A lot of people living with diabetes have a tendency to blame themselves when things go wrong with their diabetes. There is so much pressure from doctors, parents and ourselves that we tend to internalize and equate how successful we are as individuals with how well we manage our diabetes. Diabetes can become the focus our lives instead of all the other things that matter to us.
To find the answer to this question we need to define success. A lot of people view success by what society tells us, what our family says, or even what our friends say. Many people believe that how much money you make is a marker of how successful you are, while others see success as completing primary goals in life. Some see success as coming in first place at the Olympics, winning the Super Bowl or receiving a Nobel Prize. How can one be successful if you have to reach such heights to get there?
Over time in my experience as a psychotherapist and my journey through life, I have come to find that being successful is all the little things that make up the journey towards the finish line. It is great if you can win the gold at the Olympics but what about the rest of us? For everyone, I believe it is what you do and overcome every day that defines success. It’s not whether we reach the finish line, but the effort that goes into that journey that matters.
I believe just about anyone can agree that making it to the Olympics is a success in and of itself. Not everyone can make it to the Olympics or be on the front cover of Rolling Stone magazine. You don’t have to be president of a Fortune 500 company to be successful. Most of our successes are not significant or noticeable to others, but it’s important that you notice them.
It’s all a matter perception. If you choose to see all your successes from small to large, then you will see a successful person. Unfortunately, research has shown that one negative event can erase ten positive ones.
Example: You wake up this morning with a blood sugar reading of 100 mg/dL. You find yourself leaving work on time and even arriving to work early. The president of the company praises you for the great job you are doing. You then realize that your blood sugars have been in control all day. Later that evening you have the best date of your life, and before bed, you check your blood sugar, and it reads 123 mg/dL.
Next morning you wake to a blood sugar reading of 304 mg/dL. You feel angry and wonder how you messed up. All of a sudden the previous day is forgotten.
Just now my Dexcom alerts me to a high blood glucose reading. It seems that what I ate for breakfast was higher on the glycemic index scale than I thought. A high blood sugar reading could upset me, and for a moment I was, and then I reminded myself that it happens to everyone living with diabetes. I am looking back at all the success I have already had today. I got out of bed, hitting the snooze button twice. After that, I showered and checked my fasting blood sugar. I then brushed my teeth, made breakfast, correctly counted my carbohydrates; I started this blog and so on.
It is important to remind yourself every day of all the little successes you’ve had after something negative has occurred. Even now I feel better that I took account of my morning successes. As there will always be high blood sugars, low blood sugars and other negative events in our life, but our success in life is all around.
Got to run or I will be late for work! Remember all big success come from many little successes in life.
Eliot LeBow, LCSW, CDE, is a diabetes-focused psychotherapist. His private practice, located in New York City and is also available via Skype. LeBow, who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1977, treats the many diverse cognitive, behavioral, and emotional needs of people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
All the advice included in this blog is therapeutic in nature and should not be considered medical advice. Prior to making any changes to your diabetes maintenance program, please consult with your primary physician or endocrinologist.