April 8th, 2016
| Survivor: Breast Cancer
Have you ever felt like you hold yourself back but aren’t sure how not to? Read below to find out how you can identify and prevent some harmful ways of thinking, even if you aren’t aware of some!
I’m a Cancer Coach. If you’ve never heard of that before, it means pretty much what it sounds like: I’m there to keep you keepin’ on when you’re in the ruts of cancer treatment, which is a necessary evil as much as it is a blessing.
Our lives are complex experiences full of elements influencing our thoughts and behavior. These influences can be physical, mental, emotional, environmental, social and spiritual. These are the first things that start to get out of whack when we are faced with an illness or other life challenge. At the end of the day, “energy” is a good way of detecting how a fighter’s spirit is handling the treatment. My community of cancer coaches has developed a vocabulary to identify the negative energies that can deplete your energy at the time you need it most for healing.
We’ve categorized these as: Limiting Beliefs, Interpretations, Assumptions, and Gremlins (AKA “inner critic,” “self-judgment,” etc.). When you’re plateauing in treatment, you have to stop feelings of self-doubt and trace them back to their roots. Below are some examples that I use with my patients.
To overcome the negative thoughts, you first have to identify them.
Here are the four most common toxic ways of thinking:
1) Limiting Belief
A general belief about the world, your environment, or your situation based on what we have been told by our parents, teachers, society or the media. For people fighting cancer, that might mean:"Being diagnosed with cancer means I am going to die." This thought is not true, but in a moment of shock it can cause a person to feel stuck in a negative mindset. The best way to fight this type of thinking is to seek out positive statistics and use factuality to fend off the dismay. Here’s one for you: there are more than 14.5 million people living with cancer in the U.S. right now.
An opinion about a situation, event, person, or experience that we create in our minds and believe to be true. This might look something like: "My doctor had a look on his face when he came in to examine me, so that means he must have bad news." The most effective way of combatting Interpretations is to recognize that they originate in your own perception, and therefore are not necessarily true. When you feel yourself spiraling down due to thoughts, it’s vital to find your center. Take a deep breath. Then take a mental step back. Think about the situation objectively. Ask a friend or family member what they thought--you might be surprised they say they didn’t notice anything out of place.
An expectation based on something from the past and expecting it to happen again. For example: "My aunt died of breast cancer, so that means I am going to die from it too." While cancer can have hereditary characteristics, no two cancers are alike. No one else’s fight is going to be the same as your own. When we start jumping the gun, these thoughts can quickly reach a suffocating weight. Similar to Limiting Beliefs, the best way of warding them are off are through education and positive thinking. Willing the body to strive and banishing negativity can be just as strong--even stronger!--than fixated negativity.
A voice in our head that isn't always necessarily true,the voice of someone else and not our own. You might recognize this: "I am not strong enough to get through this cancer experience." What makes this the most dangerous of the four types of negative thoughts is that it is so eerily close to our own voice. On the flip side, it means we have the most control to change it. Since these thoughts are so tied to our own sense of confidence, self worth, and identity, the way to squash them is to honestly believe that you are what it says you aren’t--a strong, capable, spirited, and positive individual who will overcome.
If you look at all of the above, most of these thoughts come from places outside of ourselves. Shifting our thoughts can give us a feeling of control back and position us in the driver's seat of this bumpy ride.
Here’s an exercise you can try right now: Take a moment to run through a mental checklist of all the other parts of your life that are affecting your body. What is preventing you from gaining clarity around your cancer experience? What thoughts and emotions are getting in the way of your well-being? What about your environment needs to change?
Identifying these four enemies to healing are just one more weapon in your arsenal against cancer. Survival after a cancer diagnosis really comes down to shifting this energy to a space that is healing, not draining. At the center of it all is yourself and your body--align them to fight against your cancer. Unity and positivity are the strongest allies you can employ.
Do you have any other tips for overcoming negative thoughts? Share them in the comments below!
to continue the conversation.
Want to blog with us ?