Life with Autism: Celebrate What You Are Actually Doing!

Have you ever felt just totally defeated when you were in a time of crisis, or maybe every day felt like a crisis?

Or maybe you have found yourself telling a friend or family member you just could not keep going the way you were going.

You were tired, stressed, done.

I have totally felt like that. In fact, I used to feel like that a lot.

I then had an experience that changed my life, and now every time I begin to feel this way, I think about it, regain a positive perspective and keep going. I maybe even give myself a pat on the back. Or sometimes I celebrate the strength I am actually demonstrating.

Because celebrating is important. It keeps me going, and it can keep you going as well. But before you can celebrate, you have to learn to find those moments worth celebrating. This story demonstrates one of those types of moments.

The Feeling of Defeat

As a scout leader, I (with my co-leaders) took a group of girls on a campout. We needed firewood, so we got out a saw and pulled together some pieces of wood. After demonstrating how to use a saw to the girls who had never used a saw, we allowed them to begin the work of cutting the wood.

One of the girls on our trip sat quietly on a log nearby and watched the other girls take their turns with the saw. She kept saying over and over and over again, “I cannot do that. I am not going to do that. You can’t make me do that. I can’t handle it. I’m not going to do it.”

Just think of all the different ways you can say it, I think she hit all of them.

Then, in her anxiety, tears started streaming down her face. She defeated and overwhelmed herself before she even started.

A co-leader and I watched and thought about what we were going to do. We exchanged glances, but we didn’t really have an opportunity to talk about our options.

When this girl’s turn came up, she stood up, tears running down her face, and she walked over.

Nobody said anything to her.

Nobody made her do this.

She picked up the saw, and while still crying (not so hard she couldn’t cut the wood safely), she started cutting the wood.

All the time she worked, she kept saying, “I can’t do this. I don’t want to do it. I can’t do it.”

We encouraged her and praised her, telling her we believed in her and that we believed she could do it, but she kept repeating those same words over and over.

She Was Already Doing It – Actually Doing It

Then it dawned on the other leader and me about the same time that she WAS doing it. She was already ACTUALLY DOING IT.

And there we all stood wondering whether she really would take her turn. WHILE she actually TOOK her turn!

Sounds crazy, right?

I said to her, “Honey, you’re already doing it. You’re actually doing it right now.”

She stopped for a moment and looked at us. I don’t think until that moment that she realized that she had been doing it. Mentally she was still sitting on the log dreading her turn.

This moment was one of my very favorites from scouting. It inspires me again and again to stop and celebrate my accomplishments and to keep going!


I think that is what happens with all of us at some time or another. We say over and over and over again, “I can’t do it. I’m not going to do it. I don’t know how to do it. I can’t do one more thing. I am too tired. I am too overwhelmed. I am too (insert your own word/feeling here.)”

All the while we’re already doing it. Actually doing it. Whatever it is.


And somehow, rather than realizing our courage and strength, we slight ourselves. We get lost and rather than celebrate our win – actually doing it, actually overcoming what we believe are our own limitations – we cry out in our stress and declare ourselves weak.

I challenge you in the coming days and weeks to keep track of the times you feel defeated, exhausted, frazzled, etc., and to ask yourself in those moments whether you are already doing it!

And if you are in fact already doing it, stop telling yourself you “can’t,” and instead substitute a celebration for your accomplishments!

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  1. Sarah November 29, 2017 at 12:58 am

    Great post, it is easy to get so wrapped up what you can’t do that you lose sight of the fact that you can.

    • Heather December 3, 2017 at 3:26 pm

      Thanks Sarah! It is great to hear your thoughts! 🙂

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