I’m not really a big resolutions person. I believe that people should try to improve on themselves all year round, not just because they bought a new calendar.
Still though, it is a tradition and in that sense, I thought I’d offer up some thoughts on things that we all (or at least, most of us) could resolve to do a little more, less or better in the new year.
1. Stop using the word “retard” or “retarded” to describe things, situations or people that you do not understand or that makes no sense to you. In fact, stop using the word entirely.
2. Stop assuming you know a person’s life story by a brief moment in time. The lady at the store with the screaming child? You don’t know her. You don’t know her child. The homeless guy that only wants to share a smile with you? You don’t know how he got to be homeless. It could have been no fault of his own. The girl that gave up her baby to adoption, you don’t know her reasons or how it could have been if she didn’t. You do not know people based on 1 short experience.
3. Finish a debate or argument without using a single derogatory comment, name calling or reference to their own history/personality. Pick a disagreement, or try to do it with all disagreements, and make every effort to disagree based on facts, not emotions or personal opinions.
4. Stop making it your life mission to correct people on every little thing. The autistic person that calls themself autistic? Maybe you shouldn’t tell them to use “people first” language. The person who’s tried the gluten free diet but found no benefits, maybe they don’t need to hear why you think they are wrong. Inform folks, don’t feel you need to correct them all the time.
5. Stop reading into everything until you find the negative. Take a compliment, a kind thought or a good intention as it is intended and stop trying to find a way for it to be a bad thing. Ulterior motives, unintended meanings, alternate ways of interpreting… just stop. You know what they meant.
6. Slap yourself (metaphorically) the next time you tell yourself that you can’t do something or that you’re not good enough. Whether you have Autism or not. The next time your inner voice tries to stop you from doing something you really want to do… remind yourself that you promised to not listen one time… and do it.
7. Take something you feel negatively about and write out a list of 10 positives about it. If it’s Autism, write out 10 positives about Autism. If it’s city traffic, write out 10 positives about city traffic. It doesn’t matter what it is… just something that you really do not like. The goal is not to change your perspective such that you will now like it, but to realize that, if you give it some effort, you can find something good in the most unlikely of places… if you just stop the negativity for a moment and try.
8. Place a value on your time. Make “free time” a thing of the past and figure out how much your time is worth. Don’t joke about it, figure it out, even if it’s too low or too high. Now, the next time you find that you’re bored, being lazy AND… the next time that others ask you do things for them, keep that value in mind and ask yourself if it’s really worth your time… or if there is something better you could be doing. If your time is valuable (and it is), use it… do something with it. Get creative.
9. Donate or volunteer for something. If you did #8, you know that you are worth quite a bit. So put that value to good use and give some money or time to those that are in need of both. It doesn’t have to be a lot. But if you’re like me, it’s one of those things you have every intention of doing but just don’t.. or don’t do as much as you’d like. Make it happen.
10. Look in the mirror and tell yourself “I’m proud of me”. Do this once a day if possible but even to do it just once in the new year, do it. In the mirror, looking yourself in the face. You’ll know if you’re being sincere or not… and do it until you are.
If you have Autism, be proud of who you are and in your strengths. You do have them. Be proud that you are you, no matter how much others may try or wish to change you. Be proud. You are not the exception… you are exceptional.
If you have a child with Autism, be proud that you’ve handled the looks, handled the added stresses, over come the struggles, that you’ve done more than you thought you were capable of for your child. Be proud that you’ve surpassed those “you’ll see” comments from family and friends when you first had a baby… those people, who thought you were in for a shock.. had no idea what it could really be like. You do, you did it.
Even if you have no disorder, no struggling loved ones… even if you look in the mirror and think “I have none of those reasons, why does my life seem so hard?”… stop thinking that and tell yourself “I’m proud of me.” Life is hard… for everyone! Don’t beat yourself because you have it worse and certainly don’t beat yourself up because you don’t. Be proud of who you are… it’s not a competition to see who has the most scars. Life dishes them out no matter who you are and it’s up to you to face those scars in the mirror and be proud of yourself.
Happy New Year
Stop making resolutions to lose weight, stop smoking or other “typical” ideals that you think that society would want you to make and start thinking about ways to just be happy with who you are.
Put aside any negativity that you can, incorporate any positivity that you can and just give it a try when you normally wouldn’t have.
Autism is a struggle, whether you have it or devote your life to a loved one that has it… it can be hard. Life itself, even if all goes well, can be hard.
Don’t let negativity in your own mind make it harder… and certainly don’t use that negativity to make someone else’s life harder.
Smile when you don’t feel like smiling. Find a positive where you see only negative. Tell yourself your proud of who you are even when all you can see is regret.
Be a little more understanding of others, accept them for who they are. Be a little more proud of who you are and what you’ve accomplished. You’re a valuable person, even in your free time!
Have a very happy new year… you deserve it.