Question: My self-image has never been very good, and many things didn’t work out in my life (work/relationships). After a quest that took many years, I was diagnosed with autism. My experience is that, let’s say, half of the people that I tell about this, make a shift in their energy towards me. I don’t feel like I’m taken seriously anymore by them (this includes friends/family). I feel a desire to mirror them in what they are doing (who is the one not being able to be sympathetic…?) but this feels useless, because ‘you can’t place this in perspective’. I feel like banning those people from my life, but not many will be left. What can I do within myself to cope with this?
Answer: Your reaction of wanting to ban people from your life is very understandable. And maybe needed for some people. If people aren’t nourishing for you in any way (adding), it is questionable whether you want them near you. However, I would like to show you another point of view.
Everything we meet in the outer world is a physical manifestation of the energy that is living within us. A lot of different energies are playing there, formed by a focus. The one with the highest charge (read: the one that is getting the most attention, whether conscious or unconscious) is shaping itself. This could also be what we fear unconsciously. The higher the charge on it, the more it will become visible in the outer world. So at the moment that you expect people to reject you – and this is quite charged for you – there is a good chance that this will be mirrored. If you look at my life for instance: I have acknowledged publicly to 15,000 people that I’m an autistic person and the reactions that I get are mainly positive. This shows that it isn’t true that the world generally rejects people with autism. Truth is subjective.
Yes, it’s definitely demeaning if someone tells you ‘you can’t put this in perspective’. But such an attitude of rising above you is only possible if you lower yourself. However, if you express your anger, you’re taking back some space already, so this is positive! The need to mirror might be more important for yourself than it is for them. Your words might not have any effect, but it does mean that you’ve spoken up for yourself. And this process of self-acceptance can be very important. Because as soon as you start accepting yourself and seeing your own positive value, your outer world will start mirroring this. So you need a turning point inside yourself. But if we’re talking about self-image, there’s something else you need to know…
If I look back on what has been a significant turning point in my life, there were two major decisions that I took at that moment:
- Stop worrying what other people think about me
- Stop looking for an ‘I’ (and therefore a self-image)
To stop worrying about what other people think of you obviously goes together with self-acceptance, as we discussed earlier. However, self-acceptance isn’t something you can do. It is letting go of something. It’s the insight that the other only exists in the form that you see. The other is a projection of yourself.
It’s a vicious cycle to worry about what other people think of you and to adjust your behaviour accordingly and then to check again whether you’re doing it right… Somewhere, this cycle needs to be broken and you do this by adjusting your focus. Not towards what someone else is desiring of you, or what good behaviour looks like, but to what wants to happen from the inside out… The moment that I started doing this, my fascination for other people faded, because this was so much more fascinating! What if your life gets directed from the inside out and is much more miraculously perfect than you could have ever imagined?
At the same time that I started to let the energy take its natural flow instead of the other way around, I stopped looking for an ‘I’. Let me clarify this, because this is a crucial insight, especially in the case of autism . It’s interesting to find out whether it’s you having a low self-image or whether you’re expecting the other to have a low image of you? Is your focus in this internal or external? Why do I ask you this? Because people with autism have difficulties making I-reference points, or can’t do it at all. The question is whether it is a true self-image or whether it is an idea of what the other will think of you, which you’ll then take as truth. If you really start looking for the ‘I’, you can’t find it. It almost just falls apart when you’re looking for it. An interesting point when you realise that people with autism sometimes literally see people like suspended computer-images, as if they’re falling apart.
Back to the self-image. The word self-image is a contraction in itself, ‘self’ and ‘image’ don’t belong together, in fact they are each other’s opposites. Those words are referring to two different levels that you can’t look from at the same time. Looking for a self-image is impossible. You either look for a self-image and you will find self-recognition, depending on which layer you’re looking at. This isn’t an image or a description, it’s an existential feeling.
The construction of a positive self-image is just as much made of thin air as a negative self-image. It makes much more sense to shift your perspective from image to being. This is where you will discover that every human being is equal. That we don’t have any flaws at the being level. That everything makes sense energetically on that level (which is obvious according to the law of nature) and is therefore predictable. It will make you be in awe of life, but it won’t truly surprise you anymore.
This is what makes me reluctant when I see treatments that help to construct ‘I’-reference points. If there are ideas and rules about who you are in your head, you won’t get them out again. If you shift your perspective towards the only thing that is fixed, you can stay much more flexible in your head. Yes, even while being autistic!!! And in that way, you can easily function without a reference point of ‘I’. The key is within ourselves….
And you know the beautiful thing about this? That this is also the key towards happiness for non-autistic people!