Guest Blog: The Power of Words – from Jacob Wood

MAI Guest blog - Jacob WoodThe power of words and how changing Negative Connotations for Positive reinforcement and education can lead to a reduction on social isolation and recession.

A little about me before I start. My name is Jacob and I work as an employment mentor for Homeless Individuals looking to gain skills to increase their chances of employment. I am a physically Disabled individual who does their best to hide this fact, I also have suffered with depression and suicidal tendencies in the past and do not fit within the “Social Norm”. It will becomes very obvious if you read this… I am not a successful blogger.

I have found myself doing this job because of a unique view on life using my lived experience and that of the people who I regularly speak to and the biggest problem that Correlates for the Individuals I work with is not that they are unemployed and instead that like myself they do not fit within what they believe to be a Social Norm, Be it they suffer with Depression, Anxiety Disorders, ADHD, Physical Disability or Substance addiction and they have been taught that these “Character traits” are somewhat choice and problems.

This is where my unique personality and understanding makes the largest difference for them and how I start my journey with them. I ask them to tell me about themselves and what they believe their strengths and weaknesses are and then ask them the Reason Why they believe this and where does this Understanding come from?

I speak About increasing and understanding our Vocabulary because we often use words that carry negative connotations and lead us to have a pessimistic outlook on what we believe of ourselves, we talk about people like their Issues or Disabilities are them and not just a piece of the puzzle.

I work with people who will tell me that they are Alcoholics, Drug addicts, Autistic, Have Anxiety and/or Depression, Have PTSD, Have OCD, Have ADHD or do not feel comfortable in their own skin and self-identify as a gender that is not in keeping with their outward presentation. This biggest thing I work on with these individuals is I ask them to tell me about themselves in an open an honest manner and then sit and listen while I tell them how I see them and ask them to try to meet me in the middle. An Alcoholic to the average person is telling us we are working with someone who is addicted to alcohol and they are selfish people who do not care for those around them.

For me it’s about Finding out who John is, why he has an addiction to alcohol and how we can separate the person from their contributing factors. John the alcoholic becomes John who has an addiction to alcohol due to some past trauma that has not been correctly or sufficiently grieved, For people like this hypothetical John a change of wording means we are taking his addiction from being a main contributor of who he is (Alcoholic often makes someone feel like this is who they are almost like a title “Alcoholic john”) and instead making a part of his personality and giving it a root cause that can be assessed and work on (John who is living with an addiction due to past trauma).

This also is the same for people when we talk about them living with Autism and not being Autistic, I appreciate it’s often easier to use these terms than to use the correct Autistic Spectrum Disorder but when you label someone as autistic they tend to then be pushed into a small room that has very defined walls and an ever more defined ceiling that tells them that they will never be more than the autistic person. When we talk about people who live with Autism we then come across super famous or successful people who owe their success to their condition. Satoshi Tajiri is probably a name most people won’t know but you will all know his finest creation Pokemon. A game who created because he wanted others to be able to understand his love of collecting insects. Some more names include Dan Aykroyd, Hans Christian Anderson and Bill Gates… All people who live with ASD

The same can be said for those who live with ADHD, Michael Phelps, Sir Richard Branson and again Bill Gates

And the same can be said for those who live with Dyslexia, Jim Carrey, Maggie Aderin-Pocock and Albert Einstein.

It may seem that I am just going over old tosh but I think it’s important for us to stop using negative connotations when we speak about so many things, let’s use progressive words and offer solutions to the problem, we can talk about people who suffer with these issues, we can talk about people who live with these issues of we can talk about people who pushed through them and continued to be successful or in some instances used these “Disabilities” as “their Superpowers” I would advise anyone who has the chance to look for a video on YouTube by a creator called Kyle Hill – Autism is my superpower.

We need to stop, look at how we view understanding and training, sadly we will need to prove this with adults before we can make a difference for children but I truly believe that should we help people to realise that they are not the problem and that sometimes small adjustments is all that is needed to make a massive step in the right direction we could reduce much of the homelessness and addiction we have at the moment.

We are at a place in time where taking the time and making the effort to understand how we can focus on the abilities and not the disabilities of an individual could be the difference between them being a massive success who stands as a beacon of hope and them being another statistic use to attack others with.

Finally when you are told that you cannot do something please stand proud and ask yourself.