I am talking MOTIVATION this week, in this 5-part blog series. I am revisiting my 5 key coaching strategies which are the foundation for my new HOME COACHING VIDEOS! The videos (to be released in November) help YOU build vital skills that dramatically improve your ability to manage with all that diabetes throws at you. It is more than just diet and exercise. Diabetes impacts every area of your life, you need skills for body, mind and soul!
Diabetes management requires making choices. Lots of choices. Every day. In fact some studies show that people with diabetes make almost 200 more decisions every day than those without the condition. Every one of those choices has impact. They can make us healthier…..or not. Logically, we should all make choices that make us healthier and avoid choices that can harm us. Unfortunately logic is not the motivation behind most of what we do. It is far more complex, but it is a skill you can develop.
Why do you do what you do?
We are a system of complex inputs, consumed by our brain, and spit out as actions. It isn’t just logic that is driving us. We have inner drives such as instincts, needs, beliefs, desires, and perspectives that influence how we see the world and interact with it. Sometimes what you want to do, or know you should do, isn’t enough to override what you need or believe. You end up doing the exact thing you don’t want to do.
For example, you may really, really want to pull an all-nighter and drive across country to see a friend, but at some point your need for sleep begins to take over. Willpower and caffeine may help you out, but at some point the need for sleep will win. You can’t resist it. Likewise, we may really, really want to have good blood sugar control, but we have deep needs to fit in and be like everyone else, to feel pleasure from a sweet treat, or to avoid the pain of a poke. And these forces are very compelling.
Your willpower is an ineffective weapon in the fight against your inner drivers. Will power can take you pretty far, but by definition you are relying on sheer determination of your will for success. And our wills are weak. They are a faction of your mind that doesn’t necessarily believe itself. If it did, it wouldn’t take any power. Think about it, how often has will power failed you in the long run? If “wanting to” was all there was to it, wouldn’t you be fine now?
Our behaviors are strongly aligned with our beliefs. Most of our automatic choices are rooted in what we believe. Behaviors driven by beliefs are second nature, requiring minimal effort or power. For me, I believe in seatbelts. It is an automatic thing I do, rooted in many years as an ER nurse. I don’t even think about it, I just do it. Likewise, I am freaky about knowing my blood sugar. I believe in the value of knowing what is going on inside, so it doesn’t require much effort on my part. It’s routine. So normal and part of my make up that it just happens. No pain.
Every experience you have had up until this moment shapes your beliefs about the world. The first time you learned that fire was super hot, it didn’t take much effort or willpower to not touch fire again. Ever had a crazy uncle, trick you into chomping on a lemon wedge? Not likely something you struggle to avoid now as you walk past the produce section. The human animal is built for survival and learning from experiences has served us well throughout the ages. Each of us learns from previous experiences. They become strong teachers that live deep within us and impact our behavior and choices.
The trick to managing diabetes
Using your beliefs to motivate you, instead of willpower is how you manage diabetes. Don’t get me wrong, It takes intentional effort to change what you believe. First you have to truthfully identify the limits that are holding you back and then you have to be willing to accept a new perspective. It takes work and you have to develop that “motivation muscle”. If you can do that, the inner struggle softens, you find more strength and a shift can occur. When you can find value and a benefit for YOU, you no longer need will power!
If you are feeling stuck in a ‘diabetes rut’ maybe it’s time to ponder your beliefs and consider a new perspective? There are several ways to take your next step!
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