Monday, March 7, 2016

Autism Answer: Tell More Stories and Fight Less Fights

We need to tell more stories and fight less fights, friends. 

When we tell a story, we're encouraged to craft a narrative that understands deeper motivators and natural inclinations. When we fight, we're encouraged to shove, punch, prove and stand strong. 

Some fights are necessary but most are dangerous, distracting, and cruel. 

Stories are how we imagine ourselves in the life of another and how we understand the lives of ourselves. They are powerful tools for shifting our personal and cultural expectations and assumptions. 

They take some sophistication and a willingness to weave something bigger than winning or losing. Storytelling is a weapon that can work to persuade, enlighten, and include. 

Of course, storytelling is also used to enslave, frighten, and goad people into fighting. These stories cannot be undone by fights but are challenged and made powerless by more beautiful inspirational stories, when told with volume and skill! 

When I listen to my brothers tell the story of their experiences and I take the time to help them express that story with clarity (for, in truth, my brothers are not gifted storytellers) we're both offered new understandings and skills. 

When I fight with my brothers to stop annoying me with their crankiness and they fight with me to tell them how to stop having crankiness (for, in truth, the world is crueler to them than to me and their crankiness is often understandable) nobody wins and everybody loses and a memory of anger is created. 

Sometimes the stories my brothers and I tell include dialogues of dismissal and no more; I'm not here for them to abuse, and I'll tell them that. And they don't want to become abusive, and we'll talk about that. When they're angry, I don't allow it to be dumped on me. So, we tell a story of possibilities and reasons for the anger. In these moments we create skills and empathy and answers for forward motion. 

Stories have places to go. Fights are held in the ring or on the battlefield.

Sometimes we justify our fights by putting them in a story. But these fights aren't well disguised because we tell the story only for the benefit of the fight. We use our fancy showmanship and words to glorify fighting, and it doesn't go anywhere. It stays on the battlefield. 

Sure, stories are most often filled with the familiar. They're new ways to say many of the same things. But they are moving and flowing and sharing and exploring and rethinking and connecting and restating; like nature, they nourish and continue to do the same things in beautiful new ways. This isn't tiresome and it isn't lack of movement or progress. Instead, it's a celebration that's deeply tied to our fundamental needs and desires as living beings. 

Fights are this against that, stories are us exploring and hoping to understand. 

Some fights are necessary, but when we're living in a world that values fights over stories, that slaps you proudly on the back when you win rather than when you weave, those important fights are harder and harder to recognize. 

We need to tell more stories and fight less fights, friends. 

Our world will be better for it, and we'll have so much more fun!!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook) 

My book is a humble example of telling stories instead of fighting.