#205 How Much More Can You Take?

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There are times in every life when it feels like the universe is throwing every curveball your way. 

Challenges pile on top of each other and you find yourself feeling emotionally drained and physically exhausted. 

These are the times when you typically ask, “How much more can I take?” 

But what if that’s the wrong question? 

What if there was a question you could ask that would give you more options, relieve some of your pain and help you move forward in life? 

In this episode, I’ll tell you what that question is and how, by switching out these two questions, you can change your life from one of exhausting challenges to one of managing difficult times with a full chest of tools to support you. 

Referred to in this episode: 

The Better than Before Breast Cancer Life Coaching Membership 

The Hidden Brain 


Read the full transcript here:

Laura Lummer  00:00

You're listening to the breast cancer recovery coach podcast. I'm your host, Laura Lummer. I'm a Certified Life health and nutrition coach, and I'm also a breast cancer thriver. If you're trying to figure out how to move past the trauma and the emotional toll of breast cancer, you've come to the right place. In this podcast, I will give you the tools and the insights to create a life that's even better than before breast cancer. Well, let's get started. Hello, and welcome to episode 205 of the breast cancer recovery coach podcast. I am your host, Laura Lummer. And I want to start the show off by giving a really big thank you to someone who left a review for the show. I don't have your whole name. But the name you left the user ID is Julie's friend, Rachel. So Julie's friend, Rachel, thank you so much for taking the time to leave a rating and review for the show. I love your review. And I'm so so so so happy that you find the podcast helpful. And that you do find a way to calm yourself down that you can you use the advice that's here in the podcast, and you do the work you said it's calming you down and you're learning how to redirect your energy. And that is so important, you know when the whole purpose of this podcast is to give you useful information that you can really apply to your life as you're listening to it. So remember, as you go through this episode, and other episodes that the advice given in this podcast is something I really would love for you to take a pencil and paper out for, write it down, take some notes, and go even to my website where you'll find resources, the breast cancer recovery coach.com forward slash resources. And you'll see some podcasts that have worksheets along with them. And the work here in the podcast is really valuable if you use it as a tool to help to manage your mind help to calm you down. And to look at some of the episodes that maybe are really specific to what you may be going through right now or needing additional support. And right now, I recently had this conversation with one of my members, and it made me feel really happy. She said, You know, I realized that there's such a library of information here and the podcast that whatever it is that I'm going through, I can look back and find something and go through that and kind of redirect my mind and get some tips on what to do to manage myself in that moment. So hopefully, that's how you all use the podcast. And you do implement some of these tips if not all of them, but wherever they work for you into your life so that it helps you live a life that truly is better than before breast cancer. And Julie's friend Rachel, thank you again. And for any one else who's listening, if you like what you hear on the podcast, it would be awesome. If you could just take a moment and leave a rating or review. If you just want to leave a rating you can scroll right down to where you're listening to it on your iPhone, if you're listening in the iTunes podcast app, and just hit a few stars. And if you have the time to tap out a review or even dictated into your phone even better. The more reviews the more it used to be subscribers. Now it's followers that a podcast as then the easier it is for someone else who's looking for this topic to be able to discover the podcast. So I appreciate your support and help with this.


