Much of our lives are spent meeting other people’s expectations or fulfilling their needs.
We can easily lose sight of what we need, how to listen to our own intuition, or feel confident standing in our own truth.
When you find yourself in the struggle of feeling stuck in other people's thoughts there are three steps you can take to move closer to creating the life you really want.
In this week’s episode we talk about those steps, how to become more aware of them, and how to take small steps toward listening to and living by your own thoughts.
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 re engaged 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 am your host, Laura Lummer. I am thrilled to be here. And I want to start this show off with two very big thank you, for two very awesome ratings and reviews.
I want to thank Rin * , that's your username and quiltinggrandmaw , quiltinggrandmaw , the two of you left really awesome reviews. And you know if any of you listening to this one to see the reviews, you can always, I think on a smartphone to scroll right down to the bottom where you listen to this podcast. And that's where you can also go if you want to leave a review and rating.
But I just want to say to the two of you, I wish I knew your real names. But it's kind of this wonderful mystery that I don't as well, because I read these reviews. And I don't even know need to know the name. I just the tears streamed down my face, you know, I really connect with you. I really appreciate you leaving and taking the time to do that. And to share your story with me, and to share just how you found the podcast and what it means to you. Because when you do that, I just can't even tell you what it means to me. And I love knowing that there's this tool, this vehicle, this podcast, that can reach people all around the world and let you know that you do not have to be a lonely warrior out there fighting the world, fighting cancer, and feeling like you don't even have the right to your own feelings, or understanding how to process this whole experience. It's just so much better when we can do it together.
I know that sounds kind of weird. It's like we're not together, you're listening to a random podcast. But I feel like we're together. And I just thank you, thank you so much for taking the time to leave their review means everything to me to get to, to read your stories. And to know that the work I do here supports you in some way.
So thank you very, very, very much.
That being said, I'm just going to jump right into today's Podcast.
Actually, I'm going to give one more thing, one more little thing, because I think this also will serve to help and support some of you who may need it. Some of you may already have gone through this. But if you go to my website right at the top of the homepage, you can download a free video series called the four pillars of breast cancer recovery. And so you know, when I started doing this breast cancer coaching, I've offered different freebies and downloads that I thought might support you. And we actually have a resource page on in the works now coming very, very soon. That will have some additional free downloads, including my book that I co authored with Andrea Lehner, the founder of the Cancer Exercise Training Institute, and that book is on lymphedema. And so all of that is coming really soon.
But right now you can go to the website, and you can just go right to the homepage and download the four pillars of breast cancer recovery. It's a four video series, and it just helps you understand what those pillars are and why I call them the four pillars of breast cancer recovery. It has some worksheets with some very simple exercises you can do for yourself to help you work through these pillars of release, renew, regroup and revive. And it's just it's a taste of it, you know, that's something that I think can get the thought juices flowing. And that's really what it's all about, you know, and that's what I'm going to get into the show right now.
One thing I realized that I know I've mentioned this on the show before is that after my first diagnosis, you know, I thought it was just all about doing all the right things to feel healthy again. And it was a long and difficult road for me to figure out. It was really about what was happening in between my ears. It is such an important piece of managing, dealing with, processing, healing from, living with breast cancer is learning to manage our thoughts. It's critical. It's absolutely critical. It's critical for every stage of life.
It's really interesting because I'll run across people and they say to me, you know, I don't even have breast cancer, but I heard your podcast and it just applies. Everything in life and I listened to it all the time. And it's just so true, right? Because this is just breast cancer is another part of life, something we have to manage in life. And along with all other things, right? All the things, the jobs, the relationships, the kids, the families, the finances, life is big, there's so much going on.
And so one of the key components to managing all of that, and keeping your sanity and keeping your peace of mind and creating your happiness is understanding that you have the power to manage your thoughts.
