The ‘Golden Rule’ isn’t always golden 

You’ve probably heard the old adage, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

That’s known as “The Golden Rule”.  And it is indeed regarded as golden…

…in a neurotypical world, by neurotypical people, that is.

At first glance, it appears universal, an undisputed truth, a law of human nature.  Every major world religion teaches some version of this concept.  Even those who don’t subscribe to any religion or belief in any kind of supreme being would probably agree on this tenet.

But as with practically every rule, there are exceptions.

This “Golden Rule” isn’t quite so universal, when examined through an Aspergian/autistic filter–at least, not through mine.

“Do unto others” doesn’t actually apply much to me at all.

Sure, there are some “given”s.  For example, I wouldn’t hit someone, because not only is it morally wrong to bring harm to another living being, but I wouldn’t want to be hit, either.  The same goes for other actions like theft, murder, and the spreading of rumors.

However, there are a few intricacies.  For instance, most people don’t like to be alone.  I, on the other hand, rather enjoy it.

And I’ve found that I can’t treat others, especially many (not all, of course) non-autistic people, like I would want to be treated.

An example…

I have little-to-no fashion sense.  I might be attracted to a particular shirt or pair of jeans, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I will look good in it.  I might love the color; the color might not like me.  The same applies to hairstyles and such.

I often rely on the critiquing skills of others to tell me whether or not the clothing compliments my eye color, skin tone, or body figure, or whether or not the hairstyle frames my face well.

The general neurotypical instinct is to say “it looks great!”, which I believe stems from that Golden Rule learned in childhood, and it bleeds into situations like these, getting in the way.  Practically nobody, whether they’re on or off the spectrum, enjoys hurt feelings, so the general neurotypical social rules dictate that one’s feelings must be preserved at all costs, even if that sometimes means letting your friend go out in public looking “wrong”.

I would want to be notified if that shirt hangs off me the wrong way or those jeans highlight my genetically-widened hips.

Sure, I might be a little disappointed that my body type or my other physical attributes might not agree with my tastes in clothing shape or color, but I’ll get over it.  At least, I’ll get over that much faster than I would be able to overcome the idea that a friend saw the mismatch but declined to say anything.

How I would want to be treated is for the friend to be honest, so that I could be given the opportunity to change into something more complimentary before leaving the house.

However, this approach doesn’t work with the average neurotypical person.  I can’t “do unto them” the way I would want them to “do unto” me.  If I saw a friend wearing something that was all wrong for them and they asked me how it looked, what I would tell them and what they’re expecting to hear would likely be two very different things.

You’d think I scorched their family heirloom.

It might cause a rift.

This is because, generally speaking, our value systems are different.  I value honesty, even if it’s not what I ideally wanted to hear.  The average neurotypical person seems to value the preservation of feelings and self-esteem, at surprising costs, and the other neurotypical people, generally speaking, seem to inherently understand the need for–and possess the skills for–going to surprising lengths to preserve the feelings and self-esteem.

From the average neurotypical point of view, Aspergian/autistic people like me are dry, “blunt”, and “rude” people who “lack social skills”.  From my Aspergian/autistic point of view, the neurotypical population is made of “touchy, over-reactive people with Issues”.

Of course, neither one is actually true.

(Hence, the quote marks around the various descriptors.)

Each perspective is just that–a perspective.

And in this case, “it’s all relative”.

I don’t have any easy answers, other than awareness, both of self and of others, as much as possible.  Both “sides” probably have a little learning to do, a little adjustment to make.

Neurotypical people might grow slightly tougher skins and understand that I’m not trying to hurt their feelings–rather, I’m trying to be helpful by giving an honest opinion.

My Aspergian/autistic self might take a few extra moments to stop and attempt to filter my raw data through a more socially-conscious layer, in order to come across as more tactful.

