TED* for Diabetes: A Story of Health Empowerment
Authors David Emerald and Scott Conard, MD, create a compelling story for a new and positive approach to relating to diabetes. TED* for Diabetes is a personal journey toward optimal health for people with diabetes, caregivers and health care professionals. Take a look inside the book.
(Excerpt from Chapter 7 – Harnessing Dynamic Tension)
Harnessing Dynamic Tension
The next two weeks, we all did well as a family and I did a great job with my diabetes management. The kids grew more comfortable with the changes as we learned to use the ways of thinking and relating to one another that I had gained from the class.
We served as coaches for one another in a way that actually helped, rather than annoyed, each of us. My becoming more active, settling into a new way of eating, and tracking progress with my numbers were becoming routine – almost.
I was sailing along until Saturday night when Lois took the kids to a movie. I’d had a long week at work and opted to stay home on my own to rest and reflect over the past week.
Or at least that was what I intended to do. As I was rooting around through the kitchen drawers for a pen to write in my journal, I opened the snack drawer and found a half-eaten bag of potato chips.
Ah…the bag wasn’t sealed and I could smell the wonderful aroma of grease and potatoes.
I realized that no one was around to catch me in the act and before I could get a grip on myself, I had plopped down on the sofa in the family room with the remote in my hand. I sprawled out, mindlessly watched TV, and devoured the rest of the bag.
Man, did I enjoy the taste of the salt and seasonings! It had been a long time since I’d savored that taste. After all, I deserved this! I had been doing so well, how could a few potato chips hurt? Already on a roll, I looked through the cupboards and found a box of cookies—my favorite kind. By the time my family returned, the empty bags were hidden outside in the bottom of the trash can. I acted like I’d just pulled off the perfect crime. If only it were that easy.
The next morning my blood sugar told the truth. Lois happened to see the meter and raised an eyebrow at me. I gave no explanation. I knew exactly what had happened, and I wasn’t in the mood to deal with her disappointment in my behavior. I went to class that week with my tail between my legs.
Marianne called us to order and said, “Welcome to the next-to-last class, folks! Did I tell you that there would be a test tonight?”
There was an audible gasp in the room. Voices spoke up, “What?” “No!” “You gotta be kidding!”
Marianne laughed, “I guess no one likes tests in here!” A few of us chuckled at ourselves. She continued, “Well, yes, I am kidding – sort of. We will get to the mini-test in a minute. First I want to do a quick review.
“Over the past few months we have talked about SARAH, FISBE, the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT), the Victim and Creator Orientations, TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic), and how we make shifts happen. The final major framework that I want to share with you tonight is called Dynamic Tension. It is a very simple way of planning for and taking action to create outcomes, and to stay more consistently in a Creator Orientation. I call it the 3-step dance of creating.
“First, here’s the test. Are you ready? It is one question: If you choose to live from a Creator Orientation, where do you put your focus? Remember FISBE – Focus, Inner State, and Behavior? What is the focus of a Creator?”
“Great – you all pass with flying colors!”
She wrote Vision/Outcome at the top of the whiteboard. “In creating outcomes you always start by focusing on what you want to create. You start by answering the question, ‘What do I want?’
“The second question comes from Robert Fritz’s work with what he calls ‘structural tension.’ It is an important and powerful question to ask yourself, ‘If I had what I want, how would I know it?’ This forces you to identify the qualities, characteristics or other components of the envisioned outcome.
“A couple of classes ago, I gave you homework to reflect on what well-being, health, and vitality would look like for you. If you had optimal health and well-being, how would you know it?”
A man in the front said, “I’d have more energy.”
“People would say I look good,” said a woman next to him.
A woman to my left said, “My diabetes would be under control.”
I spoke up, as in confession, “I’d be eating healthy food.”
Ram said, “I’d lose weight.”
Marianne said, “Ah…I don’t want to pick on you, Ram, but I want to use your comment as a way to illustrate a point. It’s really important to set your intentions and envision outcomes in affirmative language. Focus on what you want, rather than what you don’t want. The words ‘lose weight’ places your energy on what you want to get rid of. It is subtle, I know, but what is a more affirmative statement you could make about your weight?”
Ram thought for a moment, and then said, “I would be able to wear some of my old, favorite clothes.”
Good, you see yourself wearing old – and maybe some new – smaller clothes.”
The woman to my left chimed in: “I’d like what I see in the mirror!”
Marianne nodded. “Do you see how those statements are more powerful – and empowering – than merely seeing it as losing weight? How would it feel to say, ‘I am at my preferred body weight?’”
There were nods all around the room.
Marianne explained, “Merely envisioning the outcome and identifying how you would know it if you had it is not sufficient for creating it. Intention alone does not bring the vision or outcome into being.
“The second step in the process is assessing your current reality in relation to the outcome.” She wrote Current Reality about half-way down the whiteboard right below Vision/Outcome and drew a line connecting them.
“In order to move toward your vision you need to know where you currently are. If I were to take you out to some remote location, drop you off and then say ‘I’ll meet you back here,’ you’d have to know where you were – what your current reality was – so that you knew in what direction to begin walking. Assessing current reality must be made honestly and accurately if you want to succeed.