And this show is a little bit more, it's definitely about that. I think all the shows are about that now. But where we get tripped up oftentimes, is we start to live our lives by other people's thoughts. We live our lives, wondering if what our little voice inside of us is telling us is the right thing to do. We'll be judged by other people. Right? Let me share a story with you.
So I was speaking with a woman just yesterday. And she is in a very unhappy place in her life. And she was telling me her story about what was going on in her life. And I asked her, and she'd she shared with me the story. And she said, What should I do? And I said, Well, I have what do you think you should do? I mean, it's your life. You'd I have only heard your story for the last two, three minutes. So you tell me, what do you think you should do? And she goes, ahhhh, and she said, I just don't i don't want to make any decisions because I don't want to hurt anybody. And I don't want to make the wrong decision. I said, okay, but aren't you hurting now? And she said, No. And I said, You're not hurting now? She says, No. I said, Okay, so then why are you going to counseling with this other person you're going to counseling with? Why are you tormented by this decision that you're wrestling with? If you're not in pain? Why would you want to change anything? And she says, Well, I mean, I'm not in pain or hurting, because I'm just numb.
I just don't feel anything. And I said, Hmm, and is that acceptable? Is that good? Is that the way you want to live your life? And she said, Well, no. But if I, if I don't tune everything out and just ignore it, then I'm in pain. and so and we both kind of laugh together, right? Because we say, I don't want to make a decision, that my inner voice is telling me, I've already made, it's in me, I've made this decision. But I haven't vocalized this decision, and therefore, no one can judge me.
So I continue to ignore this voice inside of me that is saying, you need to do this. What is happening right now is not for you. It doesn't serve you. And we hear it. And we know it's happening. But we say as long as I don't vocalize it, no one else can judge me. Right?
And this woman, she says me, well, what will my mother in law say? What will my mother in law think? What is my spouse going to say? My friends will think this about me.
And this is so common, I share this because I'm equally as guilty of it. I worked for a long time, and still do on unraveling, what are actually my thoughts, and where I'm living my life by either someone else's thoughts that were so conditioned and ingrained in me that I don't even realize they're not my own, or for the fear of someone else's thoughts, or the fear of someone else's judgments. Right? What will they think of me? And if I could just bring everybody back to square one and say, What do you think of you? Why do you think, this is your life?
And I think it's so interesting, because I can I can remember and recall so many stories, where I would talk to someone who is in pain, talk to someone who is struggling and being you know, judged, or labeled or condemned by someone they loved, or someone who quote unquote, loved them, right? And I would think, Wow, look at this person who's judging you.
I mean, I can come up with a list as long as my arm of things I could judge them for and they think their life is 100% correct, right? And they're just gonna keep going and living their life their way and then judging you for not living your life their way. So there comes a point when we have to say, am I going to live my own life? Or am I going to live my life someone else's way? by someone else's thoughts?
I have a very, very Dear friend, who was recently very ill, and in the hospital, and I called her one day, and as we were talking, she was really upset. If she listened to those podcasts, you didn't know who she is, but that's okay. And she was really upset. And she said, I just don't want people to think I'm weak. I don't want people to think I can't handle it, I'm very strong, she was in a terrible position is scary, terrible, and miserable from the physical standpoint of illness, miserable and frightening position. And she says, I don't want people to think I'm weak. Right? Her family, she didn't want to disappoint people, or let people down and my heart breaks, I think my heart breaks so loudly, people could hear it.
And sometimes we have to hear these words coming out of our mouth, and kind of dig a little deeper under them. Because I want to offer that when we tell ourselves things like that, this is a great place to stop. If you sit with that, sometimes, that's what we're telling ourselves. In fact, most of the time, because if somebody says, I don't know, I'm gonna throw out a bunch of labels. If somebody says you're a fraud, you're weak. And there's some part of you that questions or believes that statement, that it's really your own thought, it's bringing up the uncomfortable feeling inside of you.
Because if somebody says to me, oh, Laura, you're weak, and you're incompetent, it would mean nothing to me, it would mean absolutely nothing to me, because I know, for a 100% sure fact, that that is not true.
