Recently , I attended a conference hosted by Martha Beck. She shared the idea that we often react to a problem like a nervous monkey letting our reptilian brain run wild . We can also observe ourselves and say , “the monkey is nervous”. If we allow spirit to speak we might say, “Awe, monkey ” with love and acceptance. These three mental thought perspectives are possible and we can train ourselves to use the higher perspective that helps us to be happy and productive.
This idea is challenging for adults but most spiritual development recognizes the value of this inner work.
Persons on the spectrum often experience exaggerated responses to fears and triggers. Recently , my son was alone at our home when he saw someone at our gate. He tried to call me but I was at a meeting and did not hear the phone ring. His mind went wild and he felt threatened so he grabbed a weapon and hid in the closet. By the time I saw his phone calls and was headed home, it was over but he was still very agitated.
At 16, this may seem unusual for most people but I bet other parents can relate. I felt so bad for him and I felt bad for myself.
I started thinking of replacement behaviors of deep breathing and alternatives to teach him to try. (The person in the driveway turned out to be his older sister and her friend.) I have realized that I can not predict every possible scary situation that he will be faced with in life and I can not always be available to fix his problems.
The best I can do is to reinforce his own ability to observe himself and maybe recognize “the nervous monkey” and try to calm himself. Acceptance of his emotional state is important.
Martha Beck did not mention the mamma monkey scenario. At some point we can’t carry out baby monkeys any more. My heart hurts to see his struggle.
All I can say is , “Awe monkey…” to both of us.