What Does it Take to Get Through a Tough Time? Believe In An Exceptional You - Be a Responsible and an Exceptional Patient
"Do not be what the word “patient” implies, a submissive sufferer. Be what I call a “respant,” a responsible participant, in your care". Dr Bernie Siegel
Becoming your own healer is about embracing, entering, and expressing your personal power to impact your well-being.
In your journey through cancer and towards healing there are some companions which will visit you from time to time. And these are fear, de-motivation, doubt, failure, frustration, anger, anxiety, resentment, grief, despair and hopelessness. They will work together and alone to take away your will, your power and weaken your belief in you.
The question here is not whether you want them with you or not. The question is what will you do when they arrive? Will you give up and allow them to be victorious over you? Or will you befriend and work with them together, with all your might till you gain victory?
The temptation to give up and let go will be very strong. For it is so easy to do so. Your true test will be to hold on to your goals at times like these; with strength which comes solely from believing in yourself – Believe that within you is the power, the strength and the faith that can move mountains. Believe that you deserve your dreams, you deserve a life better than you are living.
When everything else fails, it is this belief in yourself that will keep you going. For no matter where you are in life today, if you believe that you are destined for better, if you believe in yourself to overcome the challenges on your way, to achieve healing, you can create a life that’s feels right for you, and if you are willing to work towards it, then you are truly unstoppable.
Your true challenge is to not to give in. This does not mean to suppress these feelings. It is important that you acknowledge, express them and find a creative outlet for them so that you don't stay stuck in negative energies. Whenever one of these feelings are there listen to them and work with them, use them as a motivator and know you can overcome them. And then rise up, above and beyond them.This requires a strong, optimistic and dedicated attitude. Sometimes you might need help from your cancer mentor - who is a compassionate companion on your journey. cancer patient support / cancer mentor support
You must be tolerant of inconvenience and some distress. Recognize that things will be different in your life for a while or even for the rest of your life. You may have to give up some favorite things. So what, do you want to survive?
”A positive attitude is essential to a successful outcome for all people with cancer. It is absolutely essential that the patient reject the prevailing concept that death from cancer is inevitable, and the belief that conventional medicine offers the only hope for survival".
Dr. Bernie Siegel:
"Becoming exceptional doesn't require a college education, a medical background, a six - figure income, a vision quest or a three-month spiritual retreat. Exceptional cancer patients are people who simply share a heart-felt desire to do the most they can to improve the quality of their lives. And there is one other thing that sets them apart from the others - they show up!
Exceptional cancer patients make time in their lives to seek the help they need to maximize their healing choices. Actually, it's easy to pick them out of a crowd. They're the ones who read the books, listen to the tapes, attend the educational seminars and search for cutting-edge information every chance possible. They also seem to focus not so much on extending survival but rather on enjoying life to the fullest whenever possible."
Dr. Barry Bittman:
"Exceptional" typically disappears when people are stressed. And in our society, each day has more than it's share of challenges. It's easy to forget who we are and our reason for living. When depression and despair set in, there's a tendency to stop taking care of ourselves and simply await the cure.
Yet amidst incredible challenges and adversity, small groups of people seem to always emerge as exceptional. They are our best teachers and guides. Their personal qualities are obvious and reflect strengths we'd like to see in ourselves."
The truth is such strength resides in all of us. I used to believe success took 90% inspiration and 10% perspiration. Now I'm not so sure. Becoming exceptional requires ongoing effort - searching within, rediscovering meaning and purpose in life, and never abandoning hope.
You may be doubtful based upon the many wonderful people you've known who ultimately succumbed to cancer and other serious illnesses despite their positive attitudes. Yet what you may not realize is that cheating death is not in the cards for any of us. Living every moment possible with love in our hearts is the key to being exceptional. After all, that's what always makes these incredible souls stand out in our minds. We're blessed with the lessons they have shared with us.”
