Our Diabetes/365 Community IS our cuppa!
You May Need to Go Around the Block
If you were a kid once, please take a minute to picture a time when another person told you, “You can’t do that!” How vivid is that memory? Have you heard those same words many times since you were a child? Hopefully, you have not heard the words too frequently. Most of us share in the experience of hearing the words more often than we prefer. We may have even spoken those words to ourselves or others along the way. When we were smaller in stature, there were items that we could not reach. Silently or aloud, we may have told ourselves that we could not reach the items & added on to that our exasperation at not being “big enough” yet. Many of us will share the memory of feeling frustrated when it was that inevitable time of the evening: bedtime. It seemed to always come too soon & be set at a time that we may not have been satisfied with. That seems to be a timeless situation. Our children also share that frustration over the time set for sleep time. Our sons enter into high level negotiations over bedtime extensions at least 5 out of 7 evenings a week. In a similar way to us, our children silently voice that they will stay up all night when they “grow up.” Life is tremendously funny that way, right? When we are children, we want to stay up late & as we “mature” in age, we look forward to a “reasonably early” sleep time. You & I have likely shared the experience ironically that often our later bedtimes are a result of our own children’s countless methods of prolonging their own bedtimes. As a small aside, years ago, a conference speaker shared with the audience a truth that has stuck with me. The gentleman’s statement was, “the highest energy wins.” That explains, perhaps to a certain degree, why children seem to be able to “negotiate” their causes for a very long time!
Do you think that it may be a natural reaction for a child generally to have that “yes I can & I will show you” spirit when he or she is told, “You cannot do that?” That is one reaction. Another one may be sadness or disappointment. Frustration & anger may be other responses. Personally, even as an adult, I love the spirit of the response of using the “you cannot do that” & turning the “can’t” statement into a springboard for trying more diligently to accomplish the more difficult things in life. Most people will admit that they have or do face challenges in some areas of life. Whether a person has a health challenge or not, no one tends to have a life of “smooth sailing.” We all face adversity or challenges along the paths that our lives are travelled upon. You know it is coming & here it is: what do we do “with” the “Nor Easterly” winds that are challenging the direction that we are trying to go in? Are the voices that are telling us that we cannot do something external or internal ones? What is the motivation behind the voice that is discouraging us from doing a particular thing? When we are children & we are advised not to do something because it is an action that will likely lead to our harm, then that voice is a wise one & worthy of listening to. There are other types of motivating forces/factors behind external heeds of “you cannot do that.” Some folks care about us & what happens to us & therefore their words mean something to us. There are times when folks will have genuine & good intentions yet lack the information about a given situation.
Let’s focus on the situations that present themselves in life surrounding our diabetes or other 365 challenges for a moment. Have you found that every once in a while a person will approach you with the “you cannot do that” because you have diabetes or another health challenge? If that person is someone who has your best interests at heart & all the accurate facts about the health challenge, then his or her advice is likely to be of great value to us. How about those times when others do not have accurate facts or may not have our best interests in mind? Those are situations that we may benefit greatly from being prepared for in advance. If for instance, someone tells us that we cannot eat or exercise in a particular manner or attend a party due to our diabetes, then a red flag will go up. Why is this person of this mindset? Is it lack of information about diabetes or our health challenge? Is this person behaving in a passive-aggressive manner possibly? Thankfully, the majority of the time, whether another person has accurate information or not, he or she usually cares about us. What does our internal voice say in response either silently or out loud? Do we carte blanche agree with what folks tell us or do we have a “processing centre” for information to determine whether the suggestion fits for us or not? Do we heed the advice or do we make use of the advice by using it as a springboard to do the things that truly matter in life whether folks believe that we “can” do these things or not?
I like most of the colours in “the crayon box” including black & white. When it comes to thinking however, I am not an advocate for “black & white” thinking. Do we let others or ourselves limit our choices with “either or” thinking? If we truly can accomplish something that is meaningful to us safely with diabetes or another 365 health challenge yet we don’t because someone tells us that we can’t, then we are being short-changed. Are some activities more difficult due to either diabetes or another 365 challenge? Realistically, they just may be. Is the activity important? With greater effort, can we accomplish the difficult? We get to answer these questions for ourselves. A couple of months ago, I received a quote that stated that “the greatest disability in life is a negative attitude.” Negative attitudes, I believe are extremely contagious. At the heart of a number of negative statements is the word, “can’t.” Personally, I am not too fond of that word. The only value that I have found with that particular word is to let it propel me into doing the exact thing that I have been told that I would not be able to do. I admit to feeling pretty feisty when I hear a statement about my type 1 diabetes preventing me from doing something as a piece of advice from someone. Again, either being able to do something or not being able to do something falls short of the full spectrum of available thinking. There is, for instance, the possibility of doing an activity even though it is difficult with considerable effort. As an aside, last year, I read a book full of “brain massaging” by Stephen Covey, entitled, “The 3rd Alternative.” It is absolutely abundant in thought provoking information that we can each choose to implement in the world.
Let’s conclude our time today together on a lighter note with 2 brief stories. When our 2 younger sons were toddler-age, my husband & I did what most parents do, we “child-proofed” the house. Not only did we put the baby proofing plugs into each electrical socket, we also put special knobs over the door knobs & latches onto cupboards. With the proper motivation & a little old-fashioned ingenuity, our sons soon demonstrated that our baby-proofing efforts were no match. One morning, my husband & I entered a room at the same time to the sight our 18 month & 3 ½ year old sons taking a snack out of one of the cupboards seamlessly & then replacing the latches back on the cupboards. Another time, our than 3 year old youngest son, was seen basically scaling the refrigerator to reach a drink because he wanted to “do it himself.” My husband & I coined the phrase at that moment of, “the refrigerator seems to have legs” & little Alex thought that was a hoot! Whether we implied by the baby proofing methods or through our words, we soon discovered that our sons did not have the tendency to take “can’t “for an answer. Stepped up, the baby proofing started to take on more of an appearance of a person on the basketball court “guarding.” Have you ever had a problem reaching a geographical destination? Do you remember the “old days” prior to GPS? I will share with you that I sure do! About 12 years ago, my husband & I were on our way to a conference one evening in Markham, Ontario. We had thankfully left ourselves an extra half hour to arrive there on time. We had reviewed the map prior to leaving & brought along the paper map with us. The majority of the drive had been uneventful until we were about 2 minutes away from the destination. We tried to turn into the venue of the event to discover that although we could see the building, the street had an unusual break in it. You could go a certain distance on it & then there was a curling club in the “middle” of the road & then the same street carried on just on the other side of the club. For a minute or so, my husband & I sat in the car & laughed at this. Then we both said, “you can get there but not from here.” That essentially meant that we needed to circle the block until we could find the “rest of the road” & make a turn into the venue. We certainly did not entertain a thought of “we can’t get there so we should turn around & go home.” No, instead, all this temporary setback represented was that we would need to make more effort to find a way to get to the conference.
These stories are a little like life whether we have diabetes or another 365 challenge. Activities are not always going to be easy yet if they are worth it, we will go ahead & expend the extra effort. We may at heart be “those legs that have grown out of the refrigerator!”
My heart’s hope for you is that the external & internal voices that you listen to with intent are the ones that have accurate information topped off with profound & earnest care.
Smiles, Saundie :)
Have a beautiful weekend & looking forward to sharing, "Hey, You Were Missed", with you this coming Monday :)