Unkind people and hurtful words.

Dr Gary
By Dr GaryCA Latest Reply 2012-12-23 19:45:29 -0600
Started 2011-04-26 17:03:06 -0500

If people would just behave themselves…

When was the last time you had your feelings hurt by the words or actions of another person? Within the last week? The last day? The last hour? The person who hurt you may have been a total stranger, an acquaintance, a healthcare professional, or someone close to you.

I am often reading posts here on Diabetes Connect describing what others have said to them. Telling them to lose weight and their diabetes will go away. For example: Blaming them for not taking care of themselves. Warning them of what might happen to them in the future. Telling you that if you didn’t focus on how you feel so much, it would just go away. Or just plain old pretending that you aren’t dealing with a medical diagnosis that affects the way that you live your daily life.

But we need people in our lives, in various roles, even on those days when we wish we could just go it alone and not have to place ourselves in the position of being disappointed or upset by the behavior of someone we thought we could count on to be understanding and supportive, or at least to not say something that is careless and hurtful.

And, more important, there are a lot of great people in the world – and in our personal corner of the world – and it’s important not to become so disillusioned that we are tempted to tune everybody out.

So, here are some ideas to help you to deal with those situations that place your faith in humanity on shaky ground:

Watch your self-talk. Remind yourself not to have expectations of other people, including how they "should" think or behave. We can’t predict how people will behave, and expecting them to think or behave according to our own standards and needs only leads to disappointment. Realistically, you can only expect that they will be who they are. For better or worse.

Try not to take things personally. Sometimes people say things that are thoughtless, or just plain dumb, because they are uneducated, or too caught up in their own problems to step outside of themselves and try to understand how someone else is living in the world.

Try to educate people where you can. Let them know when they say something unhelpful and hurtful. If they’ll listen, give them a few facts about your condition. Show them by example how you live and what you need to do to take care of yourself.

And tell yourself that it is not your job to change other people. Some may listen and learn, others may not be able to, willing to, ready to. Know when to walk away from a painful situation.

And if that doesn’t’ work… remind yourself that the person who said or did something hurtful is not paying you rent, so you shouldn't give them much space in your mind. You need it for more important things.

Yes, I am encouraging you to talk to yourself a lot. Human beings do that anyway, it’s how we make sense of the world. Your self-talk can have a big impact on how you are viewing the world, interpreting what you see, and then how you are feeling and behaving.

And while you are at it, stay close to the people in your life who are supportive. Stay in touch with them, let them know how much you appreciate them, and ask them what they can do to help you. Keep working on bring more supportive people into your life. You might find that when you are feeling supported, encountering people who are not so kind or helpful will be less likely to impact your day.

If you are suffering from depression or anxiety around your condition, it’s especially important to keep supportive people in your life, and to have coping strategies in place to deal with painful interpersonal situations. Knowing how to cope with unkind people and hurtful words being proactive, and helps you to maintain your perspective and not get knocked around by the turbulence.

We always have a choice in how we view the world. And in the big picture, the world is filled with a lot of great people.

Had any experiences with unkind or unsupportive people lately that you want to share? What do you do to help yourself get through situations like this?

We are all in this together! Stick close to your friends here on Diabetic Connect.

29 replies

petals 2012-12-23 19:45:29 -0600 Report

I need to work on the self talk, and not letting hurtful people take up so much space in my head and in my life. Thanks.

melota 2011-04-29 10:57:11 -0500 Report

I so agree with you. Am being constantly told to, "Just push away from the table and you will lose weight, and if you lost weight, you would not have any problems with diabetes." Well. they need to have walked in my shoes for 65 years, they might have some understanding. We need to treat each other with respect, kindness and love. "If you can't say something nice about someone, at least keep quiet."

June Tademy
June Tademy 2011-04-29 10:50:04 -0500 Report

Hello Dr. Gary, Very well said..I had to learn to "turn the other cheek" and I do it well now. It took awhile for my family to understand MY feelings and condition, they would always compare me to our mother. My mother was in denial where I am not in denial, I was just frustrated until I found a really good doctor, and it took awhile to find one. I find that sometimes we just have to believe in ourselves and try not to be so sensitive, this is not easily said I had to do it in order to survive. You know everyone has something wrong with them and one way to relieve themselves of their problem is sometimes to take whatever out on the person close to them. It is not easy but you can really change minds, just show people how you are surviving and staying well, that is what I do, yes sometimes I do have bad days, but I talk to myself a lot and put me back on track. I try really hard to be understanding to others on this site and I try to share my feelings and be very supportive if I cannot I will not reply. I feel we first must love ourselves then we can take on the world…and that is exactly what I am doing …nothing or nobody will stop me from feeling good about me and loving me. It took too long for me to get here. Love you all very much, and this site will truly help you, just listen and take everything lightly they are here for you. Thanks Dr. Gary and Bless You

nanaellen 2011-04-28 13:57:42 -0500 Report


Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-04-28 21:56:33 -0500 Report

I love this! Words to live by. And it sounds like you are very strong person. A good lessson from your mom. Thanks a lot for sharing it.

