Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Your Mileage May Vary

To the rest of the world, this is mere boilerplate verbiage.  Dangerous and fearful words to an obsessive.  What you see may not be what you get.  Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.  Things are not as they seem.  Welcome to my private hell.

I almost titled this entry "Hope and I are Not On Speaking Terms".  Hope is not an obsessive's friend.  For us, hope is a ticking time bomb.  It is a siren temptress who enchants us to leave the solid ground of reality and sail the stormy seas of "maybe".  We invariably end up shipwrecked on the rocks disappointment.   Consider the following equations:

Disappointment = Expected - Delivered

If Expected = Delivered, then Disappointment = 0

The key factor here being expectation.  Hope entices us to expect more than we'll get, thereby creating disappointment.  As obsessives, we get really hung up on should.  Expectation is "what should have happened".  Disappointment triggers a swirling torrent of questions and analysis.  Expectations that aren't in line with reality don't submit themselves to logical analysis.  This doesn't stop the mental gyrations, quite the contrary.  It sends them into a loop.   Our minds spiral into an iterative process of questions, "fact gathering", and analysis.  Facts exist within the realm of reality.  Our analysis is perpetually incomplete.  Viable conclusions can not be drawn, and the cycle continues.  The longer this mental storm swirls, the closer it pushes us to clinical depression.  We're generally never more than "a local phone call away" from it anyway, so it's not much of a journey to get there.

Reality is the safe harbor for obsessives.  Facts are our battlements.  Hope is the enemy.  We function far better with probabilities than with hope.  A list of possible outcomes for any situation, coupled with reasonable probabilities for each provides us a much safer mental state, regardless of the outcome.  Expectations are never allowed to deviate far from probability, and disappointment is kept to manageable levels.  For this reason, we crave facts.  In tangible matters, we find great comfort in research.  The more we understand, the better our probability estimations.  The better our probability estimations, the less likely we are to end up dashed upon disappointment's craggy peaks.

A special note to those with Autistic or OCD children.  Until they learn this process, you must do it for them.  Managing their expectations can be critical to helping your child maintain a stable mental and emotional state.  It's ok not to give them the answer, even when you see it coming.  Guiding them in the process and allowing them to experience tailored levels of disappointment can be a critical teaching tool.  It can also be used to help them take steps to becoming self-sufficient in this process.

At this point, many "neuro normals", particularly the ladies in the group are thinking "what a cold, horrible way to approach life".  Consider my final points on the subject prior to finalizing your position.

Life seldom lives up to its press.  People lie to us.  The worst among us do so knowingly.  The majority do so by attempting to convince us that they are who they wish to be, and not who they really are.  Movies, toys, clothes, houses, jobs, etc. all fall short of their advertising at some point.  At some level, we all search for the bedrock of provable facts that underlies everything.   For those of us with neuro issues, the same limitations that give us issues with all things subjective, send us running for the objective when setting expectations.  We learn to place value on behavior and ignore words in human interaction.  We seek experience to guide us in other areas.  The experience need not be our own. Reviews, research, etc. are our allies.  When looking toward the future, we find greater safety in getting beyond the "press" and discovering the concrete.  Our mileage has varied.

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