#278 How Relationships Impact Your Health After Breast Cancer

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This past week, while celebrating birthdays with my friends and family, I thought a lot about the significance of healthy relationships and a sound support system when it comes to supporting our wellness. 

  1. Happy Friendships: Think of your best friend. The one who makes you laugh and feel good. That's the magic of having good friends. They make us feel happy and loved. And studies show that they actually improve our health and our longevity. 
  1. Not-so-Good Friends: Sometimes, we have to deal with toxic people and walk away feeling drained or sad. They always want attention or act like everything is about them. But it can be hard to know how to handle these people. How to set healthy boundaries and, more importantly, how to take care of yourself without judging yourself in these relationships. 
  1. Making New Friends: variety is the spice of life. New relationships with people who bring new knowledge and new experiences to your life are an important drop in the relationship bucket. 
    But making new connections can be challenging, especially as we get older. So, how do we find more good friends and more enjoyable social interactions? 

Check out this episode to hear all about embracing healthy relationships, dealing with unhealthy ones, and ways to cultivate new, thriving relationships that contribute to a life that's better than before breast cancer. 

 Referred to in this episode: 

Better Than Before Breast Cancer Life Coaching Membership 

Maintaining healthy relationships with age 

Why Toxic People Are So Harmful 




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. Hello, friends, welcome to episode 278 of better than before breast cancer. With me the breast cancer recovery coach Laura Lummer. I'm so happy that you're here with me today. And I wanted to start off by sharing just a little bit of insight that's going to kind of lead into this show and what the show is all about. But over the course of the last week, there's


