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Autsim_Routine_Structure_Familiarity_anxiety_stress

The Benefits of Change

April 30, 2018

Due to my autism I naturally find change very difficult. In an earlier blog I wrote that was titled Routine and Slower Processing I talked about how I don’t favour change of any kind. The reason being that my slower processing ability makes me feel that it’s best to do everything in a way that has worked many times before. In other words, I personally feel (at first) that if a situation worked out successfully in a particular way in the past, then it’s almost certain that very few problems are likely to arise from that method in the future.

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From personal experience I have just about always found that true, and this makes me feel content, albeit in the present moment. Yet there are indeed drawbacks when I always live my life that way. First of all it makes life quite boring, even for an autistic and routine liking person. Doing things the same way each time does indeed comfort me. However even so, the more times I perform the same action repeatedly the less and less I enjoy the experience. Despite feeling content, I do still become bored with it at the same time.

The second point I have to make is that mere repetition doesn’t allow me to experience and indeed learn new things. Repetition is okay for me to do in a general sense, for the sake of keeping my anxiety down (in addition to my autism I also have a severe anxiety disorder). However it is also essential for me to make changes to my daily routine at least once a year.

I cannot escape the fact that I have autism, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and that I experience anxiety whenever my routine is disrupted. So it is not in truth practical to put myself through change constantly. If I did that I would feel anxiety all day and all night, which would not make it possible for me to get anything done during my day, nor make me able to enjoy my life at all.

However if I make important and necessary changes gradually, and not all in the one go, I’m able to reduce (even if I can’t fully eradicate) my initial anxiety. It’s true that I will initially feel like I am giving myself a push. But the feeling that I get afterward is always so much better than how I would have felt if I didn’t decide to make that change beforehand. Here I’ll mention an example.

For all of my life I felt that I had to celebrate my birthday at home for me to enjoy it. Way up until I was aged in my twenties I had always celebrated my birthday at home, and I was afraid that if I experienced the day any differently I wouldn’t enjoy it as much. Birthdays come only once a year and I didn’t want to waste that somewhat rare occasion by being unhappy.

Though there came a time recently when we were going on a family cruise to New Zealand and the best deal/opportunity was a time in which my birthday fell. I had a choice but I decided to go ahead and celebrate my birthday overseas instead!

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I was initially worried, but I ended up having the best birthday I ever had. Also in the aftermath I can now enjoy my following birthdays even more so, because I don’t feel internally worried about any differences from past years spoiling my day. Now I can trust that the day will be fun regardless of any changes, and that changes create even more happy memories of the day.

The choice I made back then (in December 2015) didn’t just help me with future birthdays alone. It also showed me that change isn’t dangerous and that it’s very beneficial for creating more happy memories to relive.


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