Laura Lummer  03:27

Thank you so much. Alright, my friends, let's get into today's topic. I want to address and just really dig into a question that I often hear. And I want to explore this question with you because it's really important. And it affects a lot of us, if not every single one of us in the way that we approach difficulties in our life difficult situations in our life. And so I'll share a little story that read there's a few things actually recently that have happened that made me think about this. One of my sisters, I was having conversation with her and she was sharing with me and experience that one of her friends had just been through and it was very, very sad. And she ultimately lost someone very close to her. And not only did that happen, but all of the shitty things that could happen that you don't want to happen when you're already in grief or happening as well. And my sister said, you know, oh my God, how much can a person take? And then I was in a coaching call and this conversation, some variation of this conversation comes up frequently in coaching calls, because you may have had a diagnosis of breast cancer. Maybe you're going through treatment, maybe you're learning to live with breast cancer. Maybe you're finally done with treatment and you're just learning how to live and how to get to understand your new body. But life throws lots of other Have things at us. And it is very common that I coach people who not only have they had a diagnosis, or they have had multiple diagnoses, or during their diagnosis, some other very challenging situation has come up with someone they love or with their job, or with another aspect of their health. And a lot of times, you know, it can just seem like you are playing dodgeball with life. And you do not know how to get out of the way fast enough, right? You are getting hammered with those balls. And the question comes up as people share with me what's going on? And they say, how much more am I supposed to take? So I gave this a lot of thought, I often think about this. And I remember as a new coach, when someone first asked me that question, and they shared with me their story, and they said, I just can't take anymore. You know, this person had been through multiple surgeries, and radiation burns and wanted reconstruction and couldn't get reconstruction. And because of all the infections that had come up because of the radiation treatment, I know many of you are familiar with this. This is also not an uncommon experience to go through, sadly, very sad to say. And she just said to me, I'm just so tired of this. How much more can I take? And I thought at that time, like my internal thought was, oh, shit. I don't know, like, literally, how much can you take? Right? As a new coach, I'm thinking, this woman has been through absolute hell, where do I go with this? Where do I take this? But over the years, as I've heard that question more and more, I realize that it is the wrong question for us to be asking, in all honesty, the only answer I have for that question, if someone were to say, how much more can I take is as much as you have to? And that's just not a great answer. Who really wants to hear that as an answer. That's not helpful. But when it comes to what we have to deal with in life, and what we put up with in life, we have two choices. Right? We roll with what comes, we figure it out, we move on, or we don't figure it out, and we turn to something else to numb us. And we kind of check out of life. And that's not a good option, either. And that's why I say that it is the wrong question to ask. Because there's no good answer to how much more can I take? I think the better question to ask is, what do I need, in order to support myself through this?


Laura Lummer  07:44

Whatever challenge comes up, whether it's a new diagnosis, whether it's in some other area of your life, I mean, I can remember when I got my stage four diagnosis, and I turned to, you know, start my medical treatment and just the insane number of hoops, I had to jump through to get insurance companies to do what they were supposed to do and get approvals the way I was supposed to yet and people screwing up on what I should get paid for leave I had to take and me ending up owing other people, or paying back employers because they didn't do things, right. I mean, there is a point where you say, Holy crap, stop, literally, how much work can I take here? But what is that solve? I think that the much better question is, what do I need now to support me? Because when we hear ourselves say, How much more can I take would that is saying is I'm kind of out of tools here. I feel like I don't have the capacity to manage and deal with everything that is happening to me right now. Everything that is happening in life, all of the circumstances I'm dealing with, it's more than I know how to deal with. And so oftentimes, we say, just do the best you can and we do the best we can. But I think that a healthier approach is to ask that question, what do I need here? Because we make this huge mistake of thinking that we have to do all this stuff alone, that when life is difficult, we've got to do it by ourselves. We have to do it alone. And then of course, our brain goes off the deep end and just focuses on all the things that could be awful in the future. We start catastrophizing, we create situations in our mind that are even potentially worse than the actual circumstances we're dealing with. And we create a lot of stress for ourselves. But if we stop and we ask ourselves, what do I really need in this situation? Then we're approaching the challenges in our life with much healthier, solution oriented way of thinking. And there are so many things we could need. For instance, I need someone that I can talk to about anything, someone I can be openly vulnerable with, I need more financial resources, are there resources out there that can support me as I go through this, I need to talk to someone else who has been through this to understand what they did to manage it and deal with it. When we start asking ourselves questions like that, and we open ourselves to the possibilities of what exists to help us through challenging situations. Now, we've moved from asking a question that can only elicit sympathy, or empathy, right? When you say, how much more can I take? What is someone going to say to you? I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, you're going through this, that's not really going to help you very much, right? And then maybe you go to the next person, because really deeply what you want is support is help is something or someone who says here, I know how to do this, I can support you right now. But when we just stop ourselves with how much more can I take, all you're gonna get is I'm sorry, or I don't know, or I can't imagine. And that's really not helpful. But what do I need right now, because I feel like I am at capacity that puts things on a different trajectory. So I heard this, and I want I want to bring this up, too, because I think it's an important thing to remember. I think I mentioned this podcast I was listening to on one of the recent episodes here of the breast cancer recovery coach podcast. It's called the hidden brain. And it's a series and it's wonderful. I'll put a link to it in the show notes for this episode, as well. But something really stood out to me in one of those episodes where they were talking to a psychologist. And she was relating story of how she went through a very, very difficult time when she was doing her doctorate program. And she was up one night burning the midnight oil and very, very stressed about many things that were happening in her life. And a colleague came in and saw her aunt could see the state she was in and said, and I don't know if this is verbatim, but he said something to the effect of it's a cold, dark night, on the side of Mount Everest. And she gave that some thought. And she realized not in the moment, but later realized. What he meant was, what you're doing is hard.


