I have such an appreciation for those on the autism spectrum that came into this world being different. In a world where oftentimes, there is so much pressure to “fit in”, they are either not willing to change or it’s possible that they can’t change to fit into what the world says is acceptable. The choice is either get up to speed with who they are, or else they will suffer. As parents or caregivers of someone with autism, our choice is the same. Either seek to understand our loved ones and accept them for who they are and where they are at, or we will suffer as well.
Autism has taught me so much about loving and accepting people as they are. One of my favorite expressions about people that I connect with when I may not totally understand where they are coming from is “they are who they are” or “they are where they are”. This serves to remind myself that it’s not my job to change others. Although I may slip up occasionally, there is so much freedom that has come with moving towards loving and accepting people for who they are and where they are at!
Often, we want to change people and have them be or do what we think will make us happy. That can apply to our children, spouses, family and friends. We may find ourselves saying “if they would only change and be the way I want them to be, things would be so much better.” However, people don’t change unless they themselves want to change.
When we adopted our daughter Gabbi, it was clear that she was different than the children we had been around. I didn’t want that as I had a specific image in my head about what having my child and family would be. I tried and tried to get Gabbi to be more like that child of my dreams, but she was having none of that! In fact, the more I tried to get her to change, the more she stood more solid and firm in who she was. That not only caused unhappiness for me, but for Gabbi as well.
When we want people to change, the message we are sending is that you are not good enough or right enough just the way you are. You have to be different to be okay. However, what do most of us want from others? To be loved and accepted for who we are. If someone is trying to change us, typically we will resist because it doesn’t feel good to us.
Where does this need to change others come from? Well, for many of us it comes from our own self-critical nature. We may feel like we are not enough or wished that we were different. Some of the things we may want to change about ourselves can include:
• I wish I was a better mother/father
• I wish I was a better wife/husband
• I wish I was a better boss
• I wish I was thinner, better looking smarter, kinder…..and the list goes on and on.
The fact is that the more unconditional love and compassion that we have for ourselves, the easier it is to extend the love and compassion to others. This is not a conceited type of love but a genuine caring about ourselves.
So today, if you find yourself trying to change your child or anyone else in your life for that matter, ask yourself:
1. Does this person really need to change for me to be happy?
2. Can I move toward a place of love and appreciation for this person just as they are? How can I start doing so?
3. What can I do to move towards more love and compassion for myself?
One of the paths to Joy and Freedom is Love and Acceptance!
We love and appreciate you!
From the Autism Shifts Family