Episode Four: Identity CrisesApr 06, 2022
In this week’s podcast episode I talk about the difficult feels that come along with vulnerable conversations and new actions, and how any time you are stretching beyond being the habitual self (that got you here but perhaps no longer reflects the version of you that you are being called to become) it's uncomfortable!!
But making that discomfort your friend will have dramatic impact on the overall quality of your life and your sense of what is possible for you.
And how much self clarity you have.
Welcome to the Sensory Siblings podcast. I'm your host, Louisa Shaeri. And this is beaming to you from The SOLA System, the liberatory framework and unmasking unschool for creative, late-identified autistic folks who are seeking another way to see, know and be yourself. This is a radical reimagining of what's possible when we redefine ourselves from within, by unlearning who we are not, making self connection our goal, activating the languages of our sensory oriented perception, and creating the culture shifts to activate future selves.
It all starts within.
So before we dive in to today's episode, I want to give some shout outs; I want to express appreciation for all of you that have joined the siblings discord, my free community for you, the podcast listener, it's the biggest affirmation for me to get to meet all of you. And I'm just blown away by the generosity, which you've all just approached each other and began this community with me.
So I really treasure each and every one of you co creating in this community already, and even all the lurkers and the readers and those who just want to sit back a little bit. And yeah, all the emojis given to each other all of the thoughts and internal reworkings being shared. So thank you, I appreciate you so much. And if you haven't yet joined, what are you waiting for?
I also want to express appreciation for those who are in the solar system who have really dive in, dive in, dove in? and are doing the work and who are working on yourself and going to hard places, and moving through what isn't working in order to get to better quality of life and reclaim yourself. And it's not easy. And I see you doing it and I see you supporting each other at the same time. And I'm just so proud that this is what we are doing.
And this is also literally what's possible when we come together when that cognitive empathy that Damion Milton writes about is available in concentrated form, when we are also coming together with the intent of transforming what we are experiencing into something better into what could be.
And part of that is also communicating with people who don't have those shared experiences.
And that's what we've also been exploring in the workshop that I've called the Interdependence Protocol, which is now available as a course.
So if you were not able to come to the live recording of it, you can still get all of the goodness from it, it's still available HERE. And then you can still join us in the discord and keep asking the questions and sharing all of your thoughts that come up around: telling people.
And it's so interesting, because at the same time of delivering this, it's really been happening in parallel with my own experiences of having to confront this in my own life, having not had to, for a little while I realised recently that in doing this project in working with you all, I haven't really had to communicate in that way. I haven't really had to disclose or ask for adjustments or communicate access needs or any of that, because I've been completely in charge.
But what's also been happening at the same time is recently, I've been exploring just a couple of hours a week just been exploring web three and blockchain and all of what's happening there, because of a hunch that I have that it's a new technology, and we're seeing it being used for certain things. And yes, different forms of it are also impacting the environment in different ways. But perhaps not in the way that the headlines suggest. And perhaps actually, there is so much more that could be done with the building blocks that this technology represents then what we are coming across in mainstream media. And I really think that there is a lot for neurodivergent folks here.
So I've been diving in. I've been learning, I've been spending the last few months just trying to get a sense of it, trying to meet people and trying to get involved and yeah really test this hypothesis like what could be done here.
And in doing so have come across a particular group of people that are coming together and creating something in this decentralised or so-called decentralised way of self-selecting into a project, and then contributing around what you are able to contribute and what you see as possible within your own time schedule, and then co-owning the results of that. So I've been exploring that with a particular group of people, and very quickly having to come up with or come coming across my own fears and misgivings and suspicions around 'Okay, am I going to have to confront some of the same experiences that I had in the past of what was difficult, around communicating with a group of people, especially in a group call, or on Zoom, or something like that?'
And so I've had to also go into the same thing that I've been, you know, sharing with you this process of coming to interdependence, of creating interdependence, and therefore, create more room to just do things the way that you need to do it, and not have to over adapt and not have to kind of self deplete and self negate, in order to access things.
And so I've had to communicate what my access needs might be it to this new group of people who I don't really know yet and who I haven't had to the chance to test the waters with yet, and and for whom there isn't, you know, processes in place, or things that are official around how you do this. And actually, it's been received really well. And it's been a really positive indication of where things are going, and who these people are. And, yeah, it's been encouraging.
