Monday, 15 December 2014

Things I Detest - A Totally Random List

Muzak. You can't call it music.

CHRISTMAS muzak. As if the regular sort isn't bad enough.

Phone salespeople - I hang up on them now.

Religious doorknockers. I sometimes feel like saying to them, "how about we make an agreement - I don't come to your door, pushing my views on you, and you don't come to mine, pushing yours on me. Deal?"

TV shows such as Survivor, The Block or Big Brother, because I don't get the emotional games played, I think it's all BS anyway, and don't give a rodent's posterior who wins. (I must confess to sometimes watching a bit of Masterchef, because the food looks delicious!)

Sitcoms, especially American ones, as they're based on people making idiots of themselves, and I've had way too much of that in my own life.

Cricket. One notch above watching paint dry. Make that half a notch.

Asparagus. Blech.

Stuffed marrow. Ditto. My mother used to cook it for us when I was a kid - until the day I said it looked like cooked snot. Funny, none of the rest of the family wanted to eat it either after that...

Things that are fiddly to open - whether it's a jar of peanut butter or a new packet of tissues or whatever. Not being especially co-ordinated or strong, I just get so damn annoyed with them, I could throw them across a room.

The Briscoes lady. She irritates me, she and all her white, middle-class, oh-so-healthy-looking sisters in ads, who somehow manage to produce big, white-toothed smiles and talk at the same time. They look like ventriloquists' dummies.

How it's always the most irritating songs that stick in your head. Why can't it be one of the nice ones?

Doing dishes. The most boring job on earth.

Music being played - LOUDLY - on people's cellphones in the street. I've blogged about this before, but it still irritates the crap out of me. Get some earphones, people.

Harvey Norman ads - they're always YELLING AT ME ABOUT ALL THE WONDERFUL SAVINGS I'M GOING TO MAKE IF I SHOP AT THEIR STORE HURRY NOW!!! I don't give several rodents' behinds what your specials are, Mr Norman. Just turn down the volume on your ads, because I'm less than impressed.


...and I will probably add to this list at some point. In fact, it's inevitable. Sigh.

Friday, 28 November 2014

A website for aspies

I don't normally plug other people's websites - there are far too many out there for me to read and/or recommend - however this site is related to a group I'm in on Facebook, and the moderator asked me to check it out. It looks pretty good to me, so here's a link to it, which is also in my 'websites of interest' list, down the right side of my blog.
www.alwaysaspergers.com

Life Is Like A Game Of Solitaire

I realised something recently about the computer game Solitaire, which I play quite often, how it's in many ways a reflection of life, or my life to be exact, as I've lived it to date.

For instance, there are the 'games' I just couldn't win, and was foolish even to try. I was always doomed to fail them. But I didn't know that to start with, and so I crashed over and over again, until I learnt, painfully, the hard way - because I had no-one to guide me, no-one to point out that I couldn't possibly win them - which games to never even start.

Then there are the games I thought, even after learning about the first sort, that I could still win at, they seemed hopeful, until by about halfway through the game, I realised that they were just as unwinnable as the first, at which point I had a choice to either go on to certain defeat, or to cut my losses and walk away. "This counts as another loss in your statistics..."

Oh yes, the little message that pops up when you've lost a game - "do you want to start a new game? ...To redo this game? ...To continue playing this game? ...This counts as a loss in your statistics", etc. Whatever your choice, the message is clear - "Loser, loser!" The world has told me that too, in a complex variety of ways, over and over again. I don't need reminding.

There are also games I think I'm finally winning, yes, yes, nearly there, I've got it, my God I've actually got it... and then... BANG. I haven't. Chalk up yet another loss, and walk away. Try again with a new game, a new day, a new life...

 Sometimes, I think I know what I did wrong, and I'm all "oh, if only I'd done this, or that, chosen this or that 'card' instead of the other", going over and over the 'game', but I never know for sure, except by going back and repeating everything, and that's a loser choice in itself, and often not possible anyway. And sometimes I couldn't spot my mistakes at all. Sometimes, it only seemed like the harder I tried, the worse things got, and the more I lost. And I felt stupid, for 'doing it all wrong', for not being able to see the 'right' choices to make, like 'everybody else' did automatically, or so it seemed to me.

