We are exceptional when it comes to caring for others, and we're happy and proud to do it.
But, we're not so great at taking care of ourselves or allowing others to care for us.
In this episode I'll give you insights on:
-What happens when women give more than they have
-How we end up feeling
-What we tell ourselves about accepting help
-What you can ask yourself to practice better self-care and have deeper connections
Referred to in this episode:
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 there, welcome to another episode of the Breast Cancer Recovery Coach Podcast. I am your host, Laura Lummer. Thank you so much for being here with me today for coming back over and over and if you're brand new for checking it out for the first time. I've got some great stuff for you in today's show, at least I think it's great, and before I jump into it, I just want to remind you, when this show comes out, it will be Friday, October 29thand that will be the second to the last day of open enrollment for my monthly coaching program, the Revived Membership Experience. I highly encourage you to go to my website, thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/revived, and check out the details on this program. I started this program, well I've started many programs, I coach a lot of survivors and this program was one that I created because I really felt like the structure of it would be able to reach more people and invite in more women who need this help and support. And the whole reason why I continue to create coaching programs is because I know how hard this space is. You know, people have said it to me time and time again, I've said it time and time again, I feel like when you're in breast cancer treatment, do not get me wrong, it's friggin hard. But after breast cancer treatment, that space is sometimes even more difficult. Because the expectation is different. The expectation of ourselves is different. The expectation of us from others is different, right? We expect to go back to normal, people expect us to go back to normal. And that is not what happens. And we have to learn to navigate so many different aspects of our life, of our self, of the way we think about ourselves, manage ourselves deal with ourselves. And that's what we work on in the Revived Membership Experience. So, it's a great program. I've seen just tremendous results with the women who are currently in it and I invite you to check it out and join me the enrollment is open until 9 pm Pacific Time, October 30th. Saturday, October 30th. I gotta get these days straight. I didn't write them down. And so go check it out thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/revived. Okay,
let's get into today's show. First, I want to give you a little bit of background on what I'm going to talk about. So, I was reading this article by Precision Nutrition, which is the organization that I did my nutrition coaching certification through, excellent organization. And the article was about six months' worth of interviews they had done with women to find out why women decided to come to them for a nutrition coaching program. And they go into the different reasons, I'll post the link to the article in the show notes for this episode, which you'll find at the breastcancerrecoverycoach.com/162. So, you can read the whole article because it's pretty interesting. But what they discovered from these interviews was how much women take care of other people. How much they give to taking care of people who need care, like elderly parents or you know the sick, the infirm in their life, their children, their spouses, their jobs. And then when they come to the point of realizing, well, I'll tell you what they realize because here is a direct quote from the article. “After dozens of interviews, a central theme kept bubbling to the surface. Women are extremely proud of how much they do for their loved ones. But they also feel utterly exhausted. In the process of putting so much of themselves into caring for others may end up neglecting themselves. Their own care suffers, exercise is forgotten. Healthy eating is off the menu, they gain weight, they lose strength, they age quickly, and their health deteriorates.” Hmm, that is not a good outcome. Then what really got me on this article and what really made me see how this connects to the women that I work with so much was one of the steps that they give in order to change this for yourself as a woman, and that step is to give yourself permission to accept help. Under that step of giving yourself permission to ask for help. It says most of our clients, it never occurs to them to ask for help, they feel like it'd be an admission that they're not good enough or capable. That they're not strong enough to do it on their own. One client kept telling herself, if I can't do it myself, I'm a loser. So let that sink in for a minute. That's the article. Fast forward, I'm in the car, I'm driving with one of my sisters and she has a surgical procedure coming up very soon, in the next couple of weeks. It's not a major life-threatening deal, but it is a surgery, and she does have to go under general anesthesia. And I want to give her a ride, and wait there, and pick her up and take her home. Notice I said, I want to help her. I'm not obligated to help her. I don't feel like it's a burden to help her. I heard she was going under general anesthesia, and I want to be there for her. Being there for someone is an expression of love. Now it can be an expression of obligation or something else. But that's not what this is. So, I'm driving in the car with my sister. And I asked her to confirm the date and the time that she's going to go in for surgery. And she's been very hesitant, you know, she's kind of holding back some on talking about this whole issue. And so she tells me the date and the time, and then she says how she's so angry. And she starts to talk about how angry she is. And when I say well, why? She says because she shouldn't have to have help.
