Perfectionism, noun; A propensity for being displeased with anything that is not perfect or does not meet extremely high standards. American Heritage Dictionary.
As a child of two critical parents and a T1 Diabetic, I struggle with perfectionism every day of my life. It has only been the last decade or so, that I have successfully stopped being obsessed with being perfect.
In some ways I believe that perfectionism has caused more damage than the disease of diabetes itself. The ideal of being perfect has a powerful hold on most of us, and it is expected in our culture. We are obsessed with being "Number One." Or as a one t-shirt pointed out to me, "Number Two Is Only The First Loser." The power of the mind over the body is well documented and even Western Medicine has come to accept the power of the mind over disease.
I tend to average eight to twelve finger sticks per day. And eight to twelve times a day I am grading myself on my ability to be a "compliant" diabetic (right now the grade is 77). Since 1980, when I bought my 1st glucose meter, at a cost of $300, I have been grading myself on a blood glucose scale. Prior to 1980, I was graded, but on a different scale, 1st with urine in a test tube, then with urine on a strip. These techniques relied on a color chart that graded on a negative, 1+, 2+, 3+, 4+ scale, and sometimes could be subjective. All of this number crunching has reinforced the need to be perfect.
So, one day I woke up and decided not to be perfect. Just like that, I began making a conscious choice to allow good, to be good enough. At 1st this was difficult and frustrating but I continued to try to be "human" and not "perfect." Still today I fight the allusion of perfection by intentionally making mistakes and consciously deciding that being good is better than being perfect. The 1st thing I noticed is that my blood sugars came down and my HbA1c began to hover at approximately 6.1%. Now, I was really intrigued with my grading/perfect concept and I wondered where it might take me.
I constantly remind myself that Mother Nature herself, is not perfect and if this is true, than why did I expect any different from myself or others? Once I began to grasp the idea I found that I was able to laugh and sing and dance without self censure. What freedom, at least in my mind, from the constant worry about the what ifs in regards to diabetes. This disease is not entirely understood by the medical community, so I have to give myself a break and allow myself some wiggle room. I know myself better than anyone else (including the diabetic police), so I continue to find my way through this world, without holding my breath or suffering sweaty palms.