• 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. 

    Follow us on Twitter @AFreshPOVforYou

    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.

  • Fresh Views

    Adopting a Growth Mindset is a Game-Changer

    #ADCES22 conference is in the books! We not only had a great time reconnecting with colleagues and friends, we also learned a lot. We were particularly interested in sessions that incorporated solution-focused tenets to see how our ideas and practices align. One that particularly struck us was the keynote speaker, Heidi Grant, PhD from Columbia University Motivation Science Center and author of 9 things successful people do differently, who spoke on what successful people do differently. Today’s blog is a little longer, but we think it may transform your thinking.

    When getting ready to do something, or pursue a goal, people bring  2 mindsets

    • Fixed mindset. The first, a fixed mindset – is about proving your ability, demonstrating your skills to others, and comparing yourself to others. The minute something goes wrong, you start to question yourself, and thoughts can turn to, “Maybe I don’t have the ability” when things are hard, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. This can lead to anxiety which makes it even harder to move forward. You think you can’t do something, so you don’t do it. 
    • Growth mindset. On the other hand, a growth mindset is rather than thinking about proving your ability, the focus is on IMproving your ability over time and developing skills. Those with a growth mindset are more concerned with ” how am I doing TODAY,” compared to yesterday or last week, as opposed to comparing self to others. 

    Adopt a growth mindset

    We believe that a growth mindset aligns with using a solution-focused approach, in which we encourage small steps to move someone forward in the direction of their goals. The growth mindset draws focus to one’s own progress. According to Grant, “The growth mindset is the single best predictor of persistence and resilience in the face of setbacks and challenges.” We frequently write about persistence and resilience in solution-focused practice. Grant referred to the growth mindset as a “super power” when it comes to persistence and resilience.

    In taking a solution-focused approach to diabetes care and education, we can step alongside our clients/patients and help them recognize a fixed mindset and shift to foster this growth mindset. For example if you hear someone say “I’m not good at this”, you can encourage them to shift to saying, “I’m not good at this YET.” Or, “It’s not about doing good, it’s about getting better.” This shift helps to create the desire to do something and move forward. It’s a journey and about growing over time. The more one does this shifting, the less they’ll have to do it. It will become a habit.

    One solution-focus tactic to help to evaluate progress over time is to incorporate scaling questions. For example, on a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 is not confident and 10 is very confident, compared to yesterday, how confident are you that you can work towards your goal.

    Dr. Grant noted that there are not many things as impactful as a mindset with which you approach a task. Those that adopt a growth mindset experience:

    • More willingness to take smart risks ( willing to make mistakes, learn and grow)
    • More persistence and resilience
    • Creativity
    • Deeper thinking
    • Interest and enjoyment

    Growth mindset language

    We frequently touch on the power of person-first, strengths-based language. When we think of language associated with a growth mindset, Dr. Grant encouraged use of these words:

    •  Grow
    •  Progress
    •  Become
    • Over time
    • Develop
    • Improve

    Be a realistic optimist

    Of course, pessimism  – which is believing you’ll fail – can be challenging. As can unrealistic optimism – which is believing you’ll succeed easily. Realistic optimism on the other hand, is believing you’ll succeed, but at times it can be difficult. We call attention to this as it’s important to help clients build realistic optimism. We can help prepare people for their journey. The future is something to be achieved. A simple formula is to vividly imagine the future is similar to the Miracle Question we’ve shared in prior blogs. We can encourage clients to consider how they will feel, what they willI be doing, and how they will overcome obstacles. Using  future-visioning questions as we’ve shared, can help move clients towards their desired future. 

    Make if-then goals

    As Dr. Grant noted, two of the biggest obstacles to achieving a goal are 

    •  Knowing EXACTLY what to do (not being specific enough)
    •  Missing opportunities to act

    As we all know, there is a “knowing-doing” gap. People often know what they “should” do, but don’t do it for many reasons.There are times when the goal “could” have happened but the opportunity is missed. One solution is to make “if-then plans” (forming implementation intentions) – a very effective form of planning to overcome this gap. For instance, “If (or when) situation X occurs, THEN I will perform Behavior Y”.

    For example, IF I go into the breakroom and there are donuts, THEN I will have a cup of coffee.”  Advance planning is very effective. By incorporating eliciting questions a client can be guided to develop several if-then plans. By asking “What else?” you can drill down to make a very specific plan. Creating these plans can equip your client to have them ready in their back pocket when potentially challenging situations arise. By creating if-then plans you’re also helping the client to practice problem-free talk. If-then is similar to using exception questions, which we’ve shared in prior blogs. A successful if-then plan replaces challenging habits with positive changes and helps to develop small changes over time.

    Our challenge to you as a think partner with your clients/patients

    • Guide them in building resilience with a growth mindset.
    • Equip them to be ready to act with realistic optimism.
    • Support them in learning to bridge the knowing-doing gap with if-then plans.

    We welcome anyone interested in our approach to Subscribe to our blog and we’ll email you when a new post is published!

    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. 

    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou

    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.

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