Series 2, Ep2: Metaskills: Autistic information saturation, and what comes next


[00:00:00] Hey sibling, you are listening to the Unmasking Unschooled podcast. This is for visionaries, creatives, and change makers who happen to be autistic, who are done with pathology paradigms, the masks and misinterpretations of the past, and the burnout cycles that come from trying to fit in with what doesn't work.

[00:00:31] You are here to create new aligned life structures, to innovate industries, to design liberatory solutions, and create new culture by becoming yourself. My name is Louisa Shirey. I'm an artist, coach, and founder of Solar Systems. This is all about you getting unstuck, reinventing and elevating your sense of Having the social context and frameworks to make a life that makes sense for how you make sense so you can finally experience who you're here to be in your fullness.

[00:01:02] Let's deep dive into it.

[00:01:08] Hey sibling. All right, we're going to layer on and build upon the last episode. So if you haven't listened to that one, I encourage you to go and listen to it first and then continue with this one. If you have. A quick recap, I talked about affordances, disaffordances, and the other spelling of disaffordances which are really about, I think they offer another way of thinking about access needs, disability and so on because they really speak to, we need to get specific about who are you, um, And what becomes possible when you, the way that you are, your abilities, your body, uh, what comes naturally to you, like where you meet a tool or a way of doing things or a certain way that things are designed, what becomes possible in that interfacing, right?

[00:02:00] So, an affordance is that you have more ability, or that you extend your agency in some way, your means of being able to shape your world, or your surroundings, or your life, and so the nuances of that matter, what works for you, and then a disaffordance, what doesn't work for you, what blocks you, what makes you have less agency, and then a disaffordance with a why.

[00:02:32] Like spelt with a Y, D Y S, dysaffordance is when you are having to modulate or contort yourself or pretend to be something you're not in order to access those affordances or to access what works, um, but there's so much more to it. And some of that, so much more to it that I want to get into today. is about skills and not just any skill but meta skills but just to explain the concept simply if i'm interfacing with a bicycle and i don't know and i don't have the skill of riding it but i have the potential skill then i'm going to have a wildly different experience to the version of me that has got that skill of riding a bike.

[00:03:19] There's so much more that's afforded me because of that skill. Right? So it's not just like what comes naturally to you. How is something designed? What becomes possible when you interface with that design? There's also skills. And while this is not about riding a bike or something that is like a very tangible, applicable skill.

[00:03:41] This is about deeper, meta, wider or foundational skills that are involved in becoming who you are, here to be, or becoming someone that can increase the level of agency that you have, that can be more of yourself, that can take charge and, uh, an active role in co creating what your life is, what our futures are going to be like, and so skills is an ingredient.

[00:04:11] So this is what I want to get into today, and I want to start us off by going to the, the, the beginning of your journey after realizing that you're autistic, right? Whether you got a official diagnosis, or you self identified, or you met someone, or you know someone that was, that acknowledgement of what works and what doesn't work and what only works if you're pretending to be something or not or pretending to have different experiences than you actually are.

[00:04:45] That acknowledgement is huge, right? It's the acknowledgement that you and the world, as it's designed, the human world, There are different things that are afforded in that. And so you need things designed differently. You need things done differently. You need to approach them in a different way. And so a diagnosis or self identifying, realizing that you're not the only one, realizing that this is a whole thing, and, um, that it's not about you failing, that you weren't actually supposed to be able to make something work.

[00:05:25] Thank you. When actually it just doesn't work for you that can be really healing right that information can be a massively healing Thing right the information itself. Oh, I'm autistic. What does that mean? What do autistic people experience? That is the same as me that is transformative That whole journey in the beginning is a massively healing experience that comes just from that bit of information, just from reading about self reported autistic experiences or different traits, different ways that that is expressed and recognizing yourself in that, that information is healing, right?

[00:06:14] Because it's enabling you to Get out of self blame. It enables you to Call back in the parts of yourself that you rejected, that you cut off, that were never seen, that were never affirmed or validated That you exiled, suppressed, or pushed away back into your sense of self But there comes a point when that the transformative power of that information and all of the blogs posts there comes a point where That information stops being as impactful.

[00:06:52] It stops being as transformative. Those hits of self recognition start to get weaker. It's often at that point that we get more obsessed. We're like, no, I want that feeling again. I want to get more of that. And yet we're experiencing less, it kind of slopes off, the impact starts decreasing. And that's the point when it's easy to get disillusioned and stuck and start blaming ourselves again because information isn't enough.

[00:07:23] The information isn't enough. That hit of self recognition is no longer coming because what it was doing was acknowledging. It was acknowledging what you needed. It helped you process what your life had been, right? Where you didn't have what you needed. But what that information doesn't do is transform the world and change it into what it could be.

[00:07:51] And it doesn't transform your life into what your life could be. So it's information that triggers a change, it triggers the healing, it opens the door, right, it contains so much promise, so much hope, so much clarity, so many answers, but it's not actual change. So now you know why, you know that change is possible, you know why you struggled, but that doesn't mean that you know how to create something different, to create a different experience.