But in the time in the interim period between communicating that and suggesting things like, hey, maybe when people enter this project, that's a question that we should ask, what are your access needs, do you have any, and so on, and other things that could be implemented, between suggesting that and sharing about myself, and then waiting for the replies, I went through a particular process that in The SOLA System I call a 'Tunnel of Un'.
So this is really that every time you move into something new every time you step into an unknown, which is part of growth, it's just what's involved in becoming more of who you are, and making things that you want happen in the world, you also have to go through this uncomfortable process of being confronted with your own unlearning to do and the unknown result that that new action or that new experience, might present.
And so that's what I want to get into today. And before I dive in, I want to also just invite you if you haven't, if you haven't taken that Interdependence Protocol course, it's only £9 GBP, it's a really good introduction to The SOLA System and to the thinking that we're doing in that larger programme.
But it's also really, for me wanting to give you some more tools and some thinking, that can't be Googled: on 'how do I think about telling people?' or sharing or disclosing or bringing people into a different understanding of how I experience the world, in, in a in a way that can be applied to everything.
So it's a process that you go through to kind of review, okay, this is how I might have that conversation. And I also share some thinking and some research around what you might actually want to communicate and how you might want to go about it. So even if you don't necessarily see yourself as experiencing disability, there may be things that you want to communicate, there may be experiences or a sense of self or identity that you want to share. And so yeah, this might be interested still available. It pretty much functions as a kind of self paced course that drips over three days, and it's around for three, let's say three to four hours in total. And the link to that is in the discord. So come on in and I'll dive into today's episode now, which is all about this Tunnel of Un.
It's really about the identity crisis and the really difficult emotional feelings that can come up when we go for more. When we say, You know what I've been being this person for so long, it's got me this, but I don't know who I could be. And I'm feel like I'm being called into a different version of myself to deal with the problems that I'm now facing.
Life is always inviting us into more growth.
And in that process of growth, there are these tunnels, Tunnels of Un, which is just my way of saying, it's an Uncomfortable journey into an Unknown, you go through this tunnel from what you thought you knew about yourself or about the world, into a space of not knowing of not being able to see the bigger picture, and having to hold faith and keep moving through before you arrive at a new vista, and a new understanding and a new, bigger picture. And a new sense of who you are, and what's possible.
So this is what what I want to talk about today, and how the kind of identity crisis that this might involve is actually something really productive and generative and good, even though it feels really bad. So on your way to a more authentic or aligned or, you know, real self, as people say, or in other words, as I want to suggest, just the next version of you that is able to bring to fruition the next level of what you want to create, or make happen in your life, that is more reflective of who you are in the new now.
Okay, so these crises, these difficult emotions are really good (!). And they make more possible. And the other side of them is way more confidence and way more self assurance and new clarity. So if you are, you know, someone who, identifying for him identifying your own neuro divergence illuminated why you aren't being all of who you are. And it also illuminated who you are not, and who are not supposed to be you're not supposed to be these people, that you've kind of trying to be like, if it gave you permission in yourself to no longer expect yourself to do those socially conditioned, idealised versions of you things. And actually, to find your own way to find your own route.
But you're left wondering, but who actually am I, then this episode is for you. So if you have questions like how do I distinguish between who I've believed myself to be, and who other people believe I am, or who I mask as or who I assimilate traits of, but I know it's not really me, or this kind of false self that has been useful to navigate the world and translate myself into, but it's been meaning that I haven't actually got to experience myself outside of those externally, kind of given ways of navigating the social, that are habitual, and therefore comfortable, and effect effective, like they actually work.
But it doesn't feel like me, or will I ever get to be that person who is doing the things I dreamed of, or doing what I secretly want to be known for? Or that I would feel like I'm fully living my life out loud, that I've given my one life all of what I have, and how do I be that person? So yeah, who is this next version of me? How will I know? That I'm being that that that truer version of myself and how do I be that self?
