It's so great to be back with another episode celebrating eight years of focusing on being a healthy lifestyle coach for breast cancer survivors.
Today, I want to dive into something that I believe many of you can relate to – the cycle we go through after a breast cancer diagnosis.
Now, don't be thrown off by the title of today's episode. We're not talking about the dreaded F word that we often associate with breast cancer.
Instead, I want to shed light on a different set of “F” words that we tend to cycle through and how they impact our well-being.
This cycle doesn't end after treatment.
It continues throughout life as we face new challenges and experiences.
But by being aware of these “F” words and consciously choosing to see where you’re at in the cycle and to move through the cycle, we can reduce suffering and create a healthier way of being.
Referred to in this episode:
Read the full transcript below:
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. Let's get started. Hello, hello, welcome to episode 242 of the breast cancer recovery coach podcast. I'm your host, Laura Lummer. And I'm excited to be here this month, the month of May 2023, which marks the eighth anniversary of graduating with my bachelor's degree in healthy lifestyle coaching, which I was inspired to do, because of my experience with breast cancer. It was after my diagnosis and treatment and during the recovery process of breast cancer, where I just felt that this community was so underserved, that this space of recovering from going through treatment and coming out on the other side of treatment needed so much more attention. And I decided to dig in deep into that area. And to get a degree to get multiple certifications to do everything I could to figure out how to support women who had been through a breast cancer diagnosis. And I think about that, wow, that that was back in 2015, when I graduated, and how much has happened since then, and how many women I have had the honor of working with and how much my own life has changed or how my business has changed how my life has changed. And obviously here I am, again, now dealing with a whole new phase of breast cancer and living with metastatic disease and learning more and more about doing the things I can to support my body's ability to take care of itself and to heal itself and to be as well as possible. And within that experience for myself and for all of the women that I have worked with. I see this cycle. So you don't have to worry about listening to the show when kids aren't around, don't be thrown off by the title of cycling through the efforts of breast cancer, it's not going to be the F word that we're all afraid of hearing if there's kids around. But what I've noticed is that there is this cycle that we go through. And it isn't just right, when we finish breast cancer treatment, it definitely happens when we finish breast cancer treatment, it happens right after we start with the diagnosis. And we start going through this cycle. And even when we give it attention, we can slip back into this cycle. So we can work on it while it's happening to us. But then if we kind of slide back from that work, if we start thinking we're getting far enough away from the treatment far enough away from recovery, we slipped back into this habit, we slipped back into this cycling of the F words, which I'm going to share with you in just a moment. And when we do that, we create a tremendous amount of suffering for ourselves. So I'm going to share with you the F words because ultimately, the first four F words hopefully are going to get you to the fifth F word. And that is what I want to encourage you to be focused on the fifth F word. And to understand how you can get there to give you some thoughts, some ideas and some awareness of how you can get there to this place. That is a much healthier place to be. And a place where it may not be I don't want to use the word easy because I think still a lot of work goes into this. But it's a place where you're not creating and stacking suffering on yourself. So here's what I see. Obviously, we get a diagnosis and we go into fear. It's a very scary time. And whether that's your first diagnosis or your second or your third or whatever, I've worked with women with multiple diagnosis. It's never not scary to get a diagnosis of cancer. It doesn't matter the stage. It doesn't matter the grade and it doesn't matter how many times you've heard it. It's always scary and we go into fear. And while we're in fear, we really adopt this fight mentality. We've got to fight we've got to fight and you know, we're conditioned to fight we're told to fight. All the marketing campaigns tell us to fight and so we've got this fear based reaction to fight and think about how that feels. in your body, even when I'm saying those words fear and fight, they don't really have good feelings in you, right? I don't know where you feel it in your body. But when I think of fear, and I think of fighting, I feel it in my chest, I feel it in my throat. It feels like a constriction and a tightness. And I have learned enough over the years to know that when my body feels tight, and constricted, something's not okay. Right? That's