(661) 313-3323 tom@thomasiland.com

My mantra is “Know Yourself. Love Yourself. Be Yourself.” These are three key themes of my presentations, designed to guide parents, educators, employers, self-advocates on the path to progress.

Love Yourself.

Fans of reality television probably know that at the end of each episode of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” the following question is asked: “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love somebody else?”  This question is intended to build self-confidence and help you realize that you are unique and very much deserving of the love of others…but it must first start with you.

People who are gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender or asexual often face rejection, ridicule or a complete lack of understanding that they don’t deserve. Many people with autism have experienced the same disheartening experiences because they are viewed as “different.” The antidote to this kind of ignorance is knowing your own value, recognizing what you have to give to the world, and believing in yourself no matter what. That is what it means to love yourself, and this kind of healthy self-esteem can be a powerful source of positive energy.

Many people on the spectrum struggle with the concept of autism. They reject the idea of autism as a disability. They see autism as a difference they don’t want to accept in themselves. The fact is, you can’t love yourself until you also accept your autism (and any other difference that you perceive as “less” or “bad”). If we are ever going to end shame and stigma around autism, it is a great idea for self-advocates to lead the way by loving and accepting ourselves, “warts and all” as they say. Coming to terms with one’s own strengths and challenges means you are not ashamed of who you are. People with autism have gifts and abilities to celebrate. It is also OK to acknowledge that we have things to work on, admit there is room for growth and recognize that like everyone else, we are works in progress.

When we go about our daily lives, we give off energy that others can sense.  If you maintain a good attitude and see the opportunity in situations and keep fighting when you think about giving up, this positive energy will attract others to you like a magnet!  On the other hand if you insult others, degrade their accomplishments, see the glass as ‘half-empty’ or give up at the first sign of trouble, this gives off negative energy and may cause others to stay away from you.

In my experience, when you know that you are worth it and you love yourself for that, others will love you in return and life will be a bit more harmonious.

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