Written by Dyami Millarson
Does the sentiment that you cannot achieve anything sound familiar? For those who are not familiar with this sentiment, it might be a good empathy exercise to make a personal effort accept and understand what others are concerned and anxious about. When someone feels that they cannot achieve anything, the best first thing you can do for them is to take this sentiment seriously. The next step is of course to figure out why they have this sentiment. For instance, when people make harsh statements which destroy any belief one may have had in yourself, it is not surprising one may have this sentiment that one cannot achieve anything. Criticising someone in the hope of improving their performance has been proven to have adverse effects. It undermines the person’s self-esteem and it creates anxiety and fear about future performance. The longer the individual has had the sentiment they cannot achieve anything, the longer this sentiment will stay with them because it becomes more deeply ingrained over time. At least an individual has to learn to live with this sentiment that the individual cannot achieve anything.
It is human to desire to be independent and it is also human to be very worried and anxious about this. Human beings find it hard to earn money for their own upkeep and so everyone is struggling. Earning an income is not something you do once, but you need to do it your entire life and that is what makes it so terribly demanding from our human bodies and minds. At the same time, those with autism or Asperger may be more prone to this sentiment that they cannot achieve anything because they experience more challenges trying to gain their independence while this is already difficult for practically any human being. When one habitually thinks one cannot achieve anything, one may not accept oneself, believe in oneself, accept reality, accept that life is not fair, see oneself as a hero but a victim and one may actually care too much about what others think. This psychological state may be an obstacle to independent living which can only be achieved through financial independence. A source of income is necessary for an individual’s independence. To put it bluntly, you need money to live.
The question is how to get that money, and this is a question that troubles the mind of many human beings, even those who have already found that they are capable of working and achieving the requirements for work – those with autism or Asperger’s may experience this more intensely. The thought one cannot achieve anything may continue long after finding work. Such a thought requires special attention the moment it seems to start being inappropriate for the situation. For instance, when one already has an income and a job, it is no longer relevant to be so deeply worried and anxious about financial independence. One may worry about losing one’s job, but forever worrying about not achieving anything may be a prison and this can lead to suicidal thoughts. At the same time, if this thought they cannot achieve anything is habitual, then the individual has to learn how to live with that sentiment. Some individuals live with the thought they have already achieved independence. They make a promise to themselves. Their strategy can be summed up as this: Fake it until you make it.
This works for them because it gives them confidence and people have a tendency to reward the confident because that is simply human nature. Research has proven that overconfident people tend to get rewarded in human society (even if they lack the skills that less confident people actually possess). This is reality. The world is unfair. People who think they cannot achieve anything may find it is difficult to accept this, but it is necessary to accept this as practical information neeeded in human life. Especially those with autism or Asperger may have a hard time accepting the way the human world works and may listen too much to the ideal representation of it.
Solid human relationships are vital for independence. Everyone needs a companion, friend or partner they can trust to listen to their concerns, needs, feelings, thoughts and fears in difficult and in good times. Ask for advice from the one you trust and use it to bevond strong and independent. Becoming independent does not mean becoming distant like people often fear, but it means becoming capable of being close to them on your own while being (more or less) liberated from the sentiment you cannot achieve anything. Human beings are made to able to achieve closeness and loyalty to other human beings. Humans are social creatures and even before they have financial needs, they have social needs. Closeness and loyalty are vital for human independence because without emotional and social strength, how can we rely on anything to achieve financial independence? Social and emotional support is the essential fuel we need in order to get financially independent in life.
The company we choose is important. When a human being needs to be independent, he must choose his own company. Bad influences should be avoided. We cannot be friends with everyone. People who criticise you or who keep on telling you that you cannot achieve anything are the kind of bad influences that ought to be avoided. Staying away from home or friends, no matter how difficult, may be necessary if it is for that reason. Achieving independence is something that requires full attention and bad influences may be a huge distraction. Do not break human relationships easily, but to be independent you have to try to keep a healthy distance from people who enforce the sentiment you cannot achieve anything.
Saving money is an important mark of independence. Many a person thinks that they cannot save any money. However, if you just do not buy something like soft drinks or sweets, you can save a lot of money. The art of saving more is a requirement for independence. Even if you save just 1 Euro per week, you are still saving something. You do not need to save so much that you really suffer, but you can always save a reasonable amount of money. People always find excuses why they cannot save money, but everyone can save money no matter how modest the amount. It is about the mind-set. Saving a little money can make one feel more secure and that is an aid with building up independence.
Financial security is a good basis for independence, but it is not the only thing that matters. While seeking independence, it is good to find something you can be passionate about to help motivate you in life. It may be a relationship (partner, family member), art, sports, photography or anything like that. Everyone needs something to energise them or else they will be drained and feel too tired to do anything for seeking their own independence. Finding something that is close to your heart is important in life no matter what that may be. It may be something small or big. Everyone has something that can make them distracted and feel relaxed. One just has to become aware what that is.
Time management sounds big but it is important to keep it simple. We need to plan our day and our week. Spending a lot of time on simple activities can slow us down. We need to ask ourselves questions like: How long do we take to eat, go to the toilet, brush our teeth, wash our face and do other things to take care of ourselves? We need to know the amount of time we spend on these things so we can see if we can save some time there and use that for other things. We need to ask those questions for our entire day. With this knowledge in mind, we can make a realistic planning about how to save time and how to use that time for the activities we need to focus on in our lives. Planning our day is essential for independence. The day needs to revolve around us. That is practical. We need to be in control of our time. We ought not to care too much about others in this because time is valuable for independence. We should not let others distract us too much. If a close relationship really needs us, we can still do them a favour. At the same time, we need to focus on our things first. In that way our independence can grow and then we can also do more for our closest human relationships.
I wrote this article using the experience I have had for years of observing, encouraging and supporting individuals in various stages of life. I have coached people who were a lot younger than me but also people who were a lot elder. I learned that everyone needs a human companion who is willing to listen to the problems they experience in life. It is not easy to share this personal information. I have learned a lot from what people have been willing to share with me about their lives and it has taught me a lot. I am deeply thankful to everyone who has been willing to ve open with me because it has helped me to get a better idea about life and how to do things myself.