Laura Lummer  00:56

a lot of people with September birthdays in my life special, very, very special people, I guess their Valentine's babies on thing come to think of it. One of them being my youngest son Connor, His birthday was September 7. And then the next day September 8 is my sister's birthday. And my dear dear friend her birthday is September 11. And so this last week has been filled with lots of celebration and reflection. And time spent together. I was fortunate enough to grow up with two of my other sisters and my mom to get to spend my other sister's birthday with her. We had a lovely time is hanging out in Santa Barbara and this cute little circa 1868 Tavern that's tucked away up in the mountains. And just a lovely lovely day walking out on the pier, looking over the ocean in Santa Barbara on a gorgeous sunny day. And then having an entire day, on Monday, September 11, with my friend who lives I live in Southern California while she does too, she lives in Palm Springs, which is a little over two hours away from me. And I just what a special honor right for someone to take their birthday. And trust me, she's got a huge community of people who love her. And she's got children and her husband and everybody who wants a piece of her, especially on her birthday to show them and sell them show her how they want to celebrate her. So what an honor, I thought when she drove out to spend that day with me. And I think about the value of that just the value of the relationships in our life. Even when sometimes it's challenging, you know, I think about some of the habits or behaviors of some of the people in my family. That's really difficult for me to manage my mind around. But I love those people. And I do want to be with those people. And I recognize that it's my job to accept and love them as they are. Right. It's my job to recognize that when frustrations and irritations come up, that that's my mind and my expectations. And I think that there's a lot of play there. We're not talking about violating healthy boundaries, that's different. We're talking about people who you do want in your life who do treat you well, but maybe have quirks or habits that you don't necessarily love Araguaia say those things, why do you do those things, right, but they're not malicious. They're not hurtful, I think you know what I'm talking about. They're just a little annoying. And so when it comes to relationships, I think that having these healthy fulfilling relationships in life is so important. And I think about last month when I was at the metabolic health symposium, and this one doctor was presenting, and he was talking about the different metabolic therapies that support cancer patients. And it wasn't a surprise, but it's always neat to hear this reinforced when he shared that one of the most telling things that can happen in life to predispose somebody to a good outcome is to have happy and healthy relationships. Relationships serve us in so many ways. But we have to manage our mind around relationships, we have to see where we might be taking relationships and making them harder than they have to be. And where we may have to look at relationships and realize, oh, this really is not healthy for me. This really is not good for me. And I might need to make some serious changes in this relationship or let go of it entirely. So as I do this work for myself on the metabolic approach to cancer. People automatically think about food right? I've talked about this before on the show when you talk about metabolism and a metabolic approach to health. We go, oh, food and exercise. And yes, those are huge and valuable cornerstones of good metabolic health, but healthy relationships, and processing emotions and traumas that we've experienced in relationships, or as important, if not more important, and why say it may be even more important is this, when we're in relationships that are not healthy and not fulfilling? There's a lot going on. And it is affecting us in many ways, some of the ways that I see and some of the ways I've experienced when you're in an unhealthy relationship is it's affecting your self esteem, you often suppress your needs, your voice, right, your actual feelings, self judgment and shame come in, when we tell ourselves I shouldn't feel this way. I think especially with women, we have this overarching, if I'm a nice person, I like everybody. If I'm a nice person, then I'm not mean and we equate mean, with healthy boundaries, what the hell is going on there? Right? Why do we do that to ourselves, rather than allowing ourselves to sit with what our body may be telling us think about when you enter a room, or Oh, my God, just story just popped into my head, like, so fast and so hard right now that I'm gonna say it. But I think I may have said it even before I can remember towards the end of my second marriage, my husband had a diesel truck. And you could hear that truck coming down the street when he was coming home from work. And I can remember feeling, my heart just dropped into my stomach when I'd hear the sound of that truck. And I would be thinking, what am I going to have to go through tonight? When he walks through that door, every energy in this house is going to change, everything's going to change, everybody's going to be on edge. And what did that do to me? But I also think about how many years that I struggled with saying, Oh, well, you know, you gotta be a good wife. And you got to do that whatever all the stuff we tell ourselves, when we don't allow ourselves to just honor what's actually happening, what we're actually feeling, and say, this is not working for me right now. This needs work, like we need to make this better, this needs to change, or I can't have this in my life. But instead of recognizing where we're at now, and what's really true for us, we try to create some other story out of it, to put ourselves at fault for feeling the way it feels. And then we beat ourselves up for feeling the way it feels because we're at fault for it. And that's a major part of healing. So if you came to me, and you told me that you were in toxic relationships, or you had what's called frenemies, which blows my mind when I meet people, and they say, yeah, she's kind of my friend and me. And I think what in the hell? What is that about? And