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30 Tips for the Easily Offended Aspie

Are you easily offended? Do others consider you “high maintenance”? Do others feel they have to “walk on eggshells” around you? Do others say you “make mountains out of mole hills”? Do you explode in fits of anger over little things? Do you frequently take things the wrong way?

If you are like most individuals with Asperger’s (high functioning autism), you have probably been offended numerous times (in one way or another) by someone's comment, action, choice, behavior or lifestyle. But understand this: hypersensitivity is robbing you of happiness, and holding on to grudges because you were offended does not contribute to your overall happiness or mental health.

How adults on the autism spectrum can overcome being easily offended:

1. Allow most of life to be indifferent to you. Someone’s bad mood isn’t about you – it’s about him or her! This way, less in life will offend you, and happiness will be much less fleeting.

2. Consider the context that things are being said or done. Sometimes, you may have misunderstood and taken it wrongly.

3. Don’t be emotionally attached to your opinions and viewpoints.

4. Don’t hold on to the words others use to get at the thing they are trying to express. Hear the idea and ignore the clumsiness of the expression.

5. If everything is reduced to how it negatively affects you, no wonder you are so frequently offended!

6. If you expect others to act and speak a certain way, if you assume others will be as kind or compassionate as you, if you’re offended when they don’t rise to the level of your expectation, you will almost always be offended or on the verge of it.

7. In the heat of the moment, try asking yourself, “Why am I getting so upset? Does this issue really matter that much?” Reason with yourself: “Did that person really mean it the way I was just about to take it? Is that person actually trying to hurt me? If not, what is this person really trying to say?”

8. Keep in mind that when a comment seems offensive, it may not be aimed specifically at you. It may be a casual comment, but the other person is unaware that you are taking it personally.

9. Accept yourself deep inside. Validate your inner being. See yourself as more than your behavior. You are also your potential.

10. Learn from your past experiences, and be careful the next time you speak or do something. It may save an individual who is overly sensitive a lot of grief.

11. Many “Aspies” are easily offended because they can’t emotionally differentiate between their thoughts and their inner sense of self. When identities are too closely tied to one’s opinions, and those opinions are then disagreed with, many feel like they have been rejected – pushed to the pavement and crushed. This, of course, is highly inaccurate.

12. One “Aspie” stated that whenever he hears that he has offended someone, his first response is to stop and think if, in fact, he may have said or done something that could have given the impression of an offense. That, by itself, is a great attitude of humility that would make him almost immune to offense. But he didn’t stop there. He went on to say that he often found that he had indeed said something that could have been construed as offensive. He would then seek out the offended party and apologize for the misconstrued word or deed.

13. Part of accepting others’ imperfections is learning to forgive them for their past mistakes and create a sort of “forgiveness-default-setting” in your heart that you automatically go to when confronted with offensive language or behavior.

14. People who are internally fragile – no matter how “tough” their exterior – break most easily at the wrong or misplaced word or deed. So grow your inner self. Become self-accepting, and life will be a more consistently joyful place to live.

15. Pray for the ability to forgive and forget the offense if you have been truly offended.

16. Putting yourself in the offender’s shoes will have the added benefit of being less offensive to others, as you learn to be “too noble to give offense.” If you can empathize for a minute, you can learn to see things from the offender’s perspective. And then you will see that you too played a role in the conflict. Also, you might come to see that the offender had no such intentions of offending.

17. Realize that your opinions are not you. Any given opinion is not the whole of who you are. To the degree you can detach your ideas from your identity, you will live a fulfilling life with little opportunity to feel offended.

18. Remember, humans are imperfect. You are imperfect. Life is imperfect. And that’s just the way it is. When you can accept others’ imperfection – and your own – you will be well on your way to a life of more emotional stability and joy.

19. The reason you usually feel offended is because of the meaning you attach to what is said or done (e.g., “That means she really doesn’t care!” …or “He’s saying I am no good!” …or “I knew she didn’t really love me!” …and so on.). And so the internal interpretation goes.

20. So often we jump to conclusions, assume an ill intent, create meaning to a word that then hurts and offends. Resist that urge and delay judgment until the conversation has run its course. You just may find there is no offense to be had by the time you get to the end.

21. Self-acceptance will literally destroy others’ ability to offend you. It won’t hurt because your validation doesn’t come from their opinions about you.

