If there’s anything I loved about the pandemic lockdowns, it was the forced simplicity of life.
There weren’t so many things to do, for many of us, so we didn’t overwhelm ourselves.
We didn’t spend so much time in traffic or we didn’t have to go to office or holiday parties that we dreaded to begin with.
So why do we overfill our lives and then beat ourselves up if we don’t have the energy to do all the things?
Simplicity and the absence of overwhelm are components of a peaceful life and wouldn’t it be great to hang on to that?
In this show, I’ll give you a simple exercise and some suggestions for ways to look at keeping your life aligned with what you need to support your wellness by keeping things simple.
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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, my friends, welcome to another episode of the breast cancer recovery coach Podcast. I am your host, Laura Lummer.
I am thrilled to be here with you today. Thank you so much for coming back to the show if you are a regular listener, and thanks for checking out the show. If you are a new listener, I'm so happy that you found this podcast. And I hope that you find something in it that actually really serves you and helps you in some way.
So for this show, I want to talk about this really interesting period that we're embarking on right now.
The world is starting to reopen a little, I live in Southern California, and some of the pandemic restrictions are lifting, people are going back out. The mask mandates are supposed to be changing. There are graduation ceremonies happening, there are parties happening. I just really interesting, because watching all of this evolve around me and this reopening of the world after a year and a half of a lot of isolation.
It... there's so much joy in it, you know, I see the joy in the gathering, in the community, and that togetherness, and the freedom.
That part of is beautiful.
But it also causes me to think about something else that was really beautiful, during the pandemic, and during the lockdown.
And that was simplicity.
The simpleness of life, that when all of the other distractions aren't there when all of the other things you could do don't exist, then we didn't put the pressure on ourselves to go and do. We didn't put pressure on ourselves to make things happen. And that's really interesting.
And I want to talk about it in this show. Because there's such a beauty in simplicity. And now that things are changing and reopening, what will you choose to do to support your wellness?
Will you overwhelm yourself?
Will you choose to start putting more pressure on yourself?
Or will you choose the things that are really important in life?
And will you simplify? Will you choose simplicity?
And here's why I think that's important. If you're a regular listener to the show, then you've heard me talk I don't even know countless times about self care, treating yourself with self compassion. I've done workshops on self compassion. It's a big, huge, foundational part of my coaching programs.
And one of the biggest detractors from self compassion is over busyness, overfilled lives.
So I reflect back on myself and on so many women that I've coached and spoken with who during treatment, instead of really focusing on the care, the rest, the love the support that they need, beat themselves up for not having the energy to go and do all the things they tell themselves:
...they should be doing
...they used to be doing
...that people expect them to do.
They tell themselves that they're letting people down because they're not doing all of these things.
And that doesn't support healing. And that sure doesn't make you feel any better. And then after treatment, when your body's been through this absolute hell, we find ourselves beating ourselves up again because we're tired. And so many times I'll have people that I just don't have the energy or do things, how do I get the energy back to do things?
And I want to offer that instead of asking yourself and pressuring yourself, to get the energy back to go and do more things that you ask yourself instead.
How much energy do I have for the most important things? What are the most important things to me in my life?
And you had a lot of time to think about it for most of us. You know, there are some places that didn't really lockdown and didn't get isolated. But for those of us who did, we had a lot of time to reflect on that. What did we really miss what is really meaningful? What is really important in our lives? What gives you the most value? What fills your heart the most? And then what things take away from that? What are the detractors from your life, the things that take away from your energy, the things that take away from your joy, the things that are just busywork that you run yourself ragged telling you, you're yourself you have to do?
...and yet months may have gone by when you didn't do it, and the world didn't implode.
So why do we put this pressure on ourselves to overcomplicate our lives?
Ee do it with stuff like material possessions. We do it with what we tell ourselves, our obligations, places we have to go people, we have to see things that we have to do. But do we really have to? I think this is such a great time to really sit back and examine that. And look at that, because it's kind of a world new right now.
I saw a lot of memes that would go around initially when the pandemic hit, and people first got put on lockdown. And it was kind of like, you know, this strange look on people's faces like, oh, isolation first time for you. Because for a lot of us survivors, you know, when we went through treatment, there was a lot of isolation because we didn't feel well or because we had compromised immune systems. And we needed to stay away from people. And then treatment ends. And we find ourselves in this really weird, emotional, mental, the physical state of trying to reassimilate and processing trauma that we've been through processing fear that we're carrying with us, and making decisions on the best way for us to give back to our lives. Because we've had this time now to not only go through this illness, go through this treatment, and try to figure out how to support ourselves, but also to really consider what is important in my life.
