When powerful emotions take us by surprise it can be the result of an actual devastating thing happening in life.
But, often, it’s the result of what we’re telling ourselves.
Someone says something, we tell ourselves that’s a reflection on us and we end up in tears or angry.
Something happens that we tell ourselves isn’t fair and somehow that gets tangled up in our value as a human being.
This week I’ll share an experience that happened to me where I caught myself questioning the value of my life.
I’ll tell you how I worked through it and offer a simple exercise that you can use to support yourself through these tough moments when they come up.
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 another episode of the breast cancer recovery coach podcast. I'm your host, Laura Lummer. I'm thrilled that you're here with me today.
Welcome back, if you're a repeat listener, and welcome if you're a brand new listener, I hope that this show brings something that you need to hear in your life today.
So I had a great and exciting week, it's been the first week of the revived membership. I'm so excited about this experience. I'll talk a little bit about it later on or just mentioned why it's something that's so important to me.
But I'm excited to have my founding members in and I just want to let you know that you have until the end of April to join the revived membership experience.
And if you're not sure what it's all about, go ahead and check out my website, thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/revived and get all the details.
But it's basically an ongoing coaching program, we look at a different topic every month, and dig into this topic with some action sheets questions and answers, live coaching, and also looking monthly at different areas of our life where we may need to evaluate the way we think our mindset, things that we avoid where we use buffering to avoid things that we actually need to work on in our lives, but don't necessarily know how or want to or don't even know why we don't want to.
So it's a really great membership, and it's structured to support you, in reviving your life really in recovering from breast cancer, but also looking at the things that create pain and suffering, keep you stuck in life, and move forward in all areas of your life, more than just how you're processing and dealing with breast cancer.
So check it out, thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/revived.
You will love it, it's going to be great, great fun, you have so much to gain and really nothing to lose by jumping in. So I hope to see you there.
Alright, so I want to talk for a minute about well not for a minute, I want to talk in this show about a situation that came up for me this week. And it was really something that felt like a big punch in the gut, and it was a powerful moment and it reminded me of similar feelings that I had when I was in treatment, the first time recovering from treatment from my original diagnosis, and also just stories that I hear and have heard from other survivors. And so I thought this was something that was really important to talk about today.
So since my most recent diagnosis in 2020 of stage four metastatic breast cancer, there's been a lot of thought work that I've had to do in order to keep feeling the way I want to feel and keep moving forward in my life.
Some of those things are, you know, working on how do you acknowledge and live with a disease inside of your body and still have goals and visions and forward-thinking in life?
How do you spend time, how do I spend time in my life now versus how do I want to spend time in it now with this additional reminder of how very short and very precious life is?
And you know, what is my value here in this world?
And I know that when you go through breast cancer and even when you're trying to find your place in life after breast cancer as you're recovering, this is a really important thing.
What do I mean? Right, what does my life mean? And what do I want my life to mean? And what actions do I need to be taking in order to create that value that's important to me?
So on a professional level, for me, that's why it was important for me to create the revived membership. Because one of the things that were really important to me was to be able to support more survivors, to reach as many women as I could, and to help and support them in finding more peace, more joy, living with less fear, and really discovering and connecting to their own value in life. And I felt that the revived membership was an excellent way of doing that. Because it gave me a way to open up the availability of coaching to so many more women in a way that would work with their lifestyle.
So that was one big thing.
On a family and friends level. It was very important to me to make more time and to really make every effort to say yes to every opportunity to talk and spend time with the people I love and the people who really make my life better because they're in it.
And you know, sometimes that doesn't happen because I'm working a lot I have a project. And it's like, oh, no, I can't go here, or I can't do this, because I have this project to do.
So I've really spent a lot of time re-evaluating how I spend my time and making sure that I am doing what I love, I am following my passion, which is this, which is coaching life coaching breast cancer survivors, but also spending every precious moment I can with the people I love.
So something happened to me the other day. And it was really upsetting was, it was a moment that I really felt like, my life was of no value, you know that there was a sense of worthlessness. And it brought up a lot of emotion. And I want to share that with you because I know my life is not worthless. And I know your life is not worthless. But I also know we have moments and situations where these thoughts come up. And we tell ourselves things like that. And it's important to recognize those moments, and why we think the way we think about them.
