Thoughts and illustrations on living on the autism spectrum.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Here's A Little Post I Wrote. (You Might Want to Read It Note for Note)

Does anyone worry more than an Aspie?

We worry in everyday situations. In the supermarket checkout, did I get everything I needed? Will I attract attention for holding up the line? At work, will my presentation go smoothly? Did I get that phone message right? Meeting someone for an activity, will they show up, and will we have anything to talk about?

Tony Attwood has said Aspies are very good at worrying, pessimism, and generalized anxiety. He notes that 25% of adult Aspies have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Our anxiety can come in many types – performance, PTSD from being teased or bullied, sensory, social, or controlling and oppositional.*

Worries can get out of control when we don’t have an adequate support network. When a worry becomes overwhelming, we must figure out whether this is an issue worth seeking advice on. If so, the next problem is how, and with whom, to start a conversation about our worry. Social media and pen pals can be a lifeline. If we didn't have these things, we might keep our worries to ourselves.

I have faced many worries in the past year, and moved ahead in spite of them. I worried I wouldn’t find a new job, but I did. I worried I wouldn’t be social at a party, but I was. Yet, I never seem to learn not to worry the next time. A lifetime of data points telling me worry is useless, but I keep on ignoring the evidence.

A friend pointed out to me that two weeks after I worried about being myself, I was giving advice to my readers to do exactly that. Yeah, I know, I contradict myself. “No, no,” she said, “I was happy how the original stressed you turned into the excited you. Advice is only personal and changes based on our experiences.”

Mark Twain said, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” Indeed, much of the worst in life is, in fact, the worrying. The uncertainty, the what ifs, the things that never become reality.

Leo Buscaglia said, “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” True dat.

What would it feel like to be free of worry? How much more would I appreciate the good things, if I stopped worrying about the bad things that never happened? How much healthier would I be, if I stopped worrying about sicknesses I never had? I had a taste of the worry-free life while I was on vacation, but soon enough I was back to my old ways.

Steve Jobs said, “You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

I am not sure I can trust my future dots. I am not sure I can stop worrying. I would like to – it would be the single best thing I could do for myself, and would not cost a thing. If it were only possible.

How do you deal with your worries? What do you trust in?

* Tony Attwood, “Making Friends and Managing Feelings”, 10/20/10


  1. Matt, I think this applies to everyone, not just Aspies.

  2. Laura, I do believe you are right!

  3. Yoga, meditation and the power of positive thinking! That's how I deal with my worries and with my aspie. Also, Charlie has a worry stone he can carry around in his pocket and rub it if he is stressed out.

    Hope you had a great weekend Matt!


  4. Thanks Laura. Oh, a worry stone, I like that!

  5. have you ever studied cognitive-behavioral therapy? it's a very structured system for rational thinking and problem-solving for solvable worries versus practicing acceptance for unsolvable worries. dr. burns' 'the feeling good handbook' is a good place to start.

  6. I am familiar with CBT. Some find it very helpful. I personally haven't found it effective.

  7. I hope I am able to comment. I've had trouble lately.

    I did not like CBT. It wasn't helpful to me, either.

    Picked up the idea lately of observing my own behavior as a spectator, and not feeding into the "feelings" (of inferiority or whatever) circuit, and using this rational, non-judemental spectator to choose my reaction as the person I know myself to be, ie, not the "reactionary" me that always ends up feeling bad. Sorry I can't find the right words...some people compare it to Buddhism, but I'm not buddhist.

    Maybe it's CBT, but I didn't figure it out the first time.

  8. That sounds familiar too, brains - it doesn't sound like CBT, but it's along the same lines, attempting to use logic to refute what your gut is telling you. I've always found my gut feeling is too strong to be overpowered by logic.

  9. I think worries are part of life..and are essential. What you are looking for Matt is not be overwhelmed. I don't have the answer to that either, I do achieve it at times..LOL.I think this blog helps you with that.

  10. Laura, I think there are rational and irrational worries. The rational, maybe are part of life. I think I have more than my share of the irrational.

    Does the blog help? Maybe... and then there are the times I worry about what I'm going to post...

  11. LOL..yes, I do have both kinds of worries. I don't really worry about what to write on my blog. My problem is to focus on one topic and not ramble.

    With the worries I try to find somebody to talk to or joke with..face-to-face is hard for me. That is why I am a Facebook addict...true.

    The irrational? Aspies do tend to obsess as you said, physical activity seems to be the best solution for me..going for a walk,swimming, bike daughter and I both listen to music and go for a "cruise" in the car. My favorite..

  12. Good thing I like that song, cause now I have it rolling in my head!

    I absolutely loved seeing the punny-ness in that title!


  13. Don't I know it... it gets stuck in my head too, every time I come back to this post! It's catchy that way.