#72 | Strategic Life Creator Series #3: Adult Mindset

actions adulting autistic brain confidence create cuts discomfort emotions encourage explains goals kids life recognize thoughts tool work May 25, 2022

Watch the webclass, "4-Part Roadmap to Encourage Adulting Actions."

Get the Preview of the workbook, When Autism Grows Up by Lynn C Davison, Adulting Coach, Available in Fall 2022.

Download, "The Quick Start Guide to STEAR Mapping"


Dr. Paul Jenkins

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

 Dr. Russ Harris

Do you wonder what it's gonna take turn your autistic young adult into a strategic life Creator? The answer is to help encourage them to practice an adult mindset.Let's define that here.

First, let's remind ourselves that the end game we're aiming for is that our autistic adults will practice the set of mental tools that help them manage their thoughts, their emotions and their actions, so they achieve goals set by them or them.

Our role in the process is to transition from being the autocrat who decides what they're going to do and what they're going to focus on.

After being in school where all that stuff was defined for them, to now when they decide what their life looks like. They own it, and they create that's what we want to have happen.

In order for that to have happen, we have to become their coach. Their coach is going to be someone that:

  1. Encourages them,
  2. Warns them of risks, and
  3. Is consulted by them.

That's what we want. So we create this lovely, interdependent relationship with them, where they're contributing, and we're contributing and we're all creating a life together that works for the whole family.

What's getting in our way?

Most of the time, when I coach my autistic young adult clients there is lot of fear. Frankly, some of our kids were just born with worry, right? We may even have a worry brain ourselves, right?It's just the biology that we inherited. Okay, now that we know that we have that, what do we do?

On top of that, in many cases, our kids have experienced an environment that doesn't support them. And so they've had what I like to think of as 1000s of paper cuts. Where they've just been getting signals pretty much from the day that they were in school especially, that they're a little different and that they shouldn't be who they are and they're not fitting into the norm. Or they could even be bullied. They could also be beating themselves up on a regular basis. That is usually the result of this kind of frame.

And that's because there's just so many micro moments of not fitting in and it just activates that fear center in our brains, that shuts us down. We don't work very well in shutdown mode. And that creates a whole cascading effect on our lives that when we don't learn.

Our autistic young adults have lagging skills that cause unsolved problems in their lives. It makes sense. So what we want to do is help them understand where fear comes from.

The answer is Fusion. This is where we are so wedded to our ideas that we can't wiggle. We think we're right. We're so consumed. We're so rigid, that we can't consider other options. I mean, it's just that we want that certainty. Our autistic adults especially want certainty and predictability in their lives.

And unfortunately, that's just not possible in order to have a successful life today. We have to just keep pivoting and changing the way that we approach things so we're going to figure out what works. That's absolutely contrary to our brain and motivational triad in our brain which is trying to keep us safe all the time.

We sometimes set ourselves up with excessive goals. I've watched my kids, my young adults do that as well, where they just want to be like everybody else. They want to go to college and be done in four years and take five classes each semester and just be done. And that isn’t always possible for our kids. So they set themselves up with this excessive goal. They fail again and there goes another paper cut.

That ongoing effect of those paper cuts is somewhat traumatizing to them. I mean it really can be discouraging and affect their level of motivation and their willingness to go out there and do things and learn.

On top of that, their brain really likes to avoid discomfort just like the rest of us. Again, back to that motivational triad. They want to stay safe. They want to  have all the resources, they want to guard their resources. And they want to be pursuing pleasure. Makes total sense. They don't want to go through the discomfort. Yet we know as parents that they have to embrace discomfort in order to make the progress that they want in their lives.

The last thing is that especially with this new generation, they really want life to be less of a struggle for them. They want to be better aligned with what it is they want out of life but they rarely define it. So you find that they'll try to act in a way that they think will work but it's not and then beat themselves up. And then because they're not acting consistently with who they really want to be that can lead them into depression.

So let's do our best to help them understand that this thinking with one thought and not wiggling, setting unrealistic expectations of ourselves, avoiding the discomfort that any goals bring, not recognizing really truly what is important to us so that we can say yes to the right things and no to the wrong things, but no to the things that don't help us be who we want to be.

So let's talk about our thinking and what happens. Why do we keep thinking that we're not good enough? What is it that's creating all these negative, uncomfortable emotions?

You've heard and I've heard about accepting what is. Acceptance is the way to peace. All right, I get that. But when I listened to Dr. Paul Jenkins explain, this model made so much more sense to me that it ever had before. So if we look at what it is that's in the middle, that's neutral.

Our brain is always evaluating what is and it's always trying to create a solution for what is and we can't stop. That's just the kind of brain we got that has kept us at the top of the food chain. So this evaluating and creation and solving problems is what our brains do best; its never gonna stop. So let's look at this when we look at what is compared to something better.

