Cause of Emotions in Autism

While you probably know that some emotions help you feel better, other emotions can also be beneficial as shown in the table below.

Benefits of Emotions

FeelingPurpose
AngerCan give you the courage to stand up for yourself when you’re being treated unfairly.
AnxietyHelps prevent you from being harmed when thinking about doing something that might have negative consequences.
DisappointmentCan motivate you to make a plan to improve your situation
SadnessHelps you realize what’s important in your life

Unwanted Emotions

If you were upset, angry, or anxious about stuff that doesn’t bother most people, you’ve probably had people tell you to get over it, that it’s not a big deal, or that you were being too sensitive. You may have thought there was something wrong with the way you felt and looked for other people to validate your feelings. Once you understand what causes your feelings, you won’t need anyone to validate them.

Why don’t other people feel this way?

There are many reasons why you may feel worse when other people in the same situation aren’t affected such as:

  1. Low self-esteem – Everyone has weaknesses (such as bad habits or poor social skills). Acknowledging them is beneficial. However, you may have a low self-esteem that contributes to unwanted emotions if you interpret your flaws in a distorted way such as thinking you can’t do anything right or that you’re a loser, defective, or inferior. Believing that you’ll always be alone, that no one will ever like you, or that your future is hopeless because you’re powerless to do anything to improve your situation can also cause a low self-esteem.
  2. Different life experiences – The main reason many autistic people experience more unwanted emotions or more intense emotions is due to conditioned emotional responses (classical conditioning that involves emotions) which can make you sensitive to criticism, worry about people thinking you’re weird, and being hesitant or afraid to be yourself. Many people don’t understand because they haven’t experienced what you’re been through.
  3. Loneliness – If you’re lonely because you don’t have any friends, being rejected is going to hurt more than it would if you had many good relationships and didn’t need anyone else in your life.
  4. Feeling like you’re different – It can be stressful to think you’re different than everyone else, make your more suspicious of other people’s motives, and cause anxiety. Focusing on how you’re like everyone else can help reduce unwanted emotions.
  5. Misunderstandings – Since many things people say or do can be interpreted in more than one way, misunderstandings are very common. You’re more likely to misinterpret people’s words or actions if you’ve had less experience socializing with other people.
  6. Negative beliefs about other people – If you think most people don’t like you because you’re different, you’re more likely to misinterpret other people’s words or actions in a negative way such as thinking people are being mean and trying to bully you when they’re just teasing you or trying to help you.
  7. Suppressing your emotions – If you experienced too many intense emotions, you may have had to suppress them to avoid being overwhelmed by them. While you may feel less emotions than most people now, the emotions you suppressed won’t stop affecting you just because you ignored them. For example, if you’re angry about something and don’t resolve it or let it go, that anger will remain inside you and may come out in other situations that wouldn’t make you upset if you addressed the issue that initially caused your anger.
  8. Avoiding problems – If you ignore your problems instead of working to overcome them, it can make you chronically anxious and miserable. If you’re sad because you don’t have any friends and give up trying to make friends, your sadness may turn into depression.

How to get rid of unwanted emotions

Start by learning how to improve your self-esteem if it’s a problem and how to reduce or eliminate conditioned emotional responses by clicking the links below. Once you’ve overcome those problems, you can confidently be yourself and won’t feel worse if people criticize you or react negatively to something you said or did. That will make your life less stressful and help you understand yourself and other people better which will help you feel less alone and more like other people. It will also make it easier to think positively, benefit from your emotions, and deal with other problems.

Link – How to Improve Your Self-Esteem

Link – Classical Conditioning / Conditioned Emotional Responses