We all know about challenges like climbing Mount Everest or crossing the Pacific Ocean on a raft. If you’re up for that kind of challenge, you may read no further. Congratulations!
For some Aspies, the word ‘challenging’ may seem to be synonymous with ‘anxiety-producing’, creating stress.
Experts tell us that whether stress becomes a positive or a negative factor in any particular situation depends upon how we respond to that stress.
Worrying creates unhealthy stress, whereas allowing stress to spur us on into action in a challenging situation ensures that it leads us forward into a positive learning experience.
For some Aspies, ‘challenging’ may even refer to those activities which for many people are common, almost daily occurrences.
For instance, what if you would like to go to a certain shop but it’s in an unfamiliar area of town; one into which you have never ventured. You don’t know how to get there, let alone how to get back!
Maybe you’re hesitant to take a bus because the numbers, the routes and the schedules can be quite confusing.
Breaking down a challenge like this into its relatively simple components will allow you to realize that you can resolve each of them, separately, quite successfully.
You could download a schedule for the number of the bus you need to take to get to your desired location. When you are ready, go to the nearest bus stop. When that particular bus comes, take it.
Carefully observe what roads the bus is taking, what shops and restaurants you are passing, or which other points of interest are along the way. You could make a mental, or even a paper or e-note of them.
When you get to your destination you may not wish to initially venture too far from the bus stop.
Familiarize yourself with the three or four blocks around the bus depot, note the street names and any other unique or ‘landmark’ buildings, parks or memorable natural landscape features.
Once you have experienced the bus route and the nature of the surroundings at your desired destination, you can take the bus back home again.
You might find it helpful to do this two or three times until you feel comfortable in your knowledge of the route, how long the trip takes and the nature of the area surrounding your destination.
What will you have accomplished? Just this: you will no longer need to wait for someone else to have the time to drive you where you want to go. You will be able to move about based on your own agenda, not that of your parents, your siblings or your friends.
You will be in control of your day, and just a little bit more in control of your own life.
And you will feel a sense of success, maybe even of triumph!
Becoming more knowledgeable about your community and its surrounding areas can increase your confidence, giving you a greater sense of independence.
You will find that knowing where you are going and that you can get there on your own can be exhilarating and liberating.
The result is that your sense of self-respect will receive a tremendous boost, encouraging you to undertake similar challenges, in a similar manner, with far less anxiety in the future.
It is important to realize that falling into the trap of simply avoiding the initial anxiety which may accompany a novel task will not get you where you want to go. But meeting the challenge will enrich your life.
When we decide to take control of a situation in our lives, we ask something of ourselves.
When we respond positively and successfully we present ourselves with an opportunity for growth, which involves meeting, accepting and overcoming challenge after challenge.
Ultimately, we become our own heroes, infusing ourselves with the courage, even the desire to face whatever challenges present themselves. In this way we can view new challenges as opportunities for enhancing our experiences.
Our reward is a life fully and joyfully lived, with gratitude for challenges which come our way.
When your teacher or professor assigns homework, when your parents or your roommate ask you to clean up your room, or to look after some household chores—what’s up with that?
Perhaps your roomates want you to take responsibility for two meals a week. Or maybe you’ve made a commitment to yourself to exercise three times a week or walk six blocks a day.
How can challenges that seem worrying actually help reduce anxiety?
Anxiety is a huge issue for many of us with Asperger’s. There is no point in asking why we often see six thousand compounding facets in every single little incident in our lives, or why simple chores like washing the car or cleaning our rooms can morph into multi-day events.
The question is, why would we challenge ourselves with any of these responsibilities at all?
The answer is simple. By making demands of ourselves, and by disciplining ourselves to attempt to meet those demands, we give ourselves room and encouragement to grow.
By repeatedly doing simple manageable tasks we develop routines and a self-confidence which can serve us well when we encounter more complex issues.
When we attempt to accommodate another’s reasonable demands, we acquire and continually enhance the skill of determining exactly what is required of us.
And we practice discerning how best to initiate the task in the most efficient way so as to successfully complete it with the least stress … and perhaps even a certain degree of pleasure!
This translates into the essential life-skills of listening, comprehending, asking questions about the process when necessary, and successfully completing the task.
We are rewarded with the personal satisfaction which comes with the completion of any worthwhile accomplishment!
And the more that is asked of you, either by others or by yourself, the greater you will feel challenged.
But, the greater the challenge successfully met, the greater the personal satisfaction.
Challenges are not only necessary for our personal and professional growth, they are a fast-track to ensuring our lives remain interesting and fulfilling.