognize that your body and brain are reacting to something with intense emotions and you intentionally pause to feel all those big feelings. We learn from childhood to avoid, ignore, or suppress emotions. Our intensity is too much for other people, so we dial ourselves down. But what if you honor your incredible ability to feel and allow those juicy, penetrating feelings to wash over your body? What if you honor your authentic self by giving yourself a certain amount of time to just sit in your feelings? You may find that giving yourself this outlet allows you to better regulate yourself at other times.

  1. Do a cost-benefit analysis.

I know. You hate small talk. You love deep, philosophical discussions. You crave meaningful connections. But some people need this slow start before they share in a significant way. Can you trick your brain into doing a cost-benefit analysis and realizing that effort on the front end can yield results and get you toward your goals on the back end? Keeping your eye on the goal of forming significant friendships, you may have to wade through the quagmire of niceties, to get to the good part.  

Let’s face it. The 2e boat pitches and rocks in a stormy sea of emotions, high alert, critical thinking, and finely tuned observations. We can be overwhelming to others and to ourselves. But using these six suggested strategies can help you find calmer waters for smoother sailing as you navigate your social interactions.

Julie F. Skolnick M.A., J.D.
Author: Julie F. Skolnick M.A., J.D.

Julie Skolnick, M.A., J.D., is the Founder of With Understanding Comes Calm, LLC, through which she passionately guides parents of gifted and distractible children, mentors 2e adults, and collaborates with and advises educators and professionals on bringing out the best and raising self-confidence in their students and clients.

Picture of Julie F. Skolnick M.A., J.D.

Julie F. Skolnick M.A., J.D.

Julie Skolnick, M.A., J.D., is the Founder of With Understanding Comes Calm, LLC, through which she passionately guides parents of gifted and distractible children, mentors 2e adults, and collaborates with and advises educators and professionals on bringing out the best and raising self-confidence in their students and clients.

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