She shouldn't have to be dealing with this. Her body shouldn't be doing what it's doing. And she shouldn't need to have help. She should just be strong enough to do it on her own. Now, rule number one of coaching is don't coach unsolicited, so since she does listen to this podcast, I'll just coach her vicariously through this podcast and kind of sneaky, huh? So, I started to really think about this, because it's a common theme that I see all the time. It's not just in the dozens of women who this company interviewed to find out why they finally decided to get some help for themselves and to support their health. It's very common. And we women tend to take on a lot, a lot. And in addition to taking on a lot, we tell ourselves, we're supposed to. We have to we do it to protect others. I cannot tell you how many times I've heard I have to do it because he can't handle it. She gets stressed too easily. I don't want them to have to worry, right? These things sound familiar. And we go through cancer treatment. And what do we do? The same thing. We say I don't want to worry anybody. I've got this. So often we tell ourselves, well, I can do my treatment on my day off on my lunch break after work so I don't miss a thing. Now, if that's a financial burden and a financial obligation, that's one thing. But a lot of times it isn't, you know, there are people who get paid sick days and vacation time who still say to themselves, I can't miss work. Sometimes I hear it's because I don't want to be at home thinking about what I'm going through, which that's a whole other podcast. But a lot of times it's because we want to keep the status quo. We don't want other people to worry. And we feel like if we just fake it. If we just tell ourselves, we've got this, and we're just going to do this on our own, then no one else will worry. And that we were fixing it right? We're fixing it for but, “Hey, I got cancer. But let me fix that for you. Let me make sure you don't worry about that. Let me make sure that that doesn't bother you. Let me make sure that doesn't upset you. Let me just keep going along, going along, and fix this for you.” Right? How's that sound? I have cancer, but I want to make sure you're okay with it. I need to have surgery. But I don't want to be a burden to you. When do we stop trying to fix things for everyone else and allow ourselves to take care of ourselves? When do we allow ourselves to do what we say we want so much in our life? What do we say we want? Connection. Real connection. I hear this all the time. You want to feel connected to the people that you love. You want to feel loved by the people that you love. And then the people that you love, try to show you love and you're like no, no, no, no, I got this. I'm on my own I'm good. And then in our head and to our friend over a glass of wine, we say, Oh, I cannot believe they've not been there for me. So we want to fix everything for them. So we're not transparent, we don't really tell them what we're going through, whether it's in treatment, and especially after treatment, because hey, they expect me to be normal, I want to look normal, because that way, it doesn't bother them, and fix it for them. And meanwhile, I'm not going to look at what I'm going through, and take care of myself, and treat myself the way I need to be treated. To figure this out for me. I cannot tell you how many times I have had a survivor come to me and tell me how much she knows, she wants to eat better, she wants to eat differently, she feels a need in her body to clean up her diet, she has a fear of recurrence and feels like cleaning up her diet would make a difference. But her husband, her spouse, her children, her partner, they don't like to eat that way.
And so here we go, again, I want to support my health, but I don't want to inconvenience anybody else. Let's fix it for them and whatever happens to me happens, right? I don't need anybody. In fact, I not only don't need anybody, but whatever happens to everybody else is my fault. What do you do with that? How do you move away from that? How do you see that in yourself first, and then do something to really consider the repercussions, the implications, and get an understanding of how to move forward in a way that supports your self-care? I had someone say to me the other day, when is all of this going to end? So that I can focus more on my children and my job and not have to think about me? It took me a second. Why don't you want to think about you? Why don't you deserve to think about you? And if you don't take care of yourself? Who are you? To those people that you want so much to support? I mean, why are we afraid when we get cancer? Why are we afraid of death? Mostly, it's not because of the death itself. It's because of the absence of us and the impact on other people's lives. And I know that's true for me, too. What would happen to my children? How would it affect my children? What will happen to my husband, right? But if we fix things for ourselves first, then we have a much higher likelihood of contributing so much more to those around us. And to establishing real connections, to stop telling ourselves, I'm going to take care of it for everybody else and meanwhile building a wall around you, and not allowing anyone else to be there for you. How do we start to create an environment where we can love ourselves as much as we love those around us and in doing so set an example for those around us to love themselves? That sends a message that says it's okay to love yourself and it's okay to allow love. How do you do that? How do you stop thinking you have to fix it all? You have to do it all. For all the incapable human beings around you, you know, you can manage your emotions. You can manage your life, you can manage work, you can manage all the things. And then you find yourself sitting in your room, sitting in your car, in tears, thinking I can't do this.
