#85 | Make Space for Resistance

autistic brain brooke castillo caveman compassion consult continuously happening kids love notice record resistance space thought thoughts understand work write wrong Jun 27, 2022

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Well hello everyone. Today I want to talk about the resistance that we coach parents get when doing thought work. Let’s understand better what's going on and connect better with ourselves and our autistic young adults, then figure out the steps that we need to practice to make this possible.

So this looks like:

  • I think all my thoughts are valid.
  • They're all true.
  • Why should I take the time to look at them? Why?
  • What are you asking me to do this for?
  • What's in it for me?

This is classic resistance to a non preferred action. It happens for all humans. We are operating from our primitive brain that says life would just be better if things would continue as they are.

  • Why should I change because that's going to take energy.
  • I don't want to take any more energy that I'm using up right now. Thank you very much.

That's why our kids resist our help. That's why we label them inflexible. It all stems from the whole idea of processing something that's uncertain. Especially with the folks that we love the autistic kids that we love. One of the classic terms that I've heard used and I don't really like it that much because it's not very descriptive for the regular person, but they call this the lack of central coherence. Okay, so what does that mean? It just means that it's hard for us to pull together all the parts of our lives and find the patterns in them. Like why is this happening? And why am I not getting the result that I want? Why am I continuously being hurt by other people or ending up in a place where I really don't want to be. Trying to figure out how to connect all those dots, like all the positive effects and that lack of social coherence that you'll often hear Simon Baron Cohen talk about when he writes about autism. And so we just really want to make sure that we understand that what's happening is it's not a won’t, it's more of a can’t. It's a difference in the prefrontal cortex that is determined by their biology and our biology. And what we want to do is pause and say what is really going on here and let’s see if we can understand why this happens. We've had some challenges recently in my family where I've had to really slow things down and notice what's going on. 


So I recently listened to a podcast by Brooke Castillo about anxiety that I thought was awesome at The Life Coach School and she used this analogy that I hadn't used before. She said our brains are sort of like a thought factory. They produce thoughts, one after the other after the other and that's its job. It did that to evolve and did that in caveman times, so that we would continuously be solving the problems in front of us, and we will be projecting what could go wrong, so that we would survive. So our brains are creating these stories all the time, and that's its job. 

Yet, today, we want to consider whether or not those thoughts are working for us; for those caveman types of thoughts of danger that say watch out, you're gonna put too much energy into this. You're gonna miss out on some pleasure, some relaxation and pleasure, you're going to be in an unsafe situation. When our brain offers us those things, itt's like telling us a story about what it doesn't want to do, is telling us the resistance story, and it's perfectly natural. Nothing has gone wrong. We need to reassure ourselves with compassion, and our kids with compassion, that that's just what our brains do. That's what they were created to do. And that's what's kept us alive all these 1000s of years and they kept us now at the top of the food chain. 

Trouble is that in today's society, we are operating with a brain that's trying to keep us physically safe, while we are already physically safe 99.99% of the time, and so it's not always useful. Really what we want to do to grow is to be uncomfortable. And you can notice yourself, I noticed myself this weekend, last couple of weeks actually, as I'm trying to level up my my skills and my business it's like ah, this is like a lot, I'm overwhelmed and what do I do first and is this gonna work and I don't want to work so hard, and I don't want to work so many hours. What's going on? This is new to me. I don't know anything about an Instagram. I don't really think about producing a pipe. Right? You know, my brain is just going on balance alarm bells. 

And so I'm watching my thought factory produce these thoughts as well and thank goodness I feel like I can at least approach some some mastery and in terms of watching that happen, but boy, oh boy, I have to really put the brakes on and give myself some space and hold the space for me to have those thoughts. So that helps me to really empathize with what happens with our kids and our yet in our other loved ones who are not necessarily you know, who are much older than kids and wow. We need to really give them space to to really understand themselves and for us to take the time to really allow them to explain what's going on in their heads. So the goal is of course, to have that kind of relationship with them so that they will tell us what's going on so they will consult with us. 

So here's that motivational triad again. This is what's happening. My brain is saying, no, no, no, that's not going to work. That's painful. Let's stay away from that. Let's stay safe. Let's not put up too much energy. Let's stay in that wonderful place of everything is okay. And I know it's pleasurable because I know what I can predict what's going to happen and I know what I'm going to have to do next. Very good to know that that's what my brain is trying to do for me because those key thoughts helped us survive. They want to keep us in that cave. So that everything is predictable, and we can live. 

So being on alert. Notice when your brain is putting it you on alert and oh, that's fine yet. I got it. Okay. Thank you brain I appreciate it. Your thoughts are registered, I get it and I'm still going to be willing to be uncomfortable that I can grow, so this may not be the most comfortable time and I'm gonna take extra good care of you so that you know that I know what you're saying. And this registered and yet I'm still going to push you because this is how I want us to grow. 

This is where we notice our thinking and that's the step where we really write down what's happening; we record somehow what's happening in our brains. And I can't tell you how helpful this is to the other person to hold that space and what I'm talking about recording. If you're doing it over the phone, it's hard. But if you can just grab a piece of paper and start writing down the thoughts, then when you're done with that conversation, maybe you can take a picture of it and send it maybe you've got another phone nearby so you can honor it and transcribe the thoughts so that they have a record of those things too. And youdo  it too so you have a transcription of your own ideas that you offered at that time. It’s really helpful for us to just notice the thoughts that are happening before we do anything about it before we consider doing any stereotyping or any changing or any evolution of our thinking just to notice “oh, that's my brain is manufacturing thoughts”. And, yes, I'm going to notice them and consider them and then I'm going to make an intentional decision about what I want to do with all those thoughts island notice that nothing has gone wrong. 

We want to have compassion for ourselves, for our autistic young adults, for everyone in our family who is struggling; we all struggle. We all struggle every day to figure out what is the best that we should practice. It's just the nature of being a human being. And for all of us being in that same boat, I think it gives us empathy and compassion for each other, which will continue to help us encourage and warn and be consulted. And if we really listen and we really give our kids space, this will help them to practice the set of thoughts, emotions and actions that will help them take. help them create the life that they love that works. Giving them space for their resistance is part of the job and we're going to be so much happier when we do that. From an attitude of compassion, recognizing that we have work ourselves to do. And then of course if we share that we're doing that work for ourselves, sometimes that helps our kids increase their compassion for us as well, which just makes us a stronger, better family. And I think that's what we're all looking for. 

So if you want a transcript of this video, please visit www.lynncdavison.com/blog.I certainly hope that while you're there, you look around and consider joining the Art of Adulting. I'd love to see you there. Bye for now.