normally, when it's somebody who treats them badly says mean, rude things is selfish, whatever, does all kinds of narcissistic things towards them? And alas, why would you have this person in your life and I hear it because I've known her forever. I've just known her forever, as if the length of time he knows somebody allows them to abuse you. Right? As if the length of time entitled someone the length of time you've known someone entitles them to a space in your life. And that's 100% not true. So when we have healthy relationships, it's so valuable, and so healing for us. And I want to share with you this quote from the Mayo Clinic, which I think you know, the Mayo Clinic is a great resource. And it says that in addition to helping provide the necessary support, establishing and maintaining positive relationships also is good for your health. They can boost your happiness, reduce stress, improve confidence, and help you cope with traumatic events. Like it's so amazing to have good healthy relationships in your life. And this article goes on to say that adults with a strong social network have a reduced risk of depression, lower blood pressure, and tend to maintain a healthier body mass or BMI. Building new friendships and investing time and maintaining relationships can help you on the highway of life and the path to better health. That's some pretty powerful stuff. But I'll tell you something that I see and hear in my coaching but also in my friend group is that as people become adults, it becomes more difficult for them to have a social circle and to make new Friends and to stay engaged with friends. And I think oftentimes, if you're someone who's had children, our children are kind of little social buffers, because we take them to events, and we want to introduce them to other kids and have playdates and things like that. And through them, we meet other people, and we make friends, or we become parts of community groups. But once if you've had children, and they're older, or if you've never had children, and your life is really focused on career, and travel, or whatever, wonderful things that you're free to do when you don't have children your whole life. But when we start to age, we've kind of create these little niches in our life, right? We have, I wouldn't say completely isolation, but in some cases, it is isolation, but we kind of have developed these patterns in our life. And so going outside of those patterns starts to feel really uncomfortable. And we're missing the buffer. So we're missing that, how do I connect to this person, I had a kid, they had a kid, we could talk, maybe you have a dog, they have a dog, so you can talk and you can now meet people and use your dogs to meet them. But it does become more challenging. And I think it's an interesting life lesson. Because as you notice that it becomes challenging to develop relationships and make new friends as you go through life, then it's great to explore what your thoughts are about that? Where are you putting yourself out there? Where are your expectations for people, and what thoughts come up for you that you have to manage your mind around when it even comes to the idea of creating new relationships and reaching out to other people. So developing healthy relationships, developing new relationships, meeting new people, and bringing people into your social circle and connecting with them. It's just, I think about it like in the way that we talk about eating food, right, we want to eat the rainbow have a variety. And it's nice to have a variety of people in your life to with different experiences and different knowledge and wisdom to add to your life. And just as recognizing your need for those healthy relationships and your need for connection. Just as that's important. Recognizing the health of those relationships is important. Because as I just shared with you, with the Mayo Clinic, having love having connections, having social support, can truly improve our health, and give us better overall health outcomes. And on the flip side of that, toxic relationships can do the opposite. So I was reading this article, and I'm gonna read you just a little snippet from it on Psychology Today about toxic people. And I thought that the wording here was very important. And that's why I wanted to read it to you. Okay, glasses back on. So this was article talking about toxic people why toxic people are so harmful. And I'll post a link to the full article in the show notes for this episode. But I want to read you this excerpt from it. It says they emotionally drain you. Toxic people drain your energy by constantly demanding attention, sympathy or validation. They play the victim role, expertly their negativity and constant complaining can weigh heavily on you, leaving little room for positive interactions with them. Toxic people often manipulate others including gaslighting their victims, and the psychological abuse can leave you questioning your sanity, increasing anxiety, and decreasing self esteem. They don't care if you feel confused or hurt by their actions, showing them that you are upset can actually increase their toxic behaviors. Okay. So I know people like this, I've had people like this in my life. And I think almost everybody knows at least somebody who does this. And I wanted to read that excerpt and talk about this. Because as I read that, and you hear that language to me, what I hear is you are powerless. So as I said just a moment ago, we often have this thought of I don't want to be a mean person, right? I don't want to say that to that person. I don't want to be mean. And what we're really doing is just allowing someone to treat us badly. And saying that if I stop them or tell them it's not okay. You tell yourself you're being mean. So I want to go back and read this. It says toxic people drain your energy by constantly demanding attention, sympathy or validation stop. People can demand whatever they want to demand. But you the most important healthy relationship is the one you have with yourself. And so in this situation, where you may be exposed to someone who's demanding attention, sympathy or validation, and you find that person to be draining, it's up to you to take care of you in that situation. and right, it's up to you to be your own best friend. And I think people