Okay, so I want to give you some thinking for this journey as a kind of map or blueprint to know that, okay, this is what it's going to feel like, this is what to expect. This is how I know it's working. And this is how I know I'm on track. And yes, it's difficult emotions. And it's a process of not knowing, right? So the solution, the way that you find out the way that you arrive at clarity on who you are, is to actually know that: to know yourself means to let go of what you think you know, to be okay with not knowing who you are, in order to have experiences that will then allow you to find out. So being okay with having no idea while you take new actions, to know that those new actions are going to feel scary, but only while they're new. And that you find out who you are - not by thinking about yourself. Not by having a clarity of thought like 'Oh, I know who I am', but by always being open to new experiences, and in those experiences, that is how you arrive at a new awareness and a new deeper sense of Yeah, I am being myself. Okay.
So being okay with not knowing, and then also, being willing to go for new experiences is scary, right? So it brings up fear. And it can feel like everything's falling apart, or this feels really scary. So the fears involved in embarking on finding out who you are here to be next, are not really reflective of the steps involved, but are reflective of the fact that your brain is noticing that you're about to do something new. And it's beyond what you know, you don't actually know what the results will be. And so your brain is putting you on alert, it's saying, Hold on, do we want to do this? I don't think so. This sounds like a bad idea.
Your brain likes to have explanations and certainty and familiarity, because that helps you stay in homeostasis, because that leads to a greater guarantee of survival, stick to what you know, be who you've known yourself to be. That's the safety mechanism of hundreds of 1000s of years of human survival. But we're in a different era, now we're in a different space, we aren't surrounded by threats to life all of the time. And so we can be conscious in choosing to go beyond what we have known ourselves to be, in order to experience something new, and in order to go beyond the limitations that we are conditioned into.
And so becoming yourself as someone who doesn't fit those conditioned limitations, involves courage and faith, and these inner tunnels of our willingness to go through these, yeah, these experiences of taking yourself through taking new actions. And doing it and being open to new experiences long enough to actually have those new experiences in a way that feels like clarity. You have to go through a state of not knowing, in order to know new things in your body, to relate to the fear as a byproduct of doing new things, not as a reason not to do them.
And something you can hear me say a lot is that no amount of consuming information can match up to the impact of creating new experiences for yourself, when it comes to the goal of finding out who you are and getting to a new clarity. We don't create that clarity of, 'hey, I really have a deep understanding of who I am', by consuming information. You have to apply what you think you know, and take action towards finding out new things, having new experiences, letting go of who you think you are, and letting go of all the things that you think you know, intellectually, in order to then have a new experience in your body and new results that then you can build new clarity from.
So you gain that new sense, that new clarity by being willing to experience fear, and still moving ahead while fear rides with you in the sidecar, just as a companion. The goal is not yet realised and to get to it, you have to hold faith that these uncomfortable unknowns will get you there while travelling into that tunnel. And knowing that that fear is just an indication that yet you are doing things that require courage and going beyond those socialised and conditioned limitations. And the solutions that your past self, selves came up with in order to deal with things but which now maybe feel like they don't fit you anymore, or they're not leading to what you want. And say you are choosing actively choosing to grow beyond them beyond these past selves, along with fear.
Also comes a whole bunch of goals and ghosts in this tunnel. In other words, contradictory beliefs and thoughts and sometimes trauma. So your brain realising that your joy riding off the beaten track are familiar neural pathways will start giving you all the reasons why you should stop. So along with fear, there are all these signs saying: 'Do not enter! Stay away! This is not for you! You're rubbish at this! What do you think you're doing? This isn't you? What will so and so from year four that you haven't scene in 15 years think about you?
What will your cousin say? This is a really bad outcome that will definitely happen!' All of which is tempting you to stay small, turn around, go back to what you know, and don't move forward towards what you want. The other thing is all the ghosts from the past experiences that you might have had the arc that created shame or that didn't go well. Or that you were difficult, but you processed them in a way that meant that you thought that that meant something bad about you. And so you weren't there for a while to fully process experience. So then it's coming up again, to greet you, inviting you to process it again.
But it feels like a Oh, that's going to happen again. So what these Tunnels of Un are allowing you to do is and this is the reason to set goals. This is the reason to go for things outside of your comfort zone is because it reveals to you: where do you have unresolved trauma? Where do you have unfelt emotions on processed experience? Where did you make something mean bad things about you or the world, that you are replicating in your worldview? And where have you got stuff that you could heal? Where do you have any shame that is misplaced?