Gimpalong 2011-04-28 20:37:13 -0500 Report

That's what my mother always said when I was young and at home. I think it still works today. Have a great weekend. Keep well. God Bless.

Gimpalong 2011-04-28 13:35:06 -0500 Report

Hi Dr. Gary. Thank you so much for helping us to handle uneducated people. When I become awake in the morning, I tell myself to try a smile. That seems to help set my mindset for the day. There are days that I would rather go back to bed, but I lead a pretty active life. At time I wish that I had remembered the "NO" word. When people are thoughtless and say things that really hurt because they can't always see physically or emotionally how I feel. When they are stupid, I put a smile on my face and tell them that I'm so glad that they were so blessed with such good health. Then, in a soft voice, I ask them if we could trade each other's shoes. At first they may have a blank look, but I proceed to explain that I'd like to walk in their shoes for a day, and they coud walk in mine, and then the next day we could discuss how the walks for each of us had been like. That usually gets the point across without really being unkind, just blunt words. Please keep us informed on important issues.

Take care and God bless,

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-04-28 22:03:20 -0500 Report

Hey Nancy,

This is beautiful! I think that when you tell yourself to smile, you are also reminding yourself that the world is not all bad, that life has possibilities, that you can handle what comes your way. It is like summoning your strength, and your positive energy, to face the day. When you frown, and focus on what's wrong in your life, you start the day defeated.

I really like the idea of tellling people that they are blesssed with great health, and offering to swap positions with them and compare notes. That is I am sure a teachable moment for them, and a lesson they won't soon forget, if ever. You might even help them to improve their attitude.

Thanks again. Really great to hear from you!


Gimpalong 2011-04-29 11:17:38 -0500 Report

Thanks for the kind words. Each day is a blessing, and if I look for something good, then I'll see it along the way. We all have life challenges, but if we seek the Lord's help, search for something worthwhile, then we can expect it. I love people, and it hurts me so much to see and hear them saying there is no hope, and now there is nothing to live for. Pardon me, but have you looked outside today and seen the beautiful sun shining, or the flowers in bloom. Yes, the challenges diabetes causes are many, but if we take baby steps one day at a time, we are going to get started moving ahead, and hey, before long we are walking (carrying our tool kit) and the next thing, we realize we've just found that lost hope. I just look for something special each day, even if it is small.

Have a great weekend. Please keep on sharing your knowledge, we need to see and read it. The more we learn, the more we are equiped to handle diabetes and other challenges. Take care of you. Have a wonderful day. Just smile and laugh, it confuses people by wondering what we are up to!

God bless,

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-04-30 16:48:33 -0500 Report

Hey Nancy,

What a great post. We do help to create our own reality. If all we see is negativity and disappointment, then that is what the world is going to look like. And it is within our power to turn that thinking around, if we choose to. Ond day at a time, as you said so well.

Thanks for your kind words. Posting on Diabetic Connect is one of the bright spots in my life, many days the brightest. You have a good weekend too!


nanaellen 2011-04-29 22:21:30 -0500 Report

I SO love your attitude!! I've often been on the way to work or out for a drive and look up in the sky and say (sometimes out loud LOL) God you do some beautiful work!! :) People just tend to get too busy and forget to "stop and smell the rose's"!! Ellen :)

Gimpalong 2011-05-01 00:34:02 -0500 Report

Thank you for the kind words. I try each day to find something special to recall and think about. God has blessed my life in so many ways. Just this week has been a great blessing for me. While my son and I were traveling and visiting his friends and family, my BG# shot up to 698. Needless-to-say, I was pretty scared. I was able to maintain 280 afterward. Today it was down to 113 and held low all day. I am so happy and thankful. I hope you are having a great weekend. Put a smile on your face, and your dancing shoes on your feet, and have a wonderful dance with life. Isn't it great!

