Ep #33: When You Wish Your Child Was “Normal” (Part 1)

The Autism Mom Coach with Lisa Candera | When You Wish Your Child Was "Normal" (Part 1)Whether we want to admit it or not, so many of us have had the thought, “I wish my child was normal,” at one point or another. Maybe it was when you received the diagnosis, or after a phone call from the school about an incident, or when you see your child with their peers and friends doing “normal” things.

This is something that comes up with my clients all the time, and they’re riddled with shame and guilt, saying things like, “I know I shouldn’t think that about my own child.” So, in the next two episodes of this podcast, I’ll be tackling the term “normal” so we can get to work dismantling unhelpful language that keeps our children oppressed and leaves us feeling powerless.

Join me for part one this week as I show you why it’s 100% normal if you’ve ever found yourself thinking, saying, or wishing that your child or parenting experience was “normal.” You’ll hear why it’s a natural human desire to want to be “normal,” and why you can both love your kid as they are and still wish things were easier.

I am accepting applications for new clients! All you need to do is click here, and you can schedule a one-on-one consult so we can discuss where you are, where you want to go, and whether coaching is going to help get you there.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • What it means to be “normal.”
  • Why it’s 100% normal to wish your child was “normal.”
  • The role of the motivational triad in our desire for our children to be “normal.”
  • Why you can love your kid and wish they were “normal” or want an easier parenting experience.
  • How to start shifting the narrative around the term “normal.”

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

  • To get my worksheet for this episode, go to my home page and enter your email address in the pop-up!
  • Click here to get my Check What’s Triggered workbook, designed to help you identify some of the triggers you’re anticipating for this school year, and to crate thoughts that will better serve you.
  • Ep #4: Negativity Bias

Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to episode 33 of The Autism Mom Coach. When You Wish Your Child was “Normal.” Whether we want to admit it or not, so many of us have had this thought at one point or another. Maybe it was when we received the diagnosis. Maybe it was after a phone call from the school about an incident or a behavior. Maybe it is when we see our children with their peers and their friends doing “normal” things.

In the next two episodes of this podcast, I am going to tackle the word “normal”. So, if you have ever found yourself thinking, saying or wishing that your child, or your life, or your parenting experience was normal, these episodes are for you. In part one I’m going to tell you why it is a 100% normal to wish your child was normal. And in part two I am going to get to work on dismantling some of the language that is used to oppress our children and leave us feeling powerless. Stay tuned.

Welcome to The Autism Mom Coach, a podcast for moms who feel overwhelmed, afraid, and sometimes powerless as they raise their child with Autism. My name is Lisa Candera. I’m a certified life coach, lawyer, and most importantly I’m a full-time single mom to a teenage boy with Autism. In this podcast I’ll show you how to transform your relationship with Autism and special needs parenting. You’ll learn how to shift away from being a victim of your circumstances to being the hero of the story you get to write. Let’s get started.

Welcome to another episode of the podcast. I am so glad you are here and hope you are doing well. I am going to introduce today’s topic by telling you about my first coaching call with new clients. During this call, we are talking about goals, where the client is and what they want to get out of the coaching relationship. And as part of this I ask this question, “What do you wish was different and why?” And here’s what happens.

They pause, they look down and in some way or another they reply with, “I wish they were normal.” Followed by, “I know I shouldn’t say that. I know I shouldn’t think that about my own kid. Oh my God, I’m such a terrible parent. Who would say that about their own child?” And here’s what I say to them. “Of course, you do.” So why do I say this? Is it because I think that there is some version of normal and that our children aren’t meeting it and so we need to fix them and catch them up? No, that’s not why at all.

But before I get to why I say this, let’s start with the definition of what it means to be normal. Normal is defined as conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern. It is characterized by that which is considered usual. Do you know what this definition, what normal means to our primitive brains, the part of our brains that are only concerned with our survival and not our happiness? Normal means safety.

Conforming to a type, fitting in, being like everyone else. That means you are part of the tribe. You get to stay. You get to live. I know that that sounds dramatic but our primitive brain is dramatic. The survival of our ancestors depended on being part of the group, and part of the tribe, and not getting kicked off the island. So, when I say, “Of course you do”, what I am really saying and I do explain this by the way in my coaching, is of course you want your child to be safe.

Because I think in so many ways, this all comes down to safety. We want our children to be like everyone else, to be accepted, to be loved, to be safe. Another reason I say, “Of course you do”, is because of the motivational triad. The motivational triad tells us that humans are wired to seek pleasure, avoid pain and to be efficient. So, when you take a look at the thought, I wish they were normal, it meets all three elements of the motivation triad. If they are normal we avoid the pain of having a child who is struggling.

If they are normal we move towards the good feelings associated with fitting in. If they are normal we get to forego the tremendous effort, time, and resources we are pouring into therapies, doctors’ appointments, and recalibrating our regular routines. So of course, you do, of course you want more happiness and less pain, and less struggle for you and your child.

Here is the good news. This is not either or, it is both and. Two things can be true. You can love the heck out of your kid and still want them to have an easier life. You can love the heck out of your kid and want to have an easier parenting experience. So instead of trying to change your kid and shaming yourself, just take a step back and look at what is really happening here. You’re survival brain senses danger and it is trying to fix it. Your brain senses pain and struggle and it is trying to avoid it.

And the answer it has come up with is if my child is “normal” then everything will be okay, or at least easier. Once you can look at these thoughts and what is happening, and view it with compassion you can move towards deciding how you want to think on purpose about your child and your circumstances. But first, start with normalizing your thoughts and your feelings. You are wired this way. Your brain is responding in exactly the way it is intended to.

This does not mean anything about you, your child, or your parenting, nothing bad anyway. Once you really begin to believe this and to internalize it you can start doing the work of shifting the narrative of normal. And by the way, whenever I say normal, it’s “normal” because there ain’t no normal. I want you to get accustomed to treating yourself and this thought, not as the enemy, not as evil and not as something you need to feel ashamed about. I want you to treat it as shall I say normal or how you are wired?

We are wired to seek pleasure, to be happy and to have things be easy. That is actually normal for human beings. So as best you can use this teaching to create some distance between you, the parent who adores your child and wants the world for them, and this thought that will cause you to shame yourself. It is normal that you want things to be easier. It is normal that you don’t want your child to struggle. It is normal that you would prefer not to struggle.

In next week’s episode I am going to talk to you about how “normal” is not a thing and how to reframe the language that we use to describe our children and our experiences in a way that is inclusive, empowering and moves us forward. Thank you so much for listening and I will talk to you next week.

Enjoy the Show?

 

Ep #32: When You Think Nothing is Working

The Autism Mom Coach with Lisa Candera | When You Think Nothing is Working

One of the most challenging aspects of raising a child with Autism is all of the time and energy we spend trying things, not knowing whether or not they’ll actually work. From therapy and medication to assistive devices and changing school environments, there is no roadmap, no one-size-fits-all. We end up throwing it all out there with inevitably varying degrees of success.

