As I settled down in my yoga class this morning, our instructor brought up the difference between intention and expectation. Where intention is something you aspire to be, a value, a direction or a plan you want to put into place, expectation focuses on the needing things to be a certain way, an assumption, or the ever-dreaded thought that things “should” be a particular way. With intention, you head in a particular direction but are flexible in how you get there. The expectation, on the other hand, has a much more rigid, defined path and outcome.
So what does this have to do with diabetes?
One of my key beliefs is that we should strive for persistence instead of perfection in our approach to diabetes management. Persistence aligns with intention (a value, direction, way to be), whereas perfection is a strictly defined expectation. In yoga, if you have the expectation you can bend over and touch the ground, you will be disappointed if it doesn’t happen. If you have the intention that you will be diligent in your practice, but not hurt yourself, you will be proud and accepting of almost reaching your toes.
Likewise for diabetes, if you have the expectation that every blood sugar will be perfect, frustration and disappointment show up when you have done everything right, but the number still isn’t where you want it. But if your intention is to do the best you can each day, with what you have, then those occasional (or even more persistent) out of whack numbers won’t cut so deep into your sense of worth. You are still living up to your intention and moving in a positive direction even when diabetes isn’t playing fair.
Staying motivated in a diabetes life can be hard, especially if you are grading yourself by your expectations. If you feel you are failing, it can be harder and harder, to keep you ahead in the game and your eye on the ball. But if you persistently move in a direction of curiosity, self-care, grace, and diligence you develop a greater sense of ownership and achievement even when the numbers aren’t perfect. Following an intention builds motivation, whereas trying to live up to expectations can kill your motivation.
Intentionally Moving Forward
One of the best ways to follow your intention and manage expectations is to focus on what is true or speaking what you want to be true. What is true doesn’t have to be earth-shattering, but it helps you find stability and peace. I am trying something new this time. I want you to listen to this audio clip. It is an example of how you can bring to life your intentions and stay in a place of peace when parts of your world seem out of control. Listen and repeat. Or make up your own!
PLEASE let me know what you think. I have been thinking about creating some audio clips like this for sometime.
So, if frustration and struggle are getting to you, see what you can do to manage your expectations. Set an intention. It may be just the thing you need!
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