There isn't anything shameful about you. But you may have concluded that there are things about you that are shameful. And that can, that is a real emotion that comes up even if the source of that emotion is old ideas that came from other people, old beliefs that have been active unconsciously in you. And now suddenly, you're getting to face them and make them conscious. So you're driving through the dark through this Tunnel of Un, and all this yucky stuff, then comes up to greet you. And to get to that light at the end of the tunnel.
You have to move through all of this stuff, you have to question those beliefs and feel any shame that comes up knowing that it's really not telling the truth. But it's something that was so that you were socialised into, and perhaps you never fully felt in the past. And it's carried by a hold ideas and thoughts about yourself, or values and ideas that you've been taught by society.
And all of this becomes conscious, and you get to shine a light on all of it, to move through it, knowing that this is just old programming, and that you will get to the end of the tunnel and it will be worth it. Because you will get to then have a new experience and come to a new vista or come to a new understanding and come to a new self image and as new self concept and have the joy that comes after a period of growth. And the clarity that comes from choosing to do something new and scary and finding out that you know what, I didn't die. I'm still here.
And look what happened. Now I understand something new about myself or about the world. And this is one of the reasons why coaching is so effective. So where therapy is about addressing the past, coaching is about the future. So just to make that distinction, that coaching has nothing to do with therapy, it's a completely different practice. And they often work really well together. But coaching is the support to do those new scary things. And then to question and address the thoughts and beliefs and conclusions that come up as a result.
And then to reinforce and really anchor and stay in that new version of yourself and to stay in the moving forward through into doing things in a new way. So those old habits will want you to run those old programming that those old neural pathways and what coaching can do is to keep you on that track keep you on that path to where you want to be. So to explain another example, I want to speak a bit about my own journey and how letting go of who I thought I was, enabled me to experience something new and in a new way, and expand my sense of who I was and what was possible for me. So I used to have a difficult relationship to my own speech.
I was often told that I was speaking too quietly, or saying the wrong things at the wrong time. And in the most overloaded states, I can also lose the ability to speak which rarely happens now but as a teenager in school, it was a lot and people would interpret this as shyness and they would tell me that I was being shy. So I thought I was shy. And I thought I was going to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. I was taught and conditioned by these, this feedback into a kind of hyper vigilant self editing, trying to be the kind of person who I thought I needed in order to be liked and accepted and be myself and that there was a correct way to be vocally self expressed.
And trying to avoid at all costs, the experiences of being rejected based on something I'd said or how I'd said it, or the fact that I said nothing at all. And so I also observed this internal shutdown, that would happen with the loss of speech, I could understand everything that was happening, but somehow my brain would disconnect me from being able to interact. And something that I think of now as some kind of mechanical coping mechanism in the brain that was triggered by cortisol, I've since found ways around it. But later on, when I was exploring what it meant for me to think of myself as neurodivergent, or autistic and experiencing that particular Tunnel of Un, I learned that this was a common experience.
And I understood that this wasn't unique to me that there were other people that experienced this, in it validated it for me. But it didn't present any solutions. And it also suggested to me that speech difficulties, and social stress and miscommunication and things like this were things about me that were fixed. And it defined it as something that wouldn't change. And so I went for years around about my life, feeling terrified of being recorded, and of my own voice. And what really helped me was going through another Tunnel of Un, which was being open to questioning all of these ideas, all of the I am thoughts that I had, and all of the thoughts that I had about that there was a wrong way to do this.
Or that my fear of speaking incorrectly would be something that I would just have to live with, and that this would be lifelong. And to unlearn all of this, I had to be open to the possibility that I could have a different experience with other people, and to bring conscious awareness to what was actually happening around speech. And what allowed me to do it was to realise that this was nothing to do with speech, and everything to do with auditory processing.
So I had to change my assumptions about myself, in order to recognise that these were not simply speech issues, that stemmed from the pace at which I process the sound of other people's words, being spoken, and processing the meaning of that. And that being, maybe even a few micro fractions of a second slower than most people's, but enough that my pace of reply needs to be slower. So becoming conscious of this, and allow myself to observe what was happening without all of the thoughts and beliefs projecting and interpreting my experiences as speech issues, meant that I could yet experienced that this was something about the way I listen and process speech. And that I could then reconfigure and relearn how I do me in social interactions, how I could create more room for that slower pace, and not reject myself, for not being able to keep up that sense of social pressure to reply quickly, that had meant that I tensed up and that I was working overtime to try and keep up and try and give the signals that I understood them, and then try and come up with a reply that would fit and how all of that would make my jaw tense and make me swallow my voice, and then make social interactions extremely stressful, and that I wasn't actually shy or wrong.
