Tag Archives: Growth

Change Is Inevitable: Your Attitude Towards Growth

Handling change is hard for me. I don’t like transitions, as they bring about a lot of uncertainty and therefore stress. I’d rather stay in my comfort zone and live my life as if the world weren’t changing arund me. That’s not realistic, however. I grow older with each passing day, even if I only realize it on my birthday or on January 1. Change is inevitable.

Growth is intentional. Many people make annual goals to make sure they do not just change, but grow as well. If you are anything like me, you are more interested in the process of writing about your goals than the process of meeting them. If you are antyhing like me, after all, you’re better at writing than at overcoming big challenges like overeating or mental health probems.

It can be overwhelming looking back at your annual or even monthly goals and seeing how few you’ve met, especially if you’re a pessimist. It is much more helpful in that sense to look at each day as it comes, appreciating the growth you’ve made that particular day. I may not have lost ten to twenty pounds yet and most likely will not lose them this year either, but each day without bingeing is a good day in the eating disorder department.

When you look at the future, like I said yesterday, you can have an attitude of hope or one of fear. When you look back at the past, the same is true: you can be appreciative or disappointed. When you do look back at your annual or monthly goals, you can have an attitude of appreciation for the goals you did meet or one of disappointment over those you didn’t. For example, I could focus on the weight loss and eating disorder recovery goals I did not meet (yet!), or I could focus on my blogging and writing goals. In these areas, I far exceeded my expectations.

Not only does growth help you reach your goals and thereby help you be more appreciative, but the reverse is also true. If you look back on your goals and decide you didn’t meet some, it is easy to allow your motivation to go down the drain and retreat into your comfort zone. When, however, you look back at your goals and see you met some, you feel more motivated to continue striving to meet your future goals. Like I said yesterday about passing or not failing Latin, having met some goals and having not met some goals, is essentially the same. It’s your attitude that makes the difference.

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Everyday Gyaan
A Fresh Start

 

Beyond Autism Acceptance

We often hear about autism acceptance, and I am all for it. Autism acceptance means accepting the autistic person in your life, whether it be yourself, your child, spouse or whoever, including their autistic differences. Autism acceptance does not mean not wanting to change anything about yourself or the autistic perosn in your life. After all, we all want to change and move towards teaching our full potential, and I remember from I believe it’s Eriksonian psychology that only a small percentage of people truly reach their full potential at the end of their lives.

Unfortunately, many parents of “low-functioning” autistic children say that they cannot accept their child’s autism because it’s rendering them incapable. I understand their point of view, but I do not see why there is nothing about their child’s autism that they can accept. As Suzanne over at Rarer in Girls says, she sometimes actually delights in her daughter’s autistic behaviors even though Janey is labeled “low-functioning”. At the same time, Suzanne wants Janey to learn functional communication and to become toilet trained. I totally see why.

I myself do my best to change certain aspects of my autism. For example, I watn to become less irritable and less easily overloaded. This is not because I don’t accept myself, or because I feel autism is bad. It is because I feel I could have a better quality of life if I learned strategies to regulate my sensory sensitivity and emotions.

I honestly believe that no person, autistic or not, has nothing they want to change about themselves, and for parents of all children, I don’t believe there’s nothing they want to change about their child. For this reason, I dislike the dichotomous perspective on which autistics need to be “fixed”. As Suzanne says, her child is “low-functioning”, but there are still aspects of her autism that she cherishes. In this respect, let’s move from which autistics need to be fixed on to which symptoms of autism need to be treated so that people can have a good quality of life.

There are other reasons I dislike the autism dichotomy. I am not allowed to complain about any of my difficulties, because I am more capalbe than some autistic children ever will be. These same parents are advocating for fulltime support for their children once they become adults, but I, being more capalbe in only a few areas, should deal without support. It’s that simple in the Netherlands. If you don’t require institutional support (which I do require, but people not working with me don’t get this), you fall under the local government in terms of funding for support, and care is no longer a right (which it is if you need institutional care).

Nothing in autism is dichotomous. It isn’t like, if a person crosses a certain, arbitrary line between “low-functioning” and “high-functioning”, they suddenly become completely acceptable and not in need of any treatment or become completely unacceptable and in need of a cure. There are people who can speak and write coherently who feel they’d want all their autistic symptoms to be cured. There are also (parents of) people who don’t have functional communication who don’t wish (their child) to be cured. That doesn’t mean these parents don’t want their child to learn. All parents want their child to learn and grow. As I said in my first paragraph, even neurotypicals often want to change. Change is inherent in a person’s process of aging, but that doesn’t mean that a person at any stage of their life isn’t acceptable.

Appreciating Progress

There is a lot of debate in the disaiblity community about what to expect from children with disabilities. Some people say we need to treat them the same we would typical children, because the world isn’t going to adapt to them when they’re grown. Others say we need to stop expecting and start encouragign, valuing and being grateful.

Both these philosophies have some value. I derive my quality of life from meaningful activities rather than meeting expectations of measureable progress, but measureable progress is what politicians and insurance companies look for when fudning or deciding on funding of our care.

It is my belief that expecting a child to be the best self they can be, does not contradict being thankful for the little things they achieve. However, for this, we need to let go of comparing our children to others at all times. I can see how life skills training is important, because, well, the care system is on a tight budget and that isn’t likely to get ay better. But that doesn’t mean that as people with disabilities, as parents, as friends and family, we must take these skills for granted. They’re important, yes, but they don’t come naturally.

It’s true that health insurers won’t care to appreciate the little achievements your child has made, particularly if they don’t end up costing the insurer less money. Same for future employers if the grown child’s skills won’t make them more employable. That doesn’t mean you as a parent need to stop appreciating your child’s progress. Also, as parents, you will more than a future employer or health insurer appreciate progress that is not measureable, such as the child growing into a strong-willed, kind, honest individual, for example. Continue to appreciate this.

I derive quality of life from meaningful activities, from contact with caring relatives, from spiritual growth. These don’t cost my health insurance company any money. If you as a parent don’t appreciate your child’s activvities, friendships and spirit, who will? Friends, if they’re genuine, appreciate your child for who they are, not for the life skills they have or grades they earn in school.

God, Suffering, and Post-Traumatic Growth

Some people believe that God grants Christians a carefree life, and that if God doesn’t grant us this, we must be weak of faith and/or God must be angry. We hold God responsible for all our suffering. This is kind of weird, since we do not do so for our happiness – we may thank God, but we still reecognize the part we ourselves and other people have had in it.

Also, it is common for some Christians to assume that God only allows suffering for the weak of faith. In other words, it must be our own fault of we suffer. This again is discounting the role humanity and circumstances have in people’s suffering. Then, of course, we may be angry with God and lose our faith. After all, if He eexists, why does He allow humans and nature to cause people suffeirng?

I want to talk here about growing from suffering. There is such a thing in psychology as post-traumatic growth, and I believe it is important that we recognize this in order to accept our suffering. Beyond being angry because we suffer – which of course is a stage of grief too -, can we try to use our tribulations as an opportunity to learn? For example, many people who have suffered a lot, learn to appreciate the little things in life. I am not saying that we need to be thankful that we endured whatever we endured, but we can use it as a springboard to growth. Let’s move beyond blaming ourselves or God and onto accepting whatever life throws at us and appreciating it as much as possible. Non-Christians can perhaps more easily acknowledge that God is not to blame for our suffering – simply because they may not believe in God -, but then again believers may find themselves spiritually growing from our experiences. I became a believer when I was in pretty dire circumstances, and I am not the only one.