The world is yet conducive to creating an environment fully accepting of people with disabilities.
Being an eternal optimist, I am fond of saying this.
I trust that some day the world will come to truly understand that disabilities are as natural as eye color and ethnicity. I also believe there will be a global understanding which value the lessons disability brings to the diversity as a whole.
We’re not there yet, though.
Accommodations to literally just get in the door still need to be made, schools struggle with drawing out student’s abilities, over two-thirds of adults with disabilities continued to be unemployed and not even given a chance, the benefit system in the United States perpetuates a poverty conscious model, and – you know I had to add this – many people with disabilities are seen as “undateable” or able to have loving, fulfilling relationships.
Ideally, the wonderful journey of life should be about embracing who you are and figuring out the best way to shine your unique abilities. Yes, very idealistic and many would call it unrealistic. However, what do you have to lose by focusing on self-acceptance and what you offer to the world?
Yes, there will be times that you get your heart broken and dreams shattered, but isn’t that going to happen anyway in the course of living a full life?
There’s a very healthy balance to be strived for and admittedly, it’s hard to maintain.
Allowing yourself to acknowledge and feel the pain of living with a disability while continuously focusing on the potential of healing that very pain brings into your life is a significant component to accepting a disability.
THE ONE ESSENTIAL for this to happen: LOVE.
No matter who you are reading this – person with a disability, parent, family member, professional – in order to help get the world to a place where it supports people with disabilities more fully, you need to cultivate love in your life, your family member’s life, and those you serve in your work.
Why is the simple, elusive notion of LOVE even more important than say advocating for legal rights and changes to the laws?
Because the gradual and lasting “I get it” change happens in the heart, not the mind.
I have always believed that my personal success as someone living with a disability comes from my happiness, which is a direct result of being loved. As a child, my parents understood (without really knowing, if you know what I mean) that because the world would be unaccepting at times, it was all the more crucial for me to feel LOVED.
If LOVE is something you struggle with, either for yourself, your family member, or the people you serve in your work, try this:
Find just one quality within yourself, family member, or one person you work with that brings happiness to you.
Make a conscious effort to focus on it for a few minutes every day over the next week.
Create an affirmation (positive statement) that will heighten your focus on this attribute. Notice as you go through the next week how your heart opens and softens toward yourself or another.
TRUST THIS is what will ultimately create a fully accepting world, one person at a time.
If you need guidance around affirmations, here are a couple examples:
The way I am different enriches who I am.
My child’s challenges teach me so much about myself.
Trying to support Sue with the right services draws out the best of my abilities.
I’ll be live on Facebook tonight at 8pm (EST) to talk about this and have it be an interactive discussion. Tune in, share your thoughts, or message me on Facebook ahead of time.