I saw a post in an online breast cancer group, not the breast cancer recovery group, but a different group the other day. And it also made me think about this because a woman was posting about the fact that she didn't feel that she was good enough that she was deserving of being healed. Because she would see posts from other survivors who would comment on their great treatment outcomes or how they gave credit to God for now living cancer-free lives. But she didn't have that outcome. And so she was telling herself, that she didn't rate you know, she wasn't good enough to be healed by God. And it made her feel bad to read this that other people were saying God healed them. And she wondered, why didn't God heal her?
And I don't think it's uncommon, I know, it's not an uncommon way of thinking, because I hear these kinds of statements in relation to why someone got cancer in the first place. I know, I hear women question their value in the world and the fairness of life. I hear this in relation to long-term side effects because some of us have them. And some of us don't, or some of us have worse side effects than others. And I hear this in relation to recurrences. You know, why did this happen to me? I did all the right things it didn't happen to her and look what they do, not that you want others to have a recurrence. But sometimes people look and compare and judge themselves and say, am I not good enough, because I didn't get this, what I perceive as a benefit, and someone else did.
And I, I want to emphasize really, and truly right now that cancer is random. It's random, just like life is random. And science tells us all the studies show that 70-90% of cancer is caused by lifestyle and environmental factors, you know, there and we may learn more and discover more about genetics. And you know, what genetic influences there are, but the BRCA and the few genetic predispositions that we know about today, really make up a very small percentage of breast cancer cases.
But we do know that your environmental factors can be influencing your health from the time you're in your mother's womb. Now, you don't have a lot of control over what's going on when you're in your mother's womb, right? So we have some control over reducing our risks. But in no way do we have complete control over factors that lend themselves to creating an environment that supports a cellular imbalance in our body that leads to disease.
So why do we choose to tell ourselves that we're not good enough when something goes wrong?
Why do we choose to tell ourselves we're not deserving when we don't get what we expect out of life?
And who told us that we could expect that anyway, right?
It's something we tell ourselves. Life is a collection of stories we tell ourselves, we tell ourselves stories about the past, about the present, and about the future.
And for example of the past, so I was one of six kids growing up. And I might have a sibling who says, Oh, you know why? I'm not good enough, because I was the one who was always picked on as a kid. And then their whole life, they keep with them, this idea of I'm not good enough.
Whereas others of us might look and say, Oh, well, Hey, kids were kids and families and siblings pick on each other, and we never gave it a second thought it didn't have anything to do with your value to us, right?
So what a circumstance means is going to be different for each of us. And it's going to depend on what we tell ourselves. But we allow our value to get tangled up in things like the red tape, the processes, liabilities in life, other people's behaviors, which are only based on their own stories.
Our value, your value, my value, in no way is connected to these things.
Even when we screw up, we make poor judgments in life accidents happen. It's part of the human experience. And these are opportunities for us to learn from painful experiences. But they still do not determine your value and worthiness as a human being.
So this is what happened with me this last week. I've shared on the podcast in the past that when I was diagnosed last year, one of the things that were discovered was that in my 2018, CT scans, there was a tumor in my chest that wasn't included on the report that was given to my oncologist showed up in the CT scan, it wasn't in the report. And so that cancer just spread for two years till my next scan.
Now, my husband, well, not like I didn't have a difficult time with this. But my husband had a very difficult time with this. And he really wanted to pursue things legally. And I didn't, because I didn't want to get caught up in that what I perceived would be a very emotional and challenging endeavor, and I wanted to focus on more positive things in supporting my healing.
But what he found, and I said to him, You do what you have to do, you know, and but I just don't want to invest my energy in it. And so what he found, as he started to talk to attorneys was that there's a law in California, that puts a very small cap when you look at the damage that can be done on malpractice suits in California. And so no lawyers were really interested in taking this case, because they don't like to do small one-off cases, because the reward just isn't high enough. And so that was something that was tough for him to swallow and something I had to process as well.
But now and then he'll share my story, he'll share with someone the story that of what I'm going through. And they'll say to me, Oh, my God, that's so wrong. And here, you need to talk to this person.