 Often, I would eventually stop caring, and then it didn't hurt so much, only I would then find I was just going through the motions, and not really engaged with the game at all, and my 'win rate' went down even lower.

And sometimes, finally, eventually, after much time and effort and concentration, I even win a game - only to realise, after a temporary exultation or relief, that I've been so caught up in the damn thing, trying to 'get it right', that I've actually ended up wasting huge chunks of my time and energy on something that wasn't really worth it, and that I would have been far better off employing said energy etc to some more beneficial goal.

With Solitaire, my losses rank far higher than my winning games - I'm slightly embarrassed to admit I only win about 6%, which is probably about my winning average in life as well. Sometimes life just sucks, or is it me...

Someone once said to me that 'theoretically' it's possible to win every game of Solitaire. I immediately forgot the 'theoretical' part, and took this as meaning that somehow "everybody else" "just knew" the rules, and how to win at the 'game', and only I was too stupid to figure it out. Once again, too like my life for comfort. I now realise that wasn't what was meant, but still, it's hard to shake off. It's hard to be positive about life, oops I meant Solitaire.

I think I need to try a new game.

Why We Need Mentors

I've called this "Why We Need Mentors", but it could just have easily been titled "What Happened To My Life?"

I began my adult life with a whole bunch of expectations, most of which involved assuming my life would be like other people's - marriage, motherhood, mortgages, the white-picket-fence-with-2.5-kids life in the 'burbs' thing... I didn't truly know how people got all that. It seemed to 'just happen' for them, and so I presumed it would for me too.

Well, some of it did. I did get married and become a mother, though younger than I'd thought I would. My marriage however was an abject failure - I made a lousy choice of mate, who proved not a good provider or all that stable, and we were never able to buy our own home. And then I started reading feminist stuff, eventually leaving the marriage and coming out.

 Still, all that meant was that I reframed my expectations. Instead of a man, I assumed I would find a long-term female partner, I'd get my degree, get off the benefit, and we'd settle down in happy domesticity, a sort of lesbian version of the white picket fence thing.

It didn't happen. Instead I had a string of short-term failures interspersed with long periods of celibacy, where I tried to figure out "what I did wrong", and how to do it differently next time. Then I'd launch myself out into the mating market again, thinking I'd solved all my problems, only to find - BANG. Another failure, and I'd reel back into celibacy again.

Friendships were another area I consistently failed in. They imploded, or drifted apart, or just never got off the ground properly in the first place. I couldn't understand it. I thought I was being friendly, helpful, nice, etc, why did no-one want to know me? Why was it such a struggle to connect with others?

I was attending university on and off during these years, but at times I struggled there too. Academically, I was doing okay, getting mostly As and Bs, but there was a lot of social stuff that I just didn't 'get'. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself at this time to be 'normal', and eventually, that pressure resulted in my health collapsing under the strain.

It would take another ten years before I would be diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but the pattern was clear from the beginning - any severe stress, and my health took a nosedive. I began to use it as a reason to not do certain things, but only because I couldn't articulate my deeper, more long-standing reasons, which no-one would have accepted or understood at that time anyway. I still kept believing that my life would, at some magic point, straighten out, that everything would fall into place and come right. It never did.

I ended up leaving the city and living in the country for many years, while I tried to heal. During that time I finally managed a long-term relationship - only it wasn't exactly as happy as I'd dreamt it would be... I tried so hard to 'fix' it, draining my health, my vitality, the last of my youth, hope, romanticism and emotional energy in the process. I finally left only when I felt I had nothing more to give. And only then did I come to understand, way too late, that I'd been the victim of sustained emotional abuse.

I took stock - no partner, few if any friends, no job, no money, no possessions worth a damn, my health a wreck - where did I go next? Eventually I moved away to be closer to my family and start anew. Life since then has had a few ups and downs, but I still find myself, in my late fifties, poorer than I've ever been. I have no permanent job and little chance of one, my health is still not the best and in some ways is getting worse with ageing (eg the onset of arthritis), I've never owned my own home and am never likely to, short of a miracle. My family are supportive and help when and as they can, but still, life could be better. A lot better.

As for relationships - well. I picked all the wrong people, it's true, but then I could also say that none of the 'right' ones ever picked me. Suffice to say it's an area I'm not willing to venture into again, for a whole host of complicated reasons, of which being 'burnt' too often is only a part. In terms of connecting to others, the best thing that's happened for me in the last few years is not relationships but the aspie friendships I've made - they're one of the highlights of my life now.

