When you discover that you have the ability to choose the way you want to feel, that’s a powerful thing.
But getting to the point where you can figure it out and then sorting through life circumstances to get to where you want to be requires something special…time for yourself.
Space and quiet are important for your brain to be able to disconnect from the outside world and tune in to what’s happening inside of you.
You also have to be ready to change your feelings and that can be a process.
In today’s show, you’ll hear the gift that some women found in breast cancer and how you can work toward having the power to choose how you want to feel.
Read Full Transcript Below:
This is Laura Lummer, the breast cancer recovery coach. I'm a healthy lifestyle coach, a clinical Ayurveda specialist, a personal trainer, and I'm also a breast cancer survivor. In this podcast, we talk about healthy thinking and mindfulness practices, eating well, moving your body for health and longevity. And we'll also hear from other breast cancer survivors who have reengaged with life and have incredible stories to share. This podcast is your go-to resource for getting back to life after breast cancer. Hello, and welcome to the breast cancer recovery coach Podcast.
Hello, and welcome to another episode of the breast cancer recovery coach Podcast. I am your host, Laura Lummer. And I am super happy that you're here with me today.
I want to kick off this show by reading you something that came up in the breast cancer recovery group, which is my free Facebook group with hundreds of breast cancer survivors in it. And it was this comment or this post and the comments, some of the comments that were made on it, that really got me to thinking and inspired this show today.
So someone in the group posted a question. And the question was, what piece of your identity has changed since childhood, breast cancer, or the pandemic? And I started reading the answers to it. And it made me feel so happy. Because that could go either way, right?
And especially when you're asking someone, we've been through some, some heavy stuff, right breast cancer, the pandemic, there's been a lot of things that are since childhood, my God that covers a long range of life, a lot of stuff could have come up.
So I start reading these comments, and I'll share some with you I won't share people's names. But I'll share some of the comments.
One says I appreciate music, even more, it calms my soul.
After breast cancer, the simple things, daisies are my favorite.
After all the years of beating up on my body and never thinking I was good enough. After cancer, I appreciate my body more than ever. And then I'm worthy of self-care.
Oh my God love this!
I try to enjoy every day and not wish time away. So like when kids are bigger, or the weather is warmer, or the next vacation, etc. I try to feel gratitude for my everyday life.
I love this. It goes on and on.
And there are so many beautiful insights here. And what really stood out to me was just the importance of the perspective.
When people read that question. They talked about the things that made them feel good, right? They didn't read that question and say, Oh my God, I hate my body and my breast this and this has happened in my joints hurt and all this not to say that that's not justified. And it's not perfectly okay if that's the perspective. But I just loved that they wanted to feel good, right? They read that question. And thought of things that made them feel good. And sharing those things that made them feel good, share them with each other, and they were so beautiful.
I kept reading them over and over. And I thought this is fabulous.
And that is one of the reasons I started the breast cancer recovery group because I wanted women going through breast cancer treatment and, and after breast cancer treatment, to just have a place to share not only the positivity because life is real, and there's good and there's bad and we have to find a balance but to be encouraging for each other.
And so I just loved that I loved it so much. And it really got me thinking a lot, which is what I'm going to talk about here on the show today. Because I also want to acknowledge that it is not always easy to think that way. It's not always easy to find the gift in something, to see the silver lining in something. And sometimes you're just not ready to hear that this disease that is so difficult and frightening, could actually even have a gift in it somewhere.
And I get that because I was in that place for a very long time after my first go-round with breast cancer. And it can be really tough. And that doesn't mean just when you're in treatment. And it doesn't mean just in the first couple of months after treatment. It can take a while to work through this stuff. And that's okay.
But one of the things that I love about the breast cancer recovery group is that encouragement and the forward-thinking can be a light at the end of the tunnel. It can give you hope that if you are in a tough spot, things can change and you can get to a place where you'll be able to think differently. And I think that's beautiful.
You know, it's not for me to tell you that you have to look for the good. I will only ever ask you if you like the way you're feeling now. If you don't then just took that idea away the idea that it could change that you may be able to see some good. And then just let that marinate for a little bit, keep it in the back of your mind. And when you're ready, it'll be there for you.
But I also think that it is very important to point out that you don't always want to feel better, right? Sometimes things happen, and you need to feel sad or angry for a bit. You need to feel your suffering and process it until you get to the point where like I said a minute ago, you're ready to move on.
This makes me think of something that happened several years ago. And I was not feeling great after going through treatment. It was it was probably within the first year after I'd finished treatment. And I had read this article by a woman who practices Buddhism, I can't remember who it was, I think she was a Buddhist nun, something like that. Anyway, she was writing about the importance of the words that we choose. And she suggested a simple exercise.
