We humans are born to love and be loved. But being a loving and supportive friend, partner or family member can be a struggle even under the best of circumstances. Adding a side of diabetes to the mix can create unique challenges to our relationships (and our sanity).
Diabetes often threatens the diabetic's sense of balance and serenity. But it doesn't stop there. Family, friends and partners are also affected. Meeting the needs of our loved ones while managing our stress and maintaining a strong sense of self is key. Knowing how to get there is the hard part.
Whether you're loved is newly diagnosed or is a diabetes veteran like me (22 years this Easter), implementing my three simple rules for loving a diabetic is bound to change things for the better. I recommend giving yourself at least a solid three weeks for the cumulative effects to shine.
And if you're anything like me, you'll slip up more than you succeed, especially in the beginning. But if you make the commitment to consistently implement these rules (which are really suggestions), I guarantee you'll be happily surprised by the results.
So, in no particular order, here are Amylia's Three Simple Rules for Loving a Diabetic:
- Be an Extreme Encourager
- Cultivate Empathy
- Detach with Love
Learning how to best meet the needs of your loved ones (whether diabetic or not) and still keep your sanity and wits about you is not a one-time-only event. We humans learn by trial and error. We get it eventually. But quick-fixes rarely last. Be patient as you try these three rules. I guarantee they'll make the journey to greater health in your relationships--and yourself--more enjoyable.
1. 1.) Be an Extreme Encourager
This one rule alone can change your relationships, and your life.
Here's the thing: no one is harder on ourselves than we are. Diabetes demands damn near perfection, and yet reminds us daily how utterly imperfect we are, and forever shall be. Odds are good that the diabetics in your life are keenly aware of their faults and failures (and flogs themselves over these things repeatedly).
My mentor, Christine Kane, taught me the anatomy of extreme encouragement. In essence, extreme encouragement allows you to be real without being rude. To be kind without having to lie. Lifting up those in need is really a gift to ourselves. Not only does real encouragement make others feel good, it makes us feel pretty darn good, too.
- Being an extreme encourager means finding that place within that knows there is power in seeing beyond the drama or "facts" of a given situation (or person) to the deeper truth. It's a bit like doing the work of Byron Katie, only more fun.
- An extreme encourager trusts in the diabetic, and their enormous capacity to learn and grow from every misstep, set-back and screw up, as well as from their deepest desires. The result of extreme encouragement is that it helps people trust in themselves. Diabetic or not, we all need people to believe in us. Besides, the truth about "reality" is that everything we experience is based on our perceptions. "Reality" is little more than a story we tell ourselves. In other words, life is an illusion. So why not make it a good one?