Logical to a Fault – Why You’re Struggling to Connect

1384 Relax and Succeed - Increased understanding is what exposes

One commonly and unfairly judged group are those who have personalities tilting toward the Autism or Asperger spectrum, while still being far short of the criteria for any medical diagnoses. My own appreciation for this group emerged thanks to an accident that provided me with an understanding of various patterns in human behaviour, when it rightfully should have left me dead.

Since there is no ‘cure’ for either state (and many people like this don’t want one either), what people really need are new and helpful ways to see themselves and their lives. Fortunately, increased understanding is often what exposes people’s unique routes to personal success and healthy relationships, despite whatever definitions or judgments the outside world may try to apply.

The people I see will often have trouble with co-workers, dating, marriage, and friends –all because they share a set of qualities. Yet many of life’s most successful and popular people are successful precisely because of those same qualities. Both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs exhibited these traits but, as the attached video hyperlinks demonstrate, one learned to cope with these traits while the other did not.

The simple fact is, male or female, if someone employs the right tools and learns how to communicate in effective ways, an Asperger-like personality need not hold them back from success in either life or love.

Yes, people of this personality type can be quicker to anger, but they are also much better at forgiveness. They are often bold and assertive about their views, but they can also change those views quite easily given good reason, (whereas most people will struggle to do so because their beliefs are too closely tied to their sense of identity).

Those shifts in position can happen because they are generally better than average at logic, and they’ll trust their results over their beliefs. (They also often love puzzles and strategy games.) Despite the advantages, these same qualities can lead them to struggle with making emotional accommodations for others that they themselves do not need.

There is no perfect way to be in life; every personality carries benefits and deficits for ourselves and for others. But no group is more commonly maligned, misunderstood, or told to be different than those who approach life with this Asperger-like mindset. If the world recognized personality-ism the same way we have with racism and sexism, this would be one of the most harshly judged groups.

Thanks to my near-death experience, I proudly count myself as one of them because, despite others’ judgments, these personalities have a great deal to offer. Yet none of us will ever be allowed to make those contributions if we cannot first teach others how to understand or deal with our behaviour.

1384 Relax and Succeed - There is no perfect way to be in life

Nobel Prize-winner, Richard Feynman demonstrated a personality of this type. He was both passionately admired and despised. He was known to be dismissive and brusque to a logically weak idea, be it in his professional or his personal life. Yet his correspondence with others –which forms the content of a book ‘about’ him– clearly demonstrates a man who loved openly and who cared about others a great deal.

There is also a radio interview which features a scientist and researcher named James Fallon, whose own research shockingly exposed that he was technically a ‘psychopath.’ Despite that definition fitting, he was a good husband and father and his research was all about helping others. Greater self-knowledge did improve his life and relationships but, even before that, he was not who people imagine when they hear the definitions ‘psychopath’ or ‘sociopath.’

Many engineers, lawyers, professors, scientists, accountants and programmers can be exasperating to their spouses without ever intending to be. Great artists are well-known for not caring what others think. They do what they do precisely they trust what they know and feel.

It’s important to note that the very qualities that lead to the interpersonal challenges are often the very same ones that make these people uniquely excellent at their jobs. Those same qualities also give them unusual courage when dealing with issues around ethics and character. These are not defects. This is a way of being.

These are rarely people who need ‘treatment’ for a condition or illness. They benefit from training on how to be themselves in effective ways that allow their relationships to be as good as they can be, whether at work or at home. I know this because I have helped a lot of people to find that balance, and to develop the interpersonal tools they needed to negotiate the individual intricacies of their lives.

Don’t beat yourself up over being alone. Don’t torture yourself by trying to reconcile the sincerity of your work with others’ distaste for your style. You don’t need to change, you need to learn how to shift your awareness to expose the new approaches that will smooth your relations and improve your life. I meet too many people who think they are failures at dating when in reality they are just part of this group.

If any of the above feels familiar to you, please contact me. One of my greatest pleasures is freeing people from the tyranny of others’ perceptions so that they can maximize who and how they are. Improving your life is not as hard as it seems when you’re working with someone who has studied these personalities in the unique and empathetic ways I have.

You can free yourself to live a better way. Don’t live inside some culturally-imposed prison of personality. Not when I can show you the way out.

peace. s

The Friday Dose #82

If you need cuteness today; I have baby animals. I’ll amaze you with details about the fact that Baby Boomers were raised during a period of time where it was actually considered a bad thing to show love to your children! And because I haven’t put on much music lately I’ll offer you a fine distraction below. It’s likely to get your feet tapping, so if you need a pick-me-up then turn up your volume and dance. Let’s start off with the link to those cute baby animals. And here’s a link to the site of the photographer above. I recommend taking a look. She’s really good. (Tanya Stollznow)

Baby Animals!