So what happened the other day is that he got a new name, he called he talked to somebody, and he got the same story that he's gotten all along, saying, Yeah, well, you know, there's a cap, there's not enough money that we can get. So we're not interested. When he shared this information with me at that moment, it just hit me in a way that made me that I felt very emotional. And I found myself thinking that because these attorneys didn't think they could get enough money, that was somehow a reflection of the value of my life. Right. And I felt very insignificant. And I thought this is why I didn't want to pursue anything legally because I knew it would make me feel worthless.
And right there, as I started to think about that, I realize hold on a sec, this, for me is a red flag when I hear something that made me feel, tells me that I have the thought behind it, right? Because no one outside of me can make me feel a certain way. It's all going to be based on what I'm telling myself. And so when I started to feel upset, and I realized, this is what I was thinking, I was like, Okay, I need to back up for a minute, I need to look at what's going on in my head, why I'm telling myself is because I know, nothing can make me feel worthless, other than me telling myself that I'm worthless.
So in that moment, due to whatever thoughts I've been conditioned to think over the course of my life, I did feel that my life was not valuable, right? And I caught myself and God caught myself, and I started to ask myself these questions like, What am I thinking right now, what is happening in my head right now. And I think this is important because I know, as we go through breast cancer treatment, and we come up against different frustrations, and doctors who don't say the things we want them to say we don't hear the things we want to hear. Standards of care that we anticipated to be better than what they actually are, that oftentimes we can connect our own value and the value of our lives to these things.
So I started to ask myself, okay, what are the actual facts here? And some of the facts in this situation were that, you know, yes, I do have cancer and cancer, it can happen to anyone. Doctors are only people and they mess up. When they mess up they're fearful of their own liability of their professional reputations and repercussions for that. Lawyers are just running a business and their time is valuable. And a case that won't make enough money to be worth their time has nothing to do with the value of me as a human being or the importance of my life.
Again, I'm the only one who gets to determine the value of me and the value of my life just like you are for yours. I get to choose what I think about myself. And in some circumstances that is harder than in others, right. But ultimately, it does come back to us. It is me who gets to decide it is you who gets to decide.
So, I asked myself as I took a moment to kind of process what I was doing and why it was impacting me so powerfully. And I asked myself, you know, why am I choosing to think this? Why am I choosing to think that this situation, these circumstances mean that my life is not valuable, that I'm worthless rather than just think businesses business? Right, I could choose any thought, and there were so many thoughts I could choose at that moment. I could choose all the legal system is jacked up, the doctor has no integrity, he doesn't own up to what he did. Hospitals want to keep a lid on anything that will harm their reputation.
And all those thoughts have truth to them. But if I would choose them, none of those would lead me to feel worthless, right?
And again, I think that's important to share. Because what do you tell yourself when you're going through treatment, when you're recovering from treatment, and something comes up that doesn't fit your expectation. That doesn't seem fair, fair is a really big buzzword as we get treated, as we get diagnosed with cancer, as we try to figure out how to live with cancer, the world isn't fair life isn't fair. Whatever, right?
And so that also is a big red flag. And we need to understand that life isn't fair. And that's just fact.
Things don't work out in what we might cognitively say, this is fair, right? This thing happened to me, because this person messed up, what would be fair, that this person takes responsibility for it. But we know that's not how life works, right?
So why do we even have that expectation, to begin with?
Well, that's a whole nother thought model we could go through, right. But the point here is that when those things happen, it's very important that we do not devalue ourselves.
Because someone didn't treat us the way we think we shouldn't be treated. Because someone didn't love us the way we want to be loved. Because someone didn't say something we expected them to say. You know, we use this, how many times have you heard this phrase, if they really cared, they would do XYZ? Because that's what you would do in the same situation, right?
So you're kind of judging and putting your beliefs on someone else. And then you put yourself in their mind and say, Oh, this is what I mean to them. Right? This is what that lawyer must not value me as a human being otherwise he would come to my defense, right?
But it's just not true.
There's this tangled all kinds of crap of everything that happens in life, there are egos and imaging limitations, and laws and liabilities and occurrences, random occurrences of disease, professional reputations, environmental exposures, you know, it's on and on and on. And some people might be healed and live cancer-free lives for years and years and years, till the end of their days, and others won't. And that does not have anything to do with your importance or your value or your worthiness in this life.
