Note To Self: On The Choices I Do Have

A mouse standing on its hind legs, looking around at the floor covered with mouse traps filled with cheese bait.
When I get wrapped up in all that I have to do, or can't do, or should do, I feel trapped. Today I needed a reminder that I have more choices than I think I do.

It’s soooo easy to feel trapped

Sometimes I get all wrapped up in what I can’t do, or have to do, or should do, or how every option is problematic, and I feel trapped or cornered. I forget all too easily that I have more choices in my life than I think I do. 

For example, as an adult who has the ability to source food and cook, I can eat pretty much whatever I want. If I want 48 slices of buttered sourdough bread, or two pounds of salad, or a giant bowl of Jello, I can eat that. But I set up all sorts of rules, or shoulds, for myself that say I can only eat what I happen to have in the fridge right now, or the things that need to be eaten before they go bad, or things that are healthy for me, or things that are on a particular diet, or I can’t have certain foods because someone else might react badly.

But the reality is that I can eat as unhealthy, wastefully, and nonsensically as I choose.

I can have food delivered if I don’t have the food I want, or go somewhere else to eat. I can mooch off of others or pay on credit if I don’t don’t have the money. I can leave the house if someone there has an allergy and I want to eat what they’re allergic to. I can eat mounds of cheese that give me cramps and deal with the cramps.

There may be consequences, but I can choose to deal with those, just as I can choose to eat a “sensible” diet.

I can actually make a lot of different things happen. But I sometimes limit my freedom in my own mind.

It’s not just about food

It’s helpful to remind myself sometimes that I’m not as stuck as I feel like I am.

To take a much more important example, people often talk about having to pay the bills. Well, no, I don’t have to. If I don’t, there will be serious consequences. My near future might contain a search for a new place to live, or a fusty smelling couch at a relative’s who I’ll argue with and where the dog wakes me by licking my nose, or cold nights on concrete in the open air, or all sorts of consequences I don’t want. But I can choose those, just as I can choose to earn the money and pay the bills.

Recognizing I don’t have to also doesn’t mean that I have to buck the capitalist system or eat mounds of sourdough goodness, just like I don’t have to not.

But when I feel like I’m trapped, I get irritable and snippy, or closed off, and my brain stops thinking about other options (that may even be better).

So it’s helpful to remind myself sometimes that I’m not as stuck as I feel like I am. And when I do that, it lowers some of the anxiety around feeling trapped by the situation, or forced into things I don’t want, and then my brain starts problem solving better again. Which might even help me change the actual situation. (Even a little bit helps.)

I needed that reminder today, and I’m sharing just in case you happen to as well.

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2 Responses

  1. I needed this – thank you so much. I appreciate all the effort you make in helping others with autism, and it makes a difference.

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Picture of 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, just about every -ology, and Star Trek!

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