[00:08:27] So you might be looking around your life like, Oh, right. The promise of realizing that I have these traits hasn't been fulfilled because while acknowledgement is the first step, right, it says, right, you have been trying to do things the way that everyone does and that doesn't work, that disaffords you.

[00:08:49] And there could be other ways of doing things. The Acknowledgement is that there are circumstantial reasons why you've struggled. That Acknowledgement is the first step to healing. Because it takes you out of self blame. But it doesn't move you into, it's like opens a door but it's not what comes next.

[00:09:13] And it's what you do next that is where all of the change actually happens. So the life you've been living so far, that you adapted to in school, in your upbringing, in your social context, has been based on the past understanding of who you were, or who you thought you were, and also structures based on the past.

[00:09:41] Right? And these old, archaic, um, often inaccessible, often disaffording systems that we learn to adapt to. Right? But it doesn't, it doesn't actually create change. So, beyond acknowledgement, [00:10:00] what needs to happen next is that the actions that you're taking, who you are being, In response to those circumstances that don't change just because you know new information.

[00:10:13] It's the actions that you take in response to that that has to change. That's where the change happens. Who you've been being is a set of proven strategies that got you your current life. To change your current life, you have to start to try new strategies and take new actions that not only haven't been proven, right, for your own brain to believe in, but, and not only are they associated with risk, right, because there's reasons why you masked or you pushed past your own limits, right, so those new actions are going to represent the threat of rejection, the threat of being separated from the group, But also, these are new skills.

[00:11:00] These are things that you haven't got practice doing, right? So, what we want to do, what we instinctively want to do, is double down on what feels comfortable, what feels safe, what feels familiar. Like, doing more research into all things autism. But what's happening is it's no longer giving you that same sense of progress and change and transformation and transformation.

[00:11:24] Because actually what's happened is you've arrived at the next stage, which is you've, you've had the acknowledgement, and what needs to happen next is new action. So this is what I want to talk about. New action. And the new actions are scary as fuck, and your thoughts will want to justify why you're not doing them, and give you all of the reasons why not.

[00:11:48] And you're going to be in this discomfort of a dissonance between Who you've been being, and what your life experience has been so far. And the ways in which that no longer fits. You know when you see sh um, see creatures that have shells and then they, they grow too big and they need to go and find another shell?

[00:12:08] It's like that. Your shell's got too small. You've gone through this inner realization, this inner growth, and now the Comfortable shell that you've been living in, and by comfortable, I mean familiar. It's starting to feel too tight, it's no longer comfortable, and the point at which it, that discomfort in how things are, is bigger than the discomfort of taking new action, that is when your life will change.

[00:12:40] So we want to help that process, right? We want to. Recognize all the ways that we've outgrown our current life or our current way of being who we are. And to get into the point of refusal. To get sick to the point of, I'm done, enough bullshit, it's time to upgrade. I don't want to wait. Things need to change because I can look up all the autism information I want.

[00:13:14] But the fact is that nothing's going to change unless I make that happen. This is not to downplay the significance of that acknowledgement, right? The opening of the door to healing, the stuff that gets to come up and get rearranged and what you now get to understand about yourself. But that understanding is there so that you can Do things differently, right?

[00:13:42] The acknowledgement, open the door, now you've got to go through that door. And so, that means taking new action, that means learning new ways of being, that means acquiring new skills, new skills involved in becoming who you are. And it's this definition of healing that I think is relevant here, which is that you can be confronted with the same circumstances.

[00:14:07] The world is still the same. but you are responding to it differently. And so I want to frame that different response in an unusual way, which is that we are turning down the volume on the expectations that contained disaffordances, the things that weren't a match. And then what comes next is about turning up the volume on what will work, what already does work and what does come naturally.

[00:14:40] That the skill sets involved in being able to be the person who can say yes to those things after a lifetime of saying no, that's the skill set, right? This is why I say unmasking. It's not about not masking anymore. It's about having other options so that that masking. Isn't automated, isn't your only option that you have a vast array of other possibilities.

[00:15:09] Now, skill, that feels a bit too tangible for what is really an intangible and under the surface process of transformation that you go through. And I wanted another word, and that other word that I want to use is metaskills. So I got this concept of metaskills from a book by Marty Neumeyer, which is it's called metaskills five talents for The future of work what this book is proposing is really interesting.

[00:15:43] I'm going to go on a side side tangent on it in a minute But first, I want to just explain this concept of metaskills. So we think of skills as something like, you know, when we go to school or we study something that's like a tangible, discrete skill, like learning how to read music or speak a language or studying maths, right, that we think of that as skills being something that's tangible.

[00:16:10] And what he's talking about with metaskills is something that's more foundational. That's kind of almost like invisible, intangible and underlying, but that shortcuts other skills or other abilities. So, for example, uh, an example of a metaskill is learning how you learn best. Like when you know how you learn best, then all other self directed learning becomes quicker, easier.

[00:16:41] So a metaskill is. Yeah, it's like a much more zoomed out, overarching, almost like a life skill that helps you then do other things. There's a proposition that this book makes about the world of work and what skills are, are becoming more valuable in the global north, in this post industrial, AI adjacent, internet skewed world that we live in.