There are times we try and we try, but we just don’t get the results we expected or hoped for. We tell ourselves we’ve tried everything, we’ve done it all, and nothing is working. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.

Tune in this week to discover what to do when you think nothing’s working. This is not about undermining your experience. I’m in the thick of it myself. Rather, I’m sharing how to be there for yourself and your child when it feels like you’re getting nowhere, and how to identify all of the things that are working, even if they differ slightly from what you expected.

I am accepting applications for new clients! All you need to do is click here, and you can schedule a one-on-one consult so we can discuss where you are, where you want to go, and whether coaching is going to help get you there.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • All of the things in my life that make me feel like nothing is working.
  • What the nothing-is-working story might sound like for you.
  • Why we get stuck hanging out with the thought that nothing is working.
  • What to do when you can’t get away from the belief that nothing is working, and how to see everything that is working.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

  • To get my worksheet for this episode, go to my home page and enter your email address in the pop-up!
  • Click here to get my Check What’s Triggered workbook, designed to help you identify some of the triggers you’re anticipating for this school year, and to crate thoughts that will better serve you.
  • Ep #4: Negativity Bias

Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to episode 32 of The Autism Mom Coach. When you think nothing is working. One of the most challenging aspects of raising a child with Autism, is all of the time and energy we spend trying things we have no idea will work, from therapy and medication to assistive devices and non-traditional school environments. And since there is no roadmap, no one size fits all, we end up throwing it all against the wall with varying degrees of success. And there are times we try, and we try, and we try and we do not get the results we expected or hoped for.

And we tell ourselves I have tried everything, I have done it all, and nothing is working. If you’ve been there and done that you are not alone. Keep listening to learn how you can show for yourself when you believe nothing is working.

Welcome to The Autism Mom Coach, a podcast for moms who feel overwhelmed, afraid, and sometimes powerless as they raise their child with Autism. My name is Lisa Candera. I’m a certified life coach, lawyer, and most importantly I’m a full-time single mom to a teenage boy with Autism. In this podcast I’ll show you how to transform your relationship with Autism and special needs parenting. You’ll learn how to shift away from being a victim of your circumstances to being the hero of the story you get to write. Let’s get started.

Hello, and welcome to another episode of the podcast. I hope you are doing well and you are enjoying the October weather wherever you are. The topic for today’s episode is one I think so many of us can relate to. And as it happens shortly after I wrote this episode, I’m talking the day after, I had an experience that triggered the nothing is working story. What I want to share with you is the difference in how I related to the story and how much time I spent hanging out with it.

Because nothing is working, it’s a thought, it’s a story we are telling ourselves. It is not the truth. And so that’s what we’re going to talk about today. This is that’s not to undermine your experience, believe me, I get it, I am having it right now.  We are in month two of an intensive program and thigs are getting better in some ways and not in others. And so, it’s so tempting to go down the nothing is working road. But it’s an active choice not to do it. And so, I want to share that with you today.

So, a lot of you, if you’re listening to the podcast, you know that we are in an intensive program right now. And as part of that program there are a lot of doctors’ appointments, there is lot of conversations reviewing my son’s history, particularly in the past two and a half years. And as I review all of the details with them I am remembering so many times during the last couple of years where I believed nothing was working. And I really believed it.

After countless doctors’ appointments, therapy appointments, medications, hospitalizations, I believed that this was true. I believed that we were working as hard as we could, we were doing everything that anyone suggested and still my son was struggling a lot. Now, of course, this was not the truth but it was my interpretation of the facts. In my mind all of the steps I was taking was supposed to result in things getting better or easier and they weren’t, or at least not with the speed or the permanency that I was seeking.

So, I told myself over and over, nothing is working. Now, I want to point out that this is such an easy go to story for our brains, because remember our brains are equipped with a negativity bias. I talked about the negativity bias way back when in episode four. The short version is that we are wired to over-remember and over-rely on negative information. Our brains are like Velcro for the negative and Teflon for the positive.

So, when we are feeding ourselves all of these negative thoughts like nothing is working, our brains are all in. Their job is to protect us. And they protect us by being hypervigilant of anything that could kill us or that we view as negative. And so not only are we feeding ourselves negative thoughts, we are actually seeking out confirmation for this negative thinking and filtering out evidence to the contrary. This is what is known as confirmation bias.

This is all of what is happening when we are telling ourselves nothing is working. And in my view and experience it is not helpful for a couple of reasons. First, when we are doing this we are putting ourselves in a position of helplessness. We are victims, life is happening to us, we are powerless. So, remember from the last episode when I talked about the stories we tell. When we are telling ourselves nothing is working, we are telling ourselves a story that is disempowering.

Second, we are creating our own suffering. Pain is inevitable, it is part of the human experience. We are going to experience feelings of pain when we see our child struggling, when we are disappointed or at our wit’s end when the therapy, or the medication, or the school does not work the way we wanted or expected. Experiencing pain in these circumstances is normal. And while it does not feel good, because it certainly doesn’t, we have a choice about whether we pile on and make it worse. That is what suffering is.

We suffer when we tell ourselves nothing is working because this belief is demoralizing and soul sucking. It does not motivate us or inspire us. It is like a punch in the gut, or really it’s like being kicked when you are down. And finally, when we are telling ourselves nothing is working, we are missing out or purposefully ignoring everything that is working. Now, let me be clear, I am not telling you to put a positive spin on your pain because that’s bullshit. I mean, we really do just ignore or miss what is working.

So let me give you some examples from my experience of the things that were working. Well, the school district, they were so supportive of my son’s needs. I found fantastic advocates, that was working. My health insurance, well, that was working, thank god, that was a life saver. All of these things were working. They were making this painful situation easier on me and easier on my son.

My friends who did not take no for an answer when I said I would just stay at home, and came to my house. My coworkers who picked up the slack when I took time off for various emergencies. Ben’s friends who stood by his side with love and encouragement and learned strategies for redirecting him. All of this was working. And for the things that were not working the way I wanted, or expected, or hoped, this all became information and data to add to the suitcase I have been accumulating over the years.

So now that I told you my thoughts on why saying nothing is working, is not working for us, I want to give you some strategies about what to do. First, pause, deep breaths, do whatever you can to self-soothe and offer yourself support because very likely this thought, nothing is working is likely to set off a survival response in your nervous system. You’re either in fight, flight or in a shutdown. So, by breathing you can start to return yourself to a more regulated state of safety and connection.

Then notice the thought, when you do this you want to create some distance between you the thinker and the thought. You can do this with the phrase, I am having the thought that nothing is working. Remind yourself that this is a thought and like so many of the negative thoughts we think, it is pretty automatic. But this automaticity does not mean that this thought is the truth of the universe. It just means it’s one you have had before, your brain has practiced it before so it feels true. It’s still just a sentence in your brain, real, not necessarily true.

