Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Unsafe Perseverations

I have learned that there are perseverations that are not safe for the person who has them, and have had one of them in my lifetime, which I finally got rid of partly by realizing where it came from- a memory of a time when I had sensory issues which were really bad, and a desire to somehow go back and overcome those early difficulties. It was abusive to myself to persue this idea of overcoming those early difficulties with the perseveration I had developed, so I reasoned that I needed to find another way. It has been quite awhile now, and it is really gone.

I think that logic and understanding might help some of us in making these kinds of decisions about our own lives, but we need to understand it first so that the decision makes sense. Here are a few examples:

(1) Perseverations that come from being hurt. These could be anything from fascination with certain kinds of weaponry to fascinations with harming ourselves in the same way, or with getting even. None of this is good- look at the origins of it- and the way to help is to forgive the person or people who hurt us. To forgive, it helps me to understand the intent of the person or people who hurt me, and to be able to put it in context. This helps me see the actual error that the other person or persons made, so that I know what I am forgiving. This can often be the most difficult part for me. Then, I can move onto the second aspect of forgiving for myself: finding the courage to "not take into account a wrong suffered"- see 1 Corinthians 13- even though it is just one verse, the whole chapter gives the context for it. This has been hard for me, but I cannot use unforgiveness for my own lack of discernment. Instead, I have learned to study ways to discern better without using these kinds of data, and I have found that it works quite a bit better! Finally, for me there is no sense of revenge, but for many people, there is: forgiving requires the need to let go the sense of entitlement that some people feel when they are wronged, that they need to get even with the person who wronged them. Since none of us are perfect, and since none of us are all that perfect at even judging how imperfect we are, this is not something that makes sense to me at any level, but if it is a feeling someone has, then it needs to be accepted as a feeling and the decision to let it go has to be made. (See Romans 3, and in particular, Romans 3:23, for a reference to it- but in general, feeling like that is a terrible feeling to carry around inside, I think.) It is written that to hate your brother is to murder him in your heart. There was a recent incident in the news that happened not far from where I live, where a child was fullied, and held bitterness in his heart over it, so that he ultimately developed a perseveration with knives and used a knife to kill an innocent classmate whom he did not even know. Bitterness can harm a typical person the same as it can harm a person on the spectrum, and there are many examples of typical people being harmed by bitterness and going on to kill someone from that bitterness. It is better to forgive- and really forgive-- not just push the feelings away. I believe it is a strength I have as a spectrumite that I do not block things out very easily, so the decision to forgive is one I can make, because I do not automatically push the feelings aside- but before I got there, I had to pray for help with this. For me, the place where I knew I had to rely on the Lord the most was in seeking wisdom for what errors were made- what do I need to forgive? (James 1:5).

(2) Perseverations that are potentially unhealthy (physically). There are people who have perseverations with drinking a lot of water, so that it causes their blood pressure to drop to unsafe levels, for example. People have died from this. There are other kinds of things that need to be done in moderation as well. I do not really have any perseveration in this category, but believe that if I did, I would learn what the parameters are [high and low amounts] so that I did not exceed them, and decide that I had to stay within these guidelines. I would remind myself of the consequences of exceeding them. Then, I could still do whatever it is, so long as I did not do too much of it in too short a timespan.

(3) Perseverations that are illegal. Again, I have never had one, so will only give a few ideas. I believe that learning more theory of mind could help, at least some of the time. Here are a few examples of this: If someone has the desire to be a peeping tom, then perhaps it could be carefully explained to him how that makes a person feel, and perhaps careful analogies could be drawn to his own life, where he does not like being peeped at in certain contexts. Maybe, there are certain stims that he only does privately, and would not want anyone to observe. Maybe, he does not want others to look into his eyes as that might make him feel anxious- so he could understand that this is a similar feeling to how a woman might feel to have a peeping tom look at her. (There are many variations on this.) If a person wants to take things that are not his, then that same person might lose something, and then be able to relate to the feeling he had when he lost it, and know that this is the same feeling that others have when their things are not where they expect them to be. In some instances, this may be a difficult thing to communicate, but for me, it really helps me to understand more about how to apply the law more carefully. It was not something I understood instantly as a typical person might, but I could learn this kind of thing. Another way to handle some of this would be to have careful discussions about what the rules are and what is acceptable and what is not, so that the person knows what the rules are. Please see the last section for something else that might make a difference.

(4) Any perseveration you have that you want to change. I have had only one. Sometimes, it fulfulls a function- it meets a need of some kind. If you can find something else to do that meets that same need, then you can (think about) switching the thing you want to quit to the other thing that meets the same need. A weaker example of this is my love of chocolate. I can eat some, but cannot eat it as much as I like, so I am finding other things that I like that taste good to me.

(5) I have often found my perseverations to be helpful, and would suggest to anyone who has one she does not want, that she should develop at least one more that is a keeper. After all, I have rarely been able to indulge two of them at the same time.