But overall, my life has been, in many ways, a train wreck. Very few of my dreams and expectations have ever been met or realised - I've never owned my own home, never had a relationship that was worth the effort involved, never had a career (except for my writing of course, but I've yet to work out how to make that pay), I didn't even manage to finish my university degree. I rate raising my daughter as my biggest achievement - and don't get me wrong, I would still rate it that way no matter what else I'd done - I just wish I'd been able to achieve a whole bunch of other stuff too.

So what has all this to do with mentors?

It's this - when things have gone right in my life, it's always with the help, guidance and support of others. A typical instance is my getting to uni - for a while, I was friends with a woman who'd done several degrees, and who 'knew the ropes'. I quizzed her endlessly, and she very patiently showed me how to enrol, told me all about degrees, courses, prerequisites etc - we later drifted apart but I'll always be grateful to her for her assistance. It's very likely that I wouldn't have gotten to uni at all without her help. It was typical of a consistent pattern - if people were willing to patiently explain things to me, and guide me through new things, my life went much, much better. Other times, I got through life changes only with the practical help of family and friends. When I was lacking such support, that's when my life would go haywire. The inevitable result was a good deal of anguish and stress.

Maybe some of all this would have happened anyway, aspie or not, mentors or not, - I would still have come out for instance. But there's no doubt in my mind my life would have gone a lot better, if only people had realised just how ignorant and in need of help I really was, and given me a lot more guidance.

Many other aspies seem to be the same, I've heard many lament how they can't make or keep friends or relationships or jobs or stay in education, how their lives are going to ruin, they're homeless or unemployed or whatever, because they just don't know how best to get by in the world, they lack the practical knowledge or skills or social skills to rescue themselves - and no-one is helping them.
                                                                                                                                          
WE ALL NEED MENTORS. Everyone of us on the spectrum needs mentoring, sometimes throughout our lives. It doesn't have to be a big, formal thing - though that can help those who don't have families etc to step in and do this role - but it is a very real need, even when the individual is well into adulthood and seemingly independent.

Now, I understand that most people live busy lives and they can't always spare the time - even if they understand the need - to mentor someone. But whenever anyone, be it a private individual or a member of an agency or organisation, can fulfil this role, I would plead with them to do so, as the lives of the autistics they touch can only be better off for it. Because with the right practical help and patient support, we can achieve great things.

Monday, 20 October 2014

On Making Mistakes

I've been thinking lately about how we aspies absolutely hate to make mistakes. It can be anything from a social blunder to driving down the wrong street to making a slip-up at work - the type of the mistake doesn't seem to matter as much as that we've made an error at all. It triggers our anxiety and autistic shame, and we can get very upset, even have meltdowns, or angst for hours, days or even weeks over something that an NT either wouldn't fret over, or wouldn't do so for long. We just can't seem to let mistakes go.

I have struggled with this issue myself for most of my life, and have won only a partial victory over it, and so when I see other aspies/auties doing it, eg in my Facebook autistic groups, I feel a strong empathy for their pain and confusion. So I'm going to try to analyse why we react so badly to making mistakes. Bear in mind this is not a definitive or 'final' list, more of an attempt to open discussion, sort of like lancing open an infected wound so that it can begin to heal.

So here's why I think we react so badly. I've listed them separately, but of course they are often entangled and influencing each other hugely.

1) Fear. We have usually learnt to fear other's (often forceful) negative reactions to our mistakes - their criticism, disapproval, anger, hostility, jeering, or even outright abuse. So when we make a mistake, we cringe in shame and perfectly understandable dread. It's possible that this could even be the biggest reason for our dislike of mistakes, or at least the one that first makes us aware of them.

2) Orderliness. We live in a confusing, overwhelming, constantly changing world, and so we need to create our own order, those routines and habits that help us manage our lives. A mistake (eg forgetting to set an alarm clock) can disrupt this order, make us feel like everything's falling apart, and send us into a tailspin as a consequence.

3) Perfectionism. Any perfect pattern or order, whether we create it or not, is soothing to our often jangled nervous system. We like to have things fixed in place, and an error disturbs that perfection. We get upset when others disturb the perfection we've created, but perhaps we get even more disturbed when we do it, because we feel we should "know better". We can hold ourselves to even higher standards than we do others.