Laura Lummer  12:47

Right? If you're climbing Mount Everest, you better expect to have some cold, dark nights. If you're doing this life, you better expect to be faced with challenges. Because I don't know a single person who is not faced with challenges in this life. You think back to when you're a kid, I was with my 10 year old granddaughter last week. And I just think of all the challenges that this beautiful, perfect little child has to face. She's going into fifth grade. And I'm remembering fifth grade, I'm thinking,


Laura Lummer  13:22

you know, the judgment over her hair and her clothes and deciding whether she's going to be a good student and like school or hate school, who she going to be friends with and who hangs out were challenges from the time we're a kid. And those challenges change as we grow up. And we have more responsibilities in our life. But to go through life, thinking, it shouldn't be hard, in and of itself as a problem. Because there's no truth to that. There's no reason to even think that. And again, that's why when it's hard, and we say I'm so tired, how much more can I take? That's just pointless, right? It's a pointless thing to say to yourself, that puts you in the role of a victim. And it puts you in a very powerless place in your life. And although there may be some things that we don't have control over in life, like disease diagnosis, or like loss of a loved one, within what is happening, there are elements we have control over. And one of those is deciding what support we need, and then taking the steps to reach out to get it. So as we explore this idea, this being in this place where you say how much more can I take or there are a lot of challenging circumstances in life. There's three things to remember. And the first one is, this is the wrong question. And when you hear yourself say it, it truly means I don't think that I have the capacity to deal with this. I need more More, what else do I need? And the second thing is reminding yourself that in this human experience, challenges are part of the deal. You're not alone. You're not out there by yourself on the dodgeball court. This is important for two reasons. One, so you don't find yourself in that mindset of why me? Why is this just happening to me, but to because those people are another resource for support, reminding yourself, you know what, I'm not alone, people deal with this kind of a challenge. Let me find someone who's been through this can be so helpful for you. I remember very clearly, and I think I've shared it on this show before and my first diagnosis in 2011. I was shocked, I was in disbelief. I was scared. And I had no idea what to do next, who to call what was the next step what this meant. And it was a sister of mine who had a friend of a friend who had been through breast cancer and that woman was gracious enough to call me that changed everything. For me, it was a game changer. For me, that phone call is what led me to be here during this podcast. Now, it truly did lead me down this path. So reaching out to people who deal with similar challenges helps a knowing that there's company here, and there's wisdom, oftentimes on the other side, because it is going through life's challenges where we grow the most. And the third thing is to remember that we have this thing we with human brains have this thing called an emotional baseline. And that means that in a situation where some circumstance comes up, and you are emotionally aroused, devastated, anxious, depressed, it's very strong, very intense in that moment, over time, that will regulate and the intensity of that emotion will die down and get to a more acceptable level. That's an important thing to remember. Because when we're saying, How much more can I take, you're typically feeling a tremendous amount of emotion and remembering that the intensity of that emotion in that moment is not going to remain as strong, gives you a little bit of hope. Also, aligning with this emotional baseline and regulating your emotions is that your mind has an incredible power to make that situation more intense, or less intense. So remembering to pay attention to what the mind is focused on. In the situation where here's challenge, here's the challenge. Here's the challenge. Is the mind focused on how bad the challenges are, on how much the challenge is bringing up in your life on how difficult this feels in the moment? Or can you redirect your mind to be solution oriented, to notice where you're reaching out for sympathy and empathy, or for solutions and support and more tools to add to your tool chest or maybe even a bigger tool chest? If that sounds good to you, but you need more help with that come to the breast cancer recovery coach.com forward slash life coaching


Laura Lummer  18:22

you can join the better than before breast cancer life coaching membership, or you can see ways there to work with me personally one on one. I would love love love to be able to help you through the How much more can I take phase of your life All right my friend take care I'll talk to you again next week and until then, be good to yourself.


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