#248 Believing in Yourself After Breast Cancer

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I think the biggest motivating factor that led me to become a life coach for breast cancer survivors was hearing the fear and powerlessness in the voices of the women I met during my own experience and recovery. I wanted to do whatever I could to help them find their power again.

I wanted to help them find ways to feel confident and to believe that they could find joy in their days, in their relationships and completely change their lives if that’s what they wanted.

Nearly 250 episodes into this podcast, that’s the message I consistently try to put out in the world.

But just because I put it out there doesn’t mean it always gets heard. In today’s episode, I aim to clarify what it means to believe in yourself.

To feel confident and to think that you do have power over many things in your life.

This idea is generally referred to as self-efficacy, and today I’m going to tell you more about what self-efficacy is, two ways to build more of it for yourself, and a common way of thinking that completely undermines your sense of power and self-efficacy so hopefully you can stop yourself from falling into that trap!

Listen here or watch the full episode on my YouTube Channel




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. Well, let's get started. Welcome to Episode 248, of the breast cancer recovery coach podcast. I am your host, Laura Lummer. I'm really happy to be here today, I'm really looking forward to this show, because I want to share with you a little story that led me to doing this show today. I love so much when I get messages and questions, and direct messages and all of that stuff from the people who listen to this podcast or I see comments or get questions even in my free Facebook group and from my clients. Because when you're on this end of the podcast, I'm putting stuff out there. But I never really know how it's landing unless I hear from you. Right? So I got a message the other day, and I often get messages which I love because they give me super valuable insights. This message is from a podcast listener. Linda, I want to thank you very much for that. And she asked me, Do you have a podcast episode on self efficacy. And when I read it, I thought, That's so interesting. Because in my mind, all my episodes are about self efficacy, like what I coach on, and what I teach on is to build self efficacy. So in a minute, I'm going to tell you exactly what I mean by that. But it's interesting, because when I saw that question, I thought, Okay, I need to revisit how I'm putting some of this stuff out there. Because some of it clearly isn't landing the way I think it's landing, which is perfectly okay. And wonderful to know. So, Linda, this podcast episode is for you. And thank you, my friend for bringing this to my attention. So let me start off with the definition when I'm speaking to about self efficacy. So according to the American Psychological Association, self efficacy reflects confidence in the ability to exert control over one's own motivation, behavior, and social environment. And there are four different kinds of self efficacy. But I think what I speak to here on the podcast is directly two kinds. One is mastery experiences. And then the other is vicarious experiences, and by Vicarious experiences, meaning that you're going through breast cancer, you've been through breast cancer, you're living through breast cancer, and you're thinking, I need something more. I need something different. I'm feeling scared, lost, stuck, confused, terrified.


