- It’s normal to experience negative emotions after a medical diagnosis like type 2 diabetes
- Rather than isolating yourself, connect with people who understand what you’re going through
- A type 2 diabetes diagnosis isn’t the end of the road, and there are several options for management and even remission
Experiencing negative emotions after a medical diagnosis like type 2 diabetes is normal. You may even grieve your former life before type 2 diabetes—and that’s okay too. Positivity doesn’t mean ignoring negative feelings: in fact, it’s crucial to navigate heavy emotions through each phase of the grieving process after a diagnosis.
Learning to see these hardships in a forward-moving, positive light is important for the long haul. The Mayo Clinic says, “Positive thinking doesn't mean that you ignore life's less pleasant situations. Positive thinking just means that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. You think the best is going to happen, not the worst.”
A positive outlook isn’t always easy, but it certainly pays off. We all have days that seem to cloud our perspective—where it’s difficult to see through the negative, but learning to ground yourself in a positive attitude can help break through the haze. You may even find through staying positive that the diagnosis itself leads to deeper self-discovery and healthier, bolder life choices that prioritise you in a way that wasn’t available before. Learning to stay positive is well worth your time after a type 2 diabetes diagnosis—here are a few tips to help you get started.
Reframe negative thought patterns
A type 2 diabetes diagnosis often comes with negative stereotypes around diet and exercise. Even medical professionals fall into a “blame-the-victim” trope. These biases pile on additional shame to a patient’s diagnosis. Aside from the obvious formidable fears associated with type 2 diabetes, social stigma only adds to negative self-talk. These stressors are unhelpful and actually heighten blood sugar issues. It’s fine to acknowledge big feelings, but knowing how to rephrase them is a huge asset to staying positive. Transform your inner critic into a more supportive voice. It takes practice, but eventually, you’ll catch yourself and change the habit. First, notice negative self-talk. Once you’re aware of what it sounds and feels like, replace those words with something more constructive.
Avoid toxic positivity
According to Very Well Mind, “We all know that having a positive outlook on life is good for your mental well-being. The problem is that life isn't always positive.” Glazing over heavy emotions with lighter ones doesn’t produce a happy existence. It’s normal to experience anger, grief, and hopelessness after a diagnosis, and your “negativity” doesn’t make you any less human. When you’re ready to move through feelings, positive changes will come from putting in the work for a more constructive existence. But toxic positivity won’t cut it. Ignoring the feelings doesn’t make them go away and this isn’t how to stay positive after your diagnosis.
Connect with people who understand
A type 2 diabetes diagnosis can be isolating but remember, you’re not alone. Reach out to online groups or communities who actually know what you’re going through because feeling seen and heard helps lessen self-deprecating thoughts and sadness. Once you tap into a new network and community, you may find a well of love and support that sparks more joy in your life than before your diagnosis. Something true of 12-step communities that relate to this circumstance is that hardships often bring us closer to people who understand us on a deeper level. There are many positives still undiscovered after a diagnosis.
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Stay in gratitude
Negative thoughts can send a person spiralling. It’s important to acknowledge all that you have–especially when major situations and high emotions cloud the many positive aspects of our lives. According to Harvard Health Publishing, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness in positive psychology research. The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. Thankfulness can seem like a baseless self-help tool that doesn’t apply to your very real medical diagnosis. But writing out what you’re most grateful for in your life is proven to increase happiness. It’s proven to help you stay positive, so it’s worth a try.
Restart the day at any time
We’ve all woken up with a prickly demeanour that says not today, life. But you’re human. Dust yourself off and begin again. The whole day isn’t ruined just because you had a few bad hours after cold coffee and dry toast or even after a particularly heavy emotional burden. Try a positive reset. Check in with yourself and say, “Let’s start over.” This “reset” can happen at any time of day when you feel yourself focusing on negative thought patterns.
It’s not just a buzz word! Self-care—and more importantly self-appreciation—are pivotal for staying positive throughout type 2 diabetes management. Prioritise your needs by going for walks, connecting with friends, preparing healthy meals, and reminding yourself that you’re worth caring for. Self-care is life-affirming.
A type 2 diabetes diagnosis isn’t the end of the road
After a diagnosis, it also helps to know there are several options for management and even remission. As Sheila, one of the first Habitual members puts it, “Have faith that you can do it! And once you have done it, acknowledge that the changes you have made will guide you to a healthier, and more active life.” Positive thinking can actually aid in stress management and plays an important role in your overall health. As you may or may not know, lower stress is good for your type 2 diabetes management. Your diagnosis is not the end of the road, and it’s important to implement a positive attitude to help you along the journey.
Staying positive is a key component of moving forward in day-to-day life with type 2 diabetes. Positive thinking means creating opportunities to build something new. Positivity often means possibility. The small daily steps for managing type 2 diabetes don’t always make an obvious impact, and that can be discouraging. But remember that progress happens slowly over time. Remind yourself that making better choices not only improves your type 2 diabetes but also improves your social and mental wellbeing—that’s something to cherish. A few bad days or hours here and there will happen but don’t let them derail your entire day. Stay the course and take steps towards positive thinking. You’ll see your world transform from glass half empty to glass half full in no time.
 Falkner, A. (2020). The Five Stages of Grief that Come with a New Medical Diagnosis. Healthline. Retrieved 10 June 2022. Accessible here.
 Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 10 June 2022. Accessible here.
 Stigma should not be part of a diabetes diagnosis. Diabetes Canada. Retrieved 10 June 2022. Accessible here.
 Nazario, B. (2021). How to Stay Positive with Type 2 Diabetes. WebMD. Retrieved 10 June 2022. Accessible here.
 Ebba, A. (2019). ‘Stay Positive’ Isn’t Good Advice for Chronically Ill People. Here’s Why. Healthline. Retrieved 10 June 2022. Accessible here.
 Cherry, K. (2021). What is Toxic Positivity? Very Well Mind. Retrieved 10 June 2022. Accessible here.
Coping with a Diabetes Diagnosis. Diabetes UK. Retrieved 10 June 2022. Accessible here.
 Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier. Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved 10 June 2022. Accessible here.
 Cherry, K. (2022). What is Positive Thinking? Very Well Mind. Retrieved 10 June 2022. Accessible here.