When you get a breast cancer diagnosis, and you're going through treatment, you are 100% focused on what is most important in your life. But sometimes as we move forward after treatment, we get caught back up in just the activity of life, the actions of life, the stuff in life.
And also, if we're not really doing intentional conscious work on changing our thoughts in managing and processing the fear that comes along with surviving breast cancer and many of the other emotions, then we seek to fill that void with other things.
I've talked about this in previous podcasts with buffering.
We don't want to feel all of the so-called negative emotions. And so we buffer them. And sometimes we buffer them by we distract ourselves with things that keep us from feeling bad. Or we do things that make us feel good to keep us from feeling the things that make us feel bad. And we can do that in the form of the activity of keeping busy. We can do that in the form of retail therapy, shopping, and collecting stuff. And as we get more and more stuff, what our life's become more cluttered.
We did a minimalist challenge in the breast cancer recovery group, I think it was in the month of February. And it was somewhat of an introduction, it was kind of cleaning and simplifying life from the outside, in really looking around our houses, we were all pretty much stuck in our houses at that time and saying, Wow, what in my own home in my own environment is overwhelming me is complicating my life, and is taking away from me doing the things I really enjoy and love, and spending time on myself taking care of myself. And so we went through our home environments, and threw away, gave away, or sold an item for every day of the week.
So it was the first day of February through one thing the 22nd day we threw away 22 things and so on...
And so we ended up purging over 400 items from our homes. And so many women who participated in this had really positive outcomes and a really big shift in the way that they looked at life. And we saw that we can complicate our own lives make things overwhelming for ourselves by hanging on to stuff.
So what we discovered was in the letting go of this stuff, there was just such a big freedom in simplifying our lives, in simplifying our environment. There was this lovely freedom. And there was this openness, not for more stuff. But just for an abundance of the things we really did love more time for the people we care about because we didn't feel like that time had to be spent cleaning the house or organizing things, more appreciation for the things that people actually decided to keep because you got to really love it to keep it right otherwise it got tossed out.
Tossing over 400 items is a lot of stuff.
Now I bring up that experience because I think that there's no better time in our lives than after going through breast cancer. And then after going through a year and a half of lockdowns and quarantines to decide what we want to keep in our life.
And I think that's a really important paradigm shift.
It's a different way of looking at things. Because we go through our lives so often saying, we have to do these things. This has to be done, this has to be done that has to be done. And God knows there are some things that have to be done. But do all the things and all the pressures we put on ourselves have to be done? Or is that just really a story we've been telling ourselves?
I don't know if you're familiar with this acronym, FOMO.
Right, F-O-M_O: fear of missing out.
Well, the other day, I was reading through some things, and I saw JOMO: the joy of missing out.
And I thought... What a great idea that is, right?
The joy of not telling yourself that you have to do everything, the joy of giving yourself the permission and the grace to decide what's truly important to you. What's the most valuable thing in your life, the things in your life, and then allowing yourself to let go of the things outside of that, essentially, using your values as a filter for the decisions you make in your life.
So as the world reopens, your life doesn't have to become overwhelming again. Your life can serve your priorities. So this all sounds so lovely, doesn't it? So easy, Lord, just keep a simple life. But how do you really keep a simple life? How do you really take the pressure off of yourself?
Well, I think that there are two very important things to consider while you're trying to make this decision.
One is what do you really need? And that's got to be the first one. What do you really need?
And everything else off the table. Not I need this, but I can't because of so and so. No buts, no, I can't.
First just looking at what do you need to support your well-being, to support your wellness, to give you time to do anything that you need to do to feel recharged, and to manage your energy?
And I'll give you an example. For me, I know that I start losing mental focus after a certain time in the day. So I know that I need that time in the afternoon for rest, I know that I need a certain amount of sleep. And if I don't get that amount of sleep, I feel exhausted very, very quickly. And that exhaustion can impact me for days.
So I know that I have to arrange my schedule so that I have X amount of time off. And that time is time I give myself permission for it to do nothing... to take a nap... to read a book... and it fits into my life.
So I have to look at that first.
And then I schedule other fun things, other commitments around what I know I need to support my wellness.
And a second really important component to that is working on your thoughts around saying no, and understanding that you can say no to things and it doesn't make you a bad person.
In fact, I think it makes you a very self aware person. And that it sets a great example for other people around you that it's okay for them to take proper care of themselves.
Now, if you're listening to me say that and you feel all kinds of resistance come up, and you think, Oh my God, how will I do that?
Then I have another little exercise for you.
And that is to do a thought dump, and a thought dump is just take a piece of paper, take a pencil, write something at the top of that piece of paper.
And in this situation, I would offer that you would write at the top of that piece of paper: I don't feel like I can take the time for what I need.