22. Stay away from self-pity when offended. It can destroy your self-esteem and make you miserable.

23. Talk to the “offending” party about how you feel. That individual may not even realize that he or she has offended you. Calmly talking over the issues can help to resolve misunderstandings, hidden anger and frustration.

24. Talk yourself out of the offense by telling yourself, “This person is simply expressing an opinion, and listen to how interesting it is! I find it so fascinating that someone can have such an opinion that is almost the exact opposite of mine!”

25. Tell yourself that maybe the “offending” party is having a bad day and does not realize how she came across. Don't judge, and avoid jumping to conclusions.

26. Tell yourself that the individual who is the potential offender has as much right to her opinion as you do to yours. Besides, they’re only words.

27. The “everyone is out to get me” mentality is fertile soil for being frequently offended. Every word out of every mouth, every action or inaction, all that is done or undone, all motives and intentions become a stab at you. That is a HUGE burden to carry.

28. Think positive and stop brooding over the offense. Thinking too much often makes you jump to conclusions that are not based on fact.

29. Unless proven otherwise, assume the “offending” party has noble intent. Maybe the language was clumsy, maybe even ill-advised, but assume a good heart. That should take the sting out of the bite and put some joy back in your moment.

30. We all have faults, quirks and character flaws. So do you! Yours just may be different than theirs. So, shrug and let it slide off your back. Don’t hold on to the imperfections of others so tightly that you strangle yourself in the process!

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Mood Swings in Adults on the Autism Spectrum

Mood swings can be described as “a mental health condition that results in significant emotional instability.” This can lead to a variety of other stressful mental and behavioral problems. With mood swings, a person may have a severely distorted self-image and feel worthless and fundamentally flawed. Anger, impulsiveness and frequent anxiety may push others away, even though the person may desire to have loving and lasting relationships.

If you have Asperger’s (AS) or High-Functioning Autism (HFA), and you experience frequent mood swings – don't get discouraged. Many adults on the autism spectrum have some degree of moodiness, but they get better with treatment and can live satisfying lives. Mood swings affect how you feel about yourself, how you relate to others, and how you behave.

Signs and symptoms of excessive moodiness may include:
  • Awareness of destructive behavior (e.g., self-injury), but sometimes feeling unable to change it
  • Difficulty controlling emotions or impulses
  • Fear of being around crowds
  • Feeling misunderstood, neglected, empty or hopeless
  • Feelings of self-hate and self-loathing
  • Inappropriate anger and antagonistic behavior (sometimes escalating into physical fights)
  • Short but intense episodes of anxiety or depression
  • Suicidal thoughts

When AS and HFA adults have severe mood swings, they often have an insecure sense of who they are. Their self-image or self-identity often changes rapidly. They may view themselves as “bad,” and sometimes they may feel as if they don't exist at all. An unstable self-image often leads to frequent changes in jobs, friendships, goals and values.

When AS and HFA adults experience frequent and severe mood swings, their relationships are usually in turmoil. They may idealize their spouse or partner one moment, and then quickly shift to anger and resentment over perceived slights (or even minor misunderstandings). This is because people on the autism spectrum often have difficulty accepting gray areas. In other words, things seem to be either black or white.

Wild mood swings (which some people call ‘meltdowns’) can damage many areas of a person’s life. It can negatively affect intimate relationships, jobs, school, social activities and self-image. Repeated job losses and broken marriages are common. Self-injury (e.g., cutting, burning) and suicidal thoughts can occur. Also, the individual may have other mental health disorders (e.g., alcohol or substance abuse and dependency, anxiety disorder, depression, and eating disorders).

Treatment for mood swings may include psychotherapy and/or medications:

1. Psychotherapy is a fundamental treatment approach for mood swings. Types of psychotherapy that may be effective include:
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). With CBT, you work with a mental health counselor to (a) become aware of inaccurate, negative or ineffective thinking; (b) view challenging situations more clearly and objectively; and (c) search for and put into practice alternative solution strategies.
  • Mentalization-based therapy (MBT). MBT is a type of therapy that helps you identify and separate your own thoughts and feelings from those of people around you. MBT emphasizes thinking before reacting.
  • Schema-focused therapy (SFT). SFT combines therapy approaches to help you evaluate repetitive life patterns and life themes (schema) so that you can identify positive patterns and change negative ones.
  • Transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP). TFP aims to help you understand your emotions and interpersonal difficulties through the developing relationship between you and your therapist. You then apply these insights to ongoing situations.