a signal that my body is telling me, hey, I need some attention here. Can you give me some attention? And can you listen to me, I need some additional support. Because that that feeling that tension, that tightness, that constriction, it's a reaction to a chemical reaction that's happening in our body, and our thoughts are creating that. So we move into fear. And then we kind of convince ourselves that if we fight hard enough, it won't be as scary, right, we're going to be brave, instead of fearful. And in my experience, and what I've seen, that's really not true. Because when we're fighting when we're in a fight mentality, whether it's during treatment, right after a diagnosis, or coming up anytime later in life, when we're in a fight mentality, we're trying to hold on to something, maybe it's our life, maybe it's a relationship, maybe it's a sense of normalcy, but there's definitely something you're trying to hold on to. And it's a fear based, it's coming from a place of scarcity, like I don't want to lose this, I'm afraid. And so I'm going to stand up and I'm going to fight. And that requires a lot of defensiveness. And what comes with defensiveness is a lot of being closed off. And my concern there, when we talk about being closed off, is that what we're closing off to is ourself, we're closing off to opportunities to learn more about ourselves, or turning off the opportunities to listen to our body and get really connected to ourself, and in tune with ourselves. So we go into fear, then we step into fighting to try to reduce the fear, but it's really just there under the surface all the time, all the time, we might even be fighting just to keep fear at bay. And then, when we're tired of fighting, or we're still kind of in fighting, we move into this mentality of fixing, I've got to fix this right. And to me, the fixing part comes out the most, when we're done with treatment. When we're done with treatment, we see what's happening with our body, we feel the physical changes, we experience the emotional changes. And we refer to ourselves and other people refer to us sometimes as broken. And then we think we've got to fix something. We've got to fix ourselves. We've got to fix our body, we've got to fix our life, we've just got to fix things. Right? And what does fixing mean, it means something's wrong. And in order to fix something, where do we go to? Do we open ourselves when we move from fear, to fight to fix? Is there really a space there where we're opening our mind to more? Or are we just trying to steal force life and force our body to be what we want it to be? And I'm going to tell you, from all the experience I've had over these years, that's what I see. And from my own personal experience, that force, I've got to fix this, I'm going to figure out how to fix this. I'm going to force my body to do what I want my body to do. I'm going to force myself to think the way that I want to think and that's not normally a good way. Like we're not saying I'm going to force myself to open my mind to new ways of thinking and reframing my life. I'm going to force myself to think in a way that isn't fearful. I'm going to force myself to shut off this part of my mind and compartmentalize and just move forward. I'm going to force myself to put on my big girl panties and pretend it's all okay. And I guess I should have said there were six F's because what we get out of all of that out of the fear out of the fight out of the desire, and the need to fix and the desire to force fixing something. We end up in complete and total frustration.
Laura Lummer 09:30
We ended up just sometimes in a puddle of tears. And we ended up in self judgment. And we end up feeling like a failure. Holy cow. I should have really thought this podcast three more there's another app, right? We end up feeling like a failure. We end up feeling like none of this is working. And you're absolutely right. It isn't working. But it isn't not working because you're a failure. It's not working because we can't force things to be fixed, we can't fight our body to fix itself from a fear based place. Now, I titled this podcast cycling through the efforts of breast cancer, because I really do see this as a cycle. And as I said a minute ago, when we get to this point of frustration,
Laura Lummer 10:24
oftentimes that frustration, it's got a break, right? It's like a dam that's ready to burst, there's so much pressure there. And it will burst in a couple of ways it can lead us to depression, or it can lead us to let go reach out and get help, it can lead us to a place where we finally surrender. And when we surrender, we open up a space for new thoughts, for new ideas for a different way of being. And that, my friends, is the effort we want to get to. That is the effort of flow, we want to be in the flow of our lives, in the flow of our emotions, in the flow of our feelings, in the flow of the signals from our body. So when we we can't be in the flow, if we're finding things and forcing things. And if we're telling ourselves something has to be fixed. Because in my opinion, when we let go of the idea, something has to be fixed, we take a lot of pressure off of ourselves. Because