Blogging – The Soft Power of Words

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As a blogger, I’ve always been aware that words hold their own unique form of power.

They can be used to up lift or destroy, to unite or divide, to enlighten or vilify anyone and everyone whose life experiences, customs, cultures of ways of being in this world may be different from our own.

Yet even knowing this, it has taken a long time to fully understand that words reach their most potent potential when, like us, they find that fine balance between no longer shouting to be heard or whispering too tentatively the simplest of truths.

 
It is only when words reach this level of softness that they stop being merely the dots and dashes of written language and instead begin transforming their symbolic meanings into the translatable, transferable and palpably understandable revelations, that carry along with them so much more than the literal representations of a reality so different from our own.

 
These are the words that sing to us so softly that we may not even notice their tunes until we find ourselves humming them.

 

For it is only after having read them, that we find our views have become somehow shifted.

 

Our thoughts dismantled and pieced back together in such a way that even we ourselves may initially be at a loss as to understand why or how we should find our perspectives so changed.

 
These are the words that don’t plant seeds but rather reveal to us the existence of somebody else’s garden.

 
A garden to which perhaps we were previously blind, yet now suddenly find that, not only can we see it, but that we can also begin to walk through it, if only in our minds.

 
These are the words that show us, without once ever telling us, what a character in a novel looks like within our minds eye.

 
These are the words that create the voices we hear, without ever once  actually hearing them, when we read.

 
These are the words that reach us, without once ever leaving the printed page.

 
These are the soft powers of words that as bloggers we try to embrace in order to communicate our lives, experiences and ways of being.

So to all who embrace and appreciate the soft power of words, long may they sing your songs and in so doing, bring back  to you the songs of others.

 

 

 

Strategies for helping those with Asperger’s Syndrome/Autism deal with negative people on line.

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Encounters with negative people can be emotionally draining and stressful regardless of the kinds of forums in which negative encounters take place.

The phenomenon of people having difficulty dealing with negative people or comments on-line is on the rise.

It is becoming especially troubling for those people who are generally already classified as vulnerable, open to abuse or misunderstanding, yet who are regardless still striving to interact within a variety of social groups, forums and friends (Facebook friends and groups) on-line.

For people with Asperger’s Syndrome being deliberately baited or put down by others on-line can be debilitating.

Often the consequences of being the victim of negative on-line communications can leave those who are already vulnerable, socially isolated or are already struggling to legitimately understand social interactions, tangled in a web of words that erodes their already fragile ability to trust and understand others.

For those who are vulnerable on-line, developing an understanding of how to deal with negative people can be an essential key to their continued ability to reach out to others without feeling either belittled or betrayed by thoughtlessness or off-putting comments.

In order to develop better strategies for identifying  negative people on-line and discerning when it’s time to block, unfriend and walk away, a basic understanding of human behavior is required.

In many instances, negative people will find something wrong with any comment, question or statement you post.

These people are expert complainers, cynics and on-line tyrants.

As such you may find that even the most innocent post can become fair game for those who wish to belittle you.

Their negative response does not mean that you have written or said anything wrong, rather instead it is a reflection of the fact that negative people simply want to spread their negativity as fast as they can.

In order to understand why some people seem to behave so negatively it is appropriate to take a quick look at some basic forms of NT human behavior.

Basic NT Human Behavior.

Everything NT’s do and say in their lives is shaped by their particular life experience.

NT’s learn from a very early age that certain behaviors produce certain results.

For example, if they are hungry and they cry, someone will give them food.

If they throw a tantrum, someone will pay attention to them and ask what is wrong.

If they throw a big enough tantrum, people will leave them alone.

These learned behaviors stay with them throughout their lives.

At this point I think it’s really important to state that people who are not neuro-typical (NT) do not learn life’s lessons in the same ways that NT’s do and so therefore do not expect nor seek the same responses from their actions, as their actions are being derived from a completely different place.

How the lines of confusion arise

As adults we are all, regardless of neurological wiring, expected to repress our feelings of discomfort (or stress) and behave in a more civilized manner when communicating with others.

Many of us are trying to do just this.

However, expressing ourselves in a more socially acceptable way takes advanced communication skills, and sometimes people with Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism haven’t developed those advanced skills as fully or as manipulatively as NT’s have.

Consequently, this leaves those of us who are non neuro-typical open to attacks or experiences of invalidation when participating in on-line forums or groups.

This is especially true for those of us who are still learning social cues and the norms of social interactions.

It is therefore little wonder that many of us may have difficulties in discerning which negative comments are meant to be deliberately invalidating and which comments may simply be another persons open and honest statement of disagreement.

The inability to discern these differences often exposes us to further attacks.

So what can you do when faced with someone whose comments are consistently negative yet you’re not sure why?

Chances are, when faced with negative comments from others you may find yourself reacting in one of the following ways:

1. Simply withdrawing from the on-line conversation.

2. Depending on whether or not you believe yourself to be in the right, standing your ground (even to the point where you may risk inadvertently offending others). In which case, 9 times out of 10 you are probably being baited, which means the commenter is deliberately trying to upset you so that you will respond to them.