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Next we’ll hit an absolutely incredible documentary on parenting by the gang at This American Life. Both parts are about love, but one takes place in the life of an adopted family and the other is about a boy with severe autism. These families will inspire you with their incredible strength and capacity for love, but even more than that you will be amazed by the world that so many of the people you know grew up in. A world where love for children was seen as dangerous:

This American Life: Unconditional Love

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Cute, incredible, fun. That’s our order. So after cute animals, after amazing tales about how different parenting was only a short time ago–we get music. Music by Amy Helm called, Didn’t it Rain:

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Remember: love is newer than you think it is. Give people a break if they’re still just starting to figure it all out. And have yourself a stellar weekend.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, mindfulness instructor, coach and communications facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

00 Relax and Succeed - Friday Dose Footer

Guilty Parents?

I saw your comment on facebook. My heart broke when I read it. You love your child so much, and yet you cannot look at the autism without questioning your decision to vaccinate. I feel for you. The way you’re feeling is entirely understandable. And yet at the same time, I’m writing to you to provide a wider context because I believe it will help you to better understand your decision and the consequences. As you read this you may feel you’re getting an indication of where I’m going with all of this. But many were surprised to find where I ended up, so I do hope you’ll take the whole journey with me.

619 Relax and Succeed - People who urge youScience is based on skepticism, so unlike many people I’m very open to the challenges put forth to any scientific idea. That’s how we’ve always moved forward with our knowledge and it is often the people who are considered quacks and idiots who are the people who were far enough outside of conventional thinking to actually be able to see something obvious that others missed. If you haven’t heard of him, Dr. Barry Marshall was thrown out of medical conferences for being a quack and yet today if you go into the doctor with an ulcer you’ll get Dr. Marshall’s treatment. So we have to keep an open mind to the minority because they’re more likely to find something revolutionary. Dr. Marshall was a case of people not giving credit to an idea without even testing it. They dismissed it without studying it and that was the failure in their science. As I said, good science is vigilant skepticism working hand in hand with creativity.

My profound concern regarding your feelings are that you have missed a critical detail in your calculations of responsibility. It took Dr. Marshall a long time to convince the world he was right. So you understand that at the time—despite the fact that better information existed—every ulcer patient did what their good doctor told them to and so they engaged in ultimately useless treatments when they could have been having Dr. Marshall’s. But they never knew about Dr. Marshall’s findings because no one had bothered to verify if they were true. So someone feeling bad because they didn’t use a treatment they didn’t even know about is like someone feeling bad because they didn’t pick the winner of the Best Picture Oscar a day early. Yeah, everyone knows the who won the next day, and those accountants they always introduce knew before that, just 619 Relax and Succeed - Being considered crazylike Dr. Marshall. But you accept that you can’t know who won the Oscars before they open the envelop, and so you don’t feel guilty for not knowing.

In your case you wish you had known about the study that suggested there was a link between autism and vaccines. The key difference I want to address is that your situation is completely different than the one with Dr. Marshall. Because the Autism-MMR study was done by Dr. Andrew Wakefield, and he is nothing like Dr. Marshall. Dr. Marshall had done good science and was provably correct. In Dr. Wakefield’s case, his results couldn’t be repeated in quality studies anywhere in the world. Eventually the heat turned up and Dr. Wakefield was forced to admit that a combination of his own ego, and his financial investment in a medical test that would only be profitable if vaccines weren’t used, lead him to completely fabricate his results and his conclusions.

He’s been forced to be quite public about it because his admission was thought to have finally settled the challenge that better science had made. In the end he still seems to more embarrassed than ashamed, and he only came forward when reporters couldn’t find any trace of the children that had supposedly been in his study. Knowing he had been exposed he quickly admitted that he invented children and invented their symptoms and invented their results and yes he knows parents are putting their kids in real danger because of his lie. This was a complete and total lie as stated by the man who did it. So what I want you to do is a little mind game with me—but you can’t pretend to do it, you have to really imagine these things happened.