Laura Lummer  03:14

And you're looking for something out there in the world, you're searching, you found this podcast, right? Somebody, please tell me. How do I get through this. And then you hear my voice. And you hear me say, Hey, I get you. I've been there. I've had to do chemotherapy, I've had to do radiation. I've had to hear the diagnosis twice. I have to live with breast cancer, I've got to figure out how to support my body and its ability to heal. From stage four cancer, I have to believe in myself and my life, and my ability to live each day as if it were my last because I know it could be right. That's the vicarious experience. You find someone out in the world, someone you already know someone's voice you hear on a podcast, and you say, Oh, my God, a can happen. I don't have to be lost, and miserable and scared. I don't have to feel like I can't find my way. I don't have to feel like life doesn't fit. There are things I can do to take control. I do have power because as I've spoken of so many times, the experience of breast cancer and breast cancer treatment can leave us feeling depleted and powerless, as if something was pushed on us that we had no choice over it. And guess what? Life can make us feel like that too, right? So many things in life. I've had recent experiences I shared just a tidbit of like family drama we're going through and I feel like when will people stop pushing this drama on me? Right? So it doesn't end just with breast cancer but man it is loud and in your face. When you have a breast cancer diagnosis when you're dealing with breast cancer treatments when you're making super freaking hard decisions and you feel like I'm powerless I no longer have control over anything over my own behavior over my own thoughts, or my own motivation to do anything. Over my own social environment, I'll hear so many times people say, my life was on hold, or I missed this much of my life. And we do that because we feel like we're not consciously and intentionally, in that part of our life, we're giving away our power to whatever medical institution doctors, the idea of cancer taking over, whatever, whatever, whatever. But it leaves us feeling powerless. And it leaves us feeling like we do not have the ability to exert that control. All right. So then we hear that voice, that's the vicarious experience, Wait, someone else is going through this, someone else has been there. And she's got a story for me. And she's got steps for me. And she's holding out a hand to me. And I can look at her and say, Well, hold on, now I have evidence. Someone else can do this. Maybe I can do it too. And then we move into mastery experience. Because you might try to do some of the things you hear me talk about on the podcast, you might come and be coached by me, you might become a part of my membership and start doing this work and say, one baby step at a time, let me see, can I really do this. And then you'll have a small success. you'll implement something in your life, and you'll feel good about it. And you'll say, I did this, I did this, and I can do this. And I did this and I didn't die even though it was super uncomfortable, really hard. I thought maybe I would die when I tried this because it felt so damn uncomfortable. But I didn't die. In fact, I feel better, and I feel more powerful. Maybe I can do the next step. Maybe I can think a little more into the future. Maybe I can plan something, and it will happen. Maybe I can decide to do something. And I will do it. And I'll be in it in the moment. And I love it. And I'll enjoy it. And little by little one step at a time as you experience success. Even as you experience failure, maybe you may experience failure and say, Okay, I failed, but I learned. Now I can try something else. Because now I know if I fail it that I still will be okay, I'll still be here. And I'll still get to learn and I still get to tweak it. And little by little, we build more self efficacy. We try things. We listen to people who've already done what we're hoping to do or accomplish or implement in our life. And then we try it. And then we become more confident. Then we take the next step and we become more confident. And we begin to build self efficacy, we begin to believe in ourselves, let's just use everyday language, we begin to believe in ourselves. Right? We maybe look back at our life and realize, like, I hadn't believed in myself, I've been doing a lot of things in my life just to make other people happy. Just to I don't know, go along with the status quo, just to do all the things I was told I should do. Just to try to make other people feel the way I think I could make them feel. And then I got cancer. And now here I am. And I'm thinking Well, shit, this is not working for me. And now I see things a lot more clearly that veil has been lifted. I don't want to live mechanically, but I don't know what to do about it. Now, the timing of Linda's question about self efficacy was so beautiful for me, because there's something that we do. And I hear this a lot. And I've been wanting to do a podcast about it. And it ties in beautifully with self efficacy and with our decision to take control over our lives, over our thoughts over our social environment, especially over our social environment. Meaning how do we take control of our social environment? We have healthy boundaries. We treat ourselves with priority. What does that mean? We put ourselves first oh my god, did you just feel sick to your stomach? Just throw up a little bit in your mouth. Wait, me first. Me first. I can't do that. I can't do me first. That's selfish. That's self indulgent. That's narcissistic. That's however you judge it. And cool. I'm glad you're recognizing all those thoughts. Now. Let's burn those suckers, right? Because putting yourself first means knowing yourself, getting to know yourself. Recognizing your needs, understanding where you are depleting yourself. When we have cancer. That's, you know what? Maybe we're seeing a lot of people get breast cancer now maybe we're getting desensitized. Maybe we're getting conditioned to think was just breast cancer. And I'll go through treatment and I'll be fine. And it's not just breast cancer and I don't want you to be desensitized. I want you to think Holy shit. it, I have cancer, that's big, I need to stop and look at things. I need to hold the phone a sec. And I need to say what's going on here. I need to understand how I'm feeling, I need to understand what I need. I need to understand what exhausts me. I need to understand where I feel powerless, I need to understand where I fight with screaming inside of me to do one thing. And outside of me, I keep doing something else. Why do I keep doing this? Right? This is our chance. And here's something that I see. And I see it in myself. And I see it in my clients. And I see it in my friends. And I see it in my sisters. I see this everywhere. We and I'm gonna say women because I work with women. And because my friend circle is primarily women. We women, we don't feel good about prioritizing ourselves. We feel selfish if we make ourselves go first. We're so concerned about what other people think about us that we give up our power over and over again. But we give up our power in a way that feels justified. And that we tell ourselves is the right thing to do. Because we use this phrase, well, I have to do it. Or this one. Well, if I don't do it, who will?


