Accepting Yourself as A Path to Social Comfort

Person with brown hair in a bun, facing towards the ocean in the background.
Self-acceptance is a nice ideal, but how does it practically get you friends?

The good, the bad, and the beautiful

Finding the goodness in socialization starts with truly, radically accepting that who you are is already enough.

Because any belief along the lines of, “I’m not ___ enough,“ or “I’m broken,“ or “I’m too much,“ or “I don’t deserve friends or relationships or connection,” are just wrong

You were born on this earth the way you are and that means you deserve to be on this earth the way you are.

You were born on this earth the way you are and that means you deserve to be on this earth the way you are.

The lies

If you don’t believe that, you’ve been sold a crap-load of lies:

  • About what friendships and other relationships are and how to get them. Most of that stuff is people-pleasing, degrading, ableist, manipulative, or unhelpful.
  • That autistics can’t be “social.” That you have to be taught how to be “normal.”
  • That you are deficient. NOOOOO!
  • That you have to look, act, move, or talk a certain way for other people to like you. Nope…you don’t.
  • That having a lot of friends is a benchmark of success in life…and having few friends is your personal failing. It’s not. Neither is.
  • That having something in common is enough, and that once you find someone like that, you should get along splendidly. Spoiler alert…it isn’t.
  • That you will feel better after other people love you. Sorry, but no. To feel better, you have to love yourself first.

This is what no amount of social skills training can ever give you. Confidence that’s not based on rote learning, but a deep internal truth. Your internal world and external world working together, not fighting each other.

How this produces results

When you truly accept that who you are is worthy, and are operating from a place of deep internal truth, your stress level will lower, allowing your mannerisms to naturally relax, your tone of voice will soften, you will start to get a handle on what you (really) need, which means you will make better choices about what is (really) good for you, you will set better boundaries for yourself and honor other peoples’ boundaries in turn, and — as counterintuitive as this might seem — people are attracted to all of that.

As you get more comfortable with yourself, you will be more comfortable when you’re around others, and they will pick up on that and be more comfortable with you, which means you will have more positive experiences with people. 

As your nervous system begins to associate people with feeling OK, your anxieties will gradually release, and you will be able to engage more with people, which will go better, even with all your quirks and weirdness and differences, and when it goes better, you’ll be more willing to try again, and again, and this will create an upward spiraling cycle of success.

That’s when you’ll be much more likely to find people who are (really) good for you and who can love you for who you are, and who you will also find interesting and want to invest your time and effort into as well (it’s a two way street).

It won’t be everyone, but you don’t really want to hang out with everyone, do you? All you need are a few good people in your life, and those you can find.

It happened for me. I’ve seen that happen for so many other autistic. It can happen for you, too. Are you ready?

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Heather Cook

Heather Cook

Hi, I’m Heather. I’m an autistic writer, advocate, and life coach, and I'm building a life I love. I help other autistics to build their own autism-positive life. I love reading, jigsaw puzzles, every science ending in -ology, and all things Star Trek!

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