David Emerald is known for his take on how to take positive control in your life. Most thought of for his TED (The Empowerment Dynamic) program, he’s an expert in helping folks in all kinds of situations shift from feeling like “victims” to becoming “creators” of their own positive destinies.
So when a doctor told him he’d been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, one would assume he’d face the news like an empowered “creator.” But Emerald, who remembers the moment as if it just happened, said his response went something more like this:
“I was flabbergasted,” he says now, seven years later. “I teach and coach people around being the creator (of their own destiny) and there I was, feeling very much the victim.”
That, he said, is how overwhelming a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes may be.
While Emerald continued teaching his program, in his personal life and treatment, he slipped into all the things he taught others not to do: Instead of viewing his doctor as a coach and supporter, he looked at him to be a rescuer. And instead of working toward a place of positive movement, he felt himself deep in what he calls the drama triangle. In other words, he was far from practicing what he preached.
Enter Dr. Scott Conard. Conard, president of the North Texas American Diabetes Association, had seen Emerald in action at one of his seminars and had begun integrating Emerald’s TED concepts into his medical practice, particularly among those living with diabetes who are part of his practice. Finding himself in Emerald’s hometown, Conard headed to his house for a visit. As they talked, Conard shared what he was doing with TED, especially as it related to diabetes. Emerald could hardly believe his ears. He told Conard of his recent diagnosis, and shared his fears and stress, expecting perhaps some coddling. What he got, instead, was his own doctrine, given right back to him.
“Here is this empowerment guru, and he’s talking to me about this diagnosis like there’s nothing he can do about it,” Conard remembered. “I said, ‘How can you be talking like this? You’re being a victim and you’re in the drama triangle!’” Emerald sat up, took notice, and asked to lean on his new friend.
From that coincidence came a shared journey and partnership that changed the way Emerald approached his care, his plans, and even his life as a whole, and may now help others living with diabetes. In the duo’s new book, TED* For Diabetes: A Health Empowerment Story, the two share, through the “fable” of a fictional character named Joe (based loosely on Emerald’s own experience), how the TED philosophy may help you move from feeling like a victim to acting like a creator, to shift from powerless to powerful, and yes, to move far, far away from the drama triangle that can bog us all down in life.
It all may sound overwhelming to anyone deep in a rut in his or her diabetes care, but as Emerald and Conard learned, baby steps may just be a way out of that rut.
“It’s simple, but it’s simple the way weight loss and that whole ‘calories in, calories out’ thing is. It’s doesn’t always feel that simple at all,” said Conard. “You ask yourself: what is my commitment? Right now what can I do? And then you take that baby step. Instead of asking, ‘What’s wrong,’ you ask, ‘What can I do?’ And then you do it.”
The book is heavy – in a good way – on acronyms. There’s a lot to learn, but it does not push you to do it all at once. Emerald believes a great first step for anyone is to examine their relationship with their healthcare team and make sure they are not playing the so-called “passive patient” role.
“In mine, I was looking to the medical profession to be my rescuer,” he said. “And in the book, that person actually becomes a persecutor for Joe.” Instead, he found a doctor whom he could look to as a coach; someone there to guide him and boost him, but not take over his care.
As a doctor, Conard loves this. “There is nothing I like more than a person living with diabetes who comes to me and says, ‘Why? Why should I do this?’ and ‘What is there for me to consider?’ I want it to be an active partnership in which the patient takes a major role.”
Today, with a TED take on diabetes as shared in the book, Emerald is thirty pounds lighter and has an A1C level within his goal range. “Now,” he said, “It’s about what I want to go toward, not what I want to get away from. Rather than diabetes being something I’m going to react to, it’s something that I look at and say, ‘What I am going to create out of this?’”
Moira McCarthy is an acclaimed writer, author, and public speaker who has shared her story – and lessons – on raising a child living with type 1 diabetes in the media, through books, and on her popular blog, despitediabetes.com. McCarthy has appeared on CNN Live, Good Morning America, and Fox News. She was recently recognized as the JDRF International Volunteer of the Year. Her six books include the top-selling The Everything Parent’s Guide to Children With Juvenile Diabetes and the upcoming Raising Teens With Diabetes: A Survival Guide For Parents. McCarthy is a paid contributor for The DX. All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the contributor, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.
© 2013 The DX: The Diabetes Experience