Few words are scarier to hear in this life than, “You have cancer.” It’s a game-changing statement that shifts the way you view yourself, others, and the world. And though it may seem impossible right now, you can choose positivity.
The Emotional Battle
There aren’t many things that inflict as much emotional turmoil on a person quite like a physical battle with cancer. Your body has unwillingly succumbed to disease, yet your mind refuses to give in and embrace the reality of your situation. It’s common to have thoughts like:
- Did I do something to cause myself to get cancer?
- Why did cancer choose me?
- It’s unfair that everyone else gets to live a happy, normal life.
- It’s impossible to find the good or happy in anything because I have cancer lurking over me.
Thoughts like these careen around in your brain like a well-worn pinball machine in a crowded arcade. At times, they can make it difficult to breathe or focus on important responsibilities in your life. They seem all-consuming – overwhelming in nature and quick to strike – and can flip your emotions with very little notice or anticipation.
The good news is that you have some control over your thoughts and emotional response. And even though there’s undeniable friction between your mind and body right now, making an effort to choose positivity could provide considerable relief.
Here are some things you can do:
1. Change Your Mindset
“Cognitive reframing is simply changing the way you look at a situation or think about a thought. The situation doesn’t change, but you do,” writes Lynne Eldridge, MD. “In lay terms, it means finding a way of shifting your perspective so that instead of seeing the glass half empty, you can see the glass half full.”
This is understandably hard to do in the face of a difficult situation, but there’s almost always an optimistic viewpoint that can be taken. Take chemotherapy as an example. When you’ve completed five out of ten treatment sessions, you choose to celebrate the fact that you’re halfway done. You can also be thankful for the fact that you have chemotherapy, which other cancer sufferers didn’t have access to for many years.
2. Find Support
Nothing will shift your mindset in a positive direction quite like surrounding yourself with supportive people who are going through your same situation or have experienced it in the past.
One option to consider is attending a cancer retreat, such as those offered by The Gawler Cancer Foundation. They use evidence-based lifestyle interventions and mind-body practices to shift the individual’s perspective and provide safe support to medical treatment or complementary therapies. The objective is to promote healing, boost immunity, reduce stress, and create clarity of mind.
If you can’t attend a retreat, the next best thing is to purge your social circle of negative people and surround yourself with positive individuals who give you hope, optimism, and meaning. The more you’re around these people, the more their spirit will rub off on you.
3. Become Inspired by Survivors
It’s easy to focus on statistics and negative outcomes, but doing so will zap your optimism. In pursuit of staying positive, choose to instead focus on survivors. Read stories about survivors, have conversations with them, and drink up the hope that they provide. It’ll totally transform the way you view your present situation.
Discover Healing on Multiple Levels
Choosing to stay positive is shown to be good for your emotional and physical well-being in a fight against cancer, but it shouldn’t become a burden in your fight.
“Sadness, depression, guilt, fear, and anxiety are all normal parts of grieving and learning to cope with major life changes,” the American Cancer Society notes. “Trying to ignore these feelings or not talking with others about them can make the person with cancer feel lonely. It can also make the emotional pain worse. And some people feel guilty or blame themselves when they can’t ‘stay positive,’ which only adds to their emotional burden.”
The best path is the path that’s right for you. Many find that embracing positivity helps recreate the way they view their situation and gives them the opportunity to see the good – however small it may be – in a dark situation. If that doesn’t resonate with you, then don’t bend over backward trying to fight your emotions. The goal is to find something that works for you – something that provides a glimmer of hope and optimism in a fight for your physical health and well-being.