Next, decide how you want to relate to this thought. Here’s what I mean by this. We can let our thoughts come and go or we can spend a lot of time with them. We can be like, tell me more thought, what else do you have to say? Nothing is working, you’re right, let’s think of all of the evidence of all of the reasons that’s true. So, it’s like do you want to let the thought go or do you want to hang out with that it? This is what I mean by relating to the thought.

We’re not going to stop this thought from coming up, it’s going to happen. We can choose though how we decide to relate to it. For me, when it comes up I just like to remind myself, of course I’m having this thought right now. I always have this thought when this happens, of course I am, it’s okay. And redirect myself that way. So that way I’m not resisting the thought, it’s here, come on in, I see you but I’m not hanging out with you today. I have got other things to do.

Then be mindful. This thought will keep popping up and each time it does you repeat this process of examining and redirecting your brain in the direction you want it to go, so you can choose how you want to think, feel and respond when this happens. And then finally, when you are feeling a little bit better, a little less triggered, take a look around and notice what is working. When you start to look for what is working, you will find it. This is you using your brain’s confirmation bias in your favor. Put your brain to work by asking it the question, what is working, what is going well?

The more you do this the more you build the muscle of deciding on purpose how you want to think and relate to your automatic negative thoughts. Alright, that’s all I have for this week. Thank you so much for listening and I will talk to you next week.

Thanks for listening to The Autism Mom Coach. If you want more information or the show notes and resources from the podcast, visit theautismmomcoach.com. See you next week.

Enjoy the Show?

 

Ep #31: The Stories We Tell

The Autism Mom Coach with Lisa Candera | The Stories We Tell

Did you know that the stories we tell aren’t necessarily true? They feel real, and you may be recalling a story exactly as you experienced it. But the truth is the stories we tell are a combination of facts as well as our judgments and interpretations.

Human brains are story-making machines. We create stories as a way of understanding our lives, relating to the world, and relating to one another. However, some of the stories we tell are empowering, while some have the opposite effect, and our power lies in our ability to choose the version of the story we want to tell, believe, and live.

Join me this week to discover what stories are, the countless factors that influence how we interpret them, and why you can choose on purpose how you want to think about the circumstances of your life. I’m offering two very different diagnosis stories drawn from the same set of facts to show you how there is no ultimate truth, and why this is the best news.

I am accepting applications for new clients! All you need to do is click here, and you can schedule a one-on-one consult so we can discuss where you are, where you want to go, and whether coaching is going to help get you there.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • What stories are.
  • Why our thoughts are real, but not necessarily true.
  • How we often default to telling stories from our lives in a way that doesn’t serve us.
  • What determines our experience of the stories we tell.
  • How to see the impact of the choice you’re making when it comes to the stories you tell.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

  • To get my worksheet for this episode, go to my home page and enter your email address in the pop-up!
  • Click here to get my Check What’s Triggered workbook, designed to help you identify some of the triggers you’re anticipating for this school year, and to crate thoughts that will better serve you.
  • Lark
  • Atypical – Netflix

Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to episode 31 of The Autism Mom Coach, The Stories We Tell. Human brains are story making machines. We create stories as a way of understanding our lives, relating to the world, and relating to one another. Some of the stories we tell are empowering and some of them are just the opposite.

In this week’s episode I am going to tell you two very different diagnosis stories drawn from the same set of facts. Which is true? Well, both and neither. There is no ultimate truth. There are always multiple interpretations of the same facts available to us in any given moment. And our power lies in our ability to choose the version of the story we want to tell, believe, and live. To learn more stay tuned.

Welcome to The Autism Mom Coach, a podcast for moms who feel overwhelmed, afraid, and sometimes powerless as they raise their child with Autism. My name is Lisa Candera. I’m a certified life coach, lawyer, and most importantly I’m a full-time single mom to a teenage boy with Autism. In this podcast I’ll show you how to transform your relationship with Autism and special needs parenting. You’ll learn how to shift away from being a victim of your circumstances to being the hero of the story you get to write. Let’s get started.

Hello, and welcome to another episode of the podcast. I am so glad you’re here and I hope you’re doing well. I have some fun news to share, in a couple of weeks my son and I are going to be doing a presentation together called how to talk to your child about their Autism diagnosis. We’re going to be doing this for a local Connecticut organization called The Lark. And I will put the information in the show notes.

Anyhow, my son has some very strong thoughts about this topic. And so I am so excited for him to have the ability to share his perspective with the parents because I just think that it’ll be so informative for them to hear really straight from a person who has lived this experience.

One of the things I will have to share during this presentation is that I didn’t actually tell my son about his Autism diagnosis. He figured it out while he and I were watching Atypical together when he noticed how similar he was to the main character, Sam. Anyhow, it should be a really interesting conversation.

And I will share more on my social media about this conversation and some of my thoughts about it. So if you don’t already, follow me on Instagram and follow me on Facebook. You can find me in both places, The Autism Mom Coach. On Facebook I have a private group and on Instagram I just have The Autism Mom Coach page.

All right, so on for the topic of today, the stories we tell. So first, what are stories? Stories are a collection of sentences, thoughts in our brains. And what do we know about our thoughts? They are real, but not necessarily true. They are simply our interpretation of the circumstances in our lives, influenced by a countless number of factors from our gender, sex, age, upbringing, education, race, religious background, and on and on.

Whenever we tell a story about our lives, whether it is the story about how we got married, divorced, pregnant, or learned of a diagnosis, we think that that story we’re telling is the story. We think that when we are telling a story, we are recalling it exactly as it happened and that the way we experienced the story was the only way it could be experienced. But this isn’t true.

When we tell a story it is a combination of some facts as we recall them, and a lot of judgment and interpretation. And so often we default to telling these stories in a way that does not serve us. In a way that casts ourselves as the victim of our circumstance, of life happening to us, and from the version of ourselves who is not enough, not doing enough, or no matter what she does, never get it right.

Here’s why this is important to know. It is not the facts, the real actual facts of the story that are causing us to feel anything. Rather, it is how we interpret these facts that create how we feel and determine our experience of the story we are telling.

I want to demonstrate this by telling you two versions of the same story. First, I’m going to start off with just telling you the facts. And then I’m going to offer you two different versions of the story. And first we’re going to start off with a silly one.

Here are the facts, I have two cats and a hamster. There is a teenager who is babysitting my animals while I am away. Last weekend the teenager cleaned out the hamster cage and did not return the lid to the top of the cage. The hamster did not escape and it is still alive.

So here’s version number one. My sitter is so careless, my hamster could have been murdered. I could have walked into a gory mess. I can’t trust her.

Version two, I am so glad I opted for an aquarium cage. There is no way a hamster is escaping it even with the lid off. And of course she is alive, there is no way my cats would have harmed her. They know that she’s family and not desert.