And she said, notice when you use the phrase, I have to, and then I have to go to work, I have to do the laundry, and see if you can practice replacing that phrase with I get to.
And I read that I thought, you know, that's really interesting. That's a really interesting and powerful exercise. And so I tried it, and it was powerful on many levels. And I often found myself actually feeling resistant to the idea of changing that phrase, I didn't want to tell myself, I get to pay taxes, right? It didn't feel great. There were just some things in life that I always said, I have to do, right? I have to do this thing.
And it didn't feel good. I wanted to resist it. It didn't feel good to say I get to do this, until I could get to the point where I could find the gift in the things that I had often resisted, like paying taxes, right?
So how do you get to that point, I had to start to think, well, I get to pay taxes because I have a good job or other financial abundance in my life. And for that I'm grateful. And even now I say to myself, I get to go to the doctor today. And it brings up gratitude because that actually is a blessing. Right?
What if I didn't get to? What if I didn't have access to medical care that saving my life. So when we change our thoughts and our words, that can change the way we feel, and I can change things that felt burdensome into actual blessings. In speaking of burdens, I want to touch on that for a minute.
So if you're a regular listener, you know that we've been doing the 30-day minimalist game in the breast cancer recovery group this month. And I can tell you, there are a lot of burdens being unloaded by some amazing women in this group. And it's been a really cool experience, not just to watch it, but to be doing it myself. And I've just heard so many positive feelings from women who are finding freedom and letting things go and saying goodbye to things that they held on to from cancer treatment, and even Long, long before cancer treatment.
So this game was something that I heard about from a podcast called the minimalists. And I won't go into their story here, but I will post their website in the show notes for this episode. And anyway, I found their podcast and their books, and their website. And I thought, well, this game went great with the theme that we've been working on in my empower membership group this month, which has been finding your flow, which is really looking at where we put up resistance to the flow of life. And one of those things is like having too much clutter in your home or in your inbox or in your mind.
So speaking of inboxes, I used one of the days to unsubscribe from email lists that didn't serve me. But fortunately, I decided to keep the minimalists' email. And I'm glad that I did. Because one of the emails that came this week, or maybe it was the only one I'm not even sure had a quote in it that said, "A life without boundaries is a life without peace."
And I thought that was so beautiful. And it made me think how deciding on the way we want our space and our life to be and taking action to create that is an amazingly healthy boundary. It's a way of establishing a standard of living that feels good to you. But it also reminded me of a question that came up in one of the recent empower coaching calls. And one of my members wanting to know, how do you go with the flow and still maintain healthy boundaries?
Because when we hear go with the flow, what do we think typically we think about hippie stuff, right? Like, oh, yeah, go with the flow, go to a yoga class, right? Something like that.
So I thought this was a great question because I know that so many of us especially women struggle with this very idea of healthy boundaries, and how easy it could be to blur that line between how do you let things flow and have boundaries as we have a tendency to think of boundaries as walls or limits, right?
We put up a boundary to keep things out. And yet there will be times when you think we'll just go with the flow and you allow something to happen, that doesn't feel good, right. And you think I wish I hadn't done that, like, it just doesn't feel good to do this, or to accept this, or on the flip side of that, to do something you don't really want to do because you feel guilty or bad or selfish. So then you end up giving of yourself beyond the boundary of what does feel right, or what does feel healthy for you. And that is not a good place to be. It's not a good place, because you're operating from a place of scarcity and fear, fear that if you don't do this certain thing, or you don't do what someone else expects, then they won't like you, or they'll get mad at you, or they'll think you look like a bitch. But then if you do it, you know, it's not the right thing for you, it doesn't feel good, it's not the way you want to feel about it.
And I want to offer that you feel that way because you are seeing the barrier and not the gift in having a healthy boundary. So it's like the difference between saying, I'm getting rid of stuff, or I'm creating space in my life. And you can see when you say that how different those thoughts feel. One thought feels like, oh, man, I'm getting rid of stuff. I'm losing stuff. I'm depriving myself. Whereas the other I'm creating space that feels expansive, and lovely.
And the truth is that you can't allow the flow of life to reach its potential if you don't have healthy boundaries. And that may sound counterintuitive, but the reason is, just like when you have too much clutter in your life, physical clutter, there's no space for new things to be in their full glory, right? You can't come in and see this beautiful wall decor that you just hung and say, Oh my gosh, that looks so beautiful there. Because there's clutter all around it, right, it takes away from your space. So rather than finding yourself really loving and appreciating everything you have, and appreciating the beauty in your home, or the comfort of a perfectly fitting outfit, instead of that, you have to move past all the junk or even have a hard time finding your perfect jeans that you just know are in that closet somewhere. But where the hell are they?