2. Medication can help with co-occurring clinical problems, such as depression, impulsiveness and anxiety. Medications may include antidepressants, antipsychotics and anti-anxiety drugs.

Living with frequent and severe mood swings is difficult. You may realize your behaviors and thoughts are self-destructive or damaging, yet you feel unable to control them. Treatment can help you learn skills to manage and cope with your moods.

You can help manage your moods and feel better about yourself if you do the following:
  • Attend all therapy sessions if you are in counseling
  • Don't blame yourself for being chronically “moody,” but do recognize your responsibility to get it treated
  • Get treatment for related problems (e.g., substance abuse)
  • Keep up a healthy lifestyle (e.g., eating a healthy diet, being physically active, engaging in social activities)
  • Learn about mood disorders so that you understand their causes and treatments
  • Learn what may trigger angry outbursts or impulsive behavior
  • Practice healthy ways to ease painful emotions and prevent impulsive behaviors (e.g., self-inflicted injuries)
  • Reach out to other AS and HFA adults to share insights and experiences
  • Stick to your treatment plan if attending counseling
  • If you are on medication, take it as directed and report to your doctor the benefits and side-effects that you experience

Remember, there's no one right path to recovery from wild mood swings. Usually, the best results come from a combination of treatment strategies. Excessive moodiness seems to be worse in older adolescence and young adulthood, and may gradually get better with age. Many AS and HFA adults with this condition find greater stability in their lives during their 30s and 40s. As the individual’s inner distress and sense of misery decreases, he or she can go on to maintain loving relationships and enjoy meaningful careers.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

40 Ways Asperger's Husbands Can Improve Their Relationships

  1. Accept her apologies. If you've been arguing, and she makes an attempt to reconcile, don't rebuff her.
  2. Apologize for something you never apologized for, even though you knew it was your fault.
  3. Ask her what she was like when she was a little child.
  4. Bathe together periodically.
  5. Compliment something that she's improved upon.
  6. Cook a meal together. Divide up the tasks so you can both be in the kitchen working at the same time.
  7. Cover her with a blanket. If you're up in the middle of the night or have to leave early in the morning and you see your spouse has tossed the comforter off, take a minute and tuck her in.
  8. Do her chores. Do the dishes or vacuum the carpet – even if it's not your turn or your job. 
  9. Don't react when she says something annoying.
  10. Get her a subscription to a magazine she likes.
  11. If she holds a notable position in her field (or even if not) remind her of how splendid she is at her job and how it intensifies your admiration of her.
  12. If there's a secret you've been wanting to share with her, write a list of five reasons you're afraid to say it, five ways you could phrase it, and five possible reactions she could have. Then pick one phrase and do it. 
  13. If you're feeling anxious about something, ask your spouse to be your stress-reliever. Ask her to listen as you explain what you're worrying about. The catch is that she doesn't have to say anything—no reassurances or offers of assistance. She just has to pay attention to what you're saying. As you're talking, imagine your stress dissipating as the words leave your mouth. 
  14. In the middle of the day, send her a text message that says, " thinking of you."
  15. Leave an open bottle of wine and an empty glass in the kitchen for your wife after a long, hard day. Join her for a glass.
  16. Make a her special snack. Even if you're on a diet, there's always room for a little treat once a week. Maybe it's a food from her childhood (e.g., the smores her father used to make when he made a campfire) or something that reminds her of your first date (e.g., eating at a hotdog stand on the beach) – and snack that will show you're thinking about the two of you.
  17. Make breakfast for her. It's more unexpected than lunch or dinner.
  18. Massage a part of her body that you wouldn't usually pay attention to (e.g., forearm, shoulder, calf, feet, etc.).
  19. Next time you're at the corner store, pick up her favorite candy or gum.
  20. Order a book from Amazon from an author you know she loves.
  21. Pack her a lunch to take to work. Put it in a paper bag with a love-note. Include a small piece of chocolate.
  22. Come up with some pet names. Sure, you can call each other ‘baby’ or ‘honey’, but coming up with a nickname only you two get is cute and provides a little laugh. Studies have shown that nicknames are a sign of a strong relationship. 
  23. Pray together. If you're comfortable talking about it, discuss what you pray about.
  24. Repair something of hers that she hasn't gotten around to fixing (e.g., an old watch battery or a broken bracelet clasp).
  25. Say something positive—anything at all. Researchers have found that happy couples have a ratio of five positive comments to each negative comment.
  26. Send flowers to her office. It doesn't have to be expensive – anything fresh-cut will look pretty on her desk and remind her that you care. 
  27. Set out her coffee cup next to the coffee pot with creamer and sugar in the morning so all she has to do is pour and get out the door.
  28. Set time aside every day for mutual silence.
  29. Take out her yearbook. Ask about the people in it and what they meant to her.
  30. Tell her she looks sexy in that dress (pants, shorts, insert the appropriate item of clothing).
  31. Tell her she makes you a better person, and then tell her how.
  32. The next time a member of her family calls and you answer the phone, stay on the line and chat a minute before handing off the phone. She'll be touched that you want to speak to her relatives.
  33. The next time she does something that makes you mad, before you say something about it, stop and ask yourself, "What am I really angry about?" Little things can often be masks for deeper issues. If you decide it's a larger issue, hold your tongue and bring it up when you have calmed down. 
  34. The next time you hug her, reach around and squeeze her butt. It's the little things that keep it hot. 
  35. The next time you wake up before her, turn off the alarm clock and rouse her by kissing her forehead.
  36. Think of one quirky thing she does that you love and tell her about it.
  37. Use your body language (e.g., hands, eyes, mouth, etc.) to show her you're paying attention and listening when she talks to you.
  38. When she tells you something about her schedule, put it on your calendar so you can remember to ask about it (e.g., a big meeting at work, a doctor's appointment, lunch with an old friend, etc.).
  39. When she's tired from a long day of work, offer to watch a movie she loves but one that you wouldn't normally watch with her.
  40. Write love notes and put them places you know you're spouse will find them (e.g., coat pocket, jewelry box, silverware drawer, laptop keyboard, etc.).

