Step 5: A Review
“We teach best what we most need to learn.”
As you join me in my healing journey this summer, let’s take a moment to review. I would like to share specific examples and exercises that I have found helpful.
Step 1: What is your intention after cancer? Have you clearly written down what your intention is?
If you need help, Dr. Wayne Dyer describes the seven faces of intention in his book The Power of Intention. Let’s take a closer look.
- Be Creative – give form to your personal intentions. Draw a picture of what you want your life to be like. Write it down.
- Be Kind – When you are kind toward others, you receive kindness in return. You want to show kindness to yourself through your intentions as well. I love The Story of Shaya as a reminder of God’s perfection. You may feel broken from your cancer journey, you may question God’s perfection. Understand that there is a lesson in suffering and sometimes that lesson may not appear immediately.
- Be Love – Love is cooperation rather than competition. Dr. Dyer writes “you were intended out of love, you must be love in order to intend”. Think of the pitcher’s intentions in The Story of Shaya and try to remove unloving thoughts from your day.
- Be Beauty – Appreciate the beauty in everything you see. A cancer diagnosis will likely cause you to look inward for weeks, to months to years. As you take time off work for treatment or as you return to work, attempt to see the beauty in the ordinary mundane of life. How can you continue to appreciate the beauty of God’s creation as you move forward?
- Be Ever Expansive – Your cancer treatment is behind you, or at least lessened. It would be easy to give up, to stop growing and changing. There may be a tendency to continue to focus on your cancer or wallow in feelings of self-pity. You MUST move forward. You survived, you are therefore alive. All living things grow and expand. Do not survive cancer physically, only to die an emotional or spiritual death.
- Be Abundant – This one is a personal challenge because I always feel pressed for time. Turns out this is called a scarcity mindset and here’s a link to more information
(Note: I have no formal relationship with this site, just found it online and thought I would share. I found the 5 signs of a scarcity mindset helpful and cannot vouch for the other content).
In order to create your intention, you have to be convinced that there is always enough. I often remind myself that “I have everything I need”.
- Be Receptive: Be open to change. Your life after cancer will not be the same as your life before cancer. You will need to change, and it is only by accepting this, that you will grow and ultimately heal.
Step 2: Healing is a Verb.. and here is what you need to do.
Notice I just listed 7 mindsets to “Be”, let’s now talk about taking action.
Dr. Kelly Brogan’s website is an excellent resource and her work has helped me “Stop the Blame Game” and deal with the negative thoughts that happen during the day. I love her recent blog post on “Why To Stop Complaining”
- Try going a day, then a week, then a month with no complaining.
- Receive a compliment and just say “Thank you”.
- Use Dr. Brogan’s 17 second rule – when something good happens, close your eyes and focus on it for 17 seconds.
- Expand your comfort zone, be ok with what’s not ok. (I repeat this to myself A LOT 🙂
Dr. Brogan discusses our need to Increase our negativity capability:
This expanded experience of comfort with discomfort…with confusion…with disorientation…with not knowing, is not a new concept. Called negative capability, the poet John Keats coined this term in 1817, writing “I mean Negative Capability, that is when Man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after facts and reason.”
Step 3: It’s a Mind Game, so learn to Be Your Own Septic Tank.
Dr. Habib Sadeghi’s book The Clarity Cleanse discusses our need to take responsibility for our actions. Much in the same way you take a shower to clean your physical body, he recommends that we become our own septic tanks to process our emotional waste.
Full responsibility means putting the emotional waste treatment plant on our own property and asking the hard questions.
- How did I contribute to this problem?
- What is it inside of me that is attracting this kind of person or situation?
- What signals am I giving off to allow myself to be treated this way?
I think this is critical for anyone who is interested in healing. Dr. Sadeghi is also the creator of the PEW12 (Purge Emotional Writing)technique which I have been implementing. Every morning, I write in my journal for 12 minutes. It is an opportunity for me to check-in, to consider current issues in my life and ask the above questions. This simple practice has been life-changing and I encourage you to consider it in your own morning routine.
Step 4: You Are Not Cancer – Free Your Mind
Do you think you may be in a “mental prison” where negative thoughts and self-doubt prevail? We all must learn to practice Acceptance. Acceptance means we are okay. Regardless of everything going on in our lives, be it cancer treatment, cancer recovery, stressful situations at work or at home, death, divorce, pain, etc, we are okay. YOU are ok.
Eckhart Tolle is a spiritual teacher who has written several, amazing, books ( I recommend the Power of Now and A New Earth which were life-changing for me when I was going through my medical training). I recommend this YouTube video of Ekhart Tolle,
Specifically, he describes being “Stuck in the Mud”. Listen to his story and let’s consider the parallel with cancer treatment. He suggests the goal is to “Accept the moment and avoid adding resistance to it”. Acceptance does not remove the ability to bring about change. Acceptance of the current situation (being in a chemo chair, laying on the radiation table) will ultimately help you heal. What you “resists, persists”.
Mr. Tolle states “If you don’t want any more unhappiness, don’t generate it.” I would propose that it’s not the cancer, that causes unhappiness. It’s your reaction to the cancer. Can you accept that your current life situation involves cancer treatment and surrender to this experience?
Listen closely as he describes feeling joy. Can you notice the small daily miracles around you? If you are concerned that perhaps all of this is a little too “out there”, there is scientific data supporting the need for us to process our negative emotions. Check out this study from Berkely published in 2018.
Patient-focused treatment, and an individualized approach to oncology means Dr. Norleena Gullett is not just treating cancer, she's treating the whole person.