So which version of the story is true? Well, both and neither. There’s no ultimate truth here. There’s just how I choose to look at it. And I am choosing the second version of the story because I don’t want to think ill of the teenager who is watching my animals. And I am really entertained by the idea or the thought that my cat’s would never hurt my hamster because she’s family.

Now, I know that this was a silly example. And I did that on purpose because I just wanted to highlight how different of a story I could tell using the same facts. So onto a story that is not silly and is much more serious to me. And this is the story of my son’s OCD diagnosis.

Here are the facts, my son began exhibiting high levels of anxiety at the age of six. We met with many professionals, developmental pediatricians, neurologists, psychiatrists, psychologists and various therapists. I bought a bunch of books about anxiety.

I learned how I may be feeling the anxiety and I experimented with different strategies and metaphors to help my son understand his anxiety and cope with it. Over the years I asked various professionals about OCD. And I was told that OCD and Autism are very similar and it was difficult to tell which was which. At the age of 13 my son was diagnosed with OCD.

Version of the story number one, I should have known. I should have done more. I should have pushed harder. We have lost so much time. I can’t trust myself or anyone else.

Version two, wow, I suspected for a while that Autism was not driving the bus and I was right. Even though I didn’t have an official diagnosis, all of the things I did were on point. Also, I don’t know that an official diagnosis would have changed much when my son was younger. I think he’s at the right age and stage of development now to understand the concept of externalizing his OCD and bossing it back. We are doing exactly what we need to do.

So which version of this story is true? Again, both and neither. There is no single truth. And it does not matter which one of these stories is true. The facts are what they are and I can choose to tell myself the default story that this is my fault and we are behind and I should have done more. But why? It’s not helpful at all.

This story does not serve me in any way. It would undermine my confidence and my competence as the sole decision maker in my son’s life. There is absolutely no upside to me telling myself I should have done more and this is my fault.

I choose to tell and believe the version of the story that empowers me. The version of the story where my gut instincts were spot on. I can trust myself and I was doing so many of the things that were helping my son before I even knew what was wrong. That’s the story I want to live into.

But this is a choice because, trust me, there are plenty of times where the default, you should have done something, you should have known, those thoughts pop up. The difference is, is I just notice them. I relate to them differently. They’re not the truth of the universe, they’re just a thought that I’m having. And I lean in to the story I want to believe, the story that I want to live.

Because the way we think about things, the way we talk about them, creates our experience. And this is so important because how we’re feeling is going to drive our actions. It’s going to drive how we show up, it’s going to create our reality. We are in charge of that. And so one of the ways that we can take hold of it is by choosing on purpose how we want to think about the circumstances in our lives.

So if you want to give this a try, pick a topic and write down just the facts. And then write down the default story you are telling yourself about these facts. And then write down the version of the story you want to believe, that you want to live into.

What is the difference between those two stories? What are the thoughts that are standing in between you choosing the story that empowers you right now? This is where your work is, uncovering those limiting beliefs that are keeping you stuck. Because here’s the thing I’ve learned from coaching, how we do one thing is how we do everything.

So if you were stuck in an I’m not good enough, I’m not doing the right things story about your parenting, it’s probably showing up in other areas of your life. Maybe in your relationships, maybe at work. So uncovering those limiting beliefs and seeing the impact that they are having in your life and seeing the choice that you have to choose a different way of thinking about it, this is where it all begins.

If you want some help with this, this is exactly what we do in my one-on-one coaching program. You don’t have to stay stuck and you don’t have to do this alone. I would love to support you and your transformation. If you are interested, go on my website, theAutismmomcoach.com and schedule a consultation.

All right, that’s all I have for this week. I will talk to you next week.

Thanks for listening to The Autism Mom Coach. If you want more information or the show notes and resources from the podcast, visit theAutismmomcoach.com. See you next week.

Enjoy the Show?

 

Ep #30: Autism-Colored Glasses

The Autism Mom Coach with Lisa Candera | Autism-Colored Glasses

Do you ever find yourself interpreting all of your child’s behaviors through the lens of their Autism diagnosis? When so much of your life revolves around supporting a child with an Autism diagnosis, it’s common to see Autism everywhere, even relating to other people in your life who don’t have a diagnosis of this kind.

You have new information and a new perspective, so you walk around with what I’m calling Autism-Colored Glasses, wondering if a behavior is attributable to an Autism diagnosis. Now, while these Autism Colored-Glasses can be incredibly useful in creating understanding, compassion, and empathy, it doesn’t always work out this way, and looking at your child this way can lead to more anxiety and anxiety-fueled action.

Tune in this week to discover how you show up when you look at your child’s behavior through Autism-Colored Glasses. I’m showing you why there’s always more than one way of looking at your child’s behavior, and I’m showing you how to see if you’re missing out on the bigger picture or causing yourself unnecessary stress and anxiety when addressing your child’s behavior.

I am accepting applications for new clients! All you need to do is click here, and you can schedule a one-on-one consult so we can discuss where you are, where you want to go, and whether coaching is going to help get you there.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • The situations in which viewing the world through Autism-Colored Glasses can be useful.
  • How Autism-Colored glasses allow us to have more compassion for others, whether or not they have a diagnosis.
  • Why Autism-Colored Glasses can sometimes lead to anxiety-fueled actions.
  • Some examples from my clients of perceived problems that actually didn’t need solving.
  • How to see the ways that your Autism-Colored Glasses are positively or negatively impacting the way you’re showing up as a parent.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

  • To get my worksheet for this episode, go to my home page and enter your email address in the pop-up!
  • Click here to get my Check What’s Triggered workbook, designed to help you identify some of the triggers you’re anticipating for this school year, and to crate thoughts that will better serve you.

Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to episode 30 of The Autism Mom Coach, Autism-Colored Glasses. Do you ever find yourself interpreting all of your child’s behavior through the lens of their Autism diagnosis? If so this episode is for you. Keep listening.

Welcome to The Autism Mom Coach, a podcast for moms who feel overwhelmed, afraid, and sometimes powerless as they raise their child with Autism. My name is Lisa Candera. I’m a certified life coach, lawyer, and most importantly I’m a full-time single mom to a teenage boy with Autism. In this podcast I’ll show you how to transform your relationship with Autism and special needs parenting. You’ll learn how to shift away from being a victim of your circumstances to being the hero of the story you get to write. Let’s get started.

Hello everyone and welcome to the podcast. I’m so glad you’re here and I hope you are having a nice week. Before I turn to this week’s topic I want to read a listener review from Harrison’s Mom. She writes, “I found the Autism Mom podcast one day after a tough meltdown from my two and a half year old son with suspected Autism, which resulted in me having my own mommy meltdown. I was in the car desperate to find anyone who was going through what I was going through. I stumbled upon Lisa’s podcast and I felt like she was describing my life to at tee.