Success Factors: The successful cancer patients, by and large, are those who are:
- Willing and able to reverse a stressful life - style, to reduce heavy obligations, burdens and anxieties, and who learn to say "No" to those who would lay burdens upon them.
- Ready and eager to take charge of their own health care, to study in depth the various alternatives, and to make dietary and other changes in their physical life-style.
- Able to reject the idea that the diagnosis of cancer automatically means death and that conventional treatment offers the only hope.
- Willing to accept responsibility for the behavioral factors which led to the disease, to submit to self-assessment, and to make the necessary adjustments and corrections to eliminate these factors.
- Prepared to abandon destructive and "toxic" emotions such as fear, anger, resentment, guilt and self-pity, replacing these with such positive emotions as hope, love, forgiveness, gentleness, confidence and faith.
- The surviving cancer patient has a healthy skepticism of the conventional approach to cancer, and questions all of the premises of that approach. He/she is eager to study in depth all treatment modalities without prejudice, then to follow the chosen course or courses with dedication, discipline and common sense.
- The cancer survivor is most often one who has accepted and welcomed spiritual growth.
- The successful cancer patient has confidence and faith in his/her course of action. The long-term cancer survivor is usually the one who is willing to expose and address his/her deep-seated emotional problems and to resolve long-standing conflicts.
Self-responsibility and self-care are essential for people affected by cancer.
- What does that mean to you?
- How do you advocate for yourself?
- How do you proactively take responsibility for your well-being?
- How do you empower yourself?
- What actions enable you to feel your own innate power? How do you strengthen your body, mind, and spirit?
- How do you care for yourself daily?
The three key features of psychological hardiness, known as the 3 C's are:
What does hardiness mean in terms of your health?
"You are diagnosed with cancer. After the initial shock wears off, what do you do? With determination and drive, you start researching everything you need to know about the disease, including traditional and non-traditional treatments. In collaboration with your doctor or complimentary therapist, you decide on the best course of treatment and take responsibility for redirecting your thoughts and actions towards healing.
You become an active participant in your recovery, rather than a bystander. You challenge, advocate and question everything and stay focused on your goal, which is getting healthy.
By using the three C’s of developing emotional hardiness, you are better equipped to face your adversity, meet your challenges and then deal with them. That translates into not giving up or giving in. It means reacting to the challenge with more confidence, flexibility and qualities that enhance your resistance.
Research has shown that some people are more resistant to stress and better able to cope with it than others. This is partly due to the fact that some people have a number of personality traits that protect them from the effects of stress; psychologists call this psychological hardiness.
Challenge is the first C of hardiness.
How we view a problem is important. Psychologically hardy individuals see problems as challenges rather than
threats. This difference is important because when faced with a threat, there is a tendency to try and avoid it. Hardy people see problems as challenges and rather than being overwhelmed and seeking to retreat, they get busy looking for solutions. Seeing a problem as a challenge mobilizes our resources to deal with it and encourages us to pursue the possibilities of a successful outcome.
If we view change as a total threat or see every difficulty we encounter as threatening to us then this is going to trigger a stronger fight / flight response than if we see the event as a challenge. Psychological hardy people do not spend time ruminating over why things have to change, they are not frightened by it, they accept it as being a natural part of life, not a threat but an opportunity to learn and grow.
The second C of hardiness is control.
In a tough situation hardy individuals do not become overwhelmed or helpless. Instead, they strive to gain control of what they can by going into action. While acknowledging that many aspects of a crisis situation cannot be controlled, they also understand that by intentionally developing and holding onto a positive, optimistic, hopeful outlook we can always determine our reaction to any predicament that confronts us. We can choose our best attitude, and the better we are at doing this, the greater our sense of being in charge of our circumstances.
Commitment is the third C of hardiness.
It refers to persevering or sticking it out through a hard time. Being committed to an outcome keeps us going even in the midst of setbacks, obstacles, and discouraging news. Being committed to a goal helps us overcome occasional losses of motivation and to remain steadfast in our efforts.