Imagine that Dr. Wakefield doesn’t tell this lie. Let’s say he chooses a different lie. After all, it was an act of creativity. He could have picked anything. Let us say he said it was a bacteria alive in blue cheese and it was the cause of autism if consumed. Can you see if he had told that lie instead of the one he made up, 619 Relax and Succeed - When facing a single treethat you would have absolutely no reason whatsoever to even consider your child’s vaccine as the cause of his autism. Seriously. How could you? There’s a zillion things in this world, why would you pick that one? If no one pointed at it why would you pick it? You could pick a dog bite when he was young. Or the fact that you live near a refinery. Or maybe he ate blue cheese once so maybe that’s it… Can you see you wouldn’t do that? That the only reason that you or anyone else ever looked at vaccines as the cause of autism, is because Dr. Wakefield told you a complete lie, and now, almost 20 years after he lied, here is this loving, wonderful parent feeling guilty about doing something that every appropriately trained medical doctor would have told you to do (well, except for maybe an over-the-top conspiracy theorist).

I’m an interesting age when it comes to this discussion. 4 years younger than me and it looks totally different. Because my little sister came into a school filled with healthy kids. It wasn’t like that for me. For anyone that paid any attention in my grade, you could see that the kids just a few years ahead of us had been ravaged. Deformed kids. Crippled kids. Dead kids. Lots of them. People today use death stats etc. but that’s crazy. My brothers went to school almost two decades before me and when I asked my mother if she was worried that sending them to school might kill them she said “Not so much dying, no. There was only a few that died at the school. I didn’t want their faces all twisted up or them having kidney problems or be all crippled up. Not many died but there was lots of kids who had that kind of thing.”

619 Relax and Succeed - Truth what is itThis wasn’t rare. That’s the whole problem. It was too common. The measles vaccine for instance came out the year I was born. Imagine my mother sending my older brothers to school when kids had been crippled and died, or had encephalitis—which is still why everyone reacts so seriously when there’s a meningitis outbreak. Kids did permanent damage to their organs, and yet for my older brothers there were multiple, known viruses moving through society and absolutely no way to protect yourself. Sending your kid to school could literally ruin their life, and the odds were much much higher of that than the odds of having an allergic reaction and dying from a vaccine—which absolutely can happen. But that’s still 100,000’s of kids compared with about 100. Those numbers are way too far apart for you want to be in the other group, and it’s why the vast majority of people against vaccines are under 55. Because otherwise that’s just super bad math.

I remember so many crippled kids older than me that it was simply a fact of how I saw those classes of older kids. They were the crippled and deformed kids. And you don’t see a lot of them hobbling around today because a lot of them died before 40, so even if they survived a lot of them are long gone already. I got to graduate with the class I started with. My brothers, 15 years older, had a completely different school experience. I still remember seeing all of those strange, deformed legs moving down the hallway with that strange dragging step. And because of how it was passed, it was often multiple kids in one family.

In the case of polio, it’s a shame that even survivors like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell have a far better chance of dying much sooner than they would have had they never had polio. Even the lowly chicken pox (varicella) leads to a very painful herpes zoster condition in one in five people who had it. The mumps can make you sterile and as late as 1980 the measles was still killing as many as 2.5 million people per year worldwide. Plain old undefined influenza still kills almost 5500 people a year in Canada, and many of these conditions are more dangerous to adults than kids. And even if you survived polio, you still paid with 619 Relax and Succeed - Be certain in the religion of loveyears of being crippled as a kid and you’ll often die younger. That’s because the body paid a price because it took some time for Neil Young’s body to figure out what that virus was. It took it years of being crippled to figure that out and then build an immune system response strong enough to fight it. So in Neil’s case his immune system worked its ass off and it won the war and so we have Neil Young songs to listen to. But a lot of kids did the fighting for years but their bodies didn’t respond quickly enough and they died or were permanently crippled.

A vaccine is simply an isolated version of the answer to a virus attack. Every researcher knows what the human body does to fight a virus, so they take the answer from someone who’s already beaten it and they multiply it into doses and give it to you. Most of the worry people have about vaccines is about the fact that the entirely natural piece has to be bound to agents that allow your body to “grab” the answer and use it, but even those agents have been tested like crazy. Because we’re all human the answer to these diseases is the same for all of us. And once it solves it, all your body needs to do is go build its army. So there’s lots of unproven claims about vaccines that don’t stand up to rigorous study, but all a vaccine does is tell your body the answer that it might not have otherwise figured out in time, so that it can start responding faster. It’s exactly what Neil Young’s body did but you get to skip the crippled part.

619 Relax and Succeed - I've seen and met angelsThese diseases aren’t cured by corporations. The researchers have always been and still are largely the children or siblings of people who were affected by that disease. They’re not part of some conspiracy or some thieving money-grabbing scheme. Half the time in the old days they would test the thing on themselves. So could we still find something out 50 years from now that proves vaccines may be dangerous? Yes, we always have to keep our minds open to such a possibility, lest we end up like the people that suppressed Dr. Marshall’s ulcer findings. But we must also use whatever the best information is at this time. And to an overwhelming degree, all of the serious, highest-standard studies done by doctors—with far better morals that Dr. Wakefield’s—have shown the same thing. There is no link between autism and vaccines and you only think that because of Dr. Wakefield’s desire to be rich and famous. Again, if he thought blue cheese would have gotten him all that attention then he would have told you that and then you’d feel guilty about blue cheese.