I can’t begin to tell you how much Lisa’s advice has helped me. Even though her son is much older than mine, I’m still able to find tons of tips and tricks that I can apply to my life. Some days I feel like I hear Lisa’s voice in my head guiding me through the think, feel, act cycle, more than a hear my own.” She then says, “Lisa, thank you for all you have done for us and the advice I know I will get from you in future episodes.” Well, Harrison’s Mom, you are a 100% welcome. And I am so happy to hear that you found this podcast exactly when you needed it.

I have had many a meltdown in a car and I will say although my son is much older than your two and a half year old, the lessons that you are learning now, everything that you are going through now, it’s like the initiation. And you are going to learn so much right now and you’re going to be able to fall back on these skills as your child grows. And as they grow and you get more experienced with riding the wave of the ups and downs that come with raising any child but particularly a child with Autism, you will gain more and more confidence.

So even when you get to say 10 or 11, and you’re dealing with some brand new to stuff, you’ll have all that experience from when your child was two a half years old and you didn’t know what was what, but you figured it out, but you got through it. You’re going to keep on doing that. And part of the reason for me having this podcast is I know that the number one resource for any child with Autism is their mother. Or really I shouldn’t just say the mother, their parents, but my focus is on the mom, you are the number one resource.

And so, your ability to ride the wave, to take care of yourself and to be resourceful and resilient is going to serve both you and your child. And that’s why I do what I do. It’s why I have the podcast. It’s why I have my coaching program. And I really do believe that our ability to support ourselves and support each other is going to be the gamechanger for all of our children because in case you haven’t noticed, no one is just making that happen for us. We’re going to do it ourselves. But in order to do it we need to be replenished. We need to be resourced.

And that’s not happening when we’re spending all of our time and energy focused on our children. And when we’re not focused on them we’re actually focused on beating ourselves up in some way telling ourselves that we’re not doing enough and shaming ourselves. Really there’s just no place for that in this journey. And so, whatever I can do, whatever words I can provide to guide you into treating yourself better and to being kinder to yourself, well, that’s what I’m here for.

Okay, so rant over, let’s get to the topic for this week’s episode, Autism-colored glasses. Now, when so much of your life revolves around supporting a child with an Autism diagnosis, it’s really common to begin to see Autism everywhere. I know this happened for me shortly after my son was diagnosed. It was like every work meeting I was in the wondering, no eye contact, maybe an Autism diagnosis. Doesn’t understand sarcasm, maybe Autistic.

I see this in my clients too. They are encountering people that they have known for years and now they are questioning whether some their quirks or behaviors are somehow attributable to Autism. Who knows? But you get the idea. You have new information, a new perspective and all of a sudden you start seeing it everywhere. So, when you start seeing Autism everywhere this is what I am calling Autism-colored glasses. This is when you are wondering whether a behavior is because of or attributable to an Autism diagnosis.

Now, I think, Autism-colored glasses can be amazing especially when they lead to increased empathy, curiosity, acceptance and understanding. So, for example let’s say that you are at the store and you see a child losing it. And maybe before your child’s Autism diagnosis you might have thought something like, that child’s a spoiled brat because they’re not getting their way. Or their mom isn’t disciplining him the way she should. But now that you have on your Autism-colored glasses, your thoughts may be a lot kinder and a lot more generous and compassionate.

So maybe instead of judging this mother or giving the child a dirty look, maybe you smile at the mom, maybe you offer to let her in line in front of you. Or maybe you just think warm thoughts about her and her child because you are wearing those Autism-colored glasses. Now, of course you don’t actually know whether or not the child has Autism. But the fact is when you’re wearing the Autism-colored glasses you might be showing up differently.

And this is a great thing, if it’s used to bring more, again, compassion, understanding empathy into the world, wonderful. But here is the thing, I see so many examples in my life and in the life of my clients where our Autism-colored glasses are leading to increased anxiety and anxiety fueled actions. This happens when we attribute all of our child’s feelings and all of their actions to their Autism diagnosis. And I think this is because when we believe that the behavior is caused by the Autism we also believe consciously or subconsciously that this is a problem to be fixed.

So let me give you an example. My client was upset when her three year old son refused to get on the back of a truck for a hay ride. They were at a pumpkin patch and my client thought it would be so cool for her son to be on a hay ride. Well, he didn’t, he was not having it. He wanted nothing to do with that big noisy truck filled with itchy hay. She interpreted his refusal to get on the truck as being because of his Autism. And in her mind he was missing out on a fun experience because of his Autism.

Well, these thoughts created by her Autism-colored glasses caused her to feel anxious. And when she was feeling anxious, here’s how she showed up. First she tried to persuade her child to get on the truck even though he clearly didn’t want to. And then when that didn’t work she spent the rest of the night spinning about how they missed out on the fun and wondering how many other fun experiences or milestones they would miss because of the Autism.

I remember when my son was around three years old, so this was shortly after the Autism diagnosis. I would take him to the children’s museum in Philadelphia and they had so many amazing exhibits. But where did my son want to spend most of his time? The Thomas exhibit. And my thought was, we are missing out on the rest of this museum because he is Autistic. Of course, he wants to play with the Thomas train, all the Autistic kids did. These were my thoughts.

And so, when I see my son fixated on playing with Thomas, my thought was, oh my goodness, this is because of the Autism. This is the Autism rigidity. I need to make him do something else. Well, look at whose being rigid then, me. I was laser focused on the fact that he was having fun with this one activity that I associated with being the proof of his Autism.

And my actions were to try to persuade him to do things he didn’t want to do. And what was the end result? He didn’t have as much fun as he wanted to and we were just in this unnecessary struggle. So, if this is you, if you find yourself attributing all of your child’s behaviors to Autism and this has resulted in you being anxious and trying to fix or control your child, here is what I suggest.

First, notice when you are looking at your child’s behaviors through your Autism-colored glasses. Notice the feelings that come up when you’re doing this and what kind of actions you are taking and how you are showing up when you believe that your child is doing or not doing something because of the Autism. Then ask yourself, if I did not believe that this behavior was because of the Autism, what would I think, how would I feel and what would I do?

For my client with the hay ride, she told me that she would not have given it a second thought if she didn’t believe it was Autism related. She would have just figured he wasn’t interested or maybe the hay ride looked a little bit scary for him because of course it was on the back of a pickup truck. And she would have went on with her night. She would not have been fixating about the hay ride and everything that she believed that they messed and that they would miss in the future.

And the same thing for me, if I wasn’t fixated on my son playing with the Thomas train as being the harbinger of our life to come because of his Autism then I would have just let him play with the train and not made it a big deal at all. I mean maybe I would have tried to persuade him to check out other areas of the museum. But I would not have been attaching the kind of importance to it as I was because I believed that he was missing out and this this just because of the Autism.

And that if I didn’t do something that he would be missing out on things for the rest of his life. I was catastrophizing because he wanted to play with trains as opposed to just being like, whatever, he’s three, let him play. Here’s what I’ve learned from practicing this technique of asking myself, what if it isn’t because of the Autism? I have noticed that invariably I am a lot calmer when I’m not attributing a behavior to the Autism.

