The year ahead… Are you taking stock of that person in the mirror?

Dr Gary
By Dr GaryCA Latest Reply 2013-01-09 15:09:50 -0600
Started 2012-12-26 15:00:27 -0600

Do you ever take a minute or two to look at yourself in the mirror? I mean really look?

I’m usually in a rush to get somewhere in the morning. But some days, I can’t help but pause and take a longer look at myself in the mirror. And when I do that, I can’t help asking myself a few questions. What am I accomplishing? What difference am I making in the world? Am I taking good care of myself and the people around me? Am I doing my best at meeting the challenges in life? Where am I headed? And, of course, what do I need to “fix” in myself?

I tend to spend more time thinking about myself, where I’ve been and where I’m going, when a new year is getting underway. Maybe you do, too.

Self-evaluation can be a good thing. It’s an opportunity to take stock of yourself, to think about where you are in life, what’s working and what’s not working so well. To modify or reconfirm you vision for the future.

If you are living with a chronic condition, then chances are these moments in front of the mirror have special meaning for you. You may have additional factors that you consider as in your self-evaluation, like physical and emotional self-care, compliance with treatment regimens, any potential effects of your condition… That’s a lot to think about. (And chances are, you’ve got other people in your life, including concerned family members and medical professionals, who also have an eye on you, and aren’t shy about giving you their opinions.)

If you’re like me, moments of self-evaluation leave you with a choice. You can cut yourself some slack, and focus on what’s working in your life, as well as the possibilities for the future. In a word, optimism. Or, your self-evaluation can slip and slide into self-criticism, woulda-shoulda-coulda thinking, and regret. In another word, self-criticism. You have a choice.

Here’s a link to an article in Living with Diabetes to give you some ideas about how to use those moments in the mirror to give yourself a push in an optimistic direction:

Any experiences to share?

10 replies

Nana_anna 2013-01-09 15:04:34 -0600 Report

I have. I have been thinking about how to make some changes, reguarding emotional health. I tend to take some things to heart. There are times when I cannot let go of those issues. That's a no, no so to speak. Letting go of the hurts, frustrations, failing and so on. It does effect you emotionally. So what can I do to change it? Even though and its a sad thing to do. Avoid it. Make a possitive move! You can over come most things in life. But if it continues, and continues to drag you down. Than I have to think of what to do. That would me to walk away. No matter how bad that can hurt, you have to do it for yourself. If you value your life and your family. Those around you who care and love you, then that is where I chose to be. I chose to be in a better environment. I chose to be around caring people. To those who try to make you weak, feel inferior, make you feel mad/sad/bad, leave them, they are not worth it. We cannot let our health be influenced by negative emotions.

Tender Tips
Tender Tips 2012-12-29 00:37:29 -0600 Report

Thank you Dr. Gary-I just finished reading your full article and found it very applicable to my situation. Especially liked the point you made about having compassion for oneself as well as others. I don't get anything accomplished by beating myself up. but being kind to myself spurs me to take better care of myself. I will be referring back to this article again I am sure!

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-12-27 12:44:54 -0600 Report

Hi Dr. Gary, I never make changes the first of the year, the energy isn't right. I use the Spring of the year. Everything is new and fresh and the energy is perfect. For me making changes in the dead of winter when every thing is cold, dead and dreary doesn't work.

Optimism is the key to making changes. Positive influences will benefit you in the long run. Knowing what you need to do to improve self can be beneficial. Listing what goals you want to work on and making sure they are realistically approachable can help. If you list goals that are not easily attainable can leave you feeling lost or defeated. Long term goals should be broken down into steps that can be completed as you work towards the end result.

For the person with low self esteem, they will more than likely stay in the woulda-shoulda-coulda mode because they don't know how to get out of it. If you see yourself as someone who is always depressed, feel lonely or simply are just floundering you have to ask yourself why. This also includes people who concern themselves with how other see them. To get out of this you have to again make a list of your positive and negative qualities. If the positives are longer than the negatives you should use those qualities to your advantage. If the negatives need changing or are not needed make changes and toss the rest.

Having a chronic disease can be taxing in and of itself. If you continuously focus on the disease by constantly educating people or talking about it, people will tend to avoid you at all cost. This includes family members. People need a break from listening to you talk about it. The problem is if you get so caught up in the fact that you have a chronic disease, it is now controlling you. I have a chronic disease, it does not have me. I choose to live my life while keeping diabetes under control.