Meanwhile, there’s never a dull moment. 😉

 

 

 

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47 Comments

  1. There is some serious synchronicity going on I swear.
    Do unto others as they would do unto you only goes so far.

    We have recently been re-evaluating our relationships (both
    personal & professional) When you are a very giving person
    you tend to let a lot slide, but then when you realize months &
    months go by & you are the one always reaching out & checking
    up it might be a one sided relationship. Which can really hurt, to
    think that all the time & energy you put into a relationship is for
    nothing. A semi-famous celebrity once said ” The phone works
    both ways, I call you, you call me. You don’t call me, I don’t call
    you.” I was pretty gobsmacked at that blunt statement, & it got the
    wheels turning & re-evaluating things. In todays world most people
    don’t even answer their phones even though they are glued to them
    24 -7. It is strange when you develop closer, more meaningful
    relationships & trust with pen pals than an IRL circle. It feels like
    going back in time to the days of the Pony Express. Do unto others
    as you would have them do unto you, but always remember to take
    care of yourself too. It’s not rude, or selfish it is called self-preservation.

    Liked by 6 people

          1. In todays Mad World, the majority of people run round pointing
            fingers, when as they say you point one finger out 3 point right
            back. Introspection & soul searching is the REAL hard work
            that we each have to face. Once we start processing & healing
            from our collective experiences & traumas, the world becomes
            a much lighter place. Perception is in the eye of the beholder.

            Liked by 3 people

          2. Oh my gosh, yes! 👍🏼👍🏼. You nailed it – the world does become lighter when we start processing and healing from our pain, experience, trauma. So, so true! The weight-lift has been very noticeable 💚💙💜

            Liked by 2 people

  2. I aim ever for honesty shaped with tact. Some respond well to this, but some see the truth I speak as unkind, no matter how carefully phrased my words are. For them, they see not the mental gymnastics I go through to convey myself with both honesty AND gentility. Rather, they just see any difference of thought as rude or contrary. Sigh. Any wonder I just go quiet with so many people? lol. Thanks for another very relatable post, friend! 😘😘😘

    Liked by 4 people

  3. There are only 2 major sins in my world…lying & stealing. I give honesty and I expect it. If you don’t want an honest answer, don’t ask the question. I do try to be gentle if I know it’s going to hurt. Being an Empath means I’m going to feel your hurt too. You’re still going to get the truth though. I expect the same. Trust is major & if you lie to me, I can’t trust you.
    🍻💖🐉🍀☯☮💜😘🌻🌴😎

    Liked by 4 people

    1. ^^ This! Once again, we’re totally writing the same story 😁😁. I’m honest to a fault (if there is a such thing), and I often accidentally hurt people’s feelings by telling them something they might not want to hear, but at least they know it’s the truth, and yep, like you, I feel their hurt feelings and oh man, it’s so hard to know that I caused that. 😘😘😘💚💙💜💖💟💓🌺💞🌷

      Liked by 1 person

  4. i hate the expected lying for all the “does this garment make me look fat?” type questions. i remember i saw lots of skinny jeans about a decade ago and all the women around seemed to think those looked good. like, take a good pair of bootcut jeans, ruin them by making them “skinny”, and everyone ooed and aaed how flattering they were. i saw just space, so making the calves highlighted the rest of the thighs and the whole hips area just looked huge. always. but i had learned to keep my mouth shut and try to pass with whatever fashionish sense i might have.
    now i majorly care about comfortable cuts, nice touch feel of fabric, ease of use and after those, colors. cant say i notice what others wear (other than the generic shape of their body sometimes, and maybe color). so participating in all the fake compliments routine fails.
    i get it, some like it to get validation from others. or it feels good to get a genuine compliment (of course). but there’s a huge landmine field with not much visuals. my husband likes to check with me how i like new stuff he tries on… i go by feel of materials, his comfort levels etc. “that’s not your style i think” would be a polite way to tell something else fits better. and it can be weird trying to give super lowvis compliments like “that highlights your shape nicely, very sporty” when you try to balance what you can credibly see…

    loneliness is definitely another thing. i love alone time, and cats and usually other .5 are included in alone time. do whatever we want, enjoy quiet time with some background music or futurama, play or knit or just chill on the same time. nice when neither desires group activities with own assigned genders (i certainly don’t want any girlsnights out, sensory and interpretation hell)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh my, yes!!!! Big thumbs up to everything you said! Ugh, yes–I could never stand the feeling of the clothing that’s “in style”; it makes me feel confined and lopsided. The material feels scratchy. And I never got the expected lying, either.

