Are you an adult with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger's? Are you in a relationship with someone on the autism spectrum? Are you struggling emotionally, socially, spiritually or otherwise? Then you've come to the right place. We are here to help you in any way we can. Kick off your shoes and stay awhile...

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The Emotionally-Guarded Person with ASD

Anytime a person guards something, it’s because he or she wants to protect it.  Emotionally-guarded individuals are protecting themselves from getting hurt. But relationships of depth require vulnerability – and vulnerability signifies the risk of getting hurt. 

Emotionally-guarded people raise their shields to protect against exposing their vulnerabilities.  They are afraid that by dropping their shield, they will be humiliated.  
 
They are guarding against emotional intimacy, but a relationship can’t be sustained without emotional intimacy. This is a true dilemma for many adults with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA).

Intimacy requires feeling one’s insecurities and the painful emotions they produce.  All painful emotions are based in fear.  The fear of getting hurt or disgraced can sometimes take control of your life. So what can be done to avoid the risk of being hurt in a relationship? The answer: You can’t avoid the risk! 
 
To avoid risk is to avoid relationship! If you protect yourself by being emotionally-guarded, you’re never going to find a satisfying relationship. Connecting with someone, deepening the relationship, bonding and falling in love is not a safe process, and it undeniably requires you to risk getting hurt.
 

Securing a relationship requires surrender. As intimidating as that sounds, surrender is also what makes the experience magical – and even life-transforming. Adults on the spectrum grow by challenging their fears – not by staying safe. You grow by taking risks, not by raising a shield. Two individuals get close to each other by virtue of risking themselves. So if you’re going to find a love relationship, you must risk your heart all over again.

But here’s an issue with many adults with ASD: They don’t feel good about themselves, so they never actually let anyone else in. They avoid confiding in another person. Thus, they never fully bond …never let anyone else really get to know them …and never deeply love. So the real issue here has more to do with “low self-esteem” than some kind of “social inability” to deeply connect with another person.

If you fear love relationships because you fear getting injured, you’ll approach relationships with a guarded heart. But you won’t be able to love, either. The only solution is to stop hiding and to allow someone else in. Work on having a more open heart. 
 
But you don’t have to do this alone – it takes two people doing it together …two people opening up, revealing themselves, connecting and bonding …two people risking their hearts. In the end, relationships are about risking and bonding – not safety and protection. This doesn’t happen every day, but when it does – it’s powerful!

Your first course of action is to improve your self-esteem. ASD adults with low self-esteem fear that as soon as someone really gets to know them, they won’t be liked, loved or wanted anymore. Now here’s the catch: The best way to improve self-esteem is through experiencing success. But the only way to experience success in relationships is to take a risk.

So as you can see, you will likely choose only one of two options here: You will either (1) continue to risk your heart until you find a satisfying relationship, thus improving your self-esteem, or (2) continue to hide your heart to avoid getting hurt, thus settling for low self-esteem and superficial relationships (which aren’t very satisfying).

You’ve heard the phrase, “no pain, no gain.” Similarly, it can be said, “no risk, no relationship.” So, risk …risk …and then risk some more. Take a step of faith. It’s well worth the effort in the long run.

 
 COMMENTS:

•    t 3:43 PM ...This catch has a catch. It's true that the only way to experience success in relationship is to take a risk. However, to someone with a low self-esteem, the more times she gets hurt, the lower her self-esteem drops. The risk of getting hurt increases as one's self-esteem drops. This catch-22 may increase suicidal feelings.
•    J 7:27 PM ...Hi,I am an aspie adult male of 38yrs with considerable relationship difficulties.I have been in this relationship approx 4yrs.I am currently on the verge of wether the relationship will work or fail.From what I have gathered from my partner is that I am not very emotionally supportive,Touchy-Feely or verbally emotional...ie 1.She always tells me she loves me first,To which I reply love you too.I never say it first as I seem vulnerable inside myself,Therefore she finds that upsetting.When she asks me if I love her I reply with,Course I love you. But then she'll ask me,Do you really,Really love me? and I just get confused and feel like a fish out of water.Personally i'm not really sure I understand the concept of love the way she does,Thusly making me feel all the more inferior. 2.I don't mind having the odd cuddle, But too much makes me feel suffocated and just want her to get off.I do put up with it through grinded teeth sometimes,But other times its just too much to bear. 3.Whenever she has friends round she'll tell me soppy stuff in front of them and I cannot retort.I feel like the whole worlds eyes are burning down on me.Again feeling like a failure.So just say okay and walk out the room. 4.I don't know if this is really an aspie trait,But I am extremely private,And If I have an issue that I need to discuss with her and she has no solution,She will ask her family and friends willy-nilly and I feel massively exposed,Then I get that I don't tell her anything... Could anybody offer some advice to me please??? I'm hoping i'm not the only one to be experiencing dilemmas like this,I keep going round and round in my head that I don't get it,Therefore consider myself stupid because of the lack of intellect/emotion in these areas.Don't mean to sound childish,But would like to know i'm not alone with things like this...lol. Many thanks and kind regards to all.J
•    Unknown 1:28 PM ...This is very true to me. My husband and I have been married 22 years, but are just now exploring Aspergers as a giagnoses for him. I felt suicidle a few weeks ago and reached out to a friend. I didn't talk with H about it because he had dealt with suicidle feelings and I didn't want to burden him. My takeaway was that something needs to change for both of us so that we can stop just surviving and feel joy together. This is hard.
•    Kallya of Random Death 8:51 PM ...I have an issue with tying a free of being hurt with low self esteem. Not all fears and human reaction is tired to what they think of themselves. I mean I often find I like me, I really do but I can understand when the world doesn't seem to feel the same way about me. Or more directly the world doesn't seem to give the same weight to what I value. I also know my son is often confuse at the world's reaction to him. I do keep things hidden but it because I can have a hard time handling over whelming emotion and from my perspective the world in general didn't know how to handle such reactions either. I remember once at camp some people said so r nice things to me and I cried for an hour. No one knew what to do with and I could really explain to them why my emotion where so over whelming.