4) Low self-esteem. This is common amongst autistics, caused by a lifetime of criticism and other bad experiences. We often have to "try twice as hard to feel half as good", and so any mistake, however small, can cause us to beat ourselves up emotionally as a result. It's sad, but true, that sometimes we even self-criticise worse than others have done to us.

5) Catastrophising. You all know what I mean by catastrophising, I'm sure - that horrible negative spiral of thoughts we can get into, where we make 'one little mistake', and before we know it, we're imagining our whole world unravelling, our lives ruined... And afterwards, when we realise that our worst-case-scenario thinking was totally unfounded, it makes us feel (yet more) stupid and ashamed. I'm really not sure if catastrophising is a cause or a consequence of our loathing of making mistakes, maybe both, but I do think that a fear of triggering it would make us hate mistakes even more.

6) Perseveration. We have a tendency to go over and over events endlessly and at times obsessively in our minds, unable to let them go, and when we do that about our mistakes, it almost always leads to that catastrophising. And reinforces the low self-esteem, the self-bashing, the desire for perfection, etc, etc...

So what can we do about it? How do we stop doing this to ourselves? Perhaps we might never be able to entirely stop, but we don't have to suffer in silence forever either. I can only offer a few points that have helped me, I'm sure others will have other methods, this is, as I said, hopefully the beginning of discussion, not the end.

a) Accept that we can't prevent ALL mistakes. We are human, and therefore will blunder sometimes. Socially, we will blunder more than most. It's important to remember NTs make mistakes too - and because their memories don't seem to sear into their consciousness the way ours do, they also forget (and forgive) much quicker than we do, ie make a mistake one week and they'll have forgotten about it by the next.

b) Share with other autistics. Sharing with NTs usually only gets us more upset, because we end up feeling stupid and ashamed for feeling that way in the first place. But other autistics understand where we're coming from, and can offer solid advice and support. I've often felt much better after sharing with other aspies, and I've noticed other aspies seem to as well.

c) Get support in learning what we CAN prevent. What support you have will of course vary, but use every means possible, including any supportive NTs, to 'fill in the blanks' of your knowledge of the world. You'll be less likely to make mistakes if you're less ignorant of a whole bunch of stuff, including social rules and what's considered 'proper workplace behaviour'.

d) Stop with the negative self-messages. Stop the spiral of angst and self-hatred, preferably before it gets properly started. Meditation has helped me a lot over the years to get out of the "Oh God I'm so stupid" thinking and into a more rational space, a lot faster and quicker. For some, medication may be necessary to cope with their anxieties, but it's important to remember all medications have side-effects, and sometimes become less effective over time.

e) Have a Plan B. This is essential for when we make mistakes in our daily routines or travel. If we miss the bus to work for instance, perhaps we could catch another, or a train, or get someone to drive us... there's always another way to get our routines back on track. So always have a Plan B - and if need be, Plans C, D, E and F as well!

f) Dump your toxic connections. Wherever possible, dump those negative people, especially the downright abusive types and the just-don't-understand-or-want-to-understand-autism types. Yes, even if they are family. When you're trying to repair your self-esteem, you don't need anyone tearing you down again. Be ruthless. Press the dump button on them.


g) Above all - forgive yourself for making mistakes. I know this is easier to say than do, but if we can perseverate over our mistakes, then we can turn that to perseverating over not perseverating! We need to stop beating ourselves up for our mistakes - they usually aren't worth it, and we deserve better than all that angst. You're worth that, each and every one of you. 

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Things I Don't Understand - Number Seven

I don't understand greed.

I don't mean being greedy for food, I do sometimes want to gorge myself on food that tastes really good, eg Christmas dinner, though I've learnt to restrain myself, as the results are not good! No, what I mean by greed is financial greed, the urge to accumulate more and more money, gather more and more of it into one's hands, or bank accounts.

I'm thinking here of how, when a reporter once asked an extremely wealthy man what he wanted, he replied "more money". He already had more than most of us could spend in a lifetime, yet he wanted more. And I suspect there are many out there like him.