I am so overwhelmed. I am so lost. And you are lost. Because you've lost the connection to yourself. So, I want to offer you three questions, because we have to start asking ourselves better questions. When we find ourselves in this place where we lack connection, where we don't treat ourselves with Priority where we give to the point of exhaustion. More often than not, it's not because we're asking ourselves these questions that I'm going to give to you. It's because we're judging ourselves. The example that I gave you of the woman who said if I can't do it all on my own that I'm a loser, self-judgment. The example I gave you of my sister, I'm mad at my body because it shouldn't be doing this, self-judgment. So, when we're pushing ourselves to do more, go above fix things for everything else. A lot of times underneath that, it's because we tell ourselves if we don't do it, we're not good enough, self-judgment. And so, becoming more aware of everywhere in your life, you're judging yourself is so important. When it comes to cancer, why did I get cancer? What did I do wrong? This is such a common frame of mind. And that's just self-judgment. A better question to ask is, how can I support myself now that I'm going through cancer? What do I need to support myself? What do I need to do today to support my health and healing as I recover from cancer? What do I need to do today to support my health and healing and happiness as I live with cancer? And those aren't the three questions I was thinking, those are just three more, that came three bonus questions for you. But these are daily questions that we can be asking ourselves. And when we see self-judgment come up, we say, pull back here. And take a minute for yourself to consider these questions. Okay, you may consider one, you may consider all of them, but see what really resonates with you. So, question number one, in this situation, where anywhere in your life you're looking and you think, I'm exhausted, and it's not that you don't love giving is something you don't love taking care of the people that you love. But you see that you've gone above and beyond, and oftentimes, we've conditioned them to believe we got it all and we can do it all, so they don't even offer to help anymore, because over and over and over and over, you've shown you won't even accept help. It always comes back to us. So, here's the first question, can I make a different choice here that will benefit me and everyone around me at the same time?
Because I'll tell you what, some of the choices we make, that we think are awesome, because we're fixing it for someone else, are making other people miserable, and causing them to not even want to be anywhere near us. Here's an example. The kids don't clean the house, right. They left dirty dishes in the sink, whatever, whatever, pick whatever kids do in your house, and you tell yourself, well, I have to do it, because I'm the only one and I do it right and they don't listen. So, you go and you do it and you say there, this is the way it's supposed to be? Well, you're angry at them, and you're maybe belittling them, and you're maybe scolding them or maybe yelling at them, and they want to do anything they can to get the hell away from you as fast as possible. So that choice, let me fix this, let me make this right, because someone else isn't doing it right; It isn't benefiting you and it isn't benefiting anyone around you. Here's another example. I am so tired. And so sick of dealing with the aftereffects of this breast cancer treatment. I hate the way that it makes me feel, I’m miserable. I can't do any of the things that I used to do want to do fill in the blank. But I'm not going to tell my partner because I don't want them to worry. I don't want them to think I'm complaining. I don't want them to think I'm not grateful for life. And here's your partner. Well, she's shut down. Well, she won't tell me anything. Well, she won't let me in. Well, I don't want to ask because if I asked you just gonna get upset and shut down again. That choice is not benefiting you. Even though you think you're fixing it for someone else and you're keeping someone else from worrying about you. How could you make a different choice that could benefit you, and everyone else around you at the same time? You can apply this to so many things in life. And be very careful here, not to go back to the same old same old. Not to go back to what you've done that's led you to this point, as a solution. Because it's not a solution. Curiosity, here's the key. How can I make choices that benefit me and everyone around me at the same time? And, you know, speaking of curiosity, I love cliches because I think there's a kernel of truth in almost every one of them. But think about the, I guess you call it a rhymes that rhyme, I don't know, curiosity killed the cat satisfaction brought it back. And we think about that as meaning curiosity is dangerous because the cat got curious and that's what killed the cat. But when I think about that, I think you know, being curious about what we can do differently, oftentimes leads us to a place where we have to face difficult things, difficult emotions, difficult conversations. So, we get curious as in this situation, apply this question, can I make a different choice here that would benefit me and everyone around me? And then I say, well, I could, but if I do, I have to have this tough conversation with my kids, I've had this tough conversation with my boss, forget it, I'm just gonna do this, and just keep fixing everything for everybody else. And so that's why the Curiosity killed the cat says to me, when we get curious, we have to deal with the tough stuff and all that so hard. And we just say, forget it, you know, forget it, I'm not gonna go there, I'm not gonna get curious. Satisfaction brought them back. That means to me, it's a great thing to get curious. It's a great thing, and it's a challenging thing to look at your life and say, how could I be doing this differently? How