Whilst these responses may at times be valid, discerning what the intentions of the commenter may be and therefore when to apply each response, and with what degree of ferocity to do so, remains a key problem.

Strategies for Dealing with the Comments of Negative People

A more successful outcome for those whose first response to a negative comment is to either withdraw from the conversation completely, or jump in boots and all, may be to ask the negative commenter exactly what they mean by their comment.

If they are willing to further refine their perspective it may make it more obvious whether or not their words were aimed at causing offense or were simply too clumsily put together for literally minded people to be able to accurately understand them.

Responding in this way allows 4 key things to happen.

It enables you to remain within the conversation, discussion or forum without feeling the immediate need to either withdraw or defend your position.

It provides you with the ability to question the commenter thus putting the onus to defend the comment back on them.

It allows the commenter the opportunity to either rephrase or explain the meaning of their comment more fully.

Finally it enables others who may not have initially found the comment to be negative or offensive to re-evaluate both the comment and the person making it.

Either way, by questioning the commenter, you have neither left the conversation or felt forced to defend your own response without first having the benefit of further clarification.

In this way developing an awareness of how you most commonly deal with negative people and comments may help you better deal with them.

In many instances maintaining an awareness of your own behavior can enable you to choose to act in a manner that may prevent an encounter with a negative person from escalating.

Making the choice not to communicate in an unproductive way removes the likelihood that you will be replaying the conversation in your head for days or thinking of all the zingers you wish you’d said!

For any Aspie that’s a bonus.

 

Falling Into the Words of Others……. The Benefits of Reading Blogs

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Sometime people ask me why I bother with blogging. After all they reason, “Isn’t caring for your son a full-time job in and of itself?  What with all the battles you go through just trying to get your son’s rights to have his abilities recognized and taken seriously by others, why on earth do you want to write about Autism? How do you even have the energy  to  write about anything?”

I must admit that some days, when the fights been particularly long and hard, and the shawl of defeat hangs itself across my shoulders like some desperately unwanted shroud that marks me out as a person who feels as shatteringly misunderstood and out-of-place in this world as the missing puzzle piece that has ironically become the universal symbol for Autism, I wonder why I bother blogging too.

But then I read the words of others and they enrich me in ways that help me pull myself back together and enable me to once again  begin to view life from a broader perspective.

A perspective that helps me replace my temporary and insular micro filter  of defeat  and instead enables me to attach a wider lens that lets me know that I am indeed part of a greater whole.

A lens that is in fact so wide that it incorporates all of the issues that are facing so many different people from more walks of life than there are colors in the rainbow.

Reading the words of others reminds me that life is like a pearl.

An organic composition that builds upon itself,

Layer by layer,

Feeding on past irritations,

Forming silently within the enclosed darkness,

That cements it into place.

And that it is only when the shell is opened up and those layers of irritation are revealed, that the pearl itself becomes transformed by the eyes of others, into a thing of beauty.

Blogging I think works in the same way. So regardless of whether or not the opening up of our shells brings either tears or joy, the mere act of making the effort to reveal ourselves, our lives and our stories, to the world, is an  achievement all in itself.

For some I know the process of blogging, of paring oneself back to bare bones to see who and what they are, of bring their true selves to the surface, is a painful one. For others it can be cathartic, light-hearted or even whimsical, but always, always without fail, regardless of what the topic may be or how it is presented, there are always pearls of wisdom to be found within the words of others.

Sometimes, I admit, I don’t find the pares straight away.

Sometimes it takes an event occurring within my own life to shake me and wake up to the memory of reading another’s words about a similar situation before I can understand the points I’d missed.

It is in these moments of missed recognition that I will go back and search through Word Press until I find the post I’m looking for. Often along the way I will find many, many more posts dealing with the same issues that I had previously and erroneously thought were not mine to deal with.

The more posts I read, the more pearls of wisdom I gather and the greater my own levels of awareness, understanding and compassion grows.

Some of your posts make me cry. Some make me smile. Others make my head nod up and down while reading along with the unspoken acknowledgment of a shared truth. Still others make me shake my head in exasperation.

Yet I have learned that regardless of whether or not I agree or disagree with a post, or whether it makes me laugh or cry, there is always some element of experience or knowledge that takes me out of myself, out of my life with Autism and expands my world view.

You make me aware that although all of our personal truths may indeed be different, they are all indeed truths and should be respected as such.

So I bear in mind, as I am reading your posts, that some of you may be speaking of truths that I have yet to learn and some of you may be speaking of personal truths that may never be my own. Just as my personal truths may never be yours to experience in real-time.

Yet regardless I appreciate the privilege of seeing so many different people, each living different lives, in so many different cities, with as many different faces,  telling their silent truths with words all across the globe.

Indeed this world that we all inhabit, our globe, is shaped like a pearl.

This is what makes me think now that wisdom can be found not only by looking deeply into the parts of us that hurt us the most, but  in the very act of opening up our shells and letting ourselves be exposed to the light cast by the minds of others.

For sometimes, it is only when being viewed through the words of others, that our own personal truths, our own pearls of wisdom, become finally apparent, even to ourselves.

