Unconscious Competence

We haven't been to church in a long time.

To the point that we probably have an inactive membership now, or they've forgotten who we are.

But I've continued my biblical readings and have tried to keep up on reading our church sermons online.

Most recently, one stood out to me and hit my heart. It illustrates how I feel generally, and in terms of my D-Care at this point in time. Maybe this is God speaking to me.

The sermon is about one of our senior pastors getting ready to retire and move on to the next phase of his life, and it talks about the Four Stages of Work.

Stage One is Unconscious Incompetence. Put simply, it means that you don’t know what you don’t know. As a worker it means coming into a new environment and trying desperately hard not to embarrass yourself or show your lack of skill. It means looking back and cringing at some of the things you said and did on your first day of work. Unconscious incompetence…I'd say this equates to someone just being diagnosed with diabetes. They are just learning, new to the game. And have a lot to learn.

Stage Two is called Conscious Incompetence. It means that you know what you don’t know. This is what people call a fast learning curve: you realize there is a whole history and vocabulary and set of relationships you need to know to do the job. And you know it will take some time to master the steps. I.E. the early days of D-Living, following the honeymoon.

Stage Three is called Conscious Competence: you know what you know. This is when you are thriving in your work and you are on top of every aspect of the job. It’s typically a time of great productivity. Conscious competence… That's where I've been. Just doing what I do, getting my A1c down, just Living With Diabetes...

But you get to a point. At least I have. Where now I find myself in Stage Four: Unconscious Competence, or simply where you have forgotten what you know. This is typically the time a person will stop doing a job and move on to something else. We all reach this stage at some point in our lives. The trick, of course, is to have the where-with-all to know when it is time to go. Sometimes, it's difficult to know when it is time to go. Sometimes it is easy to think that we need to hang-on, thinking that an organization cannot cope without us, or thinking that we need to get the organization to a certain level so no one can ruin it after we leave, or thinking we are so indispensible no else could possibly do the job.

In my eyes, this is where I am at when it comes to D-Management. The time is here where I've just burned myself out, and don't want to keep doing things the way they are anymore. I've just stopped doing what needs to be done, and haven't moved on but am just trying to hang on to what is no longer my reality. Something needs to change. In a way, I feel as though I've been doing what I've been doing for so long that I just can't change. That I'm so set in my ways that it's just not worth it. Hopeless has emerged again, and it's a vicious depressing circle that isn't easy to get away from. The things that should be making me smile and making my mind work are not, and it's not a fun place to be at. Even community isn't the same these days for me, and that brings me down even more.

So, this is my recognizing that I've reached Stage Four and that something must be done differently.

We've made some moves personally that I won't get into here, but it's time to do the same when it comes to my D-Life and mental health. As in: not turning to uncalculated snacking (comfort food) when I get home from work and in the evening. Testing at night, and not allowing my numbers to get Sky High so that they stay there until mid-morning. Uploading my Carelink data again. Talking. Feeling. Being honest with myself. Learning to smile.

Honestly, I just need a good cry. Because I haven't had one in a while and everything just bottles up inside.

I've lost some of my faith. And so it's time to try and find it again. We're going back to church on Sunday. This means I'll have to postpone watching Meet the Press or Reliable Sources, and won't be able to have a D-themed chat with a fellow PWD as planned. And I may need to hold off on doing some work-related work and D-Blogging and Vlogging until later in the day. But that's OK. The time has arrived for change.

This came up recently when reading a post Allison wrote over at DiabetesMine, where she interviewed a man who's been living with diabetes for 85 years. She asked him how he's done it. He responded, "God’s been good to me. He wants me around for some reason. God keeps us alive, we don’t. You just do what he wants you to do."

That struck me. Self-reliance is what I've embraced more as I have become more empowered as a patient-advocate, but in doing so it seems as though I've started relying too much on myself to solve every problem and be able to just emotionally juggle it all. I've turned away from God, and it shows.

So this is stepping back and getting to where we need to be.

One step at a time.

"I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me."


Amen, brother! :)
I think we forget sometimes that we are here because HE wants us to be.
After a long time away, we are going back to church fairly regularly and it's amazing (although it shouldn't be) how much it lifts me up and helps me keep going.
Stuck in a rut with Bean's D-stuff at the moment...can't seem to wrap my head around the changes that need to be made. Luckily we have an appointment on Monday, so the NP can help me figure those changes out!!
Heather said…
You are SO right. I couldn't take care of my two girls with D without the support of my church family. They were the first ones there when Princess was diagnosed just 2 months ago. (2 months ago today) One of them even came to hospital and prayed with us. If it wasn't for them and my friends in the DOC, I would be lost.
Simon said…
Wow, just wow Mike
Your post (as so many do) just resonates with me on a deep level.
Your whole walk with God and it's tie up with diabetes seems to mirror my own. Whilst I am a much newer diabetic, my diagnosis and complications really threw my very strong faith on it's head. I found myself so disillusioned and confused. Getting "on top" of the whole D management thing just seems to aid and abet that falling away process for me because it seems to be such a self driven thing....I have to manage my doses, rates, count carbs etc...so where does God come into it...to be honest I am still so torn and confused on that score but just knowing that you are wrestling with the same issues and not just trifling with them is a great help.
There are so many other things I'd really love to chat with you a out but this is perhaps not the place....
I just want to say that you are not alone my friend and your struggles are shared by me and I'm sure many others, especially on the spiritual line..I sincerely hope your return to church is successful and you can find there another community to help and uphold you because it's OK to need a hand.
Thanks for sharing and I will do my best to uphold you in prayer in this time of change
Sandy said…
Great post...many times when I have nothing left I just pray to God that we and I get through it. I am not the most religious person but I know he listens because we always find a way :)
AmyT said…
Wow, Mike. This post speaks to me in so many ways! Not the religious part per se, but EVERY SINGLE THING you said about the stages of living with diabetes, and that never-ending "end stage" when you're just struggling to remain consciously competent -- when the damn disease keeps tripping you up. Thank you for expressing this so well!!
Unknown said…
Wonderfully written. The stages struck a chord. One step at a time friend...one step at a time. You can and will find your way...I know it.

Personally, not pancreatically, I need to start making some changes in my life as well. Thank you for this post and letting us all know that we are not alone.
Meagan said…
So well said. I do believe in the power of prayer and a good cry (let it allll out).

I believe you are headed in the right direction. Hope you are feeling in a much better place (spiritually, mentally, physically) soon.
Holly said…
Bless your heart! : )
God rejoices over every heart who comes back to Him (and his house!)-He loves you dearly! He has greater plans for you than you can imagine for yourself. Keep reading and worshiping alone, but praise with the body of Christ too! : ) I'll be praying for change and renewed vision for you! : )
ps-I do think crying lets it all out-totally lowers your stress, therefore adrenaline, therefore blood sugar! : ) Holly

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