So therefore, I don't have that thought of myself, in anybody who said it in any way. It wouldn't bother me, there's no truth to it. That when we're unsure of ourselves, and we're not really confident in who we are, or what we need in our life, then we have a tendency to live by what we say is other people's thoughts. Underlying that oftentimes is our own thought, is our own lack of confidence in ourselves, our own belief in ourselves, our own judgment of ourselves, that we don't live up to some label that we've determined we should live up to.
So when I'm coaching women, and I hear them, keeping themselves small, talking about themselves in very small ways, they don't want to stand out, they don't want to rock the boat, they don't want to say too much. And yet they're miserable. Like the story I shared with you, in the very beginning, this woman is so unhappy, so miserable. But her mind is always on other people's thoughts. And so she doesn't take the time to sit down, and really begin to know herself to get to understand herself to get to know, what are my thoughts? And where am I judging them, where my, you know, judging myself for thinking them feeling them wanting something for myself. And I'll tell you how this conversation ended, it was so funny, because she said, Well, and I told her, you have to spend some time with yourself to understand what you want. And then you can start working through how to present what you want to the outside world.
And she says, Well, I have another client, and my client told me that and she wants me to go to this retreat and get brainwashed. I laughed and said what do would mean brainwash, I would never hope you would go somewhere to get brainwashed. And she said, Well, because they're gonna brainwash me, they're gonna tell me to stop thinking the things that I'm thinking. And I said, Okay, so I would just like to offer a different perspective and say, maybe you've been brainwashed your entire life. And maybe the place you're going to wants to unbrainwash you, and allow you to feel comfortable thinking for yourself, and to get out of other people's heads. And she just laughed, because oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh, I don't know, am I ready for that?
Right, because it's a big step. It's a big step that we often don't do. We are conditioned to conform from the time we're children, and to fit in and to not make too much noise, right. And so, we live our lives by what we think other people think of us.
And then we get to this point, like I've said, so many times where the jacket just doesn't fit anymore. And how do we find one that does? How do we design our own jacket that fits perfectly?
Well, we have to start by getting to know ourselves and understand what we really think, what we truly want for ourselves. And it doesn't have to be a huge I think this and tomorrow, I'm living a different life. Right? It's a step by step process of really getting to know yourself, and getting comfortable with yourself and taking one step at a time.
And so let's talk about some steps right now let's talk about three steps that you can take to start cultivating more awareness as to whether you're living by your thoughts, what is true for you, or where you're living your life based on what other people might think of the choices you make.
So step number one, is just to begin noticing your own words. And this is a great journal exercise. This is a great thought dump thought download exercise, but really being present in your day and noticing your own words, noticing when you say things like, if I do that, what will they think? If I do that, someone else will react like this. statements like, I don't want to make someone else feel like this. I don't want someone to think I've met this.
Okay, so these are all big red flags.
Notice when you're saying these things, notice when those statements come out of your mouth. Because when they do, you're in someone else's thoughts, you're making a decision based on someone else's thoughts.
Now, you might find these phrases, these words coming out of your mouth a lot. And so this is the whole step number one, the whole thing because I don't want you to overwhelm yourself.
So I just wanted you to take whatever you need a week, two weeks, 30 days, whatever it is, and just become really aware of the words you use. Start noticing when you say some of the things that I just mentioned, or you have those thoughts, what will someone else think if I do this, just become aware of how prominent that is in your life. This is a great first step, because until we have awareness, and awareness with curiosity, without judgment, without shame, just awareness, then we can't even begin to change or grow.
Alright, so we have to first notice, and that's it. If you go further than that, you're going to start justifying, you're going to start qualify Well, I think that because of this, and well, no, don't even go there stop. Only notice, only noticing my words.
