I live with chronic illness and working at Emergenetics has allowed me to celebrate my health.
Emergenetics International values family, values the individual, and values positive intention. All of our tools are designed to be strength-based and the office embodies this on a daily basis. We are constantly discussing “positive energy” and are incredibly conscious of word choice. It’s not “if we will meet our goals” it is “when we meet our goals.” We don’t use the word busy because the word has a negative connotation, so instead we say we are “actively pursuing our goals,” meaning that yes we have a lot going on, but this is a good thing. If we’re busy that means business is good.
I live with chronic illness, and I remember the first time I started applying the positive language to my health. It was after an especially draining trip I took where I mentioned that I was “disabled” about 15 times – skipping the security line, needing a seat on the tram to our terminal, pre-boarding on flights, and skipping the cab line, etc. I am only 30 and look healthy from the outside and so I need to explain to people that I have an invisible disability. The travel was exhausting, yes, but so was using the word “disabled.” As Geil would say, “it makes your arm go down,” or in other words, its negative verbiage that causes us to think negative thoughts. I know plenty of people in the disabled community who identify with the word disabled but reject the negative sense of self the word brings.
I thought about this for a few days and talked with members of the office to think about a new way to discuss my health. We landed on these new words that have transformed my perspective and those I work with: “my body requires.” My body requires more time to get on the plane, my body requires less standing time and so I need to move to the front of the line, my body requires rest. My body has different requirements than normal. It is not something I can change, and it is not something that I feel badly about, it is just an objective fact that I can explain and move on with my day.
A colleague of mine took this a step further and used these new words at a Starbucks. While waiting in line, she took a step back and bumped into a boy using a walker. He apologized and so did she and then she went on her way. After a few minutes, she turned back to the boy and his mom and she told them “never apologize for your body. Your body requires more space than a normal person, just as my body requires a certain amount of space. This is your story and there is no need to apologize.” The mom looked at my empowered colleague with eyes understanding, excitement, and relief.
Words can be powerful and the more we choose positive words, the more we empower ourselves to choose our own identity and to tell our own story.
I am thankful that I work at such an amazing office where employees not only try and understand my story, but they empower me to celebrate my health.