When you are without healthy boundaries, you allow everyone else's crap to spill into your life. You create emotional clutter and stress. And you have no space for yourself. No time to listen to what your intuition tells you, you need no time to think about how you're talking to yourself, how you're treating yourself, how you're loving on yourself, how you're making healthy decisions to support the healing of your body, and creating the feeling you want to have in this life.
So that's why I like to look at clearing clutter, and taking time to plan not as a discipline or a restriction or a schedule that has to be adhered to. But as creating whitespace space in your life, for the things you really enjoy, and value. So rather than letting life fill up with so much stuff in so many obligations, that you just want to sit down with a glass of wine and a box of chocolate and ignore it. Having healthy boundaries, deciding on the time and space that's necessary for you to be in a good place, and be able to take care of yourselves and others the way you want to.
That is being open to the flow of life. Right?
It gives you space to decide if what life is throwing at you is something that fits with your life plan. Or if life is handing you something that will potentially stop the flow of something even more amazing coming into your life.
So let me circle back to that remind you of that, quote, "a life without boundaries is a life without peace."
If you want to feel at peace, you have to create that space to allow your brain to work. And allow yourself time to listen to your thoughts. I want to share this excerpt with you from an article in the Scientific American. It's talking about research from the University of Southern California on the default mode network of our brain. And this is a quote that says, "downtime is an opportunity for the brain to make sense of what it has recently learned to surface fundamental unresolved tensions in our lives, and to swivel its power of reflection away from the external world towards itself."
We shuffle through all those neglected mental post-it notes, listing half-finished projects, and we mull over the aspects of our lives with which we are most dissatisfied searching for solutions, we subject ourselves to a kind of moral performance review. And these moments of introspection are also one way, we form a sense of self, which is essentially a story we continually tell ourselves.
Mm-hmm. Right there.
Bam, the story we tell ourselves, we have to pay attention to the story we tell ourselves and ask if that story is getting us to the place where we want to be in life. Is it serving you is it helping you feel the way you want to feel?
And creating space and time for yourself to reflect on the story you're telling yourself, gives you that ability to change the words to change the language in your story, to move you closer to feeling the way you want to feel in this life. It takes you out of that seed of powerlessness that so many of us find ourselves in, we feel powerless, after a diagnosis, after treatment, or just in life, feeling bombarded with life and all that is going on in the world right now. It takes us out of that feeling of powerlessness and helps to connect you to that place of power where you do have choices in your life.
So really moving into that flow of life. And getting to the place where you get to decide how you want to feel, it really requires clearing that space for yourself both literally, and figuratively, clearing out the junk the tangible things around you, but for clearing that space in your mind and that whitespace for your life, so that you can notice and shift the words, the language that you use about yourself and your life as you need to.
And then another important thing about really being in the flow and having healthy boundaries is trusting yourself, trusting your intuition. I read this article on trusting your gut in psychology today. And I loved it. I love this quote from the author. And she says, "although it can be useful to seek counsel from others, remind yourself that they don't necessarily know what is best for you. Your intuition connects your body, mind, and spirit, and how those three elements have digested everything from your past." And she calls that the web of fact and feeling and I love that because you are the expert on you.
No one else has had your experience in this life. And the beautiful thing in this life is that you get to decide how you want to feel about the facts or the circumstances. And you get to decide how those facts and circumstances will work for you. What will you make the mean in your life, to help you feel the way you want to feel.
So a little assignment this week is just to really start paying attention to how you feel. Notice your feelings as life goes on around you. And all the things are happening. Give yourself that little bit of space to notice how you're feeling as you move through your day. And ask yourself, Is this the way I want to feel? Am I enjoying this? Are these feelings serving me? And if not, just begin to notice the words you're using the thoughts that you're having about the circumstance in your life? And ask yourself, could I tell myself this story in a different way? Could I see the circumstances of these facts in a different way? Just like the women in the beginning with the quotes, they saw that question in a certain way. And it brought out the thoughts that made them feel good. And when we ask ourselves, can I tell myself the story in a different way? That still means in a truthful way, right? We're not making stuff up. We're not rainbows and unicorns, we're telling ourselves in a truthful way, but there's more than one truth in most situations. Right? So it's a truthful way, but one that maybe serves you better than another perspective and a different story.
I would love to hear what you discover, as you just observe those feelings over the next week as you observe what is happening as you're going through your day. So please come to the breast cancer recovery group. And let me hear your comments. Because when you start to really embrace and really understand that you get to choose how you want to feel. It's powerful. It's life-changing. It gives you a tremendous amount of control over how much joy you get to experience in your life.
So I look really forward to hearing your comments and questions and experiences. And I'll talk with you again next week.
Until then be good to yourself and expect others to be good to you as well.