I promised from the start to be real on this blog and I try. My emotions have been everywhere lately, with highs and lows. I cry when people are being nice to me, and in the middle of the night when I feel alone, and when I received several gorgeous bouquets of flowers and presents from kind people in my life. I blame this stupid breast cancer diagnosis.
Last week, I had a lumpectomy to remove a small breast cancer spot and two lymph nodes. While surgery went as well as it could, and I am healing really well, I think surgery may have triggered an awareness that this is really happening. I’m managing my third stupid cancer diagnosis. It seemed so surreal before surgery, like it was real but also like I was looking at it from an outside perspective. And even though I know I will be healthy in the end and something positive will come from this chapter, I admit that I struggled for a few days with frustration, impatience and well, a pity party for one.
Life challenges come in all forms – illnesses, relationship endings, losing a loved one, career, financial, etc. There are so many ways we can face these chapters. As you probably realize about me, I am not one to dwell on the negative or believe negative outcomes will always occur. Nope, I like to be happy. But sometimes I get caught up in the human world of negativity, my own silly thoughts and expectations, and even other people’s opinions and stories. Here are a few tips I like to fall back on when I get stuck in my own head:
I ask myself what else is possible? As I shared in a previous blog, this question is one of my favorite ways to face something in my life. It allows me to turn problems and challenges into opportunities and possibilities, allowing me to feel more confident and calmer. It also is exciting to think about the fun, new possibilities that await me!
Focus on what now rather than why. Even when I was diagnosed at 21 with bone cancer, the first thought (after the initial shock of course!) was what’s the plan? What’s next? I didn’t think to ask why because that would only take me in circles seeking answers that most likely wouldn’t come. Instead I focus on what now? How can I turn problems into possibilities?
Be aware of your word choices. A wonderful mentor in my life really has helped me be aware of using active, positive words in my language and thoughts. Words such as aware, choice, receive, be, contribute, know. These active words are light, easy and help me stay focused on being here in the present. The more that I’m aware of my word choices, the more I notice my conversations are lighter, happier and optimistic. And I always prefer those type of conversations!
Express gratitude for the good in your life. I wake up every day grateful for my life. My health, home, happiness, family, friends, opportunities. Each part of my life, even the giant mountains and deep valleys that I’ve faced, help create the woman I am, teach me lessons, bring me opportunities and adventures, and most importantly, welcome special people into my life. Gratitude can come in small, obvious moments, such as being thankful to be alive or warm socks on a cold winter day. It can be for a great bike ride, promising date with a potential significant other and phone call from a dear friend. Gratitude can also be expressed in seemingly negative situations. I am incredibly grateful that my breast cancer appeared at such an early stage, making my surgery and treatment less invasive and more bearable. Another example is that I am grateful my ex-husband and I chose to love each other and ourselves enough to recognize our mutual unhappiness. We chose not to settle for a life of sort of happy and instead respected ourselves (and each other) enough to part ways and choose a positive path in life. I’m grateful for the lessons, opportunities and people that three cancer diagnoses contributed to my life. Every day I’m grateful to wake up and take a deep breath, welcoming a new day.
Make a positive choice each day. I’m a big believer that we all have choice in our lives. Each choice leads to something else. Even not doing something (telling someone you care, staying in a relationship or job, etc) is a choice that we make, leading to another door, path, someone else, something else. It doesn’t mean it’s right or wrong, just simply a choice. What if we focused on making a positive choice each day? What if you did something that makes you happy (read a book, cook a good meal, go on a walk, etc)? What if we did an act of kindness for another or even ourselves? What if I chose to appreciate the sunshine and bright colors rather than complain about the cold, winter day? For me, being aware of the positive almost instantly lightens my mood, thoughts and energy.
What are some tips that help you focus on the positive in life?