Asperger's,Autism Spectrum Disorder


As the days pass, I am truly trying to practice gratitude every day. I never realised how fearful I really am, and honestly, I always thought I was a coward. I know I am afraid of so many things, many of which most of the neurotypicals I know can’t even imagine being afraid of. It was a surprise to realise just how many times every day I think fearful thoughts and how much I worry, and it was even more painful to realise just how difficult it was for me to respond with gratitude.

Don’t get me wrong, I never assumed it would be easy.

I knew when I wrote last weeks post that it would be a challenge to stop planning constantly ahead and start to live in the present. I knew I planned everything because I was afraid, I wouldn’t be able to handle the future. I just didn’t realise how afraid I really was or how profoundly it affected my everyday life.

I did an exercise once, a few years back. Every time I had negative thoughts, I had to change it and make it positive. It was difficult, but it became a game. I got used to it and enjoyed it, even though for a very long time, I was increasingly horrified about how negative I was – especially because I never noticed.

When you make it into a game, and you have to make every negative thought you have in a day into a positive one, it’s impossible not to be shocked by how easy and how often we all think negative thoughts. Even more frightening – it was almost always about myself!

In time, I got so used to it I forgot to remind myself to exchange negative thoughts for positive ones. Life happens and if we are not aware of ourselves all the time, it is so easy to just go through the motions as time pass beyond our grasp.

But what was even more odd to me is that I never thought all my planning was negative – it was always a positive way to deal with all the things I could not handle, or at least was afraid I couldn’t handle.

These last few days have been so enlightening to me. As I stop myself planning for the future, even just the one a few hours away, I feel like my head is slowly clearing up and my body becomes more and more light. I was existing in a constant state of fear and I didn’t even realise it.

When I grow worried and afraid, I force myself to think of something I am grateful for to combat the fear. Only, the word combat is not very fitting at all. It is a battle to force myself not to go down the rabbit hole and lose myself in fear, but it is not a battle to be grateful. In fact, it brings a smile to my lips. A smile I had forgotten I was capable of.

Not because I never smiled before, mind you. This smile is just of a different kind. It’s not a smile in spite of something else, it is a smile because of something else.

As I said, it is a battle to tear myself away from the pull of my thoughts, because it is so easy just to silently listen to all your bad thoughts, all the negativity and fear. I used to think it was just thoughts and that they were hardly important. Thoughts are just thoughts, and sometimes I don’t even agree with my own thoughts. I can have a thought and immediately disregard it saying to myself something like ‘Oh, no, that’s not right.’

I think, perhaps listening to all our own negative thoughts can be quite painful and lead us on a path towards fear. I don’t know if that’s true for everyone, but I feel like it is true for me.

When I force myself to stop thinking negative thoughts and planning ahead and I change my thoughts to gratitude I feel like not only my mood changes, but my attitude. Maybe, this practising of gratitude is making me a nicer and more compassionate person? I am sure many monks have said something similar over time, perhaps even for thousands of years. Feeling the change inside my heart is quite different from knowing it in my head, however. I think I underestimated gratitude.

Truthfully, I think we all do.

It’s difficult, yes, but I think many of us misunderstands what is actually the most challenging part. We tend to focus on how it feels difficult to be grateful. We say and think things like ‘Oh, I would like to be grateful, but I just feel really sad right now. I don’t have a lot of money and I feel so stressed about it. I need to pay my bills, but it’s so hard. If I had enough money then I’d be more grateful, I’m sure I would.’ If not money, we generally want something else. At least, that’s how I felt.

I have a hard time paying my bills now too. Money is tight and I am still unemployed. I try to focus on what I can instead of that though. When I fear that I can’t pay my bills next month, I think about the bills I did pay. About the debt I used to have but did pay off. Then I feel more capable and I remind myself I paid that so I can pay the next somehow. I am grateful that I have so much wonderful support from my mother, that she was able to take me in when I had nowhere to go. That she helps me support myself now, so that I can pay off my debt and survive every month.

I am grateful that I have the ability to change and grow, so that even if I can’t handle some challenges in my life now, we never know what the future brings. I don’t focus on the fact that I can’t do something – that I am weak and often fail, instead I am grateful I can change.

It’s quite a big change in attitude, I have to say.

Learning all that I need to learn to build a proper website and make this blog better is so very difficult, often I think I cannot possible succeed. I try to stop myself form thinking that and I turn my mind towards gratitude. I can be grateful I can learn little by little. I can be grateful that there is so much knowledge available to me that I get confused. I can be grateful that there are so many possibilities that I can hardly decide what to do next. I can be grateful.

The odd thing is that gratitude is so easy but choosing not to get pulled in by my own negativity is so very hard. I used to think horrible things about those easy-going people who talked about gratitude like it was some magical cure to suffering, because I had been grateful. I had been grateful, and nothing had changed.

Well, for the first couple of days this practice of gratitude didn’t change anything. It was just challenging and depressing because I was constantly confronted by an awareness of my own negativity that I had never previously experienced. I was sadder and I was hurting more than I had been in a long time. I even felt irritable and aggressive – and that barely ever happens to me! I swear!

My nickname when I was little was Ice and I always felt it was very fitting. I never shout or get upset, except when I have my violent meltdowns – the big ones I cannot contain within me and I only had about 4 of those in my whole life. I am generally calm and collected and not because I force myself to be so. I simply feel comfortable that way. My temper is not hot and flaring like some people. I almost never even get angry, no matter how badly I am treated. I just don’t feel angry – only a lot of sadness when I should get mad.

Gratitude was very much like a magic spell. The only problem is, it is like a spell you have to remind yourself of every day. I can’t just not remind myself to be grateful, because if I do, I can feel myself slowly listening more and more to all those negative thoughts in my head. I wonder, is gratitude something that comes natural to some people? Can it come naturally to me too, or will I always feel like I have to battle my own negativity?

It’s not entirely like a magic spell, though. I feel like a child peering through a hole in a hedge, glimpsing a new garden on the other side; a whole new world of wonders and all we have to do is pull ourselves through to the other side. If we can.

Do you ever reflect on such things? What are your thoughts? Are they as negative as mine tend to be, or am I just a very negative human being?

I do not know, but I can’t help but think about it. I try not to worry about it, though, and be grateful that I have become aware enough of myself to even have these thoughts. A few weeks ago, I could not have imagined it. It is wonderful, isn’t it? Wonderful how we can change and grow from the littlest things.


Life with Autism Spectrum Disorder is not always easy, but it doesn't have to be impossible. Since I was diagnosed myself, I have been trying to raise autism awareness and share my own experiences and thoughts about life as well as my search for a happy and fulfilling life.

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