Accentuate the Positive

Six ways to banish the guilt and take control

Janis Roszler, RD, CDE, LD/NBy

When Susan glanced at herself in the mirror, she saw her shoulder-length brunette hair, clear skin, and tailored jacket, but ignored it all. She felt too guilty about all that happened that day – she ate too many carbohydrates and had missed her morning walk. She was full of guilt and she felt like a failure.

Most of us have days when we make decisions that are not good for us. When that happens, don't let your feelings of guilt keep you from moving forward. Here are a few things you can try to help get back on track:

  • Put things into perspective
    A single high blood glucose result or skipped workout will not cause you to develop diabetes-related complications. Problems such as neuropathy and kidney damage usually appear after a person has had months or even years of poor diabetes control. Go easy on yourself - a single moment of "bad behavior" will not cause permanent damage.
  • Use the guilt
    A little guilt can be a good thing – it shows that you are aware of your behavior. Use your feelings of guilt and it can help you move in a more positive direction. People who don't pay attention to what they do can't learn from their mistakes.
  • Rework problem areas
    If you forget to check your blood at certain times, set the alarm on your cell phone as a reminder. If you struggle to attend an aerobics class in the evening, opt for a daytime activity, such as a walk on your treadmill or a bike ride. Or wear a pedometer. Pedometers count the number of steps you take. Set a reasonable starting goal and increase the number of steps you take during the day. 10,000 steps equal approximately 5 miles.
  • Make an "Affirmative Inquiry"
    To help really turn things around, focus on the behaviors you are proud of, not the mistakes you make. Stop analyzing what you do wrong. Instead, find more positive actions you can do throughout the day. This approach is called Affirmative Inquiry and is used by many successful organizations. Here is an example:

    Susan successfully checks her blood several times each day, but often misses her pre-dinner glucose tests. Instead of focusing on why she keeps missing that one test, she should examine what she is doing right – how does she always remember to test at the other times? How can she apply that behavior to all of the blood tests she does each day? Use Affirmative Inquiry to achieve the goals you want to accomplish.
  • Strengthen your support team
    It helps to have others around you who support your successes. Seek out those who celebrate the improvements you have made in your life and steer clear, if possible, of those who criticize your actions.
  • Look forward
    At the end of the epic film Gone With the Wind, Scarlett O'Hara says the famous phrase, "Tomorrow is another day." It is. Banish the guilt and start each day with a clean slate. Don't berate yourself because of past mistakes. You can do it.

Got diabetes questions? Ask an Expert!

NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.


Last Modified Date: June 20, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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1078 Views 0 comments
by Brenda Bell
Many people say that depression is a side effect or complication of diabetes. Without discounting the association of the psychological condition with the physical one, I'm not convinced that our high and/or unstable glucose levels are directly responsible for that change in our mental state. My belief is that the unrelenting need for self-care, for following the sort of care schedules that can drive licensed, professional caregivers crazy, is what overwhelms us...
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