That's the negative arrow on the bottom. We feel depressed. Right? This should be better than it is. I don't like it. I'm gonna feel depressed. When we look at what it is and think it could be worse. That's when we feel gratitude. Interesting. Those are the two arrows on the bottom on the top. When we look at what is it, what is and where it's going to go. You know how the future is going to go. If we think it's going to be worse in the future. We create anxiety. That's that worry. Oh, it's bad now and it's only going to get worse. When we look at what is and we think oh this could get better. That's when we feel hope.

I just think that's a terrific explanation. I did it in less than a minute. He does it in about an hour in a cast that I listened to. And also he has written a book that if you're a member of Kindle Unlimited is free at Kindle Unlimited. So I would suggest that that's a good read. For all of us need to explain to our kids, this is what happens. This is what our brain does all the time. We need to be aware of that. And that's what I call mental fitness training. It's when we use our mind, train our brain, it does work for us. We have this neurological brain. This is our mind, thinking watching our brain operate. So we can separate from the thoughts that are automatically given to us that are habitual, by watching them and noticing what they are. It's an evolutionary miracle and we're the only ones that have it. So how do we train our brain to work harder for us to take more adulting actions?

The tool is the Stear map. We separate the situation which is what is out of our control from our thoughts about it. This is an important gap. This is where we get to choose between getting this right. Between the situation and our thoughts there's a gap and that was identified and written about beautifully by Viktor Frankl in his book Man's Search for Meaning. Viktor was a psychologist, a psychiatrist who was imprisoned in in a Nazi concentration camp.Almost all of his family members were were murdered, including his wife who was pregnant. And he wrote a treatise that really explains that the power between what we cannot control and our thought about it is where we really can make our own decisions about how we want our life to go. That's where our power is.

When we separate the situation from our thoughts, and we recognize that our thoughts flavor our emotions, which generate our actions and create our results. Those are the things like our control, and the more we separate the situation from our thoughts, our story about the situation, the more we can choose those thoughts that work best for us, and those thoughts are going to be the adulting clause that inspire that flavor, that determination, that willingness to to be wrong and make experiments and and learn from all of that give us that emotion that curiosity that generates those actions of you know, trying and create the results in our lives. The more we can do this and practice this, but first with ourselves with the attitude of learning this so that we can teach it to our autistic young adults, We never know when that opportunity to teach that is going to come up. There's a window of opportunity that every almost every day in my household and I'm so excited when I get a chance to sort of encourage, just plant some things seeds, and also make sure that they know that I hear them, I see them, walk with them every single day.

If we use the Stear map, we can really teach them the tool that helps them practice what they need to know because the end game is we're trying to increase their competence. And Dr. Russ Harris suggests that actions of confidence come first, the feelings of confidence come later. What he means is the more we try, the more we make mistakes, the more we're willing to stumble and regroup all eight times get up seven, as the Japanese proverb says, the more we're willing to do that, the more we have that confidence that we can create a life we love that works. That confidence that really will help inspire our kids to create things that are so important to them for the rest of their lives, even when our runways over.

Let me just summarize what we went over today. It's just quickly that our role is to encourage them to manage their thoughts, their emotions and their actions that produce those results that are in their control versus the environment that's out of their control. We want to do that by encouraging mourning and being consulted by them, becoming the best coach we can be for them, explaining and helping them understand where the fear and anxiety has come from. And those 1000s of paper cuts how they have read more of it because they recognize that they're not feeling they're not. They get a lot of signals, that they're not right. And I love it that my nine year old is starting to say I really don't care what other people think.

That's a great example of how this evolution occurs over that decade of the 20s. That he will continue improving his own self knowledge and confidence that it's okay for him to be exactly the way he is. As he is perfect. Got a lot of room for improvement in terms of the actions that he takes, but he of himself is 100% lovable and 100% perfect. 

Noticing that the fear comes from clinging so tightly to our thinking, having excessive goals that create these huge gaps that there's no way we could fill avoiding the discomfort that's required to take action that's going to get us where we want to go and making sure that what we're doing is linked and aligned to the things that are most important to us. That what is always neutral. We're just always evaluating it and problem solving, trying to create a solution. And that's just part of what our brains are like.

So what we want to do is make sure that the solutions we create work harder for us. That tool is recognizing this is the metacognition field that we're trying to teach. And here's the tool, the Stear map. The situation is what’s out of our control. Our thoughts, our emotions, our actions, and our results are what we can control. That we continue to build the confidence that we can create a life we love. That works for all of us.

For a transcript of this video, please go to www.LynnCDavison.com/blog. I will link to the resources that I've mentioned in this video. I hope to see you in the Art of Adulting where we do this work together.

Bye for now.