If you want to make changes in your life, you can do it if you choose to make those changes. Learn to say "I can" instead of "I can't". "I can" will take you places and keep you moving forward. "I can't" will leave you wallowing in self pity, low self esteem or standing totally still.

Only you can change your life. Make those changes for yourself because this is what you want and need to do. Do not make changes because your spouse, family and friends tell you to do so. You will only become a clone of what they want you to be. Live life, don't let life live you.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-12-27 21:50:44 -0600 Report

Hi Joyce,

Wow, this is excellent. You really brought up a lot of good points here. I also am a big believer in having goals, but realistic, bite size steps and not unrealstic and overwhelming goals. Big goals that are unreachable are another form of self-defeating behavior. And I also agree that if you have a poor self-image of yourself, that is what you will project. And yes, having the big picture, taking good care of yourself but also maintain perspective, and not always being focused on your illness, is important. It all comes down to taking responsibllity for taking the best possible care of yourself, physically and emotionally, and choosing to focus on what's possible.

Thank you!


Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-12-28 10:46:28 -0600 Report

Thanks Dr. Gary, I just had this conversation with a friend who was just diagnoses with diabetes the first of November. He is in denial and refuses to do anything to help himself. I think one of the things diabetics in denial should do is realize this isn't a game they can play with their health or their lives. I told him that he wasn't sitting in a little car on a printed cardboard road waiting for his turn to toss the dice to see where his car was going to take him in life.

Denial can be dangerous not only for someone with a chronic disease but also in other aspects of a persons life. Denial is simply an excuse for not taking responsibility for your life. Denial will cause additional medical problems down the road. Denial of diabetes will allow diabetes to do harm to the body and eventually can cause death. I don't think many diabetics who refuse to accept they have this disease fully understand what can happen to them.

I also think support systems can also be a help and a hindrance. If you need your spouse, friends or family members to remind you to test or take your medications, you are putting the responsibility for your care in the hands of others. You know you are suppose to do this, take the responsibility and manage your own health care. If these people are not around when it is time for you to test or take meds, what are you going to do?

Responsibility is also a part of the self-evaluation/re-evaluation process. Your health is your responsibility and not those around you. If friends and family members are not supportive, learn to be self supporting. If you don't have anyone to motivate you, learn to motivate yourself. If you are making those around you responsible for what you need to do to take care of yourself, learn to be responsible for your needs. Helplessness is an expensive bill to pay when you are not willing to take an active role in your care. Adults who choose to be dependent on others or helpless drain those around them. People eventually are going to get tired of coming to rescue you and will leave you floundering.

For those who use the beginning of the year for new beginnings. I think they have to look at their every aspect of their lives, not bits and pieces and work on self-evaluation with determination and patience. Changes do not occur over night.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-12-28 21:42:16 -0600 Report

Joyce, thank you!

Denial can be so insidious, I agree. I have seen people dig their feet in and decide not to deal with a diagnosis, as if they thought that if they refused to acknowledge its existence, it would simply slink away. But as you said so well, denial is dangerous, and the beginning of the road to further, and avoidable, complications.

I also agree that support in encouraging responsibility and self-reliance can be incredibly helpful, but support that encourages dependency can be disempowering.

I would like to see more patients and caregivers educated non only on the nuts and bolts of self-care, but also on how to keep themselves motivated, and how to keep themselves more emotionally healthy. Body, mind, spirit.

Thanks again. I hope your reply gets lots of eyes!


old biker
old biker 2012-12-26 17:05:18 -0600 Report

The Man in the Glass

When you get what you want in your struggle with self
And the world makes you king for a day
Just go the mirror and look at yourself
And see what the Man has to say

For it isn't your children,family or wife
Who's judgement upon you must pass
The fellow who counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass

He's the fellow to please, never mind the rest
For he is with you clear up yo the end
And you passed your most difficult dangerous test
If the man in the Glass is your friend

Some people may call you a straight shooting chum
And say your a wonderful guy
But the man in the glass says your only a bum
If you can't look him straight in the eye

You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on your back as you pass
But your final reward will be heart ache and tears
If you cheated the Man in the Glass


Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-12-27 21:35:08 -0600 Report

Hey old biker, this is a great poem. Thanks a lot for sharing it. This poet was a very wide man. Gary

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