The 90/10 Principle and Your Diabetes

The Power is Yours


The 90/10 principle was coined by bestselling author Stephen Covey.  It means that 10% of life is made up of what happens to us and the 90% of life is decided by how we react.  So we have no control over the 10% but we control the 90% by our reaction.

For us, having diabetes is part of the 10%, meaning we don’t have control over being diabetic.

There is a little or a lot of insulin resistance going on in our bodies or maybe our pancreas doesn’t make an ounce of insulin.  That is a fact and yet, what about the 90% that we can control?

We can control a lot.  Within our unique situation we can…eat as healthy as is possible, we can exercise, we can control what we allow to upset us, we can try to fail less and succeed more, we can remember more and forget less, and we can improve over time rather than worsen.

We can control how we feel.  Even though we may think as if “diabetes makes us” feel a certain way and do certain things, the truth is we allow ourselves to feel however it is we feel and do whatever it is we do. 

Here is my personal example to sort of illustrate this principle:

Years ago…I would wake up with my blood sugar really high.  I’d curse diabetes for “doing this to me” and then call work.  I’d tell my job I would be late because of my diabetes and to log this lateness under FMLA, as usual.  Then I would give insulin and lay in bed, depressed until my blood sugar came down.  I wouldn’t really make too much of an effort to look decent because I hated my job anyway.  Then I’d think, “stupid diabetes, because I need insurance, I quit school to work full time so I could pay for diabetes supplies and now I’m stuck at this horrible call center”.  I’d go to work with a low self-esteem because I looked and felt pretty rough.  At work I’d probably snack on some M&Ms because I believed I deserved some comfort food.  After all, diabetes is the opposite of comfort so what else could I do?  Then my blood sugar would be high in the afternoon and I’d curse diabetes again in the usual way.  When I got home I didn’t feel well enough to do anything productive because “diabetes is so depressing and takes all of my energy and motivation away”.  So then I’d eat something “comforting” again and go to sleep unhappy only to wake up the next day and start another agonizing day.

A couple years later after forcing some thinking and attitude adjustments on myself: (and clearing up depression)

I’d wake up with blood sugar around 75-80 (because I maintained my night schedule) and if my blood sugar was high I’d give insulin and continue getting ready for work.  At work I’d test whenever I needed (sometimes even in the middle of an important meeting-under the table).  I would try to keep a consistent eating pattern while at work so that I wouldn’t be too surprised by unruly blood sugars.  I was able to work pretty well all day because I’d manage my blood sugars well.  If something went wrong I didn’t blame my diabetes-which was refreshing.  When I went home I’d work out.  This gave me energy for the next part of my day and elevated my mood and helped my blood sugars.  Because my blood sugars were pretty level I would find nothing stopping me from doing something productive or enjoyable and I never sat down to watch TV.  My personal relationships were good because I was feeling healthy and happy.  I would find it easy to eat a healthy dinner and organize things for the next work day.  As long as I never ate processed foods at dinner I would wake up the next morning with a great blood sugar reading and start the day off right once again.

Diabetes was the same in both scenarios-ever present, and I have always fully relied on insulin.  But, the scenarios are very night and day and this is because I reacted differently to everything.  I used to flip out over a high glucose reading.  I would panic or get depressed and then allow the rest of my day to go to ruin.  Now, I give insulin for the high reading and leave it in the past, knowing that the insulin will bring down my blood sugar and soon I’ll feel good again. 

In most cases, we suffer with our diabetes because of our reaction.  No one said it was easy, but it sure is true. 

Just a reminder to grab the reigns again!  You are in the driver’s seat.

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