I easily notice when someone’s words and actions don’t line up. I call it incongruent behavior. It feels like a softer, less judgmental way of saying hypocritical.
However one says it though, it’s hard for me to not notice. Many autistic people are similar. We listen deeply and observe well.
It got me in a lot of trouble as a teen. I would point out my dad’s behavior that didn’t align with his religious teachings. I would ask questions like, “If you think that faith can move mountains, how come faith can’t change your anger?”
I understand now that my approach lacked tact and compassion. I also know that life is far more complex and incongruencies are common and not necessarily a bad thing.
Given I can so easily see incongruence all around me, I am also aware of the incongruence in me.
There are a lot of things that appear incongruent in autism.
Sometimes I’m loquacious and sometimes I don’t want to talk at all.
Sometimes I need a quiet, low-sensory environment and sometimes I crave a lush, highly stimulating one.
Sometimes I get lost in my art projects and sometimes I’d prefer to hang out around humans.
Sometimes I think my life is pure sunshine and sometimes my mind takes dark detours.
I understand these things about myself. Now that I know I’m autistic, they make far more sense than they used to. I now know that my brain craves a certain amount of stimulation, but that when I’ve reached my capacity, I need to remove myself from stimulation.
As a whole, I’m not being hypocritical. I’m responding to my brain and nervous system.
However, I do fear being perceived as hypocritical. I fear being judged on a sole moment - such as a single essay I write or a single action. Someone saying, “You said you have sensitive hearing, and yet here you are blasting your music?”
I probably fear these kinds of singular judgments because I used to judge in that manner.
I now know we have to take many steps back to look at the bigger picture. While someone’s actions may not make sense in that moment, when we look at someone’s broader life or even their greater body of work, we can have greater understanding.
I’ve also had to learn to accept that not everyone has these skills. I cannot control the people around me. I cannot control how people judge me, just like how my family couldn’t control my younger judgmental self.
Thank you for reading. If you’d like to read more, sign up for my FUNletter. If you would like to explore your autistic identity with an autistic therapist, you can learn more about my therapy services here.