Now, this won’t always be the case. Sometimes you will be looking at your child’s behaviors through the lens of Autism and it will create a lot of compassion and a lot of understanding, and that’s good too. The point of this exercise is really to decide where do you show up in a way that you like better? And so, if thinking of a behavior through Autism-colored glasses creates more compassion, more empathy, more understanding, more curiosity, then go right ahead.

But if you find that it’s not creating those emotions, if it’s creating anxiety and judgment, maybe asking yourself, well, if I didn’t believe it was because of the Autism, let’s say I think well, he’s four years old, that’s why it’s happening. And when you believe that it’s just because he’s four you’re like, “Whatever, it’s no big deal.” Then I feel like that’s a better way to show up. You’re not as stoked with anxiety. You can show up a lot calmer and you can model behavior that you want your child to exhibit.

The point here is there is never just one way of looking at our child’s behaviors. And when we are always looking at them through the lens of our Autism-colored glasses, we may be missing out on the bigger picture or we may be causing ourselves unnecessary stress and anxiety. So, when we try to look at alternative views for the behavior we give ourselves an opportunity to decide how we want to show up because that’s the point. We always get to decide how we want to show up.

And so, if this shift helps you in showing up in a way that is calmer, more collected, more grounded, I hope that you use it. Alright, that’s all I have for you this week. I hope you enjoyed this podcast episode and I will talk to you next week.

Thanks for listening to The Autism Mom Coach. If you want more information or the show notes and resources from the podcast, visit theautismmomcoach.com. See you next week.

Enjoy the Show?

 

Ep #29: When Other People Trigger You

The Autism Mom Coach with Lisa Candera | When Other People Trigger You

When it comes to our children with Autism, other people trigger us in all sorts of ways. Maybe they ask questions like, “What is her special skill?” or they make comments like, “Well, he doesn’t look Autistic…” and, of course, people staring at your child in all kinds of situations.

We think other people trigger us because they don’t get it, they don’t understand our lives, and they don’t understand Autism. However, the real reason other people trigger us might surprise you, and you have more control in this situation than you might currently believe, so listen closely.

Tune in this week as I share a story where I was triggered. Well, actually I was stunned and sickened during a conversation with someone. There was a time when I would have reacted very differently to this conversation, however, with the skills of thought work, I was able to look at this uncomfortable situation in a more helpful way. So, I’m showing how you can do the same when you feel triggered by thoughtless comments or actions by another person.

I am accepting applications for new clients! All you need to do is click here, and you can schedule a one-on-one consult so we can discuss where you are, where you want to go, and whether coaching is going to help get you there.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • An experience I had recently of feeling triggered by something another person said, and why I was so upset in the moment.
  • How I would have described this experience before discovering coaching and thought work.
  • Why other people and their unhelpful comments or actions don’t cause our feelings, but it’s important to acknowledge and honor those strong feelings when they come up.
  • How to apply thought work when you feel triggered by something another person says or does.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to The Autism Mom Coach, When Other People Trigger you. When it comes to our children with Autism, other people trigger us in all sorts of ways. The questions they ask like, “What is her special skill?” Comments like, “Well, he doesn’t look Autistic.” And of course, the staring. We think other people trigger us because they don’t get it. They don’t understand our lives and they don’t understand Autism. But the real reason other people trigger us has actually nothing to do with them. To learn more, keep listening.

Welcome to The Autism Mom Coach, a podcast for moms who feel overwhelmed, afraid, and sometimes powerless as they raise their child with Autism. My name is Lisa Candera. I’m a certified life coach, lawyer, and most importantly I’m a full-time single mom to a teenage boy with Autism. In this podcast I’ll show you how to transform your relationship with Autism and special needs parenting. You’ll learn how to shift away from being a victim of your circumstances to being the hero of the story you get to write. Let’s get started.

Welcome to another episode of the podcast. I am so happy you’re here and I hope you are doing well. My son and I are still living out of state while he attends an OCD program and we are both learning so much. This is really hard work, more so for him of course, but it’s hard work for me as well. And one of the challenges that we have both of us, one of the things that we’re really learning to develop is our capacity to make room for discomfort. And it’s really uncomfortable.

The ability to let discomfort in without resisting it and to just allow it is a practice. When I find myself struggling between what I intellectually know which is this is a process, and my knee jerk instinct to avoid discomfort or try to make it go away as fast as possible, I really lean into the right now, the present moment, my breath, my feet on the floor, my hands on the steering wheel. And this helps, it helps to slow down my racing thoughts like this isn’t working. It’s not working fast enough or my fears that it somehow won’t work.

All of these grounding techniques bring me back into my body and back into the present moment. And this is a big part of my coaching practice, the somatic piece. So many of the moms I coach are students of personal development. They read the books. They go to therapy, they are in tune with their thoughts. But there is this gap between what they intellectually understand and how they show up. And this is the part of the work we do together. How to bridge the gap between knowing something intellectually and knowing it in your body and living it. It’s a practice.

Alright, update over, let’s talk about comparison. By the time you hear this episode I will be the proud mother of a 15 year old boy, 15. I have been having a lot of thoughts and a lot of emotions about this birthday and they all got triggered the morning before my son turned 15 while we were out for breakfast. Here’s what happened. The hostess came by to chat and ask my son about school, she told us that she was a retired teacher and she was just curious to know what grade he was going into.

My son told her that he was a freshman in high school but he wasn’t going to school right now, he was attending a local program. And he gave her some details about that. All good. Well, while he was in the bathroom the hostess came over to me and started giving me advice. She just jumped in with telling me that she used to give vocational advice to special needs parents as part of her teaching gig, I guess.

And she just launched in with, “There are always dish washer jobs available at hotels. He could start as a dish washer and work his way up. Hotels are a good option because they have 401(k) plans. Oh, and by the way, the buffet guy, he has a bunch of issues and he’s been with us for years.” Oh my gosh, so I was a combination of stunned and sickened at the same time all the while just wanting her to stop talking and leave before my son returned to the table.

And I’ll tell you, I’m usually not at a loss for words but I was, holy smokes, all of my words along with my heart and my stomach were just stuck in my throat and I wanted to throw up. So, let’s talk about this, why? Why was I so triggered? Now, I will tell you that before I found coaching and thought work I would have said something like this. “This woman had no right to assume that my son is not capable of going to college or pursuing a career. She had no right to judge us like that, she is ignorant. How dare she. She is the reason that I am upset.”

But here is the thing, she is not the reason that I got upset. As much as I would love to blame her tone deaf comments for all of my frustration, grief and sadness, she is not the reason I felt that way. She does not control my emotions. So, what was the reason? If it wasn’t her comments and what she said, why was I feeling so upset? Well, let’s remember the self-coaching model, in this self-coaching model this woman, her words are a circumstance.