And that when I allowed myself to be open to finding out who I am, and to stay in self connection with others long enough to notice how I was tensing up, how overloaded I was to have the courage to be okay with not immediately responding with a general pattern of what responses might be, in order to please others, and instead to take a new action to make an adjustment.
Where I was allowing myself a bit more of my own pace, allowing myself to stay in my own body to find what my true vocal register was to have my own thoughts and then respond in my own time. It means doings new scary things, right? So it meant I didn't know who I was, am I shy? I have no idea, I had to be open to the possibility that I'm not, and open to having a new experience.
So that's an example of a Tunnel of Un; of unlearning who I was not. And this is also the first step that is in The SOLA System, which we call it the Tunnel of Un; that first step. And it's really about that being the first step in the blueprint for growing into who you appear to be we grow through these tunnels have been through stretching beyond what we've experienced what we think we know, in order to step into a new action outside of our habitual selves and our past selves in order to find out who we can be. So the requirement is courage and faith and willingness to question the thinking that you've been living by thinking that you may have inherited from your upbringing and people around you, who maybe are replicating values and ideas that you don't want to take on that don't serve you.
But that are active in you. But then as soon as you decide that you want something more, as soon as you take some, some courageous steps, those values and ideas, those thoughts, those beliefs that were socialised into, suddenly reared their ugly heads, and ask you to do that inner work.
And this is why The SOLA System is conceived of as a cyclical process, not a linear one, we are always going through many Tunnels of Un, in our life, uncovering who we could be next, and growing into the next version of ourselves. And they take time, and the way to do it is to know that you have to let go of all of the things that you've identified with all of the mental images and thoughts to let go of who you think you are, in order to find out. So this is a final thought that I want to give you that may or may not resonate, depending on if it fits with your beliefs, or the ideas that you play with, which is, so I'm just going to offer it, it's really helped me to think that when I'm acting with the boldness and courage that a Tunnel of Un requires, there is magic in that. Because actually, what you're doing is creating new universe, that end point, that new vista that you arrive at the end of the Tunnel of Un, doesn't yet exist. It's a possibility that you being drawn into that you're following an urge and trusting and having faith for and that when you arrive there, there's a new, you've basically created new Universe. You have created a new possibility for yourself, you've opened up what you get to experience. And whenever there is a new universe being created, I like to imagine that there's this concentration of universal attention or consciousness.
So it's like a hush crowd, gathering around this new possibility. And you're being supported by this universe, in every step you take to do new things to open up new possibilities. And that when you do, you get into co-creation, and you then get to experience another level of possibilities that you could have never predicted or seen before, from your old self. And this is the fractal nature of life it unfolds in multi dimensions, and is always inviting you to say yes to another level of possibility. And then to follow that into new tangible versions of yourself.
This is the most exhilarating and joyful feeling. Even if those growth spurts are deeply uncomfortable while you're in them. It's that feeling of being truly alive, of being willing to enter Tunnels of Un, to create a new reality for yourself and to experience the next version of yourself that is more true to the new now to who you're here to be next. So come and join us in the discord to share: What are you currently unlearning? What is a current Tunnel of Un for you? What growth curves are you on?
And what are you trying to make happen? What thoughts are in the way? and we'll discuss it there and I'll talk to you next week. Bye.
Thanks for listening to this week's sensory siblings podcast. Head over to solasystems.xyz where you can join the +Siblings Discord server, and discuss the topics explored with other listeners. And if you're ready to go deeper into activating your future self, I want to invite you to join my six month unmasking unschool called The SOLA System + Siblings. You're going to unlearn the habits of self negating, then create self esteem, self clarity, and the self belief to model the social esteem that will create culture shifts, first in yourself, and then rippling out into everything you do and beyond. Head over to solaysystems.xyz/siblings where you can join The SOLA System + Siblings, and I will see you inside.