The fact that you care so much is all the illustration I need to know you are a good parent. And I’m fine if you want to harbour low-percentage ideas in case they might be true—someone has to in case they turn out to be. But right now—today and on the day you got your child vaccinated—on those days there was no question you made the safest possible choice and I can absolutely guarantee you would have the full and total support of any sane, reasonably 619 Relax and Succeed - Butterflies don't know the coloreducated mother who had to watch their kids go through school before, and then after vaccines. There were absolutely zero anti-vaccine mom’s in our school back then because every two minutes another schoolmate would clack past the vaccine line with his metal legs.

Don’t beat yourself up. You already have a tough enough job raising a special needs child. You need to love yourself as much as you love that child. Because you did make a good decision and because Jenny McCarthy is just like you—she’s a parent who feels guilty, so she’s looking for the reason to be anything but her. But it wasn’t either one of you. I’m sympathetic to your terrible situations. But that does not mean there is any way on this Earth that Dr. Wakefield’s magical lie could ever climb out of a needle and into your child. You are a good parent. You really are.

With love and the biggest hug ever, s

 

The Friday Dose #32

The Friday Dose is a collection of cool, interesting and surprising things that are chosen for their potential to distract you away from any painful thought loops that may currently be disrupting your sense of perspective. Enjoy.

467 Relax and Succeed - You say I dream too big

Today’s Friday Dose is a fascinating mixed bag. Some of you may recall that in the past I wrote about an autistic kid who kept breaking into the NYC subway because he loved the trains so much. He was considered a nuisance until a smart young psychologist suggested giving him a job. He knew every train station and every time by heart. Now he answers the phone when you’re looking for subway directions and he doesn’t need a computer to help you. And now, because he’s an employee, he can ride the trains all he wants. Win-win. Well here’s a story on a new employment agency for people with Aspergers and Autism. We have not yet begun to access all the capabilities that humans bring to life:

An Employment Agency For Autistics

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Second we have an absolutely fascinating radio podcast documentary about identity. Imagine waking up as a middle aged adult with the mind of your 15-year-old self! What would the bright-eyed, optimistic, unfettered version of you think of your life today? Because of how the brain is wired, what happened to these people is entirely sensible. But it’s still amazing. And it still lead them to big conclusions and big changes in their lives. Give it a listen. And when you’re done, think back to really meditate on what you thought about yourself back then. And ask yourself if you’re selling yourself short with your defeated thoughts about a life that is still filled with glorious opportunity:

The Story of a Real-Life Time Traveller

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Commencements speeches are generally thought to be for graduating students. But we would all do well to remember that our life is a constant state of commencement. With every single choice, with every single decision we create our lives. So it’s worth it to occasionally stop to re-think our own identity and what kind of limitations we have placed upon ourselves. What kinds of thoughts don’t we think belong to us? What do we believe about ourselves that prevents us from realizing the greatest aspects of our existence? And what might awaken within you if you actually take some real time in your life to slow down and to listen to someone whose only goal is to help you to realize how incredible you truly are. Enjoy. (And, if you’re in a really big hurry, you can always skip to about ten minutes in.)

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[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V80-gPkpH6M]

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The rest of your life starts today. What are you going to choose to do with it?

peace. s

Scott’s Top Three Re-Blogs of 2013: #3

268 Relax and Succeed - We must be willing to let goThis countdown of the year’s top three blogs from outside sources is designed to shine a light on some of the most powerful, transformative and inspirational things I’ve encountered on the internet this year—or ever really. Just watching these can change people’s lives so I encourage you to share these blog entries if you find yourself similarly impacted. Small acts repeated millions of times can make an enormous difference.

Because I didn’t write much about this piece the first time, I will do so now.

I first ran across the story in a doctor’s office waiting room, flipping through Sports Illustrated—a magazine I’m not known to read very often at all. What I read was so powerful, as soon as I got home I searched for videos and I ran into the one that comprises the final section of the video posted below. I was unbelievably moved. The humility of this man to describe what he does as “I just love my kids,” is amazing and remarkable. I don’t know a single person who watched it who didn’t feel an immediate impact.

I think what makes the video’s effect so interesting is that it’s a strange mix between making you feel very humble, all while making you feel so filled with love that you’re powerful too. I watch it any time I get on any kind of thought-loop that life is hard or that I can’t do enough. It’s just impossible to watch to the end without feeling better.