Greedy people have always been amongst us, and there have always been disparities of wealth, though till the Industrial Revolution only royalty and the most powerful nobles could hope to live truly extravagantly. The resources and the material goodies just weren't there. And there have also always been those opposed to anyone having such a lion's share of the world's wealth, especially if it's at the expense of others (and it usually is). And during the middle decades of the twentieth century, it truly did seem that the world's wealth was becoming more evenly distributed, at least in the Western part of the world.

Now, however, it seems the wealthy are gaining the upper hand again. I read somewhere recently that in the 1960s, the USA's richest men had about thirty times the income of the poorest. These days, the richest are worth around three hundred times the poorest. (I don't have the reference handy, but it was something like that.) With this sort of concentration of wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer people, is it really so surprising that even the middle class are struggling, while the truly poor increasingly go to the wall? I think not.

Even in New Zealand, a country traditionally without this kind of financial obscenity, we are beginning to see such differences. In the same week that Campbell Live, a NZ current affairs programme, campaigned to raise money for Kids Can, a charity that feeds kids in poor schools, one of the wealthiest men in NZ launched his new yacht in Norway - worth around $NZ 78 million. The Campbell Live campaign raised around $NZ 800,000. This means that for less than one seventy-eighth of the value of his yacht (and he already has two others), this wealthy man could have provided breakfast and lunch for hundreds of hungry kids from poor families.

There are of course plenty of other obscenities of wealth out there. The movie stars who think nothing of spending thousands on a handbag or scarf, or tens of thousands on 'therapy', while just a few miles away homeless people are rummaging in bins to feed themselves. The huge houses of the rich, while down the road kids go barefoot and hungry to school. And no, I'm not talking about third world countries, but countries like New Zealand, Australia, the UK and the USA. 'First World Poverty' is very, very real, and becoming more so.

Don't get me wrong - though I would be deemed at least 'left-leaning' by most standards, I'm not any kind of communist, in fact I dislike communism as a system. And life's luxuries are very nice, I wouldn't deny that. I like decent cars and a nice house and smart clothes as much as the next person. I also know that many of the richest do give substantial amounts to charities. Though perhaps not all - a recent magazine article here in New Zealand asked if being rich made you nasty and selfish - and it seemed that sometimes, yes, it does. A typical example they quoted was how street charity collectors often get a better response in poorer neighbourhoods than they do in rich ones, that in fact the rich often ignore such collectors. The phenomenon of the rich attitude that the poor are 'just lazy', and should 'pull themselves up by their bootstraps' is also very real too, according to that article - which of course totally ignores the fact that a) not everyone has the entrepreneurial ability to become rich, and b) they've left a lot of us without any metaphorical 'boots'.

I don't know if my lack of understanding on this is due to my being an aspie or not - I have noticed many aspies do seem to be on the 'left' side of the political spectrum, probably because of our passion for justice, which extends to social justice. Others seem to be totally neutral, either undecided or so turned off by humanity that they don't give a damn, while a few express rabidly right-wing opinions - though I've noticed they also seem to be the ones who have jaundiced, misanthropic views in general, due usually to years of ill-treatment from the world.

I wonder too if my attitude is at least partly due to the family values I was brought up with. These values weren't made explicit, were never lectured to us or pushed on us, but rather simply demonstrated. I grew up seeing my parents get involved with groups such as Plunket committees, school lunch committees, and Lions Clubs. In more recent years, groups like the Child Cancer Foundation, Hospice, Save the Children and others have received the benefits of my family's energies. Moreover, we've all tended to gravitate towards careers and jobs that help, educate or take care of people - nursing, education, social work, etc. Community involvement is almost taken for granted in my family.

This philanthropy goes further back than just this generation - family history research has turned up evidence my ancestors were on church or sports committees, organised fundraising events, or were members of such groups as the Rebekah Lodge, the Hibernian Society and the Druids Lodge.

I've also had more than one discussion with various family members about "what we'd do if we won Lotto". The general consensus was that, after we'd satisfied our own needs, we'd distribute our wealth. 'Paying off our younger generation's student loans' and 'buying everyone in the family houses' featured prominently on that list, and there was a general feeling that beyond taking care of your own needs, it was best to 'spread the wealth' and help as many as possible.