what if it didn't have to be fixed? You know, what if we didn't have to fight? What if it didn't have to be fixed? What if we could just be aware of what is going on? In our body, in our hearts, in our minds in our lives? What if we could just be aware of it, and I say be in the flow of it, because those things change daily? Right? There are days when we are more tired. And there are days when we are more energetic, there are days when we're emotionally struggling, there are days when we feel emotionally wonderful. And although we like it, when we feel more energetic, we like it, when we wake up feeling positive and happy. We don't have to fight or force it. When we don't, we sometimes just have to recognize, oh, this is a sign up. Here's another one. This is a sign of fatigue. This is a sign of physical fatigue, of emotional fatigue. I know for myself, I go through cycles of treatment fatigue. And I hear that from my clients as well. And if we try to fight that fatigue, what are we doing? We're forcing ourselves, we're forcing ourselves to do something other than where we're at, and what we're feeling. In the moment, we're not allowing ourselves to just tune in and be in the flow of our own feelings. So what do you do about this? This is so I can tell you this is a pattern, I see it all the time. And I say cycles through it once again, because it doesn't just happen right when you get diagnosed. And it doesn't just happen, right? When you finish treatment, it continues to happen throughout life. We go through these things in life, where suddenly we feel like things don't fit, we feel a little uncomfortable. Or we're developing awareness and we realize something doesn't feel right to us anymore. But before we allow ourselves just in that flow of recognizing opening and connecting to what doesn't feel quite right to us. We try to fix it. We try to force it to feel right. We end what is its fear base typically, because what are we trying to fix? Again, we go to relationships, we can go to diets, we can go to healthy lifestyle plans. And why do we try to force them because we're fearful that something isn't going to have the outcome that we want. And when we do that, whenever we're doing that, when we're forcing, we're gonna fight, we're going to end up frustrated, because we don't allow ourselves to be in the flow of what is happening in the moment. So how do we recognize this? And what do we do about it? I think that the very best thing is to apply this question to yourself. Am I in a flow right now? Am I in the flow of my life right now? While I'm feeling what I'm feeling if I'm feeling frustrated, I feel like I'm trying to force my job to be a better job. I'm trying to force my kids to be better kids and have forced my spouse to be a better spouse to force my body to act the way I want it to act to look the way I want it to look. And I'm exhausting myself and I'm fatigued mentally and emotionally and physically and my in the flow of life, or am I trying to force life? Am I trying to force a false idea? Here's another a false ad. Fear of what good health means to me a false idea of what happiness is supposed to look like. Right? So when we cycle through these, and we start to notice, definitely fear, we recognize fear. We ask ourselves, What does fear feel like in my body? And it may feel differently, it does feel differently to all of us. And some of us, we are so detached from our emotions, that when I asked you that, what does fear feel like in your body? You may not know. And that right there tells me if I can ask you, what does that feel like in your body? And you're not sure. I'm going to tell you right now you're not in the flow. Right? You're not in the flow of allowing your feelings of connecting to your body. And that's okay. There's no judging yourself for that. There's just increased awareness there. There's Isn't that fascinating, then I'm not sure how this really prominent emotion fear how this really powerful emotion of fear. I'm not sure how it feels in my body. That's interesting. Let me pay a little more attention to that. Because maybe you're operating out of fear. And you're not even realizing it. You're not even aware that there's constant fear going on inside of you at a low level at a medium level, maybe at a high level. And why is that important? Well, because fear is going to have a huge chemical response inside of our bodies. Fear is a negative emotion that we want to be very aware of. So we can get to the root of our thinking that's causing that feeling of fear. And we can start to release it and move more into the flow. Right? When I asked you, what is fighting feel like in your body, when you're fighting yourself, when you're fighting your body. What do you feel like? Do you know? Do you know where you feel it? Could you describe the sensations of that to me. And if you can, then beautiful because now you know, hey, this is a signal for me. When I start to feel this going on, this is a signal that I'm fighting something that I'm not in the flow of something, that I'm forcing something or I want to force something, I'm not willing to accept something that's happening in my life right now, something I'm feeling