Commitment also means having a purpose to life and involvement in family, work, community, social, friends, religious faith, ourselves, etc., giving us a meaning to our lives. When we have this commitment to something or someone that is important to us, this gives our life a purpose. When committed to something we tend to be motivated to put in more effort. This can help us to find a goodness and meaning to our lives.
Psychologically hardy individuals who confront cancer are able to transform the threat into a challenge.
When they receive the diagnosis, they do not give up in despair but look for what they can do to help regain their health. They plan for success and look for ways of
understanding their illness that offer hope. Hardy patients find a meaning and purpose in what they are going through that motivates them to keep moving forward.
Rather than feeling helpless, hardy cancer patients demonstrate control by becoming active participants in making decisions about the type of treatment they will seek. They also seek out resources for information about their cancer knowing that being well informed gives them a greater sense of power. Furthermore, knowledge
of what is coming means that they can get ready. For example, chemotherapy patients facing possible hair loss prepare in advance by acquiring wigs and scarves
long before they are needed. Being prepared is being in control. Other patients gain control by learning relaxation and meditation techniques that not only help to
alleviate the anxiety of treatment but also to reduce some of the potential side effects of chemotherapy such as nausea.
Emotionally hardy patients show their commitment by persevering in treatment. They keep to their plan of treatment even on difficult days. Commitment is also seen in a determination to keep life as normal as
possible by continuing to do what they enjoy. They stay active, knowing that physical exertion will build their energy reserves. Hardy patients don't withdraw
and isolate themselves but are determined to maintain relationships by reaching out to others, and because they are deeply dedicated to facilitating their healing, they
work at understanding and expressing their emotions. While remaining strongly independent, hardy patients are able not only to allow others to help them, but to also ask for help when they need it."
Personalization - Pervasive - Permanent
Are you an Optimist or a Pessimist? (The honest answer to this question will be important for your healing.)
"Is the glass half empty or half full? Do you see the doughnut or the hole? What is your usual point of view in life? Is it the bright side or the dark side? Which is the best way to be? There is a saying about optimists; they may not live longer than pessimists, but they have more fun. And, it is jokingly said about pessimists that they don’t live longer than optimists, but their overly negative outlook just makes it seem that way.
Each thought arising in our brain carries chemical messengers throughout our body. Positive thoughts are associated with messengers that build the immune system, and negative thoughts have chemical components that can wear it down. Over time pessimistic thinking may compromise our immune systems, and the doorway to physical illness may be opened. The good news is that we can change our attitudes. We can learn to be more optimistic.
We all live in a difficult world, but it is not the difficulties and misfortunes alone that harm us. It is our perception of them. It is what we tell ourselves about them. It is what the Voice of Conscience says that is crucial. The Optimistic Voice of Conscience tells us the best while the Pessimistic Voice points out the worst.
We all have such an inner Voice, and it is more or less optimistic. If this Voice is already positive, we can strengthen it. If the Voice is negative, we can change it. We can become "intentional" optimists, however hard work is required. Being negative is easier, but it is not as healthy.
The key skill in optimism is talking sense to yourself. Learn to catch the Pessimistic Voice in action and challenge it. Don't let it drone on and on about how terrible everything is, and how you will never get
better. Start paying attention to what you say to yourself. You may have automatic hopeless responses of which you are unaware.
Listen for the voice of doom and despair and challenge it. When you hear it saying, "You never succeed," ask, “Is this true? How do I know? What is the evidence?” When you hear, "Nothing ever goes your way," Call time-out. Is it really true that nothing has ever gone your way? No! This is negative exaggeration, and you can
challenge this self-talk. The best way to do so is by confronting what is known as the 3 P’s of a pessimistic mindset.
Pessimism stands for personalization.
