Understanding emotional satisfaction

Posted by: alisrowe, July 15, 2022

Have you ever had thoughts similar to “I wish I was like that” or “I wish I could do what they do”?

Several times in the past when I had mentioned to people, “I wish I was like that” or “I wish I could do what they do”, their responses were interesting. They sometimes said, “Well, why don’t you be like that then?” or “Why don’t you do that then?”

But, from my point of view, the people who responded in this kind of way were missing the point. They did not understand what my problem was. Theoretically, I could try to behave in the way others do (‘behave neurotypically’), but it would be an enormous effort. In fact I have tried to do this many times in the past.

However, even when I do make the effort to do ‘neurotypical things’, it doesn’t fix the problem. The problem is not that I can’t do these things, it is that I do not innately feel any enjoyment or other emotional satisfaction from being like this. In fact, these things make me feel very uncomfortable.

As an example, consider that somebody you know is getting married. Everyone who is attending the wedding is very excited. With a lot of effort, an autistic person might also be able to attend… however they may not be able to achieve the same feeling of excitement that “everybody else” is experiencing. They may feel uncomfortably out of place and unhappy although they appeared to be enjoying themselves.

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