And circumstances do not cause our emotions, our thoughts do. If you want a refresher on this go back to episodes, I think it’s five and six, it’s the thought, feel, act cycle and the self-coaching model where I walk through this process that I’m going to review today. The real reason I was upset, the real reason I wanted to throw up is because her comments triggered what was already there inside of me, just below the surface, all of my concerns, all of my fears about my son turning 15. All of my concerns about his future.

She was the trigger, it was what got triggered inside of me that created my feelings. So, I want to walk you through this. I want to show you how I self-coached myself so that you can use this tool on your own. Now, first before I self-coached I cried. I just let it out. I am afraid, I am scared and it is okay to feel these emotions and process them. Once I got it out and I was feeling more clearer headed, and I was no longer in that fight, flight response I was able to take a look at what was going on in my brain.

So again, the circumstance, hostess recommends hotel jobs for child. My thought here was, he is being robbed of his future. And I’ll just give you a little bit of background about this thought. One of the thoughts that I do have about generally speaking, society and Autism is that there seems to be two categories, folks who are smart and can go on to be the next Elon Musk, and then basically everybody else.

And so, the idea that she saw my son, gathered a few pieces of information about him and then came over to tell me about dish washing jobs. That triggered this thought, he is being robbed of his future as if don’t even bother, there’s only one of two destinies for him. And she had picked destiny number two. So that was the thought, he is being robbed of his future and that created a feeling of grief for me. And when I was feeling grief my actions were to become hypervigilant of my son and how he was acting and presenting that was different or not ‘normal’.

And then I began catastrophizing about his program, about the fact that he was missing school, about the fact that he is 15 and so close to falling off the services cliff. And what was the result of all this? The result was that I robbed myself of the present moment, the lovely breakfast with my son where we could just enjoy one another. The circumstance, the hostess’ words, they did not cause my sadness. I could have just as easily been like, “Okay, boomer”, or, “Great tip”, and moved on.

And in fact, now that I think about it this advice that this woman gave to me about hotels and 401(k) plans, it’s probably not much different than the advice that I got from my grandfather when he learned that I wanted to go to college. He was like, “Get a job, preferably with a 401(k) plan, preferably with a pension and get to work.” Anyhow, her words did not cause my emotions. It was my thought that he was being robbed of his future that caused my feelings.

Here is why this is so important. There is very little in life that we can control especially when it comes to our children and especially when it comes to other people. But we can decide how we want to think about the circumstances in our lives including other people, what they say, what they understand, and how they present. So, in this situation I had to decide how I wanted to think about this woman’s words. Did I want to hold on to them and my knee jerk interpretation of them for the rest of the day or the week?

Or did I want to think differently? And so, what I decided to think was that this woman was just trying to be helpful. And really that was her intention. She came over trying to give advice, I’m sure she had no intention of being disrespectful or hurting anyone’s feelings. That wasn’t her MO, even though it resulted in me feeling some of those ways. That wasn’t her MO. And in a way she kind of was helpful, not really in the advice that she gave but the fact that she triggered me to finally let it go and cry.

I had been holding onto this tension pretty tightly for the week leading up to my son’s birthday and after I had that big old cry, it really helped me let go and feel a bit lighter. Now, look, I am not telling you to go around thinking the people who make tone deaf comments to you and give you unsolicited advice. What I am saying though is that you can’t control what other people will say but you do have the opportunity to decide what you want to do, how you want to think and how you want to feel in response to whatever they do.

And I guess what I would offer here is that when you are triggered by something that someone else does or says, it’s an opportunity for you to go inward, to find the part of you that is in pain and needs your attention so that you can tend to it. If you want some help working through triggers to onto my website theautismmomcoach.com under resources, and grab the free workbook, it’s called Check What’s Triggered.

And of course, if you want some help working through these issues one-on-one with me as your coach, take the time to schedule a consultation so that we can chat about working together. Working with a one-on-one coach is an opportunity for you to take some of the things that you’ve been learning in this podcast, apply them to your real life and to maximize the results that you can get. And I would love nothing more than to help you with that. So again, on my website The Autism Mom Coach, schedule a free consultation.

Alright, that’s it for this week. Thank you so much for listening and I will talk to you next week.

Thanks for listening to The Autism Mom Coach. If you want more information or the show notes and resources from the podcast, visit theautismmomcoach.com. See you next week.

Enjoy the Show?

 

Ep #28: The Comparison Trap

The Autism Mom Coach with Lisa Candera |  The Comparison Trap

Have you ever found yourself comparing your life to the lives of your friends, family members, or even strangers on social media? Maybe you’ve thought something like, “They have it so easy. They’re so lucky. I’d love to have their problems…” or when you’re having a difficult time, “I shouldn’t be sad because other people have it worse.”

Well, if you’ve ever found yourself here, you’re in the Comparison Trap. As long as you’re hanging out there, you’re stuck feeling either bad about yourself, bad about other people, or both. Not a great place to be, but all too common. But the good news is, the more you learn how to manage your mind, the better you’ll get at avoiding the Comparison Trap, or at least not getting stuck there.

Tune in this week to discover why our brains naturally go to a place of comparison, why it served humankind in the distant past, and why using comparison in unhelpful ways isn’t serving us now. I’m showing you how to see where you’re stuck into the Comparison Trap, and how you can avoid it altogether, or wriggle free if you happen to fall into it.

I am accepting applications for new clients! All you need to do is click here, and you can schedule a one-on-one consult so we can discuss where you are, where you want to go, and whether coaching is going to help get you there.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • The times where I find myself more susceptible to being caught in the Comparison Trap.
  • How to identify the moments where you’re falling into the Comparison Trap.
  • The negative scripts that run when we’re stuck in compare and despair or comparative suffering.
  • Why comparing your circumstances to others doesn’t help you address the areas of your life you’re unhappy with.
  • What you can do to show yourself compassion when you’re caught in the Comparison Trap.
  • How to do the thought work that will allow you to avoid the Comparison Trap.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

  • To get my worksheet for this episode, go to my home page and enter your email address in the pop-up!
  • Click here to get my Check What’s Triggered workbook, designed to help you identify some of the triggers you’re anticipating for this school year, and to crate thoughts that will better serve you.
  • Ep #26: Back to School Series: Navigating Grief

Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to episode 28 of The Autism Mom Coach, The Comparison Trap. Have you ever found yourself comparing your life to the lives of your friends, family members or strangers on social media and thinking they have it so easy, they are so lucky, I’d love to have their problems? And then almost immediately being hit with a wave of guilt and thinking, I shouldn’t be judging other people, it’s not right. I shouldn’t compare myself to others.

Or feeling sad about a circumstance in your life and then telling yourself that you should not be sad because other people have it worse. Well, if you’ve ever found yourself here, you my friend are in the comparison trap. And so long as you are hanging out there you are stuck somewhere between feeling bad about yourself, bad about other people, or all three. And so long as you are hanging out there you are stuck somewhere between feeling bad about yourself or feeling bad about other people, or both, not a great place to be but one that we find ourselves in so often.

