I am a therapist and educator with a focus on helping patients and caregivers to cope with chronic and catastrophic medical conditions. One of the issues that my clients most often talk to me about is fear of what the future might hold.
Any medical diagnosis means change, such as changes in diet and lifestyle and new medications, and it is only human to want to hang on to what is comfortable and familiar. Change is scary as we begin to ask alll of those 'what if' questions. If you are feeling fearful and uncertain about the future, here are some ideas to consider.
Gather your fan club around you. One of the lessons of difficult times is to build a solid support system. Who are the people in your life who help you to bring out your best self, and who rely on you to do the same for them? Make sure you keep them close. Spending some time with your fans is a good way to help you keep your focus on what’s going well in your life right now.
Keep antidotes for negative self-talk handy. When you tell yourself how scary or bleak the future may be, you are training your mind to focus on the negative side. Chances are that your view of reality will match your expectations. But like any poison, negative self-talk will shrivel away when zapped with your most powerful antidote – positive self-talk to balance out the negative.
Remind yourself how you have met challenges in the past. Start your list of antidotes with your greatest successes. Don’t forget your key skills and personal qualities. Here’s one to add to the list: resilience. You have faced at least one life-altering challenge — your diagnosis — and moved forward with your life. So you know you have what it takes to meet the next challenge.
Partner with your healthcare team. Some days, it may feel liike your healthcare team is trying to make your life miserable with new restrictions on what you can't eat or do, or what you have to do that you don't want to do, along with medications that produce uncomfortable side effects, and then scolding you when you aren't compliant. But consider this: You and your healthcare team have the same goal: maintaining your optimal health as you cope with your diabetes. Work with your healthcare team as your partners. Ask questions. Let them know about concerns.
Get informed. The best way to counteract fear is with real information. When we don't have all the facts, it is human nature for our brains to fill in the gaps with stories and misinformation. This can lead to creating stories about the likelihood of the worst possible outcome that may or may not be real. So get as informed as possible about your diabetes, through reliable online resources and by talking with your healthcare professionals. Knowledge is power!
Speaking of power, also embrace your Higher Power. Believe in something beyond the bad news and the day-to-day setbacks. Your Higher Power can be found through a spiritual or religious practice, or it may be found in simply trusting in your own inner strength for strength and guidance.
Nothing is guaranteed, except this moment in time. Give up the struggle to be in control. You can’t go back and fix what you did or didn’t do in the past, you can’t control the future, and you certainly can’t control what anybody else is doing. But you can be certain about doing the best you can for yourself, and the people you care about, right now.
With all of these resources, how bad can things be? Take a deep breath and go with the flow.
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