God Bless,

Graylin Bee
Graylin Bee 2011-04-28 07:30:24 -0500 Report

My very helpful and supportive family still every once in a while say some of those not very kind and sometimes hurtful words. Even though I know they do not intend them to be meant that way, it can still bring me down emotionally.
I talked recently with one of my sisters about how words from another sister's husband had hurt me. My almost lifelong double vision and bad depth perception have prevented me from ever being able to drive a car. Heck somedays walking is risky when walls and corners are much closer than they appear to be for me. Brother-in-law suggested I should get a driver's license. I knew he had good intentions. However it made me feel he thought I was too stupid to know whether I was able to see good enough to drive safely. Also that I was being stubborn and would prefer the lifelong inconvience of waiting for rides from others and buses rather than just getting into my own car whenever I wanted and going whereever I wanted to go. Bad vision has prevented me from several job options. My sister said that because I could do so many things it seemed to all of them that my eyesight wasn't really that bad. In a second I was able to picture activities I would like to do but can't and ways I adapt so I can do many things.
Usually I can handle their why don't you just get a license comments. But this time it came after months of job searching. I had kept running into the job listings that either were not on a bus line, or for some include the use of your private vehicle for possible company use. Brother-in-law thought I should just be able to say "Why yes I have a driver's license". Since some of the jobs involve driving other people to places that option was not doable. I fnd it funny that all of them will occassionally suggest I drive, yet when I ask them for their car keys they refuse.
Normally I can remember it is not out of meaness but rather a lack of understanding that distressing tings are said. I also know there are many words out of my own mouth that have unintended meanings to those who hear them.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-04-28 22:10:48 -0500 Report

Hey, how you doing?

What an amazing story, and so well told.

Timing is everything, isn't it? Sometimes, we can let hurtful words just wash off us, but other times circumstances are such that they really strike a chord, and leave us feeling like we had the wind knocked out of us. I know, I have been through it too.

I am glad that you let your sister know how you felt. It's interesting that that they didn't know much trouble you were experiencing. On one hand, it means that you are compensating for your disabilities but on the other hand it shows that people who are close to you are not being sensitive to the challenges that you are facing. Their ignorance, and their denial, results in inappropriate comments.

A teachable moment for them, and hopefull one they will learn from.

Humor is a good response, isn't it? It drives home the point and cuts the tension at the same time.

Thanks a lot for checking in. Stay in touch!

ethansmimi 2011-04-27 10:55:24 -0500 Report

Thank you so much for this article! I really needed this right now. I have been struggling with getting my asthma under control and having to take large doses of prednisone which makes my diabetes worse and causes weight gain. I have family members to like to tell me that I've "blown up like a balloon" which is exremely hurtful. I am trying to work on my self-image and learn how to let those comments roll off my back. I know I am doing the best I can. I also know that it's what is inside a person that counts, not the outside. I wish our world wasn't so judgmental based on physical appearances.

I do think the world has a lot of great people in it. Those are the people I need to spend my energy on instead of the inconsiderate ones.

Thanks again for a great article.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-04-28 21:55:21 -0500 Report


Thanks a lot for your kind words. I am glad that I was able to help you in some way. Wow, I'm sorry tha you are going through this, facing your own health challenges with a lot of negative stuff coming at you from people who should be caring and supportive. Again, a good example of loved ones feeling helpless, not knowing what to do or say, but thinking they should fix you in some way. Instead, they are making dents in your self-image that you don't need rght now.

Have you tried telling them how they are huring you, that you are doing your best and that you need their support? I suspect you have.

But you can still give yourself a lot of positive self-talk, remind yourself that you are doing the best you can, working as hard as you can to take care of yourself. That's a lot.

So hang in there, and stay close to your friends on Diabetic Connect. Lots and lots of great people here.

By the way, I had severe asthma in childhood, well into high school and college. I still have the allergies but not the asthma. In high school, by doctor pumped me up with steriods. I gained a lot of weight, which at the time we didn't realize was from the steroids. And I became extremely hypoglycemic, which is still am. So I can give you lots of firsthand empathy on this one.

I am thinking about you, and hoping for your best. Stay in touch, okay?

ethansmimi 2011-04-28 22:18:57 -0500 Report

Hi Dr Gary,
Yes, you are right, I have tried telling family members how much their words hurt. I'm just being oversensitive, they say. I am learning to just keep a lot of things to myself like when I'm in a lot of pain, etc.

I do think through all of my challenges, I have more compassion for others and have learned not to judge someone so quickly. None of us know anyone else's story and we shouldn't judge each other by outward appearances. I was brought up in a home that was very judgmental and prejudice and it still is. I am glad that I don't share those beliefs and I brought my children up to be accepting of others.

I know the side effects of prednisone are evil but in my case it's the lesser of the evils. I have a lot of inflammatory processes going on in my body and my doctors are just trying to get some kind of control on it. It seems like things started snowballing when I hit 40. It's been a rough 10 years. I'm hoping the next ten are much better!