268 Relax and Succeed - Kintsukuroi to repair with goldI’ve often thought that there is a special gift contained in situations like these. Because the situations are so out of step with what people generally imagine parenthood to be, their love gets torqued into a position where it really has no choice but to either get depressed by wishing it was different, or to get super capable at peaceful resilience by learning to focus on uncommon areas to find the beauty or strength in any person.

Most of us fall into the patterns that match the people around us. We like what we’ve been taught to like. But you can’t do that when you have to find the good in a situation—you can’t do that when you’re in a situation you’ve been taught to see as tough. Instead you have to learn through hard practice to look for the best in a challenging situation. And that’s like learning to search for reasons to be grateful—which is fine because a grateful person is a grateful person no matter what their external situation is. And the power of gratitude is how these people manage to have these amazing lives and accomplish these unbelievable things.

So I’ll leave it to my original introduction, but I am pleased to introduce the third place finisher in my judgment of the top three external source blogs of this year:

The Saturday blogs are when I present video or audio materials that may illuminate, educate or inspire your spiritual growth. I know I normally write more as a lead-in to set up the contents, but in this case I will simply say that this is, to me, the most inspiring video on the internet. Love is indeed a powerful force.

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[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flRvsO8m_KI]

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peace. s

Who Do You Attract?

A friend of mine’s sister has what I often refer to as an extremely challenging life. We’ll all suffer terribly at times, but being a single parent of an Autistic child does translate to a certain kind of relentlessness. Not only is the child more challenging, but the condition also means that the parent may receive little to no loving feedback from their child. Way more energy goes out and way less comes in.

Despite all of this, an acquaintance of mine just started dating a woman who’s in the same position as my friend’s sister. Her boy’s also pre-teen and quite a handful. He can be very loud, he can do a lot of damage and he can even be aggressive at times. So I asked the fellow what it was like dating someone in that position. It might surprise you to know that it was exactly that situation that attracted him.

16 Relax and Succeed - You do not attract what you wantHe’s a widower in his 40’s and has dated his fair share. He’s handsome, reasonably financially successful, and you could easily imagine people saying that he “could have done better.” What he sees in his girlfriend is one of the most capable, upbeat women he knows. Precisely because he knows her life is very challenging he’s that much more impressed with how positive and generous she is. He talked about how easy it would be for her to whine or complain or simply waste her life wanting a different life. He talked about people he knew who had it way easier yet they complained more. In short, he saw someone who had proven the quality of their character because they had demonstrated that they knew how to be happy even in the face of adversity. And that was what he wanted to date: someone who wasn’t depressing to be around, someone who looked forward to each day and didn’t complain much. He was looking for someone capable, and that’s what she was busy being.

To the contrary, my friend’s sister’s facebook page only lists two things: expressions of how bad things are, and wants about what life she would rather have. She can show you where she would rather live, what she would rather drive, where she would rather go, and who she would rather know, and then there are the constant whines about her son. Again, the son is certainly a huge challenge, but the other guy’s girlfriend is in that situation too….

16 Relax and Succeed - Many of us spend half our timeBecause my friend’s sister is expressing weakness, frailty and disappointment, she attracts weak, frail, disappointed men who help her build her a weak, frail, disappointed life. But she’ll tell you her life is hard because of her son and those consistently weak men, not because of her attitude. Meanwhile the other woman has taken the very same ingredients, but she’s enacting capability, gratitude and happiness and, lo and behold, she ended up attracting a guy who was capable, grateful and happy.

My friend’s sister will not get a fancy house by wanting one. She won’t get a nicer car by wanting one. She won’t get a rich, kind husband by wanting one. In fact, wanting all of that guarantees it will never happen, because that’s what she’s doing with her life—that’s what she’s creating—wanting. Looking at it on facebook it looked thoroughly unattractive and I could easily see why quality men avoided her.

As Wayne Dyer says, “You do not attract what you want. You attract what you are.” So stop focusing all of your intention on things you want to be different, and start focusing yourself on what you already have to be grateful for. Because nothing is less attractive than whiny neediness, and nothing is more attractive than someone who is happy and generous. We all get tired and slip at times, but our lives are built from our overall attitudes. So instead of complaining and wanting a new life maybe it’s time to start taking more responsibility for how you’re looking at the one you already have.

I sincerely do hope you make the sort of choices that allow you to truly enjoy your day because that will attract the sort of people who know how to do likewise. And having a personal tribe like that makes for the best kind of life that any circumstance permits. Go for it.

peace s