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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.


Anonymous said…
" 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. "

is such a good point!

Also, remember that the rights everyone does deserve include the right to not be forced into sex and romantic relationships with people whom they don't want.

Becoming violent simply because one believes that he or she has a right to another person's affection isn't only harmful and illogical, it's even *violating the rights of the other person*.

He or she deserves the right to say no to dating one, the same way one deserve the right to say no to dating someone else.
wenkuang chen said…
Thanks for your efforts, your experiences are precious.
Ralph Doncaster said…
"One of the most common social misconceptions that people with Asperger's frequently develop is the idea that they are entitled to a girlfriend"
Do you have any evidence of this? I never felt entitled to a girlfriend.
Gavin Bollard said…
As far as "Evidence" is concerned, I have (several times) found myself in the position of trying to "talk down" people with Asperger's who have this false sense of entitlement and feel that they should be taking action.

I can also remember reading quotes from the perpetrators of Sandy Hook style attacks (can't remember which specific attacks as there have now been too many). Those quotes specifically talked about revenge due to unfulfilled "entitlement".
Gavin Bollard said…
As far as "Evidence" is concerned, I have (several times) found myself in the position of trying to "talk down" people with Asperger's who have this false sense of entitlement and feel that they should be taking action.

I can also remember reading quotes from the perpetrators of Sandy Hook style attacks (can't remember which specific attacks as there have now been too many). Those quotes specifically talked about revenge due to unfulfilled "entitlement".
Anonymous said… and describe this issue and the Santa Barbara attack. describes this issue and the Pittsburgh attack.

The Kiss of PeaceBy Gede Prama“Why do women close their eyes when they are kissed?”, this is the question of many teenagers. Every spiritual friends who grow deep in meditation know, the true beauty is hidden within. The outer beauty is merely the reflection of the inner harmony.Sadly, very few of people in this age who can meet deep beauty like this. Most human beings fight against themselves. On the path of compassion, it is often heard a beautiful message like this: “be kind to those who harm you. They are fighting. And they do not fight against you, they fight agains themselves”.This explains why life is burning in many places. Hospitals are full, the victims of drugs increase significantly, the story of divorce and suicide are very touching. In short, very few of people who find the inner harmony recently. Most people are burning in the chaotic inner conflict.As has been shared very often in meditation classes, there are many seeds of violence were planted within us. Family, schools, leaders, society planted countless seeds of violence in our inner life. That’s why many people can be easily burnt simply because of small things.At the level of healing, meditation keep teaching the approach of selective watering. Students are suggested to water only the seeds of peace. To put it clearly, surround yourself with people who support your peace journey. Every time the memory of violence appear in the mind, learn to smile to the bad memory, learn not to react in the forms of speech or action.Quoting the teachings of ancient Indian in America, within us there are good and bad wolves which keep fighting every day. And the winner is the one who is fed every day. With the approach of smiling to the seeds of violence within, not to react in the forms of words and actions, one is no longer feeding the bad wolf within.In the language of meditation: “recognize mind as mind, not as a truth. Recognize feelings as feelings, not as yourself. That is how meditation cures many lives”. Anyone who diligently practice meditation like this, one day they will experience a deep healing. And they are no longer burnt by the heat of life everywhere.At the level of perfection, the selective approach of watering is not necessary. What is needed is a consistency to witness without choosing (choiceless awareness). Every movements of life outside and inside, both are similar to snow flakes falling into the lake. It causes ripples for a while, but finally they disappear.Meditate or not, praying or not, that’s the natural nature of life. Everything grow follow their own law. Shade trees invite the coming of birds. The blooming flowers invite the coming of butterflies. How bad or how beautiful everyday life, everything simply appear and then disappear. It is as simple as snow flakes falling into the lake.Any inner seekers who are one with the daily meditative life like this, they can transform life into a song of harmony. This is what allows a person to find the true beauty within. In the depth of beauty within, life is the kiss of peace.Author: Gede Prama
Eric Earle said…
This was a very great article. Thank you for writing it.
I agree that finding peace is very powerful—and I was wondering what you might think are some ways to find inner peace?
For me, in my life, I would say that meditation has profoundly impacted my happiness and levels of peace and tranquility.
Also, mentoring has. For the past year I've been mentoring a few students, some of them with Asperger's.
Dance, too, changed my life for the better.
I did do some research actually, and I found out that there are five habits which provide people with a sustained increase in wellbeing (over several months and years, even after stopping the activities). Here they are:
random act of kindness
Doing those habits every day will make you happier. Pick one. Start today.
Jon Kabat Zinn is great for meditations.

Anonymous said… describes this issue and the Oregon attack in that community college.
Anonymous said…
I think this issue of entitlement also affects relationships between Aspies and NTs.
Some of the behavior I read about in other threads here, where the Aspie breaks off an apparently good relationship with an NT more or less out of the blue, may stem from the Aspie feeling there is always a "better" relationship, a younger, prettier and more understanding dream woman just over the horizon. I don't want to say to a man in his 40s, who never had a long-term relationship, is too squeamish for sex, is unable to express love and given to periodic meltdowns, periods of silence and coldness that his options are limited and that he might be better off with the loving, presentable and understanding woman he has. It would be too hurtful to him--but he is also living in a dream AND hurting his significant other.
Will there be a part 3?

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