Social awkwardness can be a common experience for people living with disabilities. Especially if you’re very self-conscious.
Many years ago I was diagnosed with Asperger’s, just like my three sons. But I’ve worked so hard over the years to become so proficient in social strategies that today I no longer fit the diagnostic criteria.
I remember the days when I pissed people off by saying the wrong things, was accused of insensitivity because of my blunt honesty and the list goes on. I was so hungry for belonging that I stopped at nothing until I achieved it.
Unfortunately, until you have the skills you need, you could end up trying so hard and feel so afraid you’ll look bad in front of others that you become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
This topic came up in one of my group coaching calls yesterday. I’ll give you a synopsis of what I taught my clients.
People judge! That’s a reality. No matter how open minded you believe yourself to be, your mind likes to label and categorize. It’s your awareness of and acceptance of this fact that determines how much it influences you. If you deny that it does it’ll sabotage your relationships.
So what the hell do you do when you’re afraid of being judged by people who will likely judge you anyway?
You use a strategy a refer to as “Social Disclaimers.” This means you explain the rhyme and reason for a social quirk their likely to encounter while interacting with you and why it’s to their advantage to roll with it.
The anatomy of a social disclaimer is:
1) Describe the quirk
2) The problem it solves for you
3) The need it meets for them
Here are a few examples:
1) Eye Contact – “I just want you to know I may look away while you’re talking to me, that’s so I can tune in better to what you’re saying because I really want to hear you.
2) Monologuing – “If I ever get long-winded when I’m talking about something, please interrupt me I’m totally cool with it. I also want to hear your thoughts too.”
3) Boredom – “I sometimes forgot others aren’t as interested in certain things as I am. So if you ever get bored please ask to change the subject. It’s not all about me.”
4) Foot in mouth disease – “Sometimes things sound better in my head than they do when they come out of my mouth. If I ever say anything that upsets you tell me right away so I can clarify. I care about your feelings so I want to eliminate any misunderstandings between us.”
These are just examples and they’re more art than science. The key isn’t to memorize them but to develop your own based on beliefs that this kind of disclosure is necessary for healthy relationships.
There are likely many old ideas, habits and experiences you’ll have to work through before you find the confidence to use these strategies comfortably and consistently. That’s why this subject comes up on my group coaching calls. Because you don’t have to figure this out alone.
More people than you realize are living the same struggle and are getting the support they need to be more socially successful. I can help you too. Learn more at http://ResilienceWarriors.solutions
Thanks for being you,
“What does masculinity mean to you?”
That’s a question I was asked when speaking to my new friend, Barton Cutter. He lives with cerebral palsy, is married, just adopted a puppy and is an all-around great guy.
I felt an immediate shift in my emotions, a guardedness because this is an issue for me.
My health decline has been pretty fast and has moved faster than my acceptance.
Two years ago I was walking nature trails with my family and walking hand in hand with my wife. Much of my identity as a man and a father was wrapped up in what I do with and for my family.
I could protect them from danger, run around on the playground, rough and tumble etc. The culturally preferred role of Dad was something I aspired to and something I saw advocated for in a few of the Facebook groups I belong to.
Bigger biceps meant you were more manly. I’m not knocking fitness, I’m advocating for a broader definition of masculinity.
It’s been a significant kick in the pride to go from long walks to long naps because climbing a flight of stairs is now tiring.
What you may lack in physical muscle, can be more than compensated for in the building of emotional, psychological and spiritual muscle. Resilience, attitude, and mindfulness are skills that become stronger in you, beyond your biceps.
For the record, I’m still working on sorting out what being a man means to me with all the changes I’m going through. But I want to share what I’ve already discovered.
I’m shifting from an emphasis on what people see to one in which how a person feels with me is the priority. Face it, if a person can’t see you (physically) then what experience do they have of you? They experience your heart, soul, your presence, your compassion.
Who you are, is best demonstrated by how you show up. Do you say, “You won’t believe the morning I’ve had” and make it about you? Do you show up with a smile and ask, “How’s everyone’s morning going?”
How present, attentive are you while with another person? Are you truly paying attention?
The strength of your presence is what makes you a man in that moment.
Finally, it is critically important to strengthen your dignity. Your sense of self-respect.
Whether you stand, walk or crawl. With a sense of your own worth, it’s much easier to stand tall (figuratively), speak with conviction and feel strong.
What has ultimately changed isn’t your worth as a man, but in the way you need to BE in the world.
Every day I have the privilege of helping others stand a little taller while living with their disabilities. They strengthen their dignity, courage, and resilience through my Resilience Warriors Program. Check it out here http://ResilienceWarriors.solutions
Thanks for being you,
If you’re like me you enjoy helping other people. I also seeing help as a way of honoring those who have helped me over the years (and there are a lot). So it’s rarely a question of whether I can be of help, the question is how?
Yesterday I participated in a discussion in which a woman was asking for guidance on whether to support her father after he’d made a huge mistake. She’s estranged from her father who has been abusive, blaming and enjoys his substances. Her mother phoned asking for money to bail her father out of jail after he was arrested for DUI.