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

50 Ways To Be More Confident In Relationships: Tips For Adults On The Autism Spectrum

Do you feel like a "loser" when it comes to love relationships? Have you even felt so "unlucky in love" that you've simply given up and resigned yourself to living single for the rest of your life? If so, then take heart. It's not too late. Use some of the tips below to get yourself back into "the game."

50 ways to be more confident in love relationships:
  1. Accept yourself for who you are – as you are. This means you need to accept yourself, even if you think you see flaws.
  2. Be honest and believe in yourself. If you don't, no one else will.
  3. Make eye-to-eye contact with the person you are talking to. 
  4. Practice good hygiene! 
  5. Always smile. A confident person always does. It shows that you aren't afraid of whatever lies ahead. 
  6. If you want company, invite a friend or someone you don't know that well to come over to your residence for a beer or coffee. It could be an awesome bonding experience!
  7. Having a sense of self-worth makes you more attractive to your partner. Do something to develop your sense of confidence. Whether you make a change to your physical appearance and get a new haircut, or learn a new activity, or take up a new sport, doing something active to boost your confidence level will help build your confidence in your relationship.
  8. Trying to maintain a false fa├žade is exhausting and confidence-eroding.
  9. Stop trying to compare yourself to unfair media images. A lifetime of trying to live up to what you are "supposed" to look like, according to the media, is a waste of a lifetime. 
  10. Nobody likes a poser, so don't try to be someone you're not.
  11. Tolerate insults with a grain of salt.
  12. Finish your degree, apply for the better job, or write that novel. If you have a good sense of your own self-worth, you’ll be confident in your relationship.
  13. Be aware of what constitutes a healthy relationship. Make sure your partner treats you with respect and courtesy. Don't settle for constant criticism or negative behaviors.
  14. Be affectionate. If your partner returns the affection, it’ll make you confident. If not, it’s time to find a new partner who is affectionate.
  15. Avoid the temptation to endlessly analyze other people.
  16. Assume yourself equal to everyone in the audience. 
  17. Whether you're male or female, getting a new outfit and haircut can make you feel fresh, cool and confident. Create a look that you like and that makes you feel good about yourself.
  18. Create a list of all your accomplishments. These accomplishments are things you did of your own free will. You do have the strength it takes to not only survive, but to succeed.
  19. Do things without your partner from time to time. Similarly, do fun and enjoyable activities with your partner. People who feel the lucky in their love relationships are often the ones who say they can do things both together – and apart.
  20. Do something which you are afraid to do (e.g., public speaking). If you hear a voice within you say "you can’t get up on stage and speak to an entire group of people," then by all means speak, and that voice will be silenced.
  21. Don’t compare your relationship to other people’s relationships. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and you never know what’s going on behind closed doors.
  22. Don’t let your relationships progress too far without discussing major issues. Having children, religious differences, whether either of you is willing to relocate for a job — these can be landmines in the future.
  23. Don’t let yourself become dependent on your partner. Know how to unclog the sink and change a tire. Skills are confidence boosters.
  24. Know that you would survive just fine, even if you weren't in a relationship with your current partner. You are with your partner because you choose to be, not because you need to be. 
  25. If anybody puts you down or makes fun of you, think it through and how silly the comment is. Make it feel like it's a joke, and you won't take the comment seriously.
  26. Have lots of outside interests apart from your relationship. When you start to feel insecure, it helps to have something else to obsess over.
