I attended a parents’ meeting for my daughter’s Volleyball league last night and the coaches did something quite innovative. They went over the rules of the game! It was just the basics, but it turned out there was a lot more to it than I thought. Not only can I better support my daughter as she learns this next level of skill, but I can avoid some potentially embarrassing situations by understanding why the ref can or cannot make a particular call. It was amazing and I learned so much that I am borrowing a page from their playbook. This post is all about the basics of Diabetes Coaching – What it is and who needs it.
Coaching is a relatively new service, especially in the field of healthcare. Fitness and business coaches have been around for quite some time – helping people get to the next level of whatever it is they want to do. Diabetes coaching is no different – getting to the next level of where you want to be as it relates to your health and happiness. A football player needs more than just a rule book to win a game. He needs a coach to provide a larger perspective, deeper strategy and personal motivation to go around any barriers to the goal line. While health providers and educators are focused on what to do (the rules), coaches are focused on how you feel about it, what you believe about it and how to stay motivated long term.
So let’s start with the easy part – what coaching is not. It is not medication management, meal planning, nutritional counseling or exercise motivation – although each of those will likely be impacted by what you learn in coaching. Nearly all of my adult life has been spent in healthcare and managing my own diabetes. What I know is that education comes second to motivation. If you were interviewing a potential employee who was disinterested, frustrated, sad, mad or angry, odds are that your expectation for their success would be pretty low. Truth be told, you wouldn’t hire someone like that. It isn’t logical to expect an excellent performance by an unmotivated person. But every day in healthcare, providers and educators expect us to play the game of diabetes daily, for the rest of our lives and do it perfectly. They focus on education because if we understood the risks, we would change – right? If that were true, smokers wouldn’t smoke, we would all work out every day and McDonald’s would be out of business.
The truth is, we do what we believe will lead us away from pain and towards pleasure. Period. Willpower and fear motivate us initially but both eventually wear off. And as they do we slip back into our comfort zones, the places we feel safe and cozy: the foods we love, the comfy couch, the distraction of TV, movies or a good book, the ear of a friend who can tolerate our whining, the “fixer” who takes over, a hectic schedule that keeps us from noticing our pain, the thrill of a shopping spree, martyrdom of caring for anyone but ourselves and lastly, ignoring that nagging voice in our head that knows what we should be doing. And while distraction may feel good for a while, if your life’s purpose is only to avoid pain, you miss out on the greater blessings. So if fear and willpower don’t work – then what?
The easiest way to change behavior is to change what you believe to be true. So step one is digging into your beliefs and frustrations to see what you motivates you. The process is a collaborative effort to put all the cards on the table and then take a good look at it together. Sometimes the answers are right in front of you but you can’t see them. A coach helps you sort through it and develop a new perspective. And once you have it, you can’t “unhave” it. I attended a training session once where we were shown the FedEx sign. Like this:
Our instructor then pointed out that there was an arrow between the E and the x. See it now?? I had seen the sign a million times but never noticed the arrow. Today I always see the arrow because I can’t “unsee” it. I have had the same experience with my diabetes which originally thought of as a snake (I hate snakes – see a post I did on old blog a while back), but now I see as a child I need to care for. Nothing changed but the thoughts between my ears. And that quickly, it got a little easier. Most people are not aware of the thoughts that are holding them back or causing self-sabotage but everyone has them. Awareness changes how you view the world, how you respond to it and what you believe about it. A good example of this is someone sitting next to the spider until they notice it they are totally unaffected by its presence. But the moment they become aware their beliefs about said spider emerge (fear, screaming, interest, etc). Nothing changed but the awareness.
I get It
So who needs a coach? Anyone who thoughts sound like this: “I hate diabetes”, “I want off this crazy ride”, “I am never going to find someone to love me like this”, “I won’t be able to live the life I want to live”, “I can’t get good control”, “I can’t even get my blood sugars right, why bother”, “I am too tired”, “I am alone”,”This is too hard”, “No one understands what it is like”, “My doctor never says anything good to me”, “I am too busy right now”, “Everyone treats me differently”. “It doesn’t matter what I do, it never is OK”, “I am SO frustrated with all of this!!!!”
I have been there and had every one of those thoughts I get it. It is no way to live. You don’t have to spend the rest of your life feeling trapped and frustrated. You are already motivated by what you believe and what you perceive as your truth. What if relief was as easy as noticing an arrow in a logo? Sure, there is “stuff” to work through but if you are ready and willing, big changes can happen. Maybe you just need a coach to help change your game. Click below to message me!