often find it easier to tell their friend, don't let that person talk to you like that, don't let that person behave that way to you. It's much easier for us to say that to someone else than it is for us to do that for ourselves. So I like to encourage people to look at themselves as their own best friend, and to think, what would you tell your best friend to do in that situation? Now, I want to point out that when you get there and you realize and like, well, if it was my best friend, I would tell them, Don't you tolerate that, don't you put up with that, still applying it in your own life feels uncomfortable, if it's something you're not used to doing. So knowing that I can recognize that I may need to take action in this relationship, but it feels so uncomfortable. And then we go right to the thought that must be because I'm being mean, maybe I should be more understanding, maybe I should be kinder, maybe I should be more patient. And that's just because you don't want to feel the uncomfortable feeling of setting up a healthy boundary and changing the dynamic of a relationship. So instead, we tell ourselves would be nice. But then we're just extending, and maybe even deepening the feeling of discomfort. Because we're around someone who makes us feel uncomfortable, we feel uncomfortable, we have to put a tremendous amount of energy into managing our mind around them as if we're responsible for their own emotions. Another line, from that article that I just read their negativity and constant complaining can weigh heavily on you, leaving you little room for positive interactions with them. That's something that's really important to recognize. Because do you recognize that if there are people in your life where you have this situation with? Do you recognize this is what it is? Right, we oftentimes say we want something to be a different way. And in doing that, we don't stay here and look at it and say, This is what it is without judgment. Just like these are the facts, ma'am. Was that show dragnet the detective movie from when I was a kid? But just the facts, ma'am, just the facts? What are the facts about the relationships that you're in? What's the truth about those relationships? When that person comes in? Do you feel like no matter how long we've been apart, we're always connected? The moment I see you, it's like a minute hasn't passed? We're always comfortable, I can share anything with you. And if not, why? What's going on? Just the facts. Think about it. What is their behavior? What is your story about their behavior? What are your behaviors? Where do you hold back because of what you tell yourself, if I express myself, it will mean this, a lot of times fear will come up, because we're afraid of what another person might feel or respond or say. So it's very important to allow yourself to examine those kinds of things, when you feel like I recognize that this person has I have very few positive interactions, it takes a tremendous amount of my energy, to feel the way I want to feel when I'm around them. Or I'm not even able to feel that way. I never feel comfortable. I never feel at ease. I always feel on edge. And, you know, we go through life conditioned to believe that other people make us feel a certain way, right? It's like, oh, they make me feel like this. And it's true, in some sense, from the perspective that when I'm around them, I feel this way. But we miss because it's so subtle. Our thoughts is typically we feel that way, because we already have a story about them. I know they're going to do this, I know they're gonna say that they're so hard to please, they always complain. So we're already telling ourselves the story and setting ourselves up to feel uncomfortable, which is something that's important to recognize, because Is there truth to what you're saying to yourself? You know, are those expectations true? And if you have them, and they are true, and they change the way you behave as a person around them? Is that what you want? Is that a healthy relationship? Is that serving you? And the line that says this psychological abuse can leave you questioning your sanity, increasing anxiety, and decreasing self esteem? You know, this goes so deep. And I've alluded to it a little bit already with what I'm talking about, in the sense that someone else's behavior, we take responsibility for and then tell ourselves, we're not good enough. Because as if we were better people, then somehow they would become better people. They would become happier people. They would become less toxic people. And that's never how it works. So when we get so tangled up in this idea of you make me feel like this. I might make you feel like that. If I say this, you will feel like that and we start getting into that head game. We are in a dark and why Old spin that is never going to serve us. And that's why I like so much when I work with my clients, we use a tool called the model. And what I love about that so much is that when you're using the model, the first line is to get really clear on circumstances, what are the circumstances, like I was saying a minute ago, what's actually happening now, and what's really true, and only the facts of it. Because if we can take ourselves back to getting really clear on the facts of the situation, then we can take our emotion, and these conditions, stories that are in our head out of the picture, and look at the truth of it, and then see what our thoughts are about the situation. That is a very empowering step. The rest of it, when we look at some of these things, and say, I'm in this relationship, I don't feel good whenever I'm around this person, and we just think it's that person making us feel that way. And we don't look at the facts of the situation and what our stories are about it, we totally give up our power. And when we give up our power, we don't step in and either vocalize from the most compassionate way, the changes that need to happen in a relationship, vocalizing the most compassionate way are healthy boundaries, or even just get in touch with ourselves and understand what steps you need to take to take care of yourself. Right relationships are just such an important part of our life in everything, with our neighbors, with our family, with our friends, with our co workers. And understanding the tremendous