Fallingwater in Spring
Adulting, Independence

Adulting: Managing Unpleasantness

As autistics, sometimes we hear things that we don’t care to hear like being told to do things we don’t want to do. For many years I would become a spoiled little brat and act out because these things were not the way that I wanted them to be. I had to learn that part of adulting is learning to accept the unpleasant and being able to tolerate those elements by using coping skills to manage their unpleasantness.

It took me a long time to get to a point where I needed to use other mechanisms in order to make the unpleasantness easier for me. I had to accept that it is OK (if acceptable and approved) to wear headphones in settings where the noise pollution is unbearable. Journaling is one of the newest segways of me being able to process my thoughts safely and effectively. As such, when I look back on what I have written one or two months ago, I see progress of what occurred back then and the feelings I was experiencing and how I am better managing them as a result of using better coping strategies.

 I have also learned that there are ways to better get through things that are unpleasant other than going into a meltdown because it was too much to handle. I have become aware of how my body reacts to certain things and make certain to not get too stimulated as a result of actions that aren’t good for my body. I have to be aware to take sensory breaks when necessary, particularly at the day program and work where I have some alone time to get fresh air and recollect my thoughts so I am able to manage things that I don’t think should happen the way the do, but I must accept them for what they are.

While advocating for my needs and those of others is a skill that I do have. One has to be mindful that while they can do the necessary advocating to seek solutions. It isn’t a guarantee that by advocating is just getting what you want. You may want something to happen the way you want it to, but for reasons beyond your control it is unable to be done in that manner. Therefore, you have to always be able to accept that while you advocate in your best ability, it isn’t a guarantee that you are going to get what you want. That is not what advocating in its entirety is. It is voicing your concerns in an appropriate manner so that your voice is heard and your input is recognized. Doing so in a manner that comes across in an unwanted manner to those you voice your concern to will only make your advocating less heard, but you will be seen in a manner that you may not want to be seen as.

I personally had to realize that because something doesn’t happen the way I want gives me the excuse to have a confrontation and demand results. Sometimes, we don’t know the whole story and society is not built to tailor everyone’s needs. Yes, you can voice your concerns in a dignified and polite manner, but if you do not get what you want, that does not give you an excuse to make taunts or demands to shake people up. That will only make your input less heard and intimidating. If a valid reason is given and the decision is not yours to make, then you must accept it.

While you may not agree with a decision that is made, you must prepare with a mechanism to manage the circumstances that make it unpleasant for you. Process your thoughts and have whatever defender that you may need to make the circumstances manageable. Part of adulting is having to accept that we as adults cannot have everything our way or handed to us. We have to accept the things that we don’t like sometimes and as long as you aren’t getting hurt in the process, then it’s up to you to find the coping mechanisms necessary to ensure that you can manage what is unpleasant. It isn’t easy to accept at first, but once you do it, it gradually gets easier. If you have a good network of people who know you well and can plan ahead of time what you may not enjoy, then you can prepare for it in enough time to be ready to manage its unpleasantness. Life is hard, but if you can make it manageable, then it will prepare you for becoming more of a human being that others will enjoy being around. 

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