Throughout July, we’re featuring excerpts from Ginger Vieira’s new book, Dealing with Diabetes Burnout. In this second of four excerpts being featured, Vieira argues small daily victories in daily diabetes care are better than shooting for being a perfect person with diabetes.
Have you ever decided you’re suddenly going to do everything you’re “supposed to do” in diabetes management—like counting carbohydrates, taking your medications and insulin whenever you’re supposed to, checking your blood sugar at least four times a day, and, of course, avoiding any foods that are sweet and delicious and “bad for diabetics”—only to find yourself frustrated and off-the-wagon barely a few days later?
Chances are, if you’re like most of us, those ambitious efforts to jump out of your burnout and jump right into diabetic perfection don’t last long—because it’s just too overwhelming. Or maybe you haven’t gotten to that point of setting new goals of perfection because you’re not even sure where to start and it all feels … well, again, too overwhelming.
Whether you’ve tried to be perfect or you haven’t tried at all, the problem is often the same: the diabetes to-do list can feel so tremendously daunting and very few of us can really handle such pressure to be perfect. But if you aren’t aiming for perfection, then where do you aim?
You can set yourself up for success through learning how to set goals concerning your life with diabetes that are not only realistic, but also very clear and specific. At the risk of abusing the words “realistic” and “achievable,” I’m going to use the word “awesome” much more often instead.
Developing the ability to create really awesome goals for any part of your life, related to your diabetes or not, is one of the most valuable skills you may ever develop. Too often, many of us have a tendency to make giant, lofty, vague, impossible goals that only wind up making us feel like failures when we don’t follow through and achieve them. Let’s change that!
Have you ever had a doctor’s appointment that went something like this:
Doctor: You need to start taking better care of your diabetes.
Patient with Diabetes: Um, yes, I know. I know.
Doctor: You need to eat better foods, check your blood sugar four times a day, and exercise at least 150 minutes per week.
Patient with Diabetes: Um … okay. Okay.
Doctor: Okay, good. I’ll see you in six months.
The problem with this entire scene, whether it happens between you and yourself, your health care team, or a family member, is that it is absolutely setting you up for failure.
One of the most important parts of getting beyond your burnout is about rebuilding confidence in your ability to face diabetes every day, and that’s not going to happen if your choices are perfection or failure. Instead, building that confidence can start from creating a challenge you can clearly achieve that will fill you with a feeling of true success. That feeling of success, even from something seemingly very small, is like the gasoline that fuels the engine of a car for someone who is feeling overwhelmed with daily diabetes care.
Take a moment, right now, to close your eyes and envision a version of you who is proud of yourself for facing diabetes each day, and giving your best, even when your best isn’t perfect. Seriously. Stop reading for a moment or two and envision that version of yourself.
That version of yourself is somewhere beneath the burnout. Instead of scolding yourself for imperfections and frustration, that other version of yourself knows that some days your best is nearly perfect and other days your best is a little … wrinkly. That other version of yourself knows that diabetes is challenging, from moment to moment.
Through learning how to set awesome goals as you work toward becoming that version of yourself who is confident and okay with imperfection, I want you to feel successful through small steps and small achievements.
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