Monday, June 8, 2015

Changing Yourself - Part 2 Forget Entitlement, Seek Inner Peace Instead

In my last post I talked about some of the ways you can work towards "changing yourself" to overcome anxiety issues. In today's post I want to look at entitlement.

It's important to remember that these suggestions for "changing yourself" are aimed at improving your own personal well being. They are not aimed at trying to make you "fit in". A person with Asperger's syndrome will always come across differently in social situations and that's okay.  You'll make friends who like you "for your differences", not "in spite of them".

A sense of entitlement is both good and bad
Entitlement is a key ingredient in any civilised society. Without a sense of entitlement, women would never have sought "equality", slaves would never have chased freedom and the poor would never have established the "bare necessities" of life to ensure that governments support their poorer classes. A sense of entitlement drives those in need to push for that which has been denied to them.

Entitlement can have some negative effects too, particularly when the perception of the benefit is flawed. A good example of this is "the American dream" where the entitlement was thought to be a house with modern appliances, a garden, a car, friendly neighbours and a stay-at-home mom who baked cookies.

The "American Dream" was just that, a dream. There was no room for non-white or low-income families and the dream was completely inaccessible to people in high density areas or those without quality employment. Furthermore, the dream did not take the human factor into consideration. Not all housewives were willing to stay at home and bake cookies.

Asperger's Dreams and Entitlement
One of the most common social misconceptions that people with Asperger's frequently develop is the idea that they are entitled to a girlfriend -- and particularly in places like the United States there’s a level of “beauty” that these girlfriends are expected to have. They don’t seem to take personality into account at all.

Over the years, I've met many people with Asperger’s syndrome who have become fixated on the idea that they are supposed to have been “given” a model girlfriend and that if they asked one out and were knocked back, then the girl in question was denying them a “right”.

This is simply not the case. Nobody is entitled to anything like this.

I've seen cases where these feelings of “stolen rights” trigger dangerous behaviour and violent outbursts. It’s one thing to fight for your right to water but it’s entirely different to become violent simply because you believe you have a right to a person.

At best these behaviours will turn more people away from you. Remember that internet rants are forever and even if you delete them, they have a way of surfacing years later in the hands of someone who wants to do you harm. At worst, they can get you into trouble with the law.

Controlling Feelings of Entitlement
There are two steps to overcome a sense of entitlement;

  1. Burst the bubble (realise that what you are chasing isn't real or attainable).
  2. Find ways to feel a sense of connection and achievement.
Feelings of entitlement come, not from yourself but from society. For example; they may come from watching television shows or reading magazine stories where characters possess certain goods such as houses, cars and appliances, have desirable relationships and appear to be living the dream. Even the most "realistic" of media doesn't portray the true reality of a person's life though.

Sometimes the feelings come from seeing others around you who seem to have "perfect lives". Again, you must realise that people will usually only project the positive aspects of their lives -- and that they cover up the negative. As the saying goes, the grass may appear greener on the other side but it rarely ever is.

Most of all though, the happiness that we most often seek, cannot be found by forcing people into relationships or by obtaining possessions. Often people with less wealth have far greater "happiness" than those with more.  True happiness comes from within. 

To gain happiness, you need to work on becoming a happier person. Realise that one of the key drivers of your sadness may be jealousy. As the Disney song says "let it go". Instead, try to be happy for the good fortunes of others. This will make you outwardly more agreeable to others and will make them more inclined to include you in their activities. 

Be grateful for the things that you do have. Whenever I'm feeling bad about myself, I remind myself that I have no right to feel sad or angry about small things -- not when so many other people in the world are clamouring for their next meal. Instead of feeling annoyed about what you don't have, rejoice in the things that you do. Be proud of who you are and your positive inner thoughts will reflect outwards.

People want to be with "happy people". Smiles attract others while frowns generally do not. A smile or a laugh can often be infectious and you'll find that people will smile back at you. 

Finding your inner peace and happiness will not only make you feel better and present a more positive outward appearance but it will also encourage others to want to be with you. It can lead to better things, invitations to social activities, relationships and even better employment prospects.