A blog advocating autism through my own personal experiences and insights.

Archive for January, 2013

Training My Mind

I have learned a new technique to dealing with being a perfectionist and in general to dealing with the kind of black/white mind my autism has given me. It is a very effective mental technique that helps my mind adapt to the world around it. It is simply training my mind. I have to train my mind to not have the automatic thoughts that are associated when something goes less than perfect in my life. Let me give probably the biggest example of this.

I hate being criticised. When someone criticises me, the thoughts that grow through my mind are “You didn’t reach your full potential” or “There is someone better than you”. Such thoughts can be very detrimental, especially since my mind in its natural state has trouble seeing subjectivity and see something as correct or incorrect. Sometimes when I’m criticised, I can even freeze up and can’t do anything productive for an hour or two (such times only happen now and then fortunately). I have, however, just recently talked with a friend who has perfectionistic tendencies herself and she has used the technique of training her mind out of these automatic thoughts and found it very effective. This weekend, I tried doing the same, and I’m finding it with a big relief that it works.

Whenever I’m in an imperfect situation and let my mind wander where it wants to, it will inevitably go to the ‘negative’ of the situation, the characteristic(s) that are making the situation imperfect. What I do here is shift my thoughts out of the ‘negative’. This is by no means something that comes natural to me and it requires persistence and perseverance to get right. With a little effort, however, I find that it can be done. It requires getting rid of some previous thoughts like there is something ‘bad’ about being criticised and replacing it with thoughts like “I will allow the world to criticise me, regardless if how much or how little the criticism is justified and how harsh the criticism sounds”. After all, people respond in speech on impulses and emotional cues, so if they have a reaction (positive or negative) to something you have done or said, it may not be completely justified or at least not phrased in the most appropriate way. For example, when I’m criticised, sometimes it can sound like the criticizer is being very harsh when they do not mean to sound that harsh and are only offering the criticism as a way to help me improve (and they certainly don’t want me to freeze up for a couple of hours and having me feel stupid).

It’s training my mind to get rid of these automatic thoughts and to replace these with other thoughts that is helping my black/white mind appreciate the shades of grey there are in the world, especially dealing with such things as subjectivity and emotion. And as I continue to adapting, the more human I’m feeling.

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Choices regarding Sexual Frustration

As I grow older, the more I’m finding out about the world around me. I’ve had very inaccurate conceptions of what the world is and in this post I would like to share an example of just that. Of course, this isn’t the first time in this blog that I’ve done so, but this one is certainly major and I believe it deserves attention to.

It all began four years ago when I was about to turn twenty. As I’ve told about in previous posts like any guy my age I had and continue to have a lot of sexual frustration. Four years ago this all came to a head and something happened. I started doing (gasp!) the following activity: looking at pornography.

I can hear the peanut gallery now. So what? What young boy in this age hasn’t seen pornography??

But that’s the point I’m making here. I didn’t know guys my age were into this stuff. Sure I heard about it like on TV shows and such, but the concept of pornography was always treated with such negativity (at least that’s what it seemed to me) that I had automatically dumped it into the ‘bad’ category and really thought nothing of it. It’s just another example of how my autistic mind works and comes with my perfectionistic traits. Everything is either good or bad with no in between. Well, perhaps I did have some notion of shades of grey, but it wasn’t as deep as I thought it was. That is, until four years ago when I started looking at porn myself. I thus started to freak out.

I knew porn was accessible on the internet. When my sexual frustration had reached a peak four years ago, I started to rationalise why I would look at it. Why not? No one would know. No one has access to my laptop except me so just as long as I kept it a secret, it wouldn’t matter. Afterwards, however, as I said I started to freak out and my black/white mind had trouble reconciling this behaviour with the good person I was. I thus went to see a counsellor about it and lo behold it didn’t turn out to be as big a deal as I thought it was and I walked out totally as peace myself. I continued to watch porn, but I don’t much anymore because it got boring and clichéd after a while and it’s never interfered with my life since that session with the counsellor.

A related example of how my black/white mind operates happened a year later. I met a girl who was a student at Acadia like me. I forget how it happened exactly, but we started talking about relationships and sex. She revealed to me how she had a boyfriend and broke up after having sex with him and then went on to say how a lot of teenagers have sex. This was news to me. I knew that the subject of sex was appearing everywhere and anywhere in the adolescent world, but I never figured that I was in the minority as being a virgin. I then confirmed all this information with another counsellor who informed me that young people having sex was indeed the norm and not only that, but a lot of them weren’t even in long-term relationships, but did one-night stands, friends with benefits, and engaged in sex with multiple partners. I remember being shocked in hearing this and started questioning her whether I could do the same. After all, why not? I bet it would take away a lot of my sexual frustration to which she replied absolutely and that my body was my body and I was free to choose to do what I wanted with it, regardless of what anyone thought.

While I knew at a subconscious level that I would never partake in this, I really couldn’t help but feel tempted. But at the end of the day, I knew I wouldn’t do it and would save it for the right girl whenever she comes along. I’m certainly in the minority when it comes to living my life this way, but I’m in the minority on a lot of things so as far as I was concerned I’m only concerned about what’s right for me.

I’ve made my choices. What are yours?