I'm so glad I found this site and have this group for support. We all need support and understanding.


GabbyPA 2011-04-27 08:04:14 -0500 Report

What is the saddest thing is that many times, the people who say things are really trying to help. They just have no idea what they are talking about and go by what they heard or read somewhere. Prejudices are everywhere, we all have them, even if we think we don't. Go do some people watching one day and see what kind of comments you make to yourself about the people you see go by. It might just surprise you.

Trying not to take things personally is key. It's hard when they are speaking directly at you about you and telling you what to do. BUT, you have to rise above their ignorance a take the time to educate them. If you can take time to educate you may also be able to prevent them from being so insensitive to the next person. That would be the best thing. Some will never listen and you just have to know that you are better than that in your heart.

I rarely run into people that treat me this way. Or at least that do it to my face. What they say or think to themselves is not my business. We all do that, and hopefully we just know better than to blurt out hurtful things.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-04-28 21:47:14 -0500 Report

Hey Gabby! Nice to hear from you, as always! You're right, prejudices seem to leak out everywhere. People speak out of their own helplessness and ignorance, often with the assumption that they are helping you in some way, even if to do no more than give you some "tough love" that you didn't ask for and don't need. They confuse fixing you with hurting you. As as you suggested, what I always remind myself first, and then others, is that we can control other people, as much as we would like to and, darnit, should be able to.

Bubbelove 2011-04-27 19:39:36 -0500 Report

I get it from two of my daughters. They tell me if I lost weight (I am a comfortable weight and not fat) and if I exercised I would not have diabetes. These two daughters are very thin and exercise contantly. Of course the ads which we see are of no help. "you can get rid of diabetes forever, etc." I'm doing well with my counts, but am frustrated to think that my daughters believe I can just get rid of it. I never know how to answer them. It makes me feel guilty to think that all my life I've not taken care of myself and got diabetes.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-04-28 22:13:08 -0500 Report

It may just take some time for them to figure this out and accept that this is a part of your life. But I am wondering if they might also be concerned about their own futures and not know how to bring up this topic with you. Is that possible? It might be a discussion to introduce, along with some information. Just a suggestion.

Take care!


Gimpalong 2011-04-28 13:42:36 -0500 Report

Do either of your daughter's live near you? I know when I was taking classes to learn about diabetes, and how to control it, my late husband was my support person who had to attend with me. When we were through with the classes, he could not believe how invasive diabetes could be to a person. It really helped him to understand diabetes from all aspects. Maybe there would be a class that your daughters could attend with you. Your doctor would have to recommend the class, but they would definitely understand diabetes from your view point. I hope that you will be able to find a program that will help your family understand.

tabby9146 2011-04-28 12:30:54 -0500 Report

That is so hurtful, and sorry they say that to you. My family, well most of them, don't take it seriously either. They think I"ve reversed it the way they talk anyway, but I have not. It is still there. i know it when i eat the wrong thing and I tell them that. Someone told me the other day, 'it's so great how you have overcome your diabetes, and how well you are doing and maintaing weight loss" I told them thank you , but I have not overcome it, I am managing it well. Then they said they did not mean to say overcome. ugh!

Bubbelove 2011-04-28 14:07:47 -0500 Report

Thank you for your support. I hope that they never have to deal with these issues; however, there is diabetes in their father's family, my father's side of the family. So I hope that they never have to know. My youngest daughter had gestational diabetes, so I think that she is very prone to get it. She doesn't take care of herself. She is 40 years old. I don't know what the answer is. My mother is 86 years old, very heavy, and healthy as can be. Still works and travels for her work. I'm not sure that there is an answer to avoid diabetes. Also, the ads do a lot of damage to those of us who have diabetes. It angers me because it makes people think that it is your fault and it can be totally avoided. YIKES. I shouldn't get started :-) THANK YOU, AGAIN.

Gimpalong 2011-04-28 20:50:48 -0500 Report

It's so hard when our family members don't understand that just because you look great that you should be able to do everything without getting tired. My parents, 93 and 87, have wonderful health. I am very thankful that they do. I tease them, and ask them why they had to give me all of their recessive genes. They just scowl back at me. I just grin. I pray that your daughter doesn't get diabetes too. But I pray that she will learn to be supportive to you in your life walk with diabetes. Diabetes isn't always our fault, but it is in the genes. I think that having a chronic, invasive disease like diabetes makes us more sensitive to others health issues. Take care of you. God bless you.

Have a great weekend,