Fresh Views

Perspective over comparison

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. – Eleanor Roosevelt

The trees in Kentucky are bringing their showy fall foliage. Each does not think about competing with the tree beside it. They just do their thing and bring their color.

Our last post focused on the impactful words that Tami keeps on a post-it note stuck to her computer monitor: Progress, not perfection. These words build on how the growth mindset draws attention to one’s own progress. Today we turn our attention to 3 more impactful words shared by a mentor over the years: Perspective over comparison.

Accepting oneself can be hard! 

In life it can be easy to default to comparing yourself to others. Just last week Tami heard these words from a patient, “I’m bad…I don’t eat the way I’m supposed to. I don’t keep my blood sugars as well controlled as my friend who also has diabetes.”  It’s so easy to get caught up in creating our own opinions of ourselves and how we measure up to others. We can play the comparison game all day long but how helpful is that really? Comparison can leave us feeling down. 

Being realistic about personal strengths and challenges is often easier said than done. Striving to be honest with ourselves and accept who we are, our abilities, and acknowledge when we’ve reached our limits is the goal. Without acceptance it’s impossible to move forward. In a 2018 #DSMA Twitter Chat we asked participants about their strengths. One individual with diabetes replied:

“I am strong when it comes to seeking support. When I am down, I am self-aware enough to address my hardship. I’m not afraid to be vulnerable.”

Another replied:

“My strength is that I refuse to give up. I am tenacious and do not take no for an answer.”

Acceptance is critical when living with a chronic condition like diabetes

When encountering clients/patients facing this comparison scenario, diabetes care and education specialists (DCES) can step alongside as a think partner and give perspective to the circumstances. We can offer caring, support and encouragement.

People need to feel safe when engaging with their care team to acknowledge what they can do, along with what is challenging for them. This past week in an educational symposium for people with diabetes that Tami spoke at, the participants voiced loud and clear the theme of feeling judgment from their healthcare providers. DCES have a unique opportunity to support those that live with diabetes as they learn to accept changes and new challenges in dealing with diabetes. And, practice acceptance, understanding that people react to challenges differently. It’s critical to accept the person in front of you as they are, without judgment.

An individual typically can recognize and clearly identify things they are able to do or achieve and feel happy. We can then encourage focus on those strengths, do more of what is working, and leverage those strengths, skills and qualities to create new opportunities. 

In the same Twitter Chat mentioned above, another participant shared:

“I concentrate on the lifestyle. The day to day life of a person with diabetes. I work for overall health through exercise, and diet for BGL [blood glucose] results. The support I receive takes care of the rest. So, cure or not, let’s make it as good as we can and support the other.”

Diabetes care and education specialists can learn a lot from simply asking people what strengths they have to help them live well with diabetes, keeping top of mind, it’s all about perspective over comparison.

Here are 6 solution-focused questions you can incorporate to focus on perspective, strengths, and self-acceptance:

  1. What would success look like for you (e.g. in life, in living with diabetes etc)?
  2. What strengths do you have and use to help you manage your diabetes every day? 
  3. How can you use your strengths to create opportunities for success?
  4. What is one thing you have come to accept in your life that took some time to process?
  5. How did you feel when you were finally able to accept that challenging situation?
  6. How could you use those experiences and feelings to move you forward to accept a new challenge now?

If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

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Deb is employed by Dexcom, but her words and opinions in this blog are her own.

Tami is employed by the University of Kentucky HealthCare Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center, but her words and opinions in this blog are her own.