  27. God doesn’t make junk – he made you exactly as you should be!
  28. Give your partner a little friendly competition from time to time (e.g., go bowling, play tennis).
  29. Focus on the positive. Positive self-talk will help you build self-confidence. 
  30. Find some affirmations that will help you and repeat them often to yourself. Affirmations are very powerful and need to be spoken as though they have already happened (e.g., "I am a very confident person …I can do anything I put my mind to").
  31. Every evening just before you go to bed, think to yourself at least ten times, "I’m a courageous person." This leaves a positive frame of mind inside of you and will make you feel more confident the next day.
  32. Don't underestimate yourself just because you're younger (or older) or smaller (or heavier) or make less money than your partner. Every time you find yourself thinking, “I don’t deserve this partner” …change it to, “I deserve a wonderful relationship and more.”
  33. Keep an individual identity, even when you are in a relationship.
  34. Don't be afraid to try something different. Remember that everyone has fear. You are not alone. 
  35. Don’t snoop unless you really have good reason not to trust your partner. Emails and voice mails taken out of context can cause a lot of unnecessary heartaches.
  36. Let go of emotional baggage. If your father told you your brother was the smarter one, or your gym teacher said you weren’t coordinated enough to make the basketball team, it doesn’t mean your partner thinks you’re stupid or uncoordinated now.
  37. Make a list of all the qualities you like about yourself. Maybe you are caring, generous, funny or smart. This will remind you of all the things you should love about yourself.
  38. Present your best self to your partner and the world. Don’t always go out dressed in sweats and don’t sleep in ratty T-shirts every night. When you look good, you probably feel good.
  39. “Pretend” that you are already confident. If you've ever wanted to be an actor, use that motivation now. You may know you're capable and competent, yet you may feel rather insecure, but by pretending that you're already confident, you can convince yourself. 
  40. Focus on your partner's positive qualities. Don't criticize him or her. Instead, offer compliments and reassurance, and the chances are higher that you will receive the same from him or her.
  41. Exercise. It reduces stress and releases endorphins.
  42. Walk and speak with confidence. This doesn't mean you should be arrogant or put on a show for others. Simply hold your head up high, feel free to speak your opinions and thoughts during a conversation. 
  43. Visualize yourself being congratulated on something you dream to achieve. Imagine the person shaking your hand and saying, "Well done." Hold a picture of you being successful, and chances are, it'll become a reality someday.
  44. Take a public speaking course. You might hate getting up in front of people, but there's no better way to jump start your confidence than by assuring yourself that you've got something to say, and people are listening.
  45. Surround yourself with people you love and who make you confident. Don't settle for less. The biggest thing that will make you feel good about yourself is if you are in a place where people support you.
  46. Skip the head-games and be up-front. If something’s bothering you, tell your partner directly. 
  47. Let your partner be himself or herself. 
  48. Don't try to completely merge with your partner. That would destroy your sense of self. You have to learn to be on your own and feel self-reliant before you can successfully be with another person.
  49. Even if you've always felt separate from others, know that if they don't like the real you, they are missing out.
  50. Reveal something embarrassing about yourself to your partner. Sharing secrets or things you are ashamed about with your partner can be helpful in establishing a feeling of security and intimacy. Self-disclosure is fundamental to a healthy relationship and can enhance your confidence in each other.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

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