One of Peter’s therapists once told me that everyone has a currency – we just have to figure out what it is. She meant this in respect to creating consequences for negative behavior, of course. Something we’ve been trying to put into practice I’ll add, somewhat successfully. But, I don’t really want to talk about that today. I know, why would I talk about Autism on my Autism blog? That would be crazy.
<If you wonder why I haven’t really delved into the Autism stuff so much lately, I think it’s because most of the things I have on my mind regarding the subject are either so early in the “processing” stage that I just can’t write about it…yet…or way too controversial for me to take on in the fragile emotional state I find myself in right now.>
So if everyone has a currency, mine would be approval. You’re thinking right about now that you’ve been hood-winked into reading another one of my existential crisis posts – but wait – I mean, you are right, but hear me out.
Everyone has a currency. For example some people desire recognition (fame, approval). Some success (pride, wealth). Some desire power (control, authority, respect).
I suppose I most identify with those who desire “power” as to me approval is exactly the power I am missing. It’s my own inherent deficit I think – the need to continuously strive to be whatever I have to be (the best…mother, wife, daughter, friend, daughter-in-law, professional, advocate…beautiful, thin, brilliant, engaging, cultured) to reach a nirvana where I will feel empowered enough that I feel I deserve to make my own choices, without guilt.
The irony is, regardless of whether I ever reach those goals, the autonomy is already mine – a birthright if you will – if I could just allow myself to claim it. I can’t though, because my greatest fear of all, is making the “wrong” decision. The fear has nothing to do with throwing myself (and loved ones) into a downward spiral and ruining my life (and theirs) -nope, not worried about that at all, it’s actually a lot more embarrassing than that. I fear that my choice regardless of the outcome might disappoint those that I love. That they may ultimately remove/change their love for me, and that I will find myself abandoned.
I fear losing their approval more than I fear not ever truly “living” my life. I make decisions that I don’t want to because they are the path of least resistance – I abhor conflict and retreat from it in whatever way possible. If I am challenged, I am wrong. Because, I truly believe it’s best to assume, that if challenged – I’m wrong.
Fight or flight? Flight. Always.
Intellectually (rationally) I recognize that we can love those who disappoint us, that we can respect decisions that would not be our own, that we can have unconditional love – without perfection.
I know this, because I experience this in my own relationships.
Rational me gets it.
Irrational me draws lines in the sand and creates rules about what I may and may not do, say, think, write, eat…- rules that are so stupid and impossible that they constantly beckon failure. These “rules” cause so many problems. They cause the very thing I am trying to prevent to happen – they cause me to disappoint my loved ones.
This causes me to create more rules. Rules that are even more difficult to follow, on top of old rules, and ergo…the cycle continues…until eventually, inevitably, I do push everyone away – and the self-fulfilling prophecy is realized. I wasn’t good enough.
My currency is approval. I have no idea why I’m sharing this. I’m sure the people who know me most intimately are most familiar with my quirks. But I found the whole currency thing thought-provoking and thought I’d share.
What do you think your currency is?
I’d love to hear your thoughts, unless of course they are that you don’t approve, and if that’s the case “I’m really sorry and I promise never to disappoint you again. Please, please, please don’t be mad at me. I suck and I’ll take the blog post down rightthisveryminute. Also, would you like me to send chocolates, flowers or both?”