Sunday, October 2, 2011
Autism: Expecting too much of ourselves
There is a trait in our self patience I want to talk about today. I don't think this is in all of us but it's in me, my son, and I've it in many others. We have a tendency to take the world around us very seriously. In doing that we take ourselves twice as serious as anything else. We don't give ourselves margin for error. We get very upset with ourselves in the process.
A witness may not understand where the sudden anger came from. They might even think we are angry at them or someone else in the room. It's amazing how hard it is to explain in the midst of the moment. Where do such high self expectations come from?
For one, they come from wanting to be acceptable to everyone else. To us, we see our shortcomings as very expensive and potentially damaging. If we've had bad experiences in the past with others misunderstanding our mistakes (and most of us have)it compounds the issue. Past experience may include bullying, where enough daily taunting hit its mark. Dealing with impatient parents, teachers, or any other adults who punished us for those shortcomings make a mark too. It's hard to overcome your programming from youth.
Think about it, if you grew up with a condition that made you struggle, and no one gave you any patience in it, would you give yourself any patience today? I doubt it because you were taught otherwise. With a natural tendency to take things too seriously, we are at a disadvantage from the start. It's also what causes us to not do so well with stress. We can carry only small loads in that department.
My 9 year old son, already has hardships with himself. We counsel him on them the best we can. We tell him that everyone makes mistakes and they aren't the end of the world. We teach him that a mistake is an opportunity to learn something new. We teach him it's not worth being angry at himself. Hopefully, by starting in his youth, this will make a big difference for him as an adult.
For me, it's a hard lesson because I was taught the other way harshly. The bullying was hell and they often said I deserved it because I was a screw up in their eyes. There were a lot of them and the school was unmoved to assist. Have enough bullies on you and society takes a new shape. The drunken and drugged step-parent figure didn't help. I had no safe place to go. The only marginally safe time of day, was when my father got home from work. Even then, I would hear her ranting over what a horrible child I was to the point of screaming and yelling. Her punishments that included drinking sour milk, chemical burning my hands, and screaming daily obscenities also taught me the wrong lesson. I was taught that mistakes are not allowed, or you will be punished most severely.
So, now I'm hard on myself. It's not as bad as it was just a few years ago. I can give myself credit for what I've learned. I've come a long way. Now my story and these facts serve to help others. As with any of my blogs, I am glad to have it shared where ever my readers feel it would help. Just use a link back to here for shameless credits sake, right?
Remember to give yourself credit, it's actually a healthy thing to do.