Here is the good news. The more you learn how to manage your mind the better you will get at avoiding this trap or at the very least not staying stuck in it. Keep listening to learn more.

Welcome to The Autism Mom Coach, a podcast for moms who feel overwhelmed, afraid, and sometimes powerless as they raise their child with Autism. My name is Lisa Candera. I’m a certified life coach, lawyer, and most importantly I’m a full-time single mom to a teenage boy with Autism. In this podcast I’ll show you how to transform your relationship with Autism and special needs parenting. You’ll learn how to shift away from being a victim of your circumstances to being the hero of the story you get to write. Let’s get started.

Welcome to another episode of the podcast. I hope you are doing well. And for those of you with school age children I hope the transition from summer to school year is going well. This has been a really strange September for us. We are out of state while my son attends a program and I am finding myself really exhausted which I find odd in some ways because I’m not at home. There is not much cleaning at all to do. And I have less things to do in some sense.

But although in some ways I have less to do I think it’s the emotional labor of the program and some of the decisions I have been making lately that has just left me exhausted. And it’s in times like this when I’m already feeling depleted, when I’m already feeling afraid and nervous about whether this program is going to work that I find myself more susceptible to comparing myself and my situation to other people and not in a good way.

Tell me if some of these thoughts are familiar to you, thoughts like other people are so lucky. They have it easier. This is not fair. And then almost immediately the pendulum swings and I start scolding and judging myself for comparing myself to other people and telling myself that I have no right to be upset since there are other people who have it even worse. These are examples of two types of comparison.

The first is compare and despair which is basically like other people have it better than me, or it must be nice. And then there’s comparative suffering which is like literally ranking pain. My pain is not as bad as someone else’s, or my pain is worse than someone else’s. The end result of both forms of comparison is more suffering for us. No good.

So, let’s just first talk about why do we compare ourselves to others? The short answer is because we are human. We are social beings. Comparing where we stand in relationship to other people is deeply embedded in our biology. For our ancestors, their survival literally depended on remaining a part of the group which meant being acutely aware of the things like social hierarchies and status. In other words, how they compared to others around them.

And comparison is not altogether bad, it can be a very prosocial tool in that it enables us to model our behavior in ways that will allow us to be part of a larger group. And it can also be useful in terms of setting goals and motivating growth. The coworker who gets promoted, the friend who gets remarried after a bitter divorce, the neighbor who loses five pounds by adding an evening walk to her routine. We can use comparison as a way of looking at other people to see what is possible for us. If they can do it, so can I or why not me?

But this is usually not the way we use comparison. We usually use it as a way of feeling bad or worse about ourselves and other people. I’m going to give you some more examples. Let’s start with compare and despair. And again, if I were going to sum up compare and despair it would be with the phrase, ‘it must be nice’. It must be nice that your kid can talk. It must be nice that you can use your money for vacations instead of therapies. It must be nice that you don’t even know what Autism is.

When we compare and despair we feel bad about ourselves and bad about other people. And then so often like I said we go straight from compare and despair to judging ourselves for comparing in the first place. This is the comparison trap. You feel bad about yourself, you judge other people, you judge yourself.

And then there is comparative suffering which again is the act of ranking pain. And I would sum this up as the quest to determine who has it worse or who has the right to be sad. Some examples, I should not complain about my son’s constant looping, at least he can talk, some parents of Autistic kids would love to have this problem. I shouldn’t be sad that my son is missing his freshman year at school, at lest we got to be here in the first place, some people don’t even get that opportunity.

Or they have no right to complain, their kid is high functioning and can talk. My child is severe and non-verbal. Do you see it? In both these instances we are judging ourselves, we are judging other people and we feel terrible. Even if we feel slightly better because we aren’t as ‘bad as someone else’ or we believe we are doing it better than someone else. That lasts for about a second until we are hit with a wave of guilt and judgment.

So, these types of comparison, there is no upside. There is no growth here. We are staying stuck in our sadness, fear, resentment or whatever it is and we are creating even more disconnection in our lives. And to top it off, none of this does anything to change whatever we are upset about. Me resenting other people whose kids are starting their freshman year of high school isn’t doing a darned thing to ease my sadness and it doesn’t change the facts of the situation. It’s just creating more misery for me.

And then telling myself I have no right to be upset because my kid is high functioning. Well, that’s another shit sandwich too. When you are telling yourself that your emotions don’t matter, that other people have it worse, you don’t only get to feel sad, you get to layer in some guilt and judgment too. Again, no upside.

So, let’s talk about what to do when we find ourselves getting pulled into the comparison traps. Notice always, notice it first. Now, not only is comparison deeply rooted in our biology, it is also a well-practiced habit. So, the first step always is to notice when and how am I comparing myself to others. What am I telling myself? How am I talking to myself about this? Next, acceptance, this means after you notice what you are thinking and what you are feeling, that you then don’t jump to judging and guilting yourself.

Just acknowledge the thoughts and feelings and allow them to be there without judgment. And then finally, self-compassion. When we are in the comparison trap we are not being kind to ourselves at all. We are diminishing our own pain and we are judging ourselves for having it. What would it be like in these moments of suffering when you are comparing your life to the perfect lives you believe your friends are living or when you are telling yourself that you shouldn’t be sad and that you should be grateful because other people have it worse.

What if in these moments you just showed yourself some love and compassion. If you noticed your own pain and offered yourself support, would it take the pain away? No, but it would likely ease it. And above all, you would not be layering your pain with additional suffering that comes when you compare yourself to others.

So how to do this. Back in episode 26 I talked about self-compassion breaks. This is when we take a moment to notice our own suffering and to provide ourselves with care and support. So, there are three parts of a self-compassion break, the one is the awareness, the noticing. The second is to recognize the common humanity. And the third is to offer ourselves support. So, this could look like this is a moment of suffering. This is really painful for me. This is difficult.

And then second, of course I feel sad, or scared, or whatever it is, anybody would. And then the third, may I be kind to myself right now? May I allow myself to feel this emotion without judgment? So, when you do this you can take a couple of deep breaths, put your hand on your heart, slow things down and become present for yourself. Because when we’re comparing ourselves to others we create disconnection not just with the other people but with ourselves.

We are quite literally in their business and out of our business. And so, when we practice self-compassion we put ourselves back in our own business and in charge of supporting ourselves first.

Alright, that’s all I’ve got for you today. But before I go I do want to invite you to sign up for a one-on-one call with me. If you want to compound the benefits that you’ve been getting from listening to this podcast and implementing some of the tips and tricks that I teach you, you can explode your growth by working with me one-on-one. So, if this is of interest to you, now is the time. Set up a call and let’s talk. Thank you so much and I will talk to you next week.

Thanks for listening to The Autism Mom Coach. If you want more information or the show notes and resources from the podcast, visit theautismmomcoach.com. See you next week.

Enjoy the Show?