Laura Lummer  11:25

Do you hear out powerless? That is? I have to do it. Think about that. I have no choice. I have no power. I have to do it. Let me give you an example. Well, I had to cancel my yoga class, because my son had a business meeting he had to go to and he called me at the last minute and said he needed me to go pick up my grandchild. And he does this to me all the time. And what am I supposed to do? So I have to drop everything and go pick up my grandchild. But it's fine. It's fine. I love spending time with my grandchild. Here we go justify why it's okay. That somebody else's important thing is more important than your important thing. Okay. Now, let me show you where we give up self efficacy here. That saying you have no control over your social environment? Can you say to your child? Oh, sorry, I'm registered for a class at that time. You sure can. And then what happens? Oh, my God, that's selfish. I can't do that. I do this awesome. I can't do that. Why can't you do that? Well, because they need me. Okay. But do you need you to, and you know, that you need to do something for yourself. Or, you know, you had an appointment that was important to you and meaningful to you. But you tell yourself if I don't drop what's important to me and take care of me, even if and yes, I'm gonna say it, even if what you had planned was nothing. Even if you had said, I have planned this afternoon that I'm doing nothing. Because I need a break. I need quiet time. I need a bubble bath. I need to take care of me. I'm feeling it. And it's important. And then someone calls I go up, there you go. There's never time for me, friend that's on you. There's never time for you, if you don't make time for you. If you don't say I have the power to take care of me. Everything I teach here is you have the power to care for yourself in the way you deserve and desire to be taken care of you have the power, if you are willing to accept the consequences. Most of the time, the most severe consequence is going to be the way you judge yourself. The most severe consequence is going to be the way you shame yourself. If you stick to a healthy boundary, if one of the people that you love or one of the people that you work with last minute drops the ball on something last minute drops this big project on you, you had plans you were going on vacation you were going to go visit the grandkids. This was important to you because it's your life. And then you say, well, now I have to work. No, you don't. Right. We get to have control over our life. We get to decide what we want our life to look like. We get to decide how we like to feel. We get to decide the energetic we want in our life. Do I want my life to be chaos? Do I want my life to be calm? And I'm not saying don't ever drop things for the people around you. I do it. I do it if it's more important to me, right? If I hear something and I think okay, I'd really like to do that and I can move the things that are already planned and that what you're asking me to do is more important and sounds exciting and sounds like something I want to step in on it I'll do it. But if it isn't, I won't. And it's not my problem, right? So when people say, Well, what would happen? What would happen? If I don't do it? I've always done it. I always pick up the pieces for my sister, my friend, my co worker, I always am the one who goes in and cleans it up, what would happen if I didn't? Well, someone else would have to be the grown up in their own life and figure it out. Yeah, pretty sure someone's not going to leave their kids standing at the bus stop without a ride home from school, they're gonna have to figure it out. Right? I raised four kids, trust me, I was in positions many, many times, where I had to figure shit out. And that's what we have to become okay with, sometimes, sometimes we have to look around us, we see a lot of women, and we all like get in this pool together. And we bitch about all the things we can't do for ourselves, because we have to do for other people. Now, depending on the stage of life you're in, and depending on the age of people you're taking care of this may be different for different people, right. But when we have the ability to establish a boundary, when we understand we need something for ourself, we have to believe we can do it, we have to believe we can do what we need, we can control that social environment around us. We've got to surround ourselves by people who encourage and inspire us to care for ourselves. And that does not mean that we don't care about anybody else. It means we have the utmost compassion for other people. And I'll tell you what happens also, when you stop putting out fires for everyone else in your life, people stop building little fires everywhere. And if they don't, then you say, You know what, sorry, but I'm not the firemen on duty. So you have to put that out yourself. But when we jump in all the time, and we give and we give and we become The Giving Tree, right, the Shel Silverstein, I use this analogy a lot. Because that book used to just bring me to tears all the time, I felt it like you would give and give and give until there's literally nothing left to view. Why do you do that? Right? You say I can't you say I have to? No, we don't have to, we have the ability to build self efficacy to believe in ourselves. We have the ability to master experiences, to take little tiny steps to create small boundaries, to create little dreams, to create hopes, and then fulfill them to create goals, and then make them happen. And then have a bigger goal to block off the calendar for you for 10 minutes. And then 30 minutes. And yeah, sometimes an entire day or a weekend. You get to live the life you want to live. So if you're listening to this, and you're thinking I don't understand it, I don't how how do I do that? How do I do that? Well, the first thing is you got to change the way that you think about it. If you're thinking I don't have the power to do that, I have to be the one you are in control mode, my friend, I have to be the one to do this for everybody else means you don't think that other people can take care of themselves. So you're going to give a view to the point that you have nothing left to give. And then you're going to say I had no choice, I had to do it.


