[This is a follow-up article to “Getting Stuck in Safe Mode”.] We cannot solve problems with the same level of thinking that have created them. To escape from Safe Mode, we will have to take a completely different approach.
1) Create reasons to change
Although the people around me may think that they are doing a favor to me by trying to get me to change, but from my perspective I am actually doing them a favor by inconveniencing myself. I needed logical reasons why I should do or not do something. This reason must be so good that it overcomes the terrible, brutal and painful existence that I experienced in my life.
After all, why should I expose myself to more pain and suffering? Why should I change for the benefit of the people who are oppressing me? Why should I change when there is no meaning to life at all? How do I find the capacity to change when my mind is constantly busy finding ways to deal with possible threats and scenarios?
I found my purpose after I saw a beautiful, potential future for Humanity. I decided to use my life as a bridge to reach this future. Hence, I accepted my identity as a human being and my life on this world so that I can work together with others to create this future.
However, the people around me rejected my calling. After a few years struggling alone without support, I also decided to reject it. It took me another decade to accept my calling again. Many parents do not understand that so-called ‘unrealistic’ dreams can be made into great motivators, whereas so-called ‘realistic’ goals tend to be brutal and meaningless.
2) Opening up my heart for acceptance
Having an important purpose in my life provided me with the strength to accept myself. My repeated failures and the constant rejection by the people around me have made me see myself as inferior and defective. Thus, I subconsciously wanted to hurt and punish myself for being so worthless and helpless. Fortunately, I eventually found my way to accept myself as worthy of love and respect.
After accepting myself, I stood firm and stopped escaping from the suffering and darkness around me. Even though I had many ideas of what the world should be, but what the world is now is already perfect. I do not require it to change, I just have to accept it and work with it. Opening myself to the world fully, I take in the world with my senses, and accept what I have experienced and knew as worthy of love and awe.
The same goes for accepting others. People judge each other based on superficial factors such as appearances, wealth and educational qualifications. People criticize me based on their own personal problems and biases. People want me to conform to what they think I should behave, and expect me to do things that they think I should do. People are not truly sincere and hide behind masks. Yet this is fine, because I do not require the situation to change in order to be happy.
Reality is simply reality: I have a limited human body. I am living in an imperfect world of darkness and suffering. I am living among people who do not truly understand me. The present state of the world is the reason why I am here.
3) Learning to question our mind
What people tell us do not hurt us, but what we tell ourselves about what they mean is what hurts us. Our own beliefs create our story; this story creates our own suffering. Instead of focusing on what others are saying, focusing on the lies we are telling ourselves will help us.
We lie to ourselves all the time. We do not have enough. We have failed at something. We are separate from other people. We are not good enough. The world must fit our requirements. We deserve to be punished for our failures. There is no free lunch; we should control or make transactional deals with others. We are superior or inferior to others.
What is false is hurtful, what is true is liberating. Realizing that, I decided to stop believing the lies in my life, as well as that from the people around me. I choose to present myself authentically yet tactfully in my daily life.
4) Opening up myself to new experiences
I open myself to being alive and fully in my body. I open myself to be fully receptive to new foods and sensations. I open myself to be fully receptive to new healthy experiences including social events, games and adventures. I open myself to meeting new people as they are, fully receptive, without criticism. I open myself to accepting life regardless of what happens, without resistance or hesitation.
At the same time, I am also aware that being receptive to life is not about seeking new experiences constantly, but just being natural, authentic and open. I hope that other autistics can follow me along this path to live fully and meaningfully too.