This is why I love reading and falling into the words of others.

So thank you to each and every blogger whose words have allowed me to gain a new perspective and glimpse those pearls earned from your own hard-won wisdom.

 

Do I like your post? No but I RESPECT the hell out of you for writing it.

Disposable Half-Truths

Do I “like” your post?

No, it’s not the kind of post that’s likeable.

It’s filled with the pain of heartfelt truths.

The kind of truths that can only be found within the honesty of words,

That map out a razored  life experience,

Which in the very process of reading,

Cut all of  your followers,

To their bones.

So how can I like it?

RESPECT it,

Yes,

RESPECT you for writing it,

Yes,

But “like” it?

No

Why must we always be expected “like” a post in order to show that we’ve read it?

Why can’t there  a button on here for “Respect”?

A button that lets us say, “I don’t like the sadness you’ve experienced  and the painful truths about life that your words reveal, but I RESPECT all that you have to say.

I RESPECT the hell out of you for having the strength and the courage to speak up.

Yes we need a RESPECT button on here WP………

Instead of developing thicker skin……..

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Instead of developing  thicker skin,

I wish the world,

Would instead,

Decide to become,

 A  little kinder.

Kinder to everyone,

Whether there be differences,

Or similarities,

Kinder to everyone,

Regardless of gender,

Kinder to everyone,

No matter their skin color,

Kinder to everyone,

Whether two or eighty,

Kinder to everyone,

No matter their IQ,

Just think of the world,

You could be living in,

If one day we decided,

To all be a little,

Kinder to everyone,

Kinder to you.

The Human Condition… Delusional Goodness or a Good Delusion?

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People like to believe that human nature is essentially good. That on the whole humans look out for one another. Perform more good deeds than they do bad and generally choose to operate in a way that promotes goodness and kindness.

For most of us, during our lifetimes, we will indeed see evidence of this goodness and kindness.

But we will also see evidence of human attributes that are other as well.

We will see greed and corruption.

We will see cruelty and discrimination.

We will see unkind actions and hear unkind words.

We will see or experience bullying, sexism, racism, agism, disablism and so many more isms’.

We will witness acts of violence and be shown on our TV sets evidence of human atrocities.

We will come face to face with other’s who will disagree with our opinions, beliefs or values and treat us badly because of these differences.

So how, given all of these things, can we choose to believe that goodness and kindness are the predominant virtues of the human condition?

If goodness and kindness are supposed to form the base line for the human condition then why is it that we need policies and laws to try and ensure that all humans are treated fairly?

Why is it that when push comes to shove, few people these days feel able to stand up and do what’s right instead of what’s safest, easiest, or more profitable for them?

Are we to believe that goodness and kindness can only prevail amongst humans if there are sanctioned consequences for not being good or kind?

Or that kindness and goodness can only manifest in circumstances in which it is safe, easy and profitable for humans to engage in such ways?

Yet history tells us that neither safety, ease nor profitability are required for kindness to occur.

There have been many examples to show that in times of great persecution acts of great kindness can and do occur.

Often at the personal risk of those engaging in such acts.

Stories such as those as Schindler’s List give us hope and reinforce the belief that deep down we are all good people who will stand up for what’s right.

Yet the truth of the matter, especially in stories such as Schindler’s List, is that the vast majority of people at that time, did not stand up for what  was right.

They did not put themselves out to help those who were being persecuted.

Instead many engaged in that very persecution.

Some actively, others silently.

And yet, even when faced with this evidence of overwhelming contradiction, we still choose to believe that the human condition is one of ultimate goodness.

Just how is it that we come to such a erroneously delusional and short-sighted conclusion?

Why is it that even today, when we know full well that there are corporations out there who routinely value profits above human life, we still choose to walk blindly up the path of ‘progress’ while ignoring the growing list of casualties strewn along the way?

Perhaps the human condition is not one of goodness but one of delusional fortitude?

Word Hugs

Don’t you just love the way a good book can embrace you. Take you in and carry you far, far, away, from the worries of the every day, or reflect some essential truth, hidden in the mist of  daily being?

Words can hug you,

Holding you joyously captive,

Before gently releasing you,

Back into the ebb and flow of life,

Adding always some fresh ingredient,

To the heady worldly  mix,

Of thoughts and feelings,

That eternally surround you.

Words can become life rafts,

Keeping you afloat,

In the ocean of emotions,

That can sometimes threaten,

To drag you under.

Words can hold and hug you,

Keeping you warm and safe,

Becoming a source of nutrients,

Especially when the world outside,

Removes  all semblance,

Of  its grace.

I love finding  authors whose words somehow, always, make you feel as if you are coming home. No matter what the genre. Here are a few authors that always hold me in their words Jane Austen, Mary Shelley,  Virginia Wolf,  Jeanette Winterson, Jenny Diski,   Jodi Picoult, Maeve Binchey,  Stephen Donaldson, Tess Gerritsen, Karen Rose and Karin Slaughter ….. the list quite simply could go on and on…..

Which authors words reach out and hug you?