And really examine all of your thoughts around that. Set a timer for five minutes, write everything that comes to your mind. Why do you tell yourself that you can't make the time for yourself? Because you've already established right? The first step was really deciding what you need, really look at it, and say what do I need to support my health, my healing my happiness and my wellness? And then if you get freaked out about like, Oh, jeez, how will I do that? Why are you telling yourself that you can't do the things you need?
It's a really interesting exercise. Because when you look at those thoughts, and it's going to give you that opportunity to examine where those thoughts are coming from, and if there's really any truth to them, and a lot of times there isn't right, they're just conditioned things. You just believe them when you think them because you always have being said because someone told you you should. So it's a very great exercise to do. Look at what you need, give yourself permission to say no, from a place of compassion and caring for yourself. And acknowledging that does not make you a bad person.
So that's your first step, deciding what you need, right? Laying the ground rolling the foundation, what do I need? So important!
And if you're listening, you're like, I already know what I need. And I'm super good at making time for myself, self care as a priority. I love self care. But I still feel overwhelmed, I still feel this pressure to do all the things. Well oftentimes when that is happening, it's because you're still telling yourself that someone else will think something of you that you don't want them to think. Or that someone else will have an emotional experience that you don't want them to have. And that that's a direct result of what you do or don't do. And because you don't want someone to think or feel a certain way, you take actions in your life that you really don't want to be taking, when the bottom line is, you never get to control the way someone else is thinking or feeling.
So let me give you some specific examples. If you're doing all the things or you feel like I have to do all the things because if I don't, someone will think I'm lazy. Or if I don't, someone will think I don't care enough about them to do that.
Then this is a great opportunity for two very important things:
One is looking at the way you're thinking and kind of reeling yourself in. And remind yourself that the choices you make in life are not based on what someone else might think of you. The choices you make in your life are based on what you need. Right? They're based on what you need, and what you value in your life. So if you're doing something, you think, gosh, I know, I neither want to do this nor do I evaluate for any reason. But I don't want someone to think this certain story of me, that's your own work, you really have to stay there and look at why do you tell yourself that story? And what are the thoughts behind it, because that can bring up a lot you know, it can bring up your own insecurities, it can bring up your relationship with the person whose thoughts you're afraid of.
But the second thing that it is an opportunity for is communication with that person.
It is an opportunity to break down that facade, right, this idea that I can do all these things for you. Or if you're concerned, someone might think you don't care enough about them, then obviously you do care about them. And so it's an opportunity to help someone understand you better to help someone understand why you're simplifying your life, why you're choosing to invest your energy in just the things that you can actually manage. And it's a chance to express what that person really means to you. Right. If you value this person enough in your life, that you're concerned about their thoughts about you, then it's a great opportunity to express what they mean to you, and find other ways potentially, that you could support them in whatever it is this obligation might be.
So when we're real, and we're transparent with the people that we care about. And that is including ourselves, right? When we really honest with ourselves about what is going on in our life, what we can handle, and what we can't. And when we're really honest about that, with the people that are closest to us and the people we want to do things for. It makes so much of a richer life because it allows us to live very intentionally.
And it allows us to invite people in and strengthen those connections for those people who are really important to us.
So as we move forward in this post pandemic world in this post pandemic life and some of you may be going back out into the world for the first time even since treatment. I know so many women who were diagnosed right before lockdowns or even during lockdowns and so there's been a lot of isolation.
So something to consider is what is going to work for you? How can you re-enter slowly? How can you reenter at a pace that honors the level of energy that you have, that gives you the most bang for the buck, the most joy for the investment of energy that you have to give? And that always keeps self care and self compassion at the forefront?
This is the time for my third pillar of breast cancer recovery. This is the time for regrouping. Right.
And if self care and self compassion were never at the forefront, then what an awesome opportunity to start putting them there. To start using the exercises I talked about a minute ago and looking at the way to regroup and realign your life so that it's even better Before breast cancer, that's pretty cool, right?
A better, richer, more simple life that allows you to honor what you need.
That's what I want for you. That's what I hope for you.
If you have questions, you want to support this, please come and find the breast cancer, recovery group. It's my free Facebook group, just go to Facebook and search the breast cancer, recovery group. And there are hundreds of women there. Hundreds of women who are recovered from, recovering from, managing, dealing with, living with, or even in treatment for breast cancer, tons of support.
And we're all there for one reason, not for the focus on breast cancer. But for the understanding how do we manage the experience of the diagnosis, treatment, and life of managing this disease, and still create the most joyful experience life can offer, that's the goal, right? Make life as great as it can be, and manage all the crap that came with breast cancer putting it into perspective, and creating the life you want.
So I would love to see you there.
Anyway, hope that helps. And I will talk to you again next week.
Until then, be good to yourself and expect other people to be good to you as well.