Laura Lummer  18:39

And you'll do that until you make yourself sick. And if you're listening to this, that you've already done that, and no, I'm not blaming you for cancer. I'm not blaming me for cancer. But I'm saying that the stress that creates for us, it undermines our own health, it creates a tremendous amount of stress, which creates anxiety, which has a physical impact on our body, on our mind, on our sleep on our digestion on everything. So, self efficacy, is when we stop and say I have the power. Right? I am confident that I have the ability to exert control, to be motivated to have control over my own behavior. And my own motivation in life and my own social environment. Does that mean that you get to control everyone else around you? So your social environment is what you want it to be? No because you don't have to. Because if you decide what you want it to be and you have healthy boundaries. You take control of your social environment by you deciding what's okay and what's not okay. And when it's okay. You do it And when it's not okay, you don't, when it's not okay, instead, you do it anyway. And then you feel sick about it, and then you feel stressed about it. And then you feel powerless. And then you tell yourself the story, it had to be this way, there was no other choice. There's always another choice. But like I said, What's the consequence of that you tell yourself, you're not a good person, you tell yourself, you're not a good enough, mom, you're not a good enough employee, you're not a good enough friend. You know, I am coaching a group of people to walk more incorporate more exercise into their lives. And primarily, what I hear from these women who are also breast cancer survivors, is they don't ever take breaks from work. Right? They start off wanting to walk many of them at lunchtime. And then they don't do it. And why not? Because they work through their lunches, and they work through their breaks. And I see that in my clients. I see that in my members, that we say, I got to do this, I got to do this, so that someone thinks this of me, so that I think this of me. So I think I'm the best employee in the world. I never even eat lunch, friends, the day that that job is done, reorganized the company is whatever it is, it's just a job. You will still be there. And will you be there healthy and taking good care of yourself and loving yourself and treasuring yourself? Are you will you be there saying what happened? I gave everything I had, and now it's gone? And how did you take care of yourself? And what did you build for yourself? And how does your life serve you? We have to think about this, I cannot tell you how often I hear, I just can't do that I don't have the power to and so I'm telling you, you do have the power to we have to change the way we think about this and say well, think about it in a healthier way. This was so interesting. I told myself, I didn't have 15 minutes for myself today. What would be another way for me to look at this. I tell myself that if I don't take a lunch break that I am like, giving 110% I'm a great employee. But what if I told myself Wow, when I don't take a lunch break, I deprive myself of some really needed downtime. And I feel a lot better and more productive when I get back. And then I'll really be doing a good job. So why is it so hard for me to take care of myself? Right? I tell myself, I can't take a break because somebody might need something from me. And then I won't be here. But you're entitled to a break. I know. But what if somebody needs something from me? And you have to be okay with the fact that they can wait? Right? That you'll be back. Right? So it's your thoughts about that? What does that mean to you? And how do you see it in the scope of your ability to have control over making your life look the way you want it to look? Creating life that helps you feel the way you want to feel? In order to do that, we have to start thinking differently. We have to start thinking about ourselves differently. And we have to little by little take back our power. We have to say to ourselves over and over I have the power to do this. Oh my god, this is so uncomfortable. I never say no. But I need to say no. I never say I can't do that. I always cancel my stuff for everybody else if they need me. And then I sit here I say see I had to do it. But you don't have to anymore. Yeah. You when you hear that? How do you feel right now hearing that, listening to that? How do you feel about the next time that comes up? doing what's right for you first from a place of compassion, from knowing that if you don't support yourself and take care of your health and set that boundary and say this is all I have to give today, this is the amount of energy I have. This is the this is what I've figured in my life works for me and this is what I need to do for myself and make decisions from that place of love for yourself. Then no one else is going to honor those boundaries. Right? When we hear that saying that says people will only take what you allow them to take friend that is true. That is 100% true. So if you're feeling like you are powerless, if you're feeling like things are just pulling you in all directions, things are being pushed on you things are pulling you. It's a great thing to be aware of and stop and say How am I allowing this? Are there places where you really don't really don't know have the ability to say no, for whatever that reason might be? And if so, how do you take better care of yourself knowing that maybe that circumstance can't change? The better yet asking yourself first? Is it really true? That I don't have a choice here? Or does it just sound really scary? To establish a boundary here? Am I afraid of what might happen? Am I afraid that I might lose something that someone might judge me that someone might think something, I don't want them to think about me? If I take power over my life? Over my environment? And believe it's okay for me to do that? Yeah.