And I think I've shared the story on the podcast before but I would do it again. Right now. I have my younger sister Christy. She's been on the show before. And she would always say I'm sorry. I mean, constantly, you know, any anytime she do anything, she's walking in the same on the same sidewalk as someone else. Oh, sorry. Oh, sorry. You know, and one day I said to her, we were at a yoga class, and I said, What is with the constant? I'm sorry?
What I mean, it's like you're apologizing for just being here being live. And she said, Ah, someone else had recently said that to her. So I bought her a necklace that said, not sorry, I just want you to start becoming aware of how often you apologize for nothing, you've done nothing, right.
And so this is a big step, just awareness, because then we start to catch ourselves. And when we catch ourselves, we deepen our awareness. And then we can make some decisions on whether or not we want to change things. And that doesn't mean just what will someone think of me, but what does someone told me I'm supposed to do here?
Let's say that I have a job that I don't like, and I want to leave that job and go do something I really love. Let's say I have a high pressure sales job. And I want to start my own business as an artist because I love to paint. But I tell myself, that is irresponsible, that is never gonna make enough money, whatever it is that you tell yourself. And those are also living by other people's thoughts, decisions like that are living by other people's thoughts, because who said that? And what is enough money? Can we always change our life circumstance, if I live the lifestyle of someone who makes $150,000 a year, and I choose to make less than that because I want to pursue something else. I have the right to change my lifestyle to accommodate that. Right?
So we always have choices there. Most of the time, not easy choices, but they're always there. So these are also that am I living my life by other people's thoughts that other people said moms do this. Women do that friends, do this sisters do that. All those thoughts come into play.
Okay, so set yourself goals, set yourself a deadline, how long you're going to notice that I write those suckers down. Every time they come up, keep a little notebook with you write them down. Please don't just leave them floating around in your head because then it's gonna get super overwhelming.
Get them out of your head, right?
If we leave them in our head, then judgment will definitely sneak in. And we want to avoid judging ourselves.
So now we come to step number two, you set yourself a deadline, you've kept track of how many times you make decisions or stop yourself or limit yourself based on other people's thoughts, things people have told you to do things people might think of you if you do them.
Now, move into phase number two, and go back and look at some of those thoughts. And now the exercises, give yourself another timeframe, right, and judgment free timeframe. Now for the next two weeks. Give yourself a little time each day or maybe sometime throughout the week, but really commit to it and spend some time assessing those thoughts. Really looking at those thoughts and asking yourself, what why do I think that? What does it mean to me? If I have a very stressful job? And now I've decided that I'm going to change that job?
Because I've decided that, that stress doesn't serve me, what does it mean to me if someone says, or thinks, Oh, well, that was a really irresponsible thing. I mean, if you know that what you're doing is what serving you what you need, and the direction you want to take in your life. What does it mean to you, if someone else judges it?
That's a lot to dig into. That's just step number two. And you're gonna uncover a lot of stuff. When you look at those thoughts. And you ask yourself, What do I let them I mean, to me. I can remember as a much younger person, wanting and needing to go to work full time to support my family. And my mom saying to me things like, Oh, well, why don't you just want to stay at home? You know, I was married at the time, why don't you just want to stay at home and take care of your family. That's what a mother should do. Right. And I was raised in a very traditional family, and my mom stayed home and took care of the six of us, the six children. And I was very conditioned to think that a mother stayed home and took care of her kids. But inside of me, there was a voice inside me said, that's not my path. At that point in my life is like, that's not for me. I need to do something else.
But man, was that strong thought!
And does that thought bring guilt? Oh My God, yes!
And you're supposed to make dinner every night and whatever, whatever, all the suppose twos. So looking at that kind of thought and processing it and realizing that that was what was right for my mother. Or maybe it was right for her mother, in the world she lived in in the life she wanted and the beliefs that she had. But they were not serving me those thoughts were no not serving me. And it wasn't right from my path in my life. Right? It wasn't the person I was.
