Series 2, Ep6: Make your dreams real, by 'Skills Stacking' for monotropism + distinction depth




Like many late-identified autistic / AuDHD / ADHD folks,

a foggy, porous, unstructured sense of self;

illusions, fantasies, pipe dreams...

was my predominant experience of myself, until I learned to take EFFECTIVE, STRUCTURED ACTION.

That action had to be NEW, and structured a certain way for it to be effective.

I couldn't do things the way other people did them, nor follow their ideals, without losing myself.

"falling into holes". 

In finding what has worked for me, I've adapted a concept that makes a strength out of my need to go deep; my monotropic tendencies; my need for distinction depth;

A way of structuring ACTION called 'skills stacking'.

And this week's podcast episode is about why this works.

And how, when it comes to being effective towards what I want, and realising big impossible goals and dreams, focusing on the next skill / system / sensorial groove

until it is established. STACKING them one by one, has given me the material experience of my own agency, boundaries, and effectiveness

(the antidote to a porous self)

and helped me to build belief, clarity and unconscious competence

for my big impossible dreams at speed.



[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 Shaeri. I'm an artist, coach, and founder of SOLA Systems. This is all about you getting unstuck, reinventing and elevating your sense of self, having the social context and frameworks to make a life that makes sense for how you make sense.

[00:00:58] So you can finally experience who you're here to be in your fullness. Let's deep dive into it.

[00:01:08] Sibling today, I'm going to share a principle. It's a concept called skills stacking. That I've adapted and made my own and I've found it very widely applicable across my life. And I hope it's going to help you too. There are three versions of it. Skills Stacking, Systems Stacking and Sensory Stacking.

[00:01:33] This is about how does someone with limited resources Right. Like you and me, managing energy, managing time, managing your attention, your capacity, uh, even your money to invest in yourself and your own learning. Right. Your awareness of that resource, if you're anything like me, is going to be quite heightened.

[00:01:54] Like managing energy is a thing, right? So this question of how to manage and utilize those resources for maximum effect on the overall trajectory of your life, or something that you are building or creating over the long term. a body of work, uh, a vocational position or prowess, a new life structure or yeah, an offer or service or some kind of business or value flow structure that you are initiating and creating.

[00:02:31] How do you utilize the resources that you have when it comes to creating something that didn't exist before in the most effective way? When I'm saying something that didn't exist before, if you think about re centering your life around what works for you and who you are at the deepest level and what would support you to express that and to, you know, be seen in that and be valued in what comes naturally, what your strengths are, then that's going to most likely involve you doing something new.

[00:03:11] It requires you to learn new skills. It requires you to be exposed to unfamiliar sensory experiences, including like people, ways of doing things. Um, and it requires you to set up new systems or rituals or patterns, right? In each of those things. If you think about Your attentional resources as a funnel for a second.

[00:03:38] And you know what we might be doing if we're doing things the way that we're supposed to, or the way that other people do is we might be stretching that funnel over a very wide, Surface area with lots and lots of different arenas and skills and details and things that we're adjusting to and at a very surface level amount.

[00:04:01] And as I talked about in the last episode, we actually need to go deep and surface level across a lot of different things at once doesn't really work for the ways that we make sense, right? If you're, if you're resonating with this podcast and then that might be true for you. And so what I'm speaking to with this idea of stacking is to constrain, reduce and really focus on as few discrete areas as possible and go deep until those areas go into your body as unconscious competence or as something that's ultra familiar.

[00:04:42] As a groove in your nervous system that you can easily flow through that doesn't require your attention and your conscious focus to do it. So this process of turning something from being unknown, unfamiliar, new, uh, be it a new skill, a new system, a new ways of new way of doing something, or a new sensorial experience has an arc that starts off with a lot of failure or a lot of unknowns, a lot of discomfort.

[00:05:13] And if we're exposing ourselves to a lot of arenas like that at once, stretching ourselves too thin, and working in a way that doesn't work for our perceptual sense making systems, then what we're effectively exposing ourselves to is a lot of failure at once, a lot of unknowns at once, in a way that's very overwhelming.

[00:05:38] Something that I have a tendency to do is have a vision, have an idea, get really excited about it and imagine all of the 50 billion steps involved. And the reason I do that is because I lack the belief, I lack the evidence that I can do it. I don't have the clarity on how exactly I'm going to make it work.

[00:06:02] I don't have the steps, I don't have the path laid out. And in order to try and believe that that possibility exists, is attainable. I'm trying to fill that gap in belief by filling that gap in clarity on how and in doing so and in imagining all of the 50 billion steps, getting very overwhelmed before I've even begun on what's involved, right?

[00:06:29] All of the decisions, all the things I'm going to have to do, uh, all of that. actions involved and I don't even know where to start and I'm completely overwhelmed and I haven't even begun. And so something that I've had to really learn to do is constrain down to what is the next step? What is the discrete single or two or three arenas where I can focus that process of learning?

[00:06:59] in order to start to get enough feedback from it that is rewarding, that is encouraging, that is a sign of progress, to then keep going longer enough that I then become proficient in that thing or I've created that sensory or experiential ritualistic groove that I can then be in without so much effort and energy.

[00:07:25] Once I've done that, I can then move on to, okay, what's the next thing and stack it on top. One of the crucial meta skills of this work of You know, materializing something that is, uh, felt, sensed, or needed, unmet need, unmet desire, unmet possibility. One of the meta skills of that work is to take action before we know hell, before we have full belief.