Laura Lummer  25:45

So Linda, I want to thank you, for helping me see that clarifying the root of everything I do as a life coach, the root of everything I do, as a health coach, as a nutrition coach, is to help you see you have the power, you have the ability to motivate yourself, to take control over your life. And to change your experiences, by the way you step into them, or step out of them, or decide what you will put into them. You do have that? That's the work, right? That's the tough part, when we realize I've been going with the flow, quote, unquote, air quotes, but that flow doesn't feel so good. You know, because maybe it's not your flow. Maybe you're flowing for somebody else. Yeah. And that's why this feeling of now what now where, maybe in life, maybe after treatment, maybe who knows, and whatever area of your life. And it's the loss of the sense of belief that you have power. That leaves you feeling that you have zero, control over things. And then we go into panic, and we try to control other people. And that never works out well. We don't get to control other adults, it will blow up every single time. So this is another conditioned way of thinking, right? If I could change the way they are, I'll feel better. And it's a little bit easier, right? Because you can say, well, that was wrong. And that's not right. And you should have done that. And that makes me feel bad. And that makes me feel sad. And that makes me feel anxious. But the really hard work is speaking up for ourselves, finding our own voice, being very rooted and grounded. And it starts off with even understanding what we need. I ask people all the time, what is it that you need in this situation? What is it that you want? What is the goal here? What is the outcome that you hope for? And I get this look, and I hear, I don't really know, I just want that external circumstance to stop so that I stopped feeling bad, right? So when we're talking about self efficacy, it requires that we know ourselves, that we have some clarity, because we have clarity, even if it's just how I want to feel in 10 minutes from now, how I want tomorrow to be a little closer the way I want to live. We don't have to have a big pie in the sky ideas, right? It can be little tiny things. And then you take a small step towards it. And you succeed. And then you realize, I can take two more sets, right? So this is everything, believing in yourself and knowing you have 100% control over creating the life you want to live. Mm hmm. So true, my friends, so true. And if you need help with that, come and join the better than before breast cancer life coaching membership. And I'll be there to support you along the way. We're coming up now on the month of June, and June, the entire vault all the library of everything I've created since the beginning of the better than before breast cancer membership. So over two years worth of content and support in every possible avenue of life you can think of is in there for you to go through and find what you need. And then come and work with me in the live coaching calls and step into your self efficacy stepped into your power over your life and yourself and into your belief that you have that power. That's the important thing. All right. I thank you so much for being here. You can find all the details on my website, the breast cancer recovery coach.com forward slash live coaching. Take care and I will talk to you again next week.


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