So that's what I mean, when you look at you say, what does that mean to me? If it's creating a feeling of some kind of negativity? What does it mean to you? What are you telling yourself it means? Are you telling yourself it means you're bad? Are you telling yourself you're not good enough? What do you tell yourself? Because when we're living by other people's thoughts, and if we deviate from those thoughts, and it brings up a negative feeling, is because we're telling ourselves a story about it.
So step number two is to go back to all those thoughts. And start asking yourself, what are those mean to me?
Now, typically, what happens here is when we start noticing how other people's thoughts affect us, and the stories we tell ourselves about why we need to live by other people's thoughts. One of the first things that happens is we start telling ourselves why we can't do it. Right? I would change this, but I can't like can't do that differently because of this.
And so step number three, is to pick out those top three thoughts, pick out three out of all the work that you've done, look at those thoughts and say, those three things right there. I feel like they really limit me in my life. I feel like they really bring up the most aches or confusion or struggle, they really have a powerful effect on me.
And then just ask yourself, what if that wasn't true? That's it. What if that wasn't true?
So in some of the examples I gave, if I leave a high power, high paying job, and I decided to pursue something that I'm passionate about that won't provide as much income, that's irresponsible.
Well, what if that wasn't true? And then you get to explore that. What if that wasn't true? If being a mom and going to work full time, because it's something I want to do and or need to do? And somebody says that makes you a bad mom. What if that weren't true? If you want to pull back from the things that you're engaged in, in volunteering, and in participating in and you say to yourself, I have to create more time for myself to support my health and healing. And in order to do that, I have to let go of all of these, what I've always looked at as obligations. But if I do that, I'm afraid people will think I'm selfish.
What does that mean to you? Well, I don't want to look selfish, because I think selfish people are bad people. And then we ask ourself, what if that isn't true? What if it isn't true? What if doing something for yourself to support your health and to make more time for yourself is actually the example about everyone should be living their life? What if that was true? That'd be pretty cool, right?
So you get to go back and look at those thoughts. Look at what you think of them, and then ask yourself, What if it wasn't true? Now you get to step into that place of curiosity again, right? And when we say what if that wasn't true? Now we get to think about so many different options. Now you get to insert your own thought. If it wasn't true, then I would do this. All now you're getting down to it. Now you're getting down to what you really want, and what you really think, for yourself and for your life, and that's a beautiful place to be. Now your brain will continue to argue and to put up excuses and to say, No, no, no, no, that's the way it's supposed to be, because that's what our brains do. But as you work through this exercise, and you can continue to work through that exercise. Because once you start creating that awareness of other people's thoughts, and how they affect you, and they keep popping up in your life, you'll notice them more, and you can continue to take them back to pencil and paper and do this exercise.
So when you first start, you give yourself a little more time in each of the phases, but then you get better and better at it. And then it starts to become this automatic process and you start to catch yourself when you're making a decision or not making a decision. And you catch yourself thinking, Oh, man, I'm doing this because I'm afraid of what someone else is thinking of me. Or I'm not going to do this because I'm concerned about what someone else is thinking about me. Why am I doing that? What am I making that mean? And it just becomes a more automated process of self awareness.
Okay, my friends, I hope that helps somebody out there that somebody needed to hear that today. And I want to remind you that you can go to my website, thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com and download my free video series, the four pillars of breast cancer recovery.
And you can also join my free Facebook group, the breast cancer recovery group, which is an amazing group of hundreds of survivors. And the love and the support in that group is just amazing. We're all supporting each other in just living a better life after breast cancer, and it's a great place to take questions to fellow survivors, I see so much wonderful advice and support. And I think just, you know, validation, a lot of validation from other survivors on when people post something that they're going through or struggling with, and it's just, it's just nice to know, you're not alone, right? And this group is a great place to know, you're not alone and be there's a big team of women who get what you're going through, and they're on your side.
So if you're not already a part of that amazing group, just search it on Facebook, the breast cancer recovery group and give it a join.
Alright, that's all for now and I will talk to you again next week.
Until then, be good to yourself and expect others to be good to you as well.