right now. I'm not willing to accept it. I'm forcing it, I'm fighting against it, I'm resisting it. And if I could just step back for a moment and take a deep breath here and say, what is right, like, what is actually in this moment in my life, the truth, versus what's the truth that I'm fighting and fearing and trying to force? Okay, I bring this up. And I bring up the cycle of these words, and these feelings and these emotions, because I see them and women I've worked with for years, and I see them in myself. And so I think it's important to realize that we never move beyond this. We're human beings. And I think that the moment we take our eye off the ball, just like when we stop thinking about our physical body, when we step away from really putting intention and energy into our physical body, nourishing it well, giving it all the food that it needs enough food that it needs, moving it in the ways that it needs to move, allowing it to rest as much of it as it needs to us. When we take our eye off of that it's very easy for us to slip into habits that don't support our wellness. Same thing happens in our mind. Same thing happens when our with our emotions. So when we're very focused after an during an after breast cancer, or when we know we're completely dissociated, because there's so much fear, we don't even know how to manage what's going on to even move into the flow, we are just majorly rooted in fear, then this is a big indicator, what does that feel like in your body? And what are the small steps that you could take to move more towards one, just looking at the actual facts and circumstances of your life in this moment? And asking yourself, How do you want to think about them differently? To move a little bit further away from the fear. So when we start thinking of what I initially thought of was four or five F words, we're now talking I think we're up to eight or nine F words, right? But the only one that really works in our favor? Is being in the flow. Does being in the flow take away the struggle? Does it suddenly fix everything in life? Does it suddenly make everything better? It does not. But it makes suffering less because we get ourselves out of the place of being stuck When we're fighting, forcing, when we're fixated on things, we're stuck. And that's why we get the feeling of frustration. And that's where we go into fear becomes hopeless, right? When we're fearful, and we're fighting something, and we want it to change, we have an unwillingness to look at life as it is now. And to ask ourselves questions, you know, going back to that self coaching one on one, what do I have control of? What small things can I do to support myself right now? And when we're not willing to ask those kinds of questions? How do I move closer to being in this flow of my life and my feelings, we create a tremendous amount of suffering for ourselves. So don't think that okay, letting go of this fight, letting go of this forcing, letting go of this, forcing my body to do what I think it should do, even though it's telling me I'm not going to do that anymore. Right, even though my emotions are telling me But hold on, I'm here, I need some processing, you're like, Nope, no processing, we're just not allowed to feel like that. Right. So when we can move into the flow, there's still work to be done. But it's at least work that is moving us forward. I just realized, there's another effort, right, it's moving us forward. When we're in the flow, we're moving forward. So we may move forward slowly, we may move forward with lots of discomfort, having to process discomfort, having to let go of ideas that really keep us stuck, and keep us just in this cycle of fighting and fear and frustration. But we have to apply that litmus test, when we feel our body tight and constricted and fatigued and stuck. I hear this word all the time from women that I coach. So I know that out there in the world, I hear it from women, or I see it posted in the social media groups, I'm stuck, I'm stuck, I'm stuck. We know what stuck feels like. And even saying that word I'm stuck tells you that you've stepped out of that flow, the flow of being in this moment of life, noticing what is actually true right now, aside from the stories, you're telling yourself, what is actually true right now, what you need to support yourself right now, whatever that looks like, and how you can let go of the fight. So that you can start to move forward in every any area of life that you're in, whether it's in treatment, whether it's in healing, whether it's in reinventing your life, whether it's in creating something new, there's always going to be this discomfort, especially the more we grow, and the more we change. And the more we want to peel away all of that conditioning we've been through and allow ourselves to authentically be us to authentically use our voice to stand up for ourselves in the most compassionate way. The more that we do this, the more vulnerable we feel, the more discomfort we go through. But if we allow ourselves to recognize in the moment, this is uncomfortable, but it is also moving me forward. This is something I have to stop fighting this real feeling that I have, right, because