cognitive dissonance

Do you have COGNITIVE DISSONANCE?  We all have cognitive dissonance. It’s the nature of the reality we live in.  Anything arises does so with a polar opposite as well as all ‘points’ between the two. If you don’t have cognitive dissonance then you are immersed in the delusion of Maya.  What the hell does this have to do with Diabetes???

When I was 27 (In my 13th year since diagnosis), I was asked by a local hospital to be on an exploratory committee to explore the need for a “treatment/support program” that focused on the psycho-social issues surrounding the dis-ease of diabetes in children between the ages of 8-16.  A diagnosis of diabetes quickly creates an environment of chaos and emergence-y.  It’s similar to something going seriously wrong on a plane and the oxygen masks are deployed.  A “Correction” to the system must be instituted.  That correction, of course, is injectable insulin.  Hopefully, the plane is brought under “control” somehow by the pilots and a semblance of balance is restored.  But the plane will never be the same.  

As we were exploring, we came to believe, that, while the children were certainly dealing with a lot of emotional, mental and social issues, it was, in fact, the parents, who were most impacted.  We decided to turn our focus to a parents’ group.  We did a “pilot” program and a father who was obviously distressed because his eleven year old daughter was newly diagnosed, asked me……”How do you ever accept this?”

I felt his sense of hopelessness and helplessness.  He understood that the situation was serious and, I he was scared.  

I told him that the biggest desire I had was to cure the diabetes in myself.  I told him that I believed I could and that, therefore, I could never fully accept it.  I told him that I had been living and surviving with it for 13 years and, while challenging, it was doable. I will never forget this father asking me the question and the look on his face.  My father was a doctor.  He was always able to “fix” anything that went wrong with us.  He could not fix this.  

In my opinion, what must be accepted in order to get “the plane” back under enough control to keep flying is a continuous expansion of response-ability to the situation we face.  We are tasked with employing, understanding, managing and constantly monitoring a perpetual motion of the physical body that has been destroyed.  I have utilized a 5 step process …..

1. Confront head on, with integrity the reality of the situation. It’s a tough one but it is doable.  When I was diagnosed, I took one shot of long acting insulin in the morning and peed on a strip to see how much sugar I was spilling in my urine.  I was “flying blind.”  Today, we have pumps and CGM’s and much more knowledge of what is needed to stay in at a safe blood glucose “altitude” and stem off future complications.

2. Explore, Inquire and increase understanding of what needs to be accounted for and the feedback needed to continually improve results.

3. Integrate the quality of our confrontation and understanding to employ a system to manage both our blood glucose levels and our life.

4. Become a Master of this challenge and inspiration to others.  Doing this reduces self suffering and the suffering of others.  This was the Buddha’s objective; Find the cause of suffering and how to eradicate it. Diabetes has a way of creating an environment for immense suffering because it is something not wanted and appears as though it won’t go away.

5. Validate our results and share with others.  I sometimes call this 5th and final step “Celebration.”

This is a cyclical process and therefore we are constantly moving on to the “next step.”  A great Zen Master said, “The practice of Zen is like traveling along a circle.  Does not matter much where you are.  What is important is to keep moving.”

The metaphor of the plane is, obviously, to the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual body of the afflicted.  However, it is also comparable to the family unit.  In my experience, I am very aware how it has affected my siblings, my parents, my friends, my coworkers, my coaches, my team mates…etc….

When a child “gets it” the parent or parents are our co-pilots in assisting us to fly our own plane. I cannot tell you how much gratitude I have for the people around me who have supported me through this journey, which I am now into my 43rd year of.  There are times when I was not response-able and there were times when I was all over it.  There were times when I had a hard time confronting it head on and there were times when I said “bring it on.”  

Over the years I have written about my experience with diabetes.  I wrote a blog series called “Transforming Diabetes.”  My most recent blog is called “The Yellow Brick Road.” where I explore the 5 step process a bit deeper.  

I know that there is a “CURE.”  I know it because I desire it.  As long as I am here I will continue to work the process that I have discovered that has enabled me to stay here.  I will never accept that this will not change.  I believe that a deep Kabbalistic concept to be true.  That concept is that – Fulfillment is the seed of Desire.”  That implies that any desire we have, has, as its’ seed, its fulfillment.  Talk about cognitive dissonance!  

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