Facing our fear of the future… to embrace it

Published in Features on 14 Oct 2014

Exploring future lifestyles or professional options with disabled people and their families is a creative process – albeit often in an unfamiliar territory. Too many people feel ‘stuck’ and don’t dare dreaming about a meaningful future for a disabled loved one. So they organise carers who focus on solving the problems of day-to-day living. 

Crossroads often force us to plan – like when leaving a service or joining a personal budget-type scheme. However the most common emotion around change is fear. 

Part of my research is about understanding what happens in the transition to a personalised model. These studies surface that people’s initial reaction is relief about being able to organise the supports that suit them. Many are still focusing on the logistics of care, not big life goals. If we expect that negative emotions will sneak in as part of the process, we can begin to …embrace the fear and recognise it as a signal to begin exploring the future.

This is where ‘reframing’ is a great tool. The other side is vague? This is our opportunity to try new things. The future is scary? Let’s face and deal with these demons, to design solutions. Accept that mistakes will be made – they are probably better than no solution at all – after insuring of course that people are safe. Paying attention to words may make a big difference – what if “personal assistants” were to focus more on the future that traditional “support workers” did? What if we committed to use words from the other side of the uncertainty gap? On the future side, a personal assistant for instance helps you not just with basic care but also to achieve higher life goals. What are the words that strengthen you?

Fear dreaming big – and do it anyways.