can I get curious about this, because if I can connect to the people around me, and make a different choice that will benefit everybody? That's going to be so satisfying, that’s going to give me a whole new life. Alright, question number two. How can I treat myself as a priority? How can I give myself priority care? So, I have more to give to others? Hmm, that's a good one. How can you be the priority, because when your cup is full, you have more to give to others. So, when you're feeling drained and exhausted, but you're judging yourself and saying, you've got to do it on your own, and you've got to do more for others, and you don't want to worry anybody else, and you don't want to make anyone else work harder, stop and ask yourself, can I make myself a priority here so I have even more to give to others? If so, how? What would that look like? What would I have to do? You know, in the example that I gave you about someone wanting to change the way they eat, but not wanting to impact anyone else in the house? I often think about that and I think well hold on. If we reframe that a little bit, and you make yourself a priority, your self-care, your healthy nutrition, and you change the dynamics of the food and the way food is consumed in your house. You're benefiting everyone, right? Because at some point, the people who are in your house don't want to eat healthy are going to realize that that's a problem for them as well, hopefully, at some point, and they'll want to adopt healthier diets. So really, it's not an inconvenience to someone else. It is showing someone else how to take good care of yourself. And so that leads to question number three. How can I do the things I need and want to do and have fun with it? How can you make it fun? How we tell ourselves right, we dread, and let's use the food example because I can hear what people are already out there thinking as you listen, this is like oh my god, the kids are gonna find me, oh, my God, my husband, right? And so we tell ourselves these limiting thoughts, we can't change something because someone else isn't gonna like something. So, what if we ask ourselves, how can we make it fun? It's in the asking ourselves questions, rather than offering ourselves the same limiting thoughts that we've been believing for the majority of our life, that we open up opportunities to change the way we love ourselves, and we connect to others. And that, in itself, that in itself, it lowers stress, it supports our well-being it increases happiness, it relieves pressure. So, these very, very important questions, write them down. Ask them of yourself every day, all the time. When you feel the resistance come up when you feel the aggravation come up when you feel or hear yourself judging yourself or saying they expect too much from me or, or I need to fix it because they can't. Stop and ask yourself, bring yourself back into the moment. And can you make a choice that benefits you and everyone else? How can you make yourself a priority so you can give more to others? And how can you make the things that have to be done fun at the same time?
So, I'm going to apply these three questions to the scenario I gave you of my sister. How can I make a choice that benefits me and everyone around me at the same time? One option would be to think you know what I can choose to openly receive a ride to the hospital and just allow myself to be in gratitude that I have so much love in my life. Right? Rather than judging her body. Rather than judging life, rather than judging independence, just say, wow, I'm going to make myself a priority. I'm going to make a choice to just accept and be accepting of help. Allow it, even ask for Can I have a ride? You know? And in doing that, I'm going to make this easier on me. And it's going to benefit someone else who wants to give to me. Right? In that same situation, ask yourself, how can I make myself a priority, so I have more to give to others. One option would be to allow yourself to be the priority by receiving care, by remaining calm and at peace with receiving care. And knowing that if you do this procedure, and your health is being supported, then you're going to have more to give to others. When you have peace of mind, and you know that your body has been treated and healed. And how can I do the things I need to do and have fun at the same time? In that situation, it could be you know what, yeah, I don't really want to do this, but I have to do this. So, how about if we do this, and then come back and we make a really cool dinner and stay and watch a movie with me? We hang out, and we can just enjoy some time together. Right? We can make things fun. We don't have to fix it for somebody else. I say, okay, okay, give me the absolute minimum. Give me a ride, drop me off at the front door, I can help myself in I got this. I got this. I got this, right. That doesn't benefit you or anyone else around you. It doesn't prioritize your self-love and self-care, and it sure as hell isn’t fun. So, three questions, write them down, use them, ask them of yourself. Daily. All the time, and especially when difficult situations come up, where you see you are caring more for others than for yourself and it's okay to care for others. Again, we're not minimizing the care for others, but we're making sure that the care for others and the care for you are equally important. Alright, my friends, thank you so much for being here today. And if you would like more support with treating yourself with the care and priority that you deserve and working on those thoughts that keep you stuck in places where you exhaust yourself and where you don't allow love and connection into your life. Come and join me in the Revived Membership Experience. You can find all the details at thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/revived. I hope to see you there. I'll talk to you again next week and until then please be good to yourself and expect others to be good too as well. Definitely! Take care.