Expert ButtonI’m not sure about you, but I don’t often feel like an expert of my diabetes. Certainly not when I think I’ve done everything ‘right’ and I still have a sky high blood glucose reading, or when I wake up with a hypo for the third night in a row, or when I’ve (yet again) missed an exercise session.

But what does this word ‘expert’ mean anyway? Typing ‘define expert’ into Google offers this definition: “A person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge or skill in a particular area.” Now I have to admit that’s a little different. I know you do need to have a comprehensive knowledge of the ways you can handle your diabetes to get at least okay results. Just because it doesn’t go to plan every time, you cannot deny you have detailed knowledge of how certain things affect your body.

Of course, when something doesn’t go to plan, the human response is to get angry or frustrated, or think, “What’s the point?” Experts also feel this way. Like the scientist who is frustrated when the experiment doesn’t produce the expected results, but still returns to the lab the next day. Building up a tolerance to, and curiosity for, the variables that are less predictable, is a crucial part of being an expert.

The expert gets inquisitive and treats the curiosity like a scientific experiment. Okay, so I’ve woken up with a hypo (again) but what was different? Opening up that space allows something new to dawn.

Some of the tricks I’ve learnt over the years are:

  1. Keep a diary of hypos: This doesn’t have to be a daily diary of everything I do and eat, but just a short summary/a few bullet points of what happened when it went wrong, or as soon as possible afterwards.
  2. Reward myself when I’ve managed diabetes well for a certain period of time: Rewards don’t have to cost anything. They can be time spent in an enjoyable pastime, a relaxing bath, relishing a favourite hot drink, listening to favourite music — anything that is enjoyable for its own sake. Alternatively, you could design a ‘token system’ in return for rewards. Award yourself one token for each day you manage your diabetes well and after 5, 10, or 15 tokens (you decide), ‘exchange’ these tokens for a CD, a new item of clothing, some fresh flowers… again, it’s your choice!
  3. Share what I have learned with someone else: Not necessarily my diabetes doctor or nurse either, sometimes a partner or family member can have a fresh way of looking at the situation, which I hadn’t noticed (novices teach experts too!).

What are your tricks and tips for managing your diabetes? What has worked for you, even if that doesn’t mean it will work for others? I want to encourage you that you are an expert, an expert of you. That does not mean you get it right every time. Notice the definition above does not include the word perfect! In fact, any expert I know had to make many mistakes to acquire their expertise — a lot of getting it wrong, so they could get it a little more right. They became the expert because their peers decided to stop — stop learning, developing, trying, dedicating themselves to their skills. So don’t stop and own your expertise. And do share…

You may use this article on your website, or for your own e-zine; however, there’s one thing you MUST include: Dr. Jen Nash is a Clinical Psychologist chartered with the British Psychological Society. Dr. Jen helps her clients find solutions with simple and highly-effective psychological strategies to gain freedom from the frustration and stress of living with diabetes. To sign up for her free Diabetes Diary, visit www.PositiveDiabetes.com.