[00:07:52] And it's really the muscle that we have to build that we have to get good at what we think we need to do is solve for the lack of belief, solve for the lack of not knowing how when actually we need to solve for that. We don't have that muscle yet of being able to take action without the belief and without knowing exactly how.

[00:08:11] When you are focused only on the next discreet arena of skills building and the next few steps within it, then you begin to build that clarity. You start to find out, right? Either through failing or just, you know, lots of, um, exposing yourself to what the experience involves to then know how you best work.

[00:08:36] And in doing so, you also build the belief. The first type of evidence that that we build. In order to start to believe that something is possible is not the end result. It's not what other people think. It's not that it's materially real yet. It's when we ourselves are taking action on it. When you start taking action on something that you want, that itself starts to be a form of evidence and belief that yes, okay, this could start to be real.

[00:09:07] This could start to be possible. If you wait for the proof, if you wait for the permission, if you wait for the belief before you start, it doesn't come right. Instead taking action. Otherwise it becomes a pipe dream. Otherwise it stays as a fantasy and it starts to feel like this far off impossibility. So doing things in the material world, when I don't yet believe, when I don't know exactly how, it's been one of the hardest things to grasp.

[00:09:37] It's one of the hardest muscles to build, especially as someone who I started off, uh, You know, from my early life with such a poor sense of self, such a loose and vague and foggy sense of my own boundaries and really lacking any sense that I could influence and shape my reality and enact the agency that I now experience.

[00:10:04] Right. Beginning is the hardest part, but not. For the reasons we think it's not because we don't believe it's not because we lack clarity It's actually because we lack that muscle to take action Even when we don't have those things and then when we start taking action We have to be a bit shit at something to get good at it, right often and we have to kind of process what are the sensorial aspects of doing it.

[00:10:33] And so when we reduce the arenas in which we're being exposed to being shit and the negative feedback of that and the failure and the like unfamiliar If we stick with it through that initial phase, then we can start to see progress. Then we start to build the feedback like, oh, okay, I'm starting to see something shift.

[00:10:59] When I first started SOLA Systems, I had this big vision and I thought I could just go from 0 to 100 in one go. Just go right. Just start doing all of the aspects of this final vision. And I got overwhelmed in the doing of that because I was expecting myself to take action in too many areas at once.

[00:11:25] And all of those areas involved a skill that I was only barely proficient at. And the amount of failure, the amount of unknowns, the amount of new decisions, the amount of things that I hadn't yet systemized, the amount of things that weren't familiar grooves in my nervous system, it was too much and was off putting.

[00:11:47] It was demotivating. My belief went from like 15 percent to 5 percent because I hadn't yet learned. the power of constraining down to, okay, what is the next skill or the next system or the next sensory experience to get good at or get familiar with or to set up and doing that one at a time, stacking them one at a time.

[00:12:12] So this concept of stacking is instead of starting something that is a new endeavor, And trying to work on all of the parts and trying to create the belief from the brain that you have now, the body, the nervous system that you have now, that the reality that you're adapted to now is to instead work out, okay, that future version of me that's done it, what are the skills that they have?

[00:12:36] What are the systems that they've set up and automated to get from where I am now to becoming that person who's done it? What might be that next skill or foundational skill or system or sensory that I might want to get familiar with? Automate, create unconscious competence inside of it. When I've got one down, then suddenly I'm again available for the learning and adjustment involved in the next one.

[00:13:07] Suddenly my bandwidth is freer again. And so you want to stack, you want to start with one small, Focus on the discrete smallest area that you can. Make it boring. Make it repeatable, familiar, automated. So that you can then move on and stack on top of it the next unfamiliar and unknown thing. Another example of doing this is like six months ago I joined a new gym.

[00:13:36] I'm doing strength training. I love it. The gym is sensorially pleasant, the whole thing is working. But I knew I'd have to stack the learning, stack the adjustment and to break down and slow down and look at all of the micro aspects of it, like the journey to the gym. What's that? What do I need packed into a bag ready to go every day that I go to the gym?

[00:14:03] When I get there, what's the building like? Have I taken time to orient to that environment and to feel good inside it and to work out what my movement through it is like, right? What locker do I use? All of those things, right, are unfamiliar. And even though I might not think, yeah, starting a gym, like there's not really the skills involved in, Everything apart from just the using the equipment, actually, there are so many aspects of that that were unfamiliar, that were a new ritual, a new system to set up before I've even begun to exercise and do the strength training itself, stacking the Skills involved, familiarizing with a sensory and stacking systems for, okay, how is the way that I do it every single time?

[00:14:58] What are the things I can systemize? Stacking those, doing them one at a time, constraining down to what's the next one. When you do this, you find out that actually you have a, uh, a different relationship with your energy, with how much agency you have to begin to notice that you do have the ability to change your reality and your boundaries become much more clear because you're able to attune them to, all right, what is the phase I'm in?

[00:15:30] What is the season? I mean, what is the skill or system that I'm stacking? What is the sensory aspects of it that I'm becoming familiar with? And do I have time and attention for other things right now? Maybe not. Maybe I'm going to focus on this one thing first. And it starts to offer a way of prioritizing that means that you can go deep, you can go singular.

[00:15:51] So get stacking, siblings. I hope this served you and I'll talk to you soon. Bye.








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