On my Inner Aspie page I spoke of a little personal challenge to not correct my husband, or critique anything he does for a whole entire week. I made it about 24 hours before I blurted out "That's wrong!!!" when we were making the bed, and he was going to put the blankets in the wrong order. I tried to slow my thoughts down, and think of another way to say it, but I got so anxious. In the afterthought of it all I realize that something so small as the blankets being in the wrong order shouldn't feel so nerve-wracking. I wish it wasn't met in my mind with such obsessional urgency that I feel the energy shoot from my stomach, up through my chest, down my arm, and out my fingertips in a flappy expression of overwhelm. However, it does.
In my mind at that moment it feels like the world is collapsing. My blankets won't feel right while I sleep. They'll probably not stay on the bed right. The satin fabric one is too slippery. It will slide off in the middle of the night, and I will be cold, then I will have to get it. Then, I will be tired from fixing blankets all night. Not to mention what it will do to the color scheme of my room! They won't match like that, and then my room will look dark, and dark shadowy room hurt my eyes, and , and, and,....
That is how anxiety works in my head. I'm not trying to be critical of others. I'm trying to control my world so that I can feel comfortable.
It's not that I think I am always right, and everyone else is wrong. To me, I am simply pointing out what makes the most sense, and is the best way to go about things. It's taken me to adulthood to realize that it's not so much an issue of who is right, and who is wrong, but how I relay this information. In my black, and white world it seemed that I either had to be quiet, and let others do, or say things that I knew was incorrect, or inefficient, or blurt out my two cents, and upset them. Either way, to me, it felt like I lose. It felt like I was always in the wrong, and never got to have an opinion about anything. I am now realizing that I need to learn when it's appropriate to share my thoughts, and when it's probably best to let others do it their way. If I do share, I need to do it nicer. This entails the ability to slow down my brain, so that my anxiety is not running the show. When that happens urgency sets in, and I feel I have to act now. No time to think!
I am still working on it. I won't get it overnight, but I will improve. I am starting with not judging the behavior as a negative reflection of the person I am. Instead, I am choosing to see it as a manifestation of anxiety, and AS. My brain, and body reacted the way it does when presented with anxiety. My job is to slow the reaction time, and leaving myself a few seconds to pause, and think about how I want to react. I am working at finding the shades of gray that lie in between saying nothing, and being upset blurting out the first urgent thought that pops in my head.
I can do this best by supporting myself when I am calm. I can realize that behavior is changeable. Mistakes don't mean that I am a bad person, or have a poor character. I can assess the situation, and make better choices next time. The better I feel about myself, the more confident I will be, and less defensive I will feel. This leaves some space for my ego to be in, while I adjust the way my body, and mind react to situations that provoke undesirable responses. I think this is true for most people, especially autistics. If you want your child to change their behavior you have to offer them a viable alternative, and build up their skills, and confidence so that they will feel they can be successful. If I feel supported, and like I matter I will feel less likely to lash out when I feel emotional pain. This was definitely not a skill that my parents taught me, but I am learning it now. Wish me luck in my week long no critical remarks challenge!