If we are pessimistic, when something bad happens, we
personalize it by overly focusing on questions such as “Why me?” and “What did I do to deserve this?” As a result, we may blame and criticize ourselves (your inner critic ) for being in our circumstances. We think, "If only I had not done such and such, then I would not be in this bad situation." Looking for what we may have done wrong is a waste of time and can mire us in useless self-pity. Taking things personally is nothing more than a building block for the negative emotion of despair.
Pessimism stands for pervasive
As when we take a bad situation and spread it over all aspects of our lives. We start thinking; "This (whatever it may be) ruins everything," as we overlook the fact that many aspects of our lives are unchanged. While we may not like what is happening, if we look around, we will most likely find that the birds still sing, the sun rises, and people still love us. Everything in our lives is not affected unless we make it so in our minds. We can choose to be optimistic by intentionally focus on what is right rather than what is wrong.
Pessimism stands for Permanent
And this refers to the tendency to assume that something bad will never change. If we convince ourselves that a negative situation will not improve, we begin to believe that it will last forever, and that we are doomed. However, we are only doomed if we continue this kind of thinking, and, fortunately for us, we can always change our thinking by focusing our mind on the positive.
We think ourselves into pessimism, and we can think ourselves out of it, but we must think about how we think to do so. If you teach yourself to think more optimistically, life will go better no matter what your circumstances. Do this and you will be engaged in the practice of resiliency.
Psychological resiliency is the ability of people to return to normal by bouncing back from the ups and downs of life.
If you want to be more a resilient person, try these three steps. Choose your best attitude, learn to manage your stress, and then have some fun on purpose. Engaging in resiliency will facilitate the process of healing.
Your level of psychological resiliency depends upon three key features.
The first is attitude.
Resilient people consistently choose to have a hopeful expectation for positive results. This expectation does not discount the negative events of life, but intentionally and realistically looks for the best outcome in any situation. It is this looking for the best that pulls resilient people through hard times and puts them back into shape.
The second element of resiliency lies in knowing how to manage stress.
Life is naturally stressful and resilient people know how to take purposeful action to control it. They avoid whatever stress they can by saying “no” and setting limits, but they also practice unwinding from stress. Such unwinding may be through physical exercise, as with a daily workout at the gym, or it might involve the practice of meditation, tai chi, or yoga. Unwinding from everyday stress can be as simple as taking a slow, mindful walk through the neighborhood.
The third characteristic of resilient people is that they enjoy life by making the intentional choice to participate in it.
Resilient people accept the fact that on some days you don’t “feel” like going to work, cleaning the house, or attending a party. However, they also know that it is important to do these things whether or not you feel like it.
Each day should provide a sense of accomplishment and joy. This means that it is important to both have fun and to get something done. The accomplishments and joys do not have to be sensational and may be as basic as making the bed and petting your dog. It is primarily the appreciation of such simple joys and accomplishments that keeps life in balance. Resilient people know this so they intentionally engage in the daily practice of enjoyment".
Which style of explanation is yours?
Which one do you recognize? Are you the optimist or pessimist?
If you have the pessimistic style, you may be making harmful self-fulfilling prophecies, predicting failure, and robbing yourself of energy and drive.
The good news about explanatory styles is that they can be changed. It just takes awareness plus effort. If you use the pessimistic approach you can change it by learning to challenge the three elements of pessimism.
- Always look to see what can change. Look for the possibilities. See if you can make lemonade from any lemons life may hand you. Don’t think yourself into being stuck.
- Focus on the specific situation and don’t generalize. Don’t let one small, isolated problem become like a wildfire roaring through your life affecting everything.
- Don’t personalize events with self-blame. Accept legitimate responsibility and learn from mistakes but don’t beat yourself up for every setback.
The key step in changing the pessimistic explanatory style is learning that you can change it. Accept this truth and you have already opened to new possibility. Next, focus on your specific circumstances, acknowledge your positive efforts, and then watch as your life starts to go better.