And that's why I say that the work I do, it has nothing to do with living a cancer-free life. Because first of all, that would be a BS promise. And how can I say that I live with cancers? So how can I say the work I do helps you not to get cancer, that that's just not true.
The work I do is in supporting women to live their best life after getting a diagnosis of cancer because that is what you have control over. Right? I can have control over the way that I view circumstances and choose to think about myself, I can look at a circumstance that didn't end up the way I wanted it to. and say that is a reflection of my value as a human being. That's where I have a choice to work and say, No, no, no I am still a very worthy human being I'm a priceless human being.
So when you catch yourself, saying things that make you feel a certain way, and it's a crappy way that you don't want to feel, you can ask yourself, What am I thinking right now? What is the story you're telling yourself about yourself? Because that's where your freedom comes in? That's where you have a choice. Who stories are you listening to? In your head? Is it the story you're telling yourself about what you think someone else is thinking? Or is it really looking at the truth and deciding to treat yourself with gentleness and compassion and value and love?
So if you find yourself struggling with this, or I should say when you do because who doesn't at some point, here's a good exercise.
It's really important to sit down and just take a moment and say, whoa! You know, this, what I'm thinking now, what I'm feeling now, this feeling of worthlessness, this feeling of not being valued, of not being cared about, what are the thoughts behind it? And what are the actual facts here?
So in my situation, the fact is, a lawyer told my husband, that he was not interested in my medical case. That's the fact.
Now, what do I make that fact mean? That's what caused me to feel upset, right? What I told myself that fact meant.
Now maybe your fact is the same as mine. Or maybe it is my husband who said these words to me. And what did I make out of the words, my husband said, maybe it's my boss told me to do this thing. My friend didn't come to my house. You know, my family didn't make dinner for me after my surgery.
Whatever the facts are, what's important is that you just look at them look straight at the facts without telling yourself what other people were thinking. Or even if you know what other people were thinking because they said it to you and you didn't like it, you can say, how do you let other people's thoughts affect your why would you let other people's thoughts affect you? What are your thoughts about these facts in this situation, and when you write down all your thoughts about them, and you let these things just come to your mind, and come out and get out on paper, and you look at what your thoughts are as a result of those facts, then you get to start to see the story you're telling yourself and what that's causing you to feel?
It's a very eye-opening exercise. And it's something you do again and again. And it's really eye-opening, as long as you're willing, to be honest with yourself, and as long as you're willing to stay with you. Right.
In my situation, I had to stay with me, what am I telling myself? Not, what does the lawyer think of me? What does the doctor think of me? What is the world telling me? What do I think of myself when I think of this situation? And how would I prefer to think of it?
And it comes back to that first pillar, release, release, release, there are just so many things in life that we hold on to. Thoughts... beliefs... expectations... that don't serve us.
And all of them come back and start with the way that we think.
The way we think impacts everything. And it can change everything. But it takes work. And it takes awareness and it takes focus. And that's why I wanted to share what happened in my situation with you. Because I know, life does not happen in a vacuum. Right?
It's not only me that has that experience. I know that if I experienced that, that there are others who have experienced it. And I already know you do, because I coach women all the time, who tell me and share stories like this with me.
So I just want to be really clear on that, how we have to unravel the way we connect our value and our worthiness and our importance in this life, with situations that have nothing to do with us. And when you can separate that out, you can relieve so much suffering from your life so much.
So if you have a situation like that, that you're ruminating on in your mind now or even if you want to tuck that in your pocket and keep it for the next time, something like this comes up, just really important to remember that exercise of separating the actual facts from the thoughts you're telling yourself.
All right, I hope someone out there needed to hear that today or at some point in the future when they come back and listen to this podcast.
And if you need even more support, or help with these thoughts, or how to separate thoughts from facts, or how to just use the way you're thinking in your mindset, to change your life in a better way and the way that you want to live it come and join me in the revived membership experience.
You can find all the details at thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/revived. And again, you can enroll until the end of April 2021. And then the membership will close so that I can give all my focus and love and attention on my members and see what happens with that right. It's all about giving as much support and focus as possible.
So I hope to see you there and I'll talk to you again next week and until then be good to yourself and expect other people to be good to you as well.