      And yep, a perfect evening for me is to have my cats and other half included, but otherwise alone, too 😊. My other half doesn’t crave much “male bonding” time, nor do I need much “girl time”. Every so often we do, but it’s pretty rare, and neither of us needs to go out to noisy, sensory-hell places to do it, either. We have exactly 3 friends in our town–a man, woman, and their son in his early 30s. Sometimes we’ll go out for lunch/dinner (during the lull between the restaurant’s busy times), or the lady and I will go somewhere, or the guy and my partner will go somewhere. Sometimes the son will tag along with my partner and the guy, sometimes not. They’re introverted and the lady is pretty non-binary (I think she’s an undiscovered Aspie too, and I know that the son is definitely neurodivergent), so it’s really cool to hang out with any or all of them 😁👍🏼❤️💖

      Like

    1. I’m not exactly sure; I don’t have it perfected yet 😉😁. I just try to soften my tone and tread carefully, although I’m not sure if it’s successful or not. I try to look for something positive to say that IS true, or some way to make a suggestion, deflecting having to answer their question directly 😉. But as I mentioned, it’s not always possible to do this, so I often end up saying nothing. 💖💖

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have occasional success asking what I believe are redundant questions then waiting for the light bulb. A counselor once told me I have my inward and outward focus backwards. I need to worry more about my perception of others and put my emotions out to the world, instead of stifling myself and worrying about what others think of me.
        I agree entirely that it’s hard to treat others as you would like to be treated. I also think there are a lot of group norms out there, and it’s hard to understand those norms without immersing yourself into said group. I have existed in both very open minded groups and very closed minded groups. Sometimes I have tried to mix people from both aspects, and that never goes well! I don’t get why Mister “the world is out to get me” is offended at being offered a taste of something getting passed around the table.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. “A counselor once told me I have my inward and outward focus backwards. I need to worry more about my perception of others and put my emotions out to the world, instead of stifling myself and worrying about what others think of me.”

          You just described me perfectly! Lol. Yep! Same here! Excellent advice! Thank you so much for sharing that 😊👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼❤️

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Your post is a great reminder that we’re not all alike in what we want or need. So, we’re best not to expect others to be like us in their reactions, etc. Your genuine writing voice is beautiful xx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a coincidence that you posted this now. I had a bit of a “heated” conversation the other day with my husband and youngest daughter (aged 19 and home from uni for the summer) about honesty vs protecting feelings. They are for feelings all the way down the line, whereas I kept asking – but why? I know to take care with feelings, I feel the upset of someone if I accidentally hurt their feelings and I’m devastated that I caused hurt, but I can’t help myself being honest. I have 2 settings, honest or off. Meaning that if I speak, it will be the truth, or I have to keep quiet and not say anything. So in the interests of not saying things that inadvertently hurt people, I’m keeping quiet more these days. For me though, I won’t deny that the truth can cause a sharp intake of breath, but because I value truth over feelings, I’ll pretty quickly pull back and think, Ok, that wasn’t comfortable to hear, but what can I do to change that thing, so it’s a better response next time? I seem to be on a continuous path of self improvement, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t think that today I should aim to be a better version of myself than yesterday. But how can I improve myself if no one ever tells me where I’m going wrong? And that requires the courage of someone to tell me the truth. The trouble is, in the NT world, that is not the way of thinking at all. So, I keep quiet. As Thumper’s mum once said (with the English pedantically corrected 😉😉) , if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼. I completely agree 😊. Over the years I’ve developed “tactful” ways of giving feedback and whatnot, but two things – 1) it has taken me years to develop and 2) it’s still not perfect lol; I know The Look that makes me wish for an instant “undo” button lol. And actually there’s a third thing – it takes a lot of mental energy to pull this off. But yeah, even when I’ve got enough mental energy to do it, I still refuse to lie just to preserve feelings – I’m with you, I’ve got 2 settings: honest or off. I really like how you put that – it’s so elegantly accurate! 👍🏼👍🏼. I love Thumper! He’s adorable and so right – perfect quote 😁😁💖💜

      Liked by 1 person

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