Or perhaps my attitude is because of my own personal experience of all too often having to go without - I've survived, at times, thankfully never for too long, without things that most Westerners consider 'basic amenities', such as fridges, electricity or hot and cold running water; I've also lived (for a few weeks or months each) in a tent, caravan, housetruck and converted cowshed. I've gone without fancy clothes and many material goodies that others take for granted, and had to trim my budget or shopping bill to eliminate anything not absolutely essential to keeping body and soul together. I'm not saying this is a good thing, I'd very much like to not have to do that, but it has taught me you can live without many of the things most Westerners consider necessary to existence. Luxuries are very nice, but they're not essential. Other life-experiences have also contributed to what I can only describe as a feeling that "all things are best in moderation".

And that includes wealth. So I just don't understand greed.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

That Autism 'Suffering' - Part Three

In this final installment of my investigation into the causes of our suffering, I examine 'external' causes. Not all of us will suffer from all the internal causes, but it's probable we all do, in one way or another, from the external ones. These can be roughly grouped in the following categories -

      i) Other people's attitudes towards us - gross distortions and misunderstandings of what autism actually is, what an autistic child or adult 'looks like', or behaves, or why, or what we're capable of, invariably cause us distress. Hearing all the negative opinions so many have about autism can cause us to feel alienated, self-hating and depressed, especially if it's coming from those closest to us, or from a seemingly ignorant and blinkered media. These distorted beliefs can see us -
- as children, hearing our parents say to others, right in front of us, that they wish we weren't autistic, or that autism is 'dreadful', or that it causes them to suffer, etc, etc.
- having adults refuse to listen when we try to tell them we're being bullied, and/or being told it's our own fault, for 'choosing' to behave in certain ways;
- being criticised for 'attitudes' we don't in fact have, or told we're being something (e.g. rude) we in no way intended, and then not listening when we tell them this;
- being told that we or our child "don't look autistic", or that we're "just jumping on the latest bandwagon", or "making a big deal out of nothing";
- having it assumed we "can't' do" such and such because we're autistic, and then if we show we can, being told that we "can't really be" autistic then;
- having what we say ignored or discounted because we "don't understand" emotions or ourselves or can't do theory of mind, etc, etc;
- having hostile autism parents call us various nasty names, and claim that if we can communicate at all we "can't really be" autistic, and should be ignored;
- having certain autism organisations describe us as 'thieves' of the 'real person' supposedly hidden underneath, or as destroyers of families, or 'brain-damaged', or defective in some other way;
- having people tell us how "weird" we are, or asking "what planet do we come from", and even suggesting we should go back there;
- cringing as yet another autism-negative article appears in the news;
- fearing for our personal safety in the face of some people's hate-filled attitudes.
All of these, and more, are daily examples of how people's attitudes cause us suffering.

      ii) Other people's treatment of us - There are many ways we are actively 'managed' that induce suffering. Among just the most obvious are -
- forcing us to make eye contact or talk or move in 'non-autistic' ways;
- stopping us from stimming or following our special interests;
- suppressing any other facet of our being that is obviously autistic;
- inflicting 'therapy' on us that is boring, meaningless, frustrating or even harmful or dangerous;
- incarcerating us in institutions like the Judge Rotenberg Centre or other psychiatric facilities or even jail;
- forcing us into counselling or psychotherapy that ignores our autism and blames us for our problems;
- abusing or bullying us as children or even adults;
- laughing or jeering at us;
- ridiculing or belittling us;
- rejecting or excluding us;
- firing or refusing to hire us or bullying or harassing us in the workplace;
- refusing to give us the support we need to access education.

      iii) Other people's social interactions with us - Our difficulties interacting with others are the result of the above two 'external' factors - others not understanding us or behaving well towards us - combining with various 'internal' factors such as lack of ability to read non-verbal clues. The results can only be painful. Bewildered and hurt, we often reel away into semi-reclusiveness. Or we are cold-shouldered and excluded from social interaction - which doesn't help at all, we never understand why, and it just hurts.

So in writing this, I've realised that, though there are far more 'internal' causes than 'external', the external ones are SO big, SO influential, they inevitably interfere with the internal ones. People don't understand us, don't provide support or the knowledge or skills we need, leave us to flounder and fail, or treat us in ways that actively make our lives much, much worse. Hence, whatever the apparent cause of our suffering, the primary cause is the attitudes and practises of others. And if these external causes of suffering could be reduced or eliminated, then so much more energy could flow into providing the practical support and accommodations needed to overcome the internal causes of our pain and suffering. It truly is all about attitude, and the behaviour that follows from that.