we do fight it when there's a toxic situation in our life. And we're telling ourselves, we have to act the way we've always acted in the past, which is either to fight and yell and scrim against this toxic situation to try to make it go away when it won't go away. Or to suppress our voice and not speak up for ourselves, not set a healthy boundary, not say I'm not going to allow the situation in our lives anymore. All of that is uncomfortable, because it's out of our normal routine is out of what We have habituated ourselves to it's a new kind of behavior. And as we adopt that new behavior, it can feel really uncomfortable. But we have to be there to have our own back and reassure ourselves that as we step into that behavior, we've thought it through we've cleaned up our thinking around it, we know it's right for us. And we know that we're stepping more into the flow of being our authentic self. And we're moving forward in creating the life that we actually want to live, moving forward into allowing ourselves to be the person that we authentically are without all of the masks and charades and conditioned thoughts and behaviors that make our throat constrict and make our chest feel like it's so tight. We can't breathe, right? That's what happens when we're forcing ourselves to be someone who we truly are not. We're forcing ourselves or forcing our body or forcing our life. That's where those feelings come from. So using this thought process of just psych going through these efforts, what's the F word that you're in right now? How close? Is it to being in flow? How far is it from being in flow? And when you apply that to yourself, when you say I'm definitely in fight mode right now, what do you have to let go of just stop fighting? What is it that you're fighting for? What is it that you're afraid of losing? What is the change you're afraid of experiencing? And what's the worst thing that could happen? Sometimes we have to ask ourselves that, I'm afraid this might change, I'm afraid that person might think something different of me, what is the worst thing that could happen if, if that were the case, and we've got to really dig into that fear, it's really just stepping into the flow of that the flow of that emotion, and allowing all the thoughts to come up and be there. So when I say be in the moment, and be authentically in the moment, that means giving yourself that grace and that space to experience those thoughts, so that we don't have to shut them down. And you know why we don't have to shut them down, because they don't have to be fixed. You can allow yourself to think through all the scenarios, you can allow yourself to experience all the feelings, and you never have to tell yourself, this has to be fixed, you're gonna say, I'm just gonna let these feelings flow for a minute and see what's in here, I'm just gonna let these thoughts flow for a minute, and see what's going on with me. So I can connect to my body, see what ideas come up for me, I don't have to fix anything. Now, the fix is a lot of pressure, right? The pressure to fix. So we ask ourselves, oh, gosh, my feeling like I need to fix this, well fix, in my opinion, require some kind of force, right? To fix it, there's got to be something that's going to make it to change. And that's going to be applying some kind of force. So we want to let go of that force. And that pressure to fix and just allow ourselves to be in the flow of connection, connection, of connecting to ourselves, to our heart centered health, and to hearing the signals that our body sends us, no matter what part of life, we are trying to step into the flow regarding. All right. Now, you know, if you need help with that, you can find me at the breast cancer recovery coach.com, you can work with me, you can join the better than before breast cancer life coaching membership, where we dig into all of this stuff, where we do coaching, and we offer support, and what is coaching, and it's very rude. It's showing you your thoughts, it's helping you become more aware of what you're thinking. And when you start to allow yourself to be in that flow of awareness. It is an amazing and beautiful thing. We let go of a lot of fear, we adopt so much curiosity. And we just let ourselves see things for the way things are taking away the self judgment and the insecurities and just kind of noticing, and being very curious about what is actually happening in our life. It's a really great place to be. And it's a place that I got to say in this month of May celebrating how many years I've been able to do this work on myself and with my clients is a huge honor and a huge celebration for me. So I hope that if you notice that you're in one of these F words, that's talking about moving from them and closer to the flow of them has helped to give you some ideas to release some of that negative emotion, some of that stress and some of that pressure that you put on yourself, to fight to fix and to force your life or your body or your feelings to be something that they're not. Alright my friends, I'll talk to you again next week and until then, Please be good to yourself. Take care
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