The Pessimistic Person with ASD: How to Change a Self-Destructive Attitude

Is your glass half-empty or half-full? How you answer this age-old question may reflect your outlook on life, your attitude toward yourself, and whether you're optimistic or pessimistic. 

Unfortunately, too many adults on the autism spectrum are perennial pessimists with a negative attitude (e.g., “nobody understands me” … "good things don't last" … "my future looks rather depressing"). 
 
These individuals often feel unappreciated, underpaid, cheated, mistreated and misunderstood. They may chronically complain and criticize, and they may blame their failures and defeats on others, posing as victims of a heartless “neurotypical” world.

If this sounds like you – and you would like to break-out of this destructive way of thinking and viewing the world – then consider the tips below:

1. Be open to humor. Give yourself permission to smile or laugh, especially during difficult times. Seek humor in everyday happenings. When you can laugh at life, you feel less stressed.

2. Check yourself. Periodically during the day, stop and evaluate what you're thinking. If you find that your thoughts are mainly negative, try to find a way to put a positive spin on them.

3. Follow a healthy lifestyle. Exercise at least three times a week to positively affect mood and reduce stress. Follow a healthy diet to fuel your mind and body. And learn to manage stress.
 
==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

4. Identify areas to change. If you want to become more optimistic and engage in more positive thinking, first identify areas of your life that you typically think negatively about, whether it's work, your daily commute or a relationship, for example. You can start small by focusing on one area to approach in a more positive way.

5. Don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to anyone else. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself. If a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it rationally and respond with affirmations of what is good about you.


6. Surround yourself with positive people. Make sure those in your life are positive, supportive people you can depend on to give helpful advice and feedback. Negative people may increase your stress level and make you doubt your ability to manage stress in healthy ways.

7. Positive thinking doesn't mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore life's less pleasant situations – it simply means that you approach the unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. You think the best is going to happen, not the worst.

8. Positive thinking often starts with self-talk. Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head every day. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self-talk comes from logic and reason. Other self-talk may arise from misconceptions that you create because of lack of information. If the thoughts that run through your head are mostly negative, your outlook on life is more likely pessimistic. Here are some examples of negative self-talk and how you can apply a positive spin to them:
  • TURN:  I've never done it before … INTO: It's an opportunity to learn something new.
  • TURN: I don't have the resources … INTO: Necessity is the mother of invention.
  • TURN: I'm not going to get any better at this … INTO: I'll give it another try.
  • TURN: I'm too uninspired to get this done … INTO: I wasn't able to fit it into my schedule but can re-examine some priorities.
  • TURN: It's too complicated … INTO: I'll tackle it from a different angle.
  • TURN: It's too radical a change … INTO: Let's take a chance.
  • TURN: I've never done it before … INTO: It's an opportunity to learn something new.
  • TURN: No one bothers to communicate with me … INTO: I'll see if I can open the channels of communication.
  • TURN: There's no way it will work … INTO: I can try to make it work.
 
9. Identify negative thinking. Not sure if your self-talk is positive or negative? Here are some common forms of negative self-talk: 
  • Catastrophizing: You automatically anticipate the worst. The drive-through coffee shop gets your order wrong and you automatically think that the rest of your day will be a disaster.
  • Filtering: You magnify the negative aspects of a situation and filter-out all of the positive ones. For example, say you had a great day at work. You completed your tasks ahead of time and were complimented for doing a speedy and thorough job. But you forgot one minor step. That evening, you focus only on your oversight and forget about the compliments you received.
  • Personalizing: When something bad occurs, you automatically blame yourself. For example, you hear that an evening out with friends is canceled, and you assume that the change in plans is because no one wanted to be around you.
  • Polarizing: You see things only as either good or bad, black or white. There is no middle ground. You feel that you have to be perfect or that you're a total failure.

10. Know that there will be great health benefits from changing your attitude. Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Increased life span
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease

If you tend to have a negative outlook, don't expect to become an optimist overnight. But with practice, eventually your self-talk will contain less self-criticism and more self-acceptance. You may also become less critical of the world around you.
 
 


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