impact they can have on your health, hopefully allows you to bring that in and embrace it and start examining and doing the really hard stuff, right? Examining relationships and using your voice and stepping in and creating boundaries. And dealing with potential conflicts from a place of compassion is not easy to do. It takes a lot of work, it takes a lot of energy. And we take little steps at a time. And it may take a lot of practice. And it may take additional support from professionals, from coaches, from therapists, to be able to give you the strength and the confidence to manage those relationships. But make no mistake, they are equally valuable to your healing and your overall health as everything else you do as removing toxic substances from your environment that you might put on your skin as eating better food as moving your body. All of these things play a role, especially when it comes to cancer. Because cancer is not a simple disease. Life is not as simple experience. And so no one thing fixes all the things, we've got to be able to look at our life from this very holistic perspective. And then we have to be willing to do the hard work to examine the things that are actually true. And take steps to process them. One of the worst things we can do is just keep suppressing and stuffing, and judging ourselves and saying if we were better than other people would be better. But to really look at relationships and think about the kinds of relationships you do want in your life, the kind of people that you do let in and what they bring to the table. Right. So when we decide these are the kind of people I want in my life, it gets a little easier to say, You know what, people who behave in this other certain way, that super hard for me to manage my mind around and stay in a calm and comfortable and loving place. I don't really want to put that much energy into that drama anymore. I want to take care of myself, so that I experienced more peace and more joy, so that I experienced more self compassion and more self love by making that decision. So what are some steps you can take now to identify and fuel healthier connections and relationships in your life, to feed yourself and feed your soul and support your wellness? Well, in the Mayo Clinic article, there's actually a list and I thought, Well, I'm not gonna make up a list because this is a perfect one that they have. And one of them is to take note of your current connections. Like I said, knowing where you're at now is so important. And so this article suggests that you do an inventory of who's already in your social network, and the people that you've already met that you like and would like to reconnect with, or develop deeper connections with. And then ask yourself, how much effort you put into it? Do you reach out because that's so important. So many times we've got all this self talk and self judgment, and so we wait for people to reach out to us well, if they really want to be there, they'd reach out. And if you're thinking that someone else is probably thinking that too, so don't be afraid to be the person to make the effort. If you want to cultivate more relationships and interactions in your life, you get to create it. So it's not about waiting and saying like Will they won't they? When will this happen? When will that happen? But as yourself? What do I want? If you want it, you've got to put energy into making it happen. Okay? And then do you go places where there are people? You know, I know that what we went through with a pandemic still is having a lasting effect on a lot of people. With us as cancer patients, whether we have active disease, or we've healed from disease, or we've got compromised immune systems, a lot of fear can come up around that. So thinking about where you go, and where you feel safe, and where you're willing to go, to be able to connect with other people. Because we've got to be out and around if we want to establish and cultivate relationships, volunteering, wonderful way to meet people, and to meet people that have similar core values. If something's really important to you environment, or animals or anything at all, volunteering with people who share those passions is a great way to meet new people that becomes like your buffer like the children used to be right? Common Grounds, pickleball, gardening, cooking, finding people with similar interests, and making sure that you're the one that's not afraid to invite people to call someone up and say, Let's go to lunch, to call someone up and to reconnect with them. And to be open to those opportunities when people ask you to connect, right to be open to saying yes, sometimes we get stuck in these ruts of, you know, staying home and not going out and not doing anything. And people ask you to go out and then you think, Oh, I might be tired. And then I'll have to do this. And then I'll have to do that. But making yourself available and open to Connections is an important part of developing healthier, happier relationships in your life. Well, that's a nice list to start off with. And again, I'll put a link to that article in the show notes for this episode. But I just hope you walk away as you think about what are your relationships like in your life? What is serving you? And how is it impacting your health? How do the good ones make you feel? And do you see the medicine in that? How to ones that maybe need a little work feel? And do you see the impact they have? And do you recognize the value in addressing that and in addressing anything that's happening inside of you to give you the ability and the capacity to address those things, super important stuff to work on. And extremely valuable part of supporting our overall metabolic health, our overall joyful life and wellness. If you need help with that, you know, you can come and join me in the better than before breast cancer life coaching membership, where we talk about this stuff, we coach about this stuff, and we learn to recognize and develop our own ability to make these positive changes in our life. You can find all the details about that on my website, the breast cancer recovery coach comm forward slash life coaching and I'd love to see you there alright friends take care and I'll talk to you soon


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