Diabetes Self-Management Blog

It’s amazing how easy it is for us to deny ourselves the credit we deserve. I’m horrible about this! I shame myself so easily, it’s ridiculous. And I’m far too hard on myself MOST of the time. I’ve always known this, and yet continue to do it more often than I want to admit (pardon me while I shame myself over my bad habit of shaming myself…). What got me started on this topic? I’m listening to a recording I made recently as I write this (just a demo recording, nothing major), pleasantly surprised with the way I played on it. I’m surprised, because I usually HATE hearing myself recorded. I usually avoid giving myself credit at all costs.

I have a theory for why I have such loathing for hearing my own recorded work. While others simply hear the notes I actually played on a given recording, what I hear are all of the notes I MEANT to play but didn’t. I hear all of the notes that I meant to play ever-so-differently-but-didn’t-quite-land-right. I’m never this critical with what my bandmates play on a recording, just my own playing.

There isn’t anything remarkable about me in this regard. I think what I’m describing is something many of us are familiar with. But it got me to thinking about the special kind of shaming and self-attacking pattern that can go on with diabetes.

Diabetes is a manageable disease, and that’s a good thing. But I think it opens the door for a lot of overly harsh self-criticism and shaming, too. The disease can be managed, and our job is to “control” it — we can’t slip up, we can’t make mistakes, and if our numbers aren’t good, it’s because WE’RE not doing a good enough job!

I remember in my younger days I would often get VERY mad about any kind of high number, even when those numbers were infrequent and my A1Cs were consistently great. I would attack myself for “failing” in my blood glucose control. I would think “worthless, stupid, why can’t you figure this out?” to myself. I would beat myself up for not calculating my insulin correctly. Or, I would literally get mad AT MY BODY for not acting predictably. I wasn’t exactly “self-blaming,” but I WAS sending nasty, nasty thoughts toward my own body, and I think the negative effect is just the same.

There are so many “do’s and don’t’s” with diabetes. I should exercise more (which is true), I should eat less (probably true, too), I need to check my blood glucose five to six times a day, I should keep more regular eye appointments, I should manage my blood pressure better, I should try to lose some weight, I should… I should… I should….

Regardless of whether all of these things are TRUE or not (most of them, in fact, are true), it’s easy to see how easy it can be to start shaming ourselves for failing to keep up. Life as a Diabetian is complicated; there’s a lot to do in order to live successfully with this disease, and sometimes we slip up. Sometimes we eat an extra cookie without taking enough insulin; sometimes we don’t exercise; sometimes we don’t monitor before a meal. Life happens. And when it does, and we miss a step, we have to remember to be kind to ourselves. We have to remember to give ourselves credit.

I’m thinking back to that recording again. I talked about how I usually notice all of the notes I MISSED or didn’t play quite right on recordings. Well, tonight, I found myself enjoying what I DID play. And that’s the key to diabetes, too. We need to give ourselves credit for ALL OF THE THINGS we do each day, and give ourselves a little slack for the occasional missed notes. We can always try to correct them in the future, but there’s no use shaming ourselves when we’re doing SO MANY good things day in and day out!

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