[00:17:14] That there are different sets of meta skills that are needed in order to move our thinking away from static, linear, industrialist, compliant ways of step by step thinking into a more dynamic, more systems thinking, more holistic, more creative, more empathic way of Of understanding and so there's, there's some things I want to come back to in this book because I think what it's offering is that the skill set that you have naturally you listening to this podcast are becoming more valuable.

[00:17:59] skills like or natural inclinations like systems thinking, like being able to see things differently and innovate, like being able to immerse in complexity and synthesize that. And having human experiences that have historically been left out of workplace or Mainstream culture that there's, that there's relevance, there's insight in that, uh, that is becoming understood as more valuable.

[00:18:30] So I want to come back to this and there's problems with this book as well that I am skipping over. There's some sweeping generalizations, but I'm excited by the overall proposition that there are of what skill sets and what meta skills he's offering as. Being part of the future that we're moving into that happened to have a correlation with the natural abilities that you as an autistic person as a neurodivergent person likely have a lot of.

[00:19:03] All right, so we're going to get back into that. Um, but to come back to this idea of meta skills and apply it to the journey of who you are becoming and also. In that becoming that there might be creative or culture shifting or impact led ideas that you have Or instincts that there's something more to you, right that there are things that you have to give and you just haven't had the howl yet Or maybe you don't have those ideas, but there's just a vague sense.

[00:19:36] Or maybe your current reality just doesn't feel sustainable. It feels like maybe there's a lot of moral injury, like you just don't believe in what you're doing, or that it doesn't feel meaningful in the world, and that's the thing that you want to change and shift. Or maybe you just haven't found a way to fucking get things done, and create the things that you want to, that works, that's [00:20:00] sustainable.

[00:20:00] Or the information that you've been told is that you lack executive function skills and therefore there's like a full stop at the end of that sentence and that's felt like a dead end, that's felt like, no, I don't want to believe that, I, the desire is there, there's an inner calling, there are things I'm here to do, there is a version of me I'm here to be, And, okay, what I'm saying is that there are metaskills that close that gap between where you are now, where you want to be, and that those metaskills are the metaskills of self becoming or self emergence.

[00:20:40] And that those skills, those metaskills of becoming who you're here to be, are, that we can get specific about them. And that we do get specific, right? In the Solar System framework, in the Unmasking Unschooled program that I offer, we do get specific. And so, the arc of transformation and the meta skills that you might need to collect, there are patterns.

[00:21:06] It's not just that the world needs to be designed differently, it's that you becoming the person who can communicate what that differently designed world needs to be. The version of you that can Ideate, the version of you that can model and shape the culture, the version of you that can contribute a solution, the version of you that's willing to be visible in what's hard, right, the version of you that is taking up the full power that you do have to respond, right, there's a, there are a set of skills involved in becoming that version.

[00:21:46] There are a set of skills involved in moving from where you're at now, right? The burnout cycles, the energy wastes of over adapting, uh, all of the fears that come with that and the, the sense of like, well, how am I going to sustain this? How am I going to make life work long term in terms of energy, in terms of money, in terms of socially, like how the gap between that.

[00:22:13] And where you want to be, where your life is actually working for you, where the structures that you are living in make sense, right? Where you're satisfied, you're fulfilled, where your relationships are good for you. Your existence isn't this battle, but it's this unfolding of momentum and possibility to, towards you realizing what's unique about you as a contribution that you make in the world.

[00:22:38] Right, or whatever is the thing for you, right? The gap between where you are and where you want to be is also not just systemic, it's not just culture, it's not just people around you, it's not things, just the things beyond your control, it's also the skills of becoming yourself. I'm going to, in later episodes, get into what those skills are, what those meta skills of becoming yourself are.

[00:23:07] And the ways in which this doesn't happen by itself, and there are nuances to this journey that a lot of advice or self help doesn't speak to, right? And in coaching so many people in so many hours, I've been able to really get specific and see the patterns of what those skills are. Those metaskills are so that you can shortcut so that you can know what to focus on in that arc of transforming.

[00:23:39] There are so many things that can change in your experience of your life when you acquire these metaskills. Without you maybe even having to change the actual structures of your life. This is about. Who you are isn't fixed. The world that you're responding to also isn't fixed. Both are always changing.

[00:24:01] And so these are meta skills that help you be able to change on purpose, create the change that you want on purpose. And that is a meta skill set. It's the mastery of how do you do you in a way that works, how do you do life in a way that works. And the result is that you really start to experience yourself in a new way.

[00:24:27] You start to experience who you could be and it surprises you. You start to see that you have way more agency than you previously thought because your skills are shifting the amount that your surroundings afford you that agency. All right, I'm going to finish it there, and I hope I've whet your appetite for what's coming.

[00:24:50] I'm also going to be inviting some of the people I've worked with to come onto the podcast and share some of their journeys so that you can Understand how this actually works in a real life and the specific nuances of individual journeys. All right. Thank you so much for listening. I appreciate you so much and I will talk to you next week.






is for #autistic-status visionaries, creatives and change-makers, who are seeking a more empowering way to see, know and be yourself.