When someone walks into my office, more often than not, they are coming to see me because they are looking to let go of something related to their diabetes. While I can’t think of one person I have seen who hasn’t wished they could let go of diabetes, most people understand this is not possible (yet). But holding on to the emotions, misconceptions and expectations that diabetes give us can be overwhelming. I work to help people live well with diabetes, which often times means letting go. But letting go of what?
Guilt: For all of the unpleasant things that diabetes gives, guilt can be one of the toughest things to deal with. Feeling guilty because of an unexplained blood sugar reading or because you indulged and had a cookie (or two) or because you lashed out at your spouse because you were high are all unfortunate parts of living with diabetes. Guilt can also be paralyzing, making it difficult to take care of yourself and manage your diabetes as you should, which can then lead to more guilt – it can feel unending. Letting go of guilt can mean forgiving yourself. Understanding and accepting that you will make mistakes, or that diabetes can (and will) throw you a curve ball and forgiving yourself for these things can be a valuable tool for letting go of guilt.
Perfectionism: People with diabetes tend to be perfectionists. And why not? We are taught that diabetes comes down to numbers. Except that we all know that is not always how it works, which just makes us try harder to be perfect. A lot of times people with diabetes just end up chasing their tails in an effort for perfection –in behavior or glycemic control – which is just not possible. Letting go of perfectionism can mean setting your bar a little bit lower and accepting that sometimes, ‘just good enough’ is good enough. Letting go of perfectionism means that we strive to be perfect in not being perfect.
Control: This one is for the type 3s out there. Whether you have a child, a spouse or another close friend or relative with diabetes, it can be easy to fall into the habit of wanting to control their behavior. This probably not only causes tension in your relationship, but also takes up a lot of your time and energy. As hard as it might be, sometimes it is best to just let go of this control. It may cause some anxiety at first, but you may also see some benefits. And if nothing else, you will likely see that no matter how hard you try, the only person’s behavior you can control is your own.
Letting go of the thoughts and emotions related to diabetes can be hard. It may be even harder than managing diabetes itself. But successfully letting go of these things can help you to hold on to all the things in your life that are important to you.