The dutiful daughter in her thought she should support him unconditionally, which (as she knew), she’d done in the past and his behavior hasn’t changed. She feared enabling him to continue this trend.
Another part of her wanted to yell at him and tell him to get it through his thick skull that he did this to himself. She didn’t like that option either, thinking she’d only be upsetting herself as he found someone else to blame and ignored her.
Others in the thread gave wonderful support, suggested she already knew what she wanted to do but needed to act or that she needed to search her heart for the answer.
My responses in threads like this tend to be more direct and less fluffy. I suggested the following, “Sometimes the best help we can give is to get out of the way.”
It’s common to think of helping as taking a deliberate action to solve a problem. As I described above, she realizes that if she took the requested action it could perpetuate the problem. Who knows what the root of her father’s troubles are, but she knows she lacks the knowledge of how to address them.
Let me give you a scenario, you come upon the scene of an auto accident. You want to help but don’t know how. Suddenly, highly trained members of EMS show up and order you to get out of the way. How do you respond?
“I got this guys, I just need a minute to Google what to do.” Of course you don’t, you get your ass out of the way.
You know it’s one of those moments when the best way for you to help is to get out of the way, knowing that help is out there but it doesn’t need to come from you.
Natural consequences can be tough to witness. You can decide to feel guilty for allowing them to unfold without intervening. But you and I both know they’re powerful teachers.
I routinely recommend allowing natural consequences for the parents of children with ADHD and Asperger’s that I coach. The key is knowing how to have a conversation with your child about those consequences in a way the child will listen and learn. Many of these conversations are recorded and are available at http://ResilienceWarriors.solutions
Thanks for being you,
Your sense of self-worth can be a fickle bitch, am I right?
It’s important to have a rock solid foundation for keeping it in place, as much as possible.
A few days ago in my Facebook newsfeed I noticed a trend of people commenting about their shaky self-esteem and looking for suggestions to strengthen it. I brought this topic to my clients during one of our weekly coaching calls and we reached some powerful conclusions.
I suggested that the belief you are good enough is a belief you’re under no obligation to defend. You can simply choose to believe its true. Why?
Because you don’t need anyone else’s permission or approval to believe that you were created within an inherent value.
A few others on the call shared that their belief in themselves as children of God helped them experience a sense of inherent worth.
I added a quote from astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson who said, “We’re all made of star stuff. Everything in our bodies originated someplace else.” Meaning someplace else in the universe.
So whether its God or the universe, you are the expression of something bigger than yourself. A wave in a vast ocean. In a cosmic sense, this is no longer a belief, it’s a provable fact.
Here’s where the real power lies. Once you accept this fact and live like you believe it, watch what happens to your thinking and behavior.
You act one way when you believe you don’t matter.
You act in an entirely new way when you believe you’re the expression of something greater. When you believe those around you have the same inherent worth, holy shit, watch out!
These are the kinds of conversations we have during our weekly coaching calls in the Resilience Warriors Program. Pretty Amazing huh? Check out the program here http://ResilienceWarriors.solutions.
Thanks for being you,
Living with one disability can be a real bitch let alone living with several. I’m known for my ability to turn any difficulty into a positive but I’m human.
As a human being who also lives with anxiety and depression, my brain often goes negative first and it’s from there I find my way to the positive.
Yesterday is a prime example. My wife wanted to go to an arboretum with the boys and I and I was having a flare up that made me want to stay in bed. I saw the disappointment in her eyes as we rarely get to do things she wants to do. So I got myself moving and off we went.
I used my wheelchair to get around and I became tired quickly in the humid air. I kept trying to muscle through it as thoughts of, “I don’t want to slow anyone down,” “I don’t want to be an inconvenience” entered my mind.
I felt conflicted as I really needed help but was making myself feel guilty. Until I heard a voice from behind me ask, “Do you want me to push you Dad?”
My 15-year-old Aidan saw me struggling. I responded, “Do you mind buddy, I’m starting to get tired?”
“Not at all.”
I felt such a relief.
Something about being offered help in that moment felt better than asking for help. My ego was protected, I suspect.
After a bit, I took the reigns back, until we approached an incline in the path. With collar bones that like to partially dislocate I knew it was unwise to try and muscle my way up.
I asked Aidan if he wouldn’t mind helping me up the hill?
I helped a bit so it wasn’t too hard on him.
It felt like a team effort and I expressed my gratitude to him for his willingness to help out. He seemed eager to help but unsure as to when to do so. His willingness made it easier to ask.
As I reflected on the day and the guilt I created early on. I realized that had I continued to selfishly protect my ego the whole time, I likely would’ve been miserable and I wouldn’t have had those special moments with Aidan that came via his helping out his old man.
I was reminded that there are many ways to model strength. One of them is a willingness to ask for help.
It’s like I teach in my Resilience Warriors Program. Vulnerability is an act of courage because it invites someone to join you in a very human moment and trusts them to support you there.