The Solution 1
The following is the start of a journal about one brother’s attempt to help another. Many other people of course helped, and were helped, in the process.
What do you do when someone has self esteem issues, something like aspergers, anxiety or attachment disorder, and a resulting series of unpleasant experiences with undesirable characters over the past few decades? You must be really wanting to do something! It’s probably affected your own self worth strongly having this constant mystery how to deal with this person. You’ve probably spent a lot of time wondering why they don’t respond like other people to behaviour or social skills corrections you make.
Well, here are a few ideas. If it’s decades in, they’ve probably got to the point where a full characterisation of the terrain of the situation is required. There are probably a number of issues going on and a lot of blame has probably been going round. They’re probably also sick of the over correction from frustrated, well meaning friends and family and their self esteem may have been eroded due to this chronic disfunctional method of dealing with the problem(s). Without further ado:
- Spend a couple of weeks discussing with them the factors leading to the set of circumstances they started life with. Stuff like nature of their parents, the resources at their disposal early in the person’s life, and how these factors could have conspired to magnify deficiencies in either. Whilst discussing these “nurture factors”, also discuss the “nature factors” like whether they’re anxious, bad at socialising, bad at estimating when others are bored about what they’re saying etc. An important part of this step is to stop the blame game and stop the over correction that usually happens from well meaning people who don’t know about the nature or nurture factors. Over correction causes recipients of it to shut down and or resist correction as it can get to the point where there is so much correction and so little approval there is a risk the person will think they’re fundamentally bad. They’re not, they’re just different.
- Administer a few tests checking for anxiety disorder, attachment disorder and aspergers. There are phone apps for all of these. Needless to say, these are only the start and intensive professional help for a long time will have to be used. Don’t stop, just change therapists if you’re not getting anywhere initially.
- If they have aspergers, check the common abnormal behaviours they exhibit from this condition and develop a plan to address them, with the help of a psychiatrist/ologist. For example, get their permission to pull them up if they’re boring you during conversation so they can begin to calibrate how to talk to people based on your feedback. Maybe agree on a non verbal signal for telling them when they’re talking to either you and others in and group. Even better, include as many people as possible in the calibration process, through an open, non blaming or non derogatory communication process so that as many people as possible can help in the social skills training.
- Don’t do all of this alone. Have discussions with relevant family, friends and, if there is one, their partner. They’ll also be as concerned as you about it all and may have made their own significant efforts. Through these discussions you will find some allies. Build a team together, discuss and implement a strategy, and do this in concert with the treating professional. They will have a plan you can all fit into. If you can’t get one involved at this stage, strategise with anyone else suitable available. Involving others is important as you’re not invincible.
- Talk about the person’s values with them. This is important as a means to help them realise the value of counselling and participating in a general effort to change. Maybe they value being a good parent. You could point out that their disorder and or limited approach to dealing with effects of the past diminish their ability to do what they value. This may increase their motivation to get a formal test and counselling about how to deal with it.
This should get things started. The key things are sparking self esteem, ending the over correction and discovering which values motivate them to get professional help. Self esteem may take a while to set alight, especially if there has been a long history of over correction or some wrongly interpreted event(s) in the past which make them feel bad about themselves. Discussions during step 1 should reveal these issues and you can challenge their interpretation of the facts as they come up. It may take a number of challenges, by multiple people. Ultimately, if they’re diagnosed with a permanent disorder, they’re different. They’re not bad though. They can still achieve a lot. Michael Burry, a guy with a glass eye and aspergers, still went on to make $USD100,000,000 off the stock market for himself and $USD700, 000,000 for his investors…
Why should self esteem be ignited? This will fuel them to drive the change. Without it one person after another will be burnt out trying to force a change from the outside.