When thinking about what makes for a good life, I’ve been looking at the Good Lives Framework developed by Learning Disability England. I’ve also been reading the Welsh Learning Disability Strategy, alongside the characteristics of capable environments as described by Peter McGill. (See the image below).
Collectively, they remind me that what are regarded as the core ingredients of a good life for people with learning disabilities are no different than those of people without learning disabilities. While we all are beautifully and uniquely different, with different lives and aspirations, we all generally want the same things.
- To love, and be loved
- To have somewhere to call home where we can feel safe and content
- To be able to communicate and feel informed, and so on.
If we accept that general principle, it is easy to empathise with people we support and others around us. We all strive for that good life, and battle against the knock-backs and life events that get in the way. At our core, we all want the same basic ingredients to have a good life.
Yin and Yang
Life will always throw us pleasant and nasty surprises. Staying strong, and facing into the nasty parts of life is not easy. But always remember you will, we will, get through them and make the good times even sweeter. When we are going through difficult life situations, we will experience worrying and sad thoughts. We will experience negative emotions. Always keep in your mind at these times, and repeat this, ‘these thoughts and feelings are temporary, they will pass’.
As you read this in this moment thoughts come and go. They are transient. Just accept each thought and feeling, observe it with curiosity, without judgement and let it move on. Turn to the people and things that help maintain positive strength for you. Seek to avoid those negative strategies we sometimes lean to such as completely withdrawing, overeating or drinking, substance misuse etc.
Face those feelings
Stand up strong, look directly at the negative thoughts and feelings, allow them to soften and fade. Keep strong. Remember you are uniquely beautiful. You deserve to have all the characteristics of a capable environment to have a good life, just as everyone we support has.
Importantly also is the need to remember the big and small things in life we are grateful for. Take a little time each day to think about what we are grateful for today. On that note I am grateful you took the time to read these thoughts; it’s much appreciated.
You might want to download the below ‘Gratitude journal pages’ for yourself, friends or family members: