#282 Healthy Boundaries and Toxic Relationships After Breast Cancer

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After a breast cancer diagnosis, the most common thoughts we go to are what’s safe to eat and how to exercise more. 

Yet, when I ask other survivors why they think they got cancer, most will tell me it was a toxic personal or professional relationship that made them sick. 

Relationships and emotional wellness are a huge part of our lives and they have a huge impact on our health. 

So, why do we downplay the effect that toxic relationships have on us and how do we learn to create and honor healthy boundaries without judging ourselves?

In this episode, I’ll dig into this very topic, and I think you’ll walk away feeling a lot better about taking care of yourself without feeling guilty about it. 

Referred to in this episode: 

Creating Time for You After Breast Cancer 

Better Than Before Breast Cancer Life Coaching Membership 

The Gift of Fear 




Read the full transcript below:

Laura Lummer 0:00 Hey there. Before we jump into today's episode, I just want to remind you that tomorrow, September 30, is our live workshop on creating time for you after breast cancer, you can sign up and grab a free seat for this workshop at the breast cancer recovery coach.com forward slash time, that's capital T, Y, M, E, lowercase i, m e, you can scroll down to the show notes for this episode and click the link or just go to my website, the breast cancer recovery coach.com. And you'll see the big red banner right up at the top of the website. Click on it, join me and I'm going to send you a guide book that is going to walk you through your thoughts about time, and how time plays a role in your life. I'm going to give you a fun exercise that we're going to do together in the workshop on Saturday to help you really connect and have your brain start to look at time in a different way. So that you can approach time in a way that serves you, you can invest time in a way that supports your growth, right your investment grows in yourself over the course of time. And I'm going to show you how to do that, along with leaving a lot of space for live coaching to answer your questions and to help you through so you leave the workshop with a plan and some ideas on some strategies to not only end this year strong, taking care of yourself and carrying forward your healthy habits all the way through the end of the year. But that you have an understanding and more tools in the toolbox to support yourself with compassion and self care going forward throughout your life. All right, go and sign up now. Grab Your Free seat, the breast cancer recovery coach.com forward slash capital t, lowercase i m e, and I'll see you there. 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. Hey there friends, you're listening to Episode 280. To have better than before breast cancer. With me, Laura Lummer, the breast cancer recovery coach, I want to start off this episode by extending a really heartfelt thank you to Connie 4490 know who you are. And I thank you so much for leaving a very kind review for the podcast. It means so much to me. I know everybody's so busy in their day to day lives. And to stop and write a review. And especially such a beautiful review. I just wanted to acknowledge I see it I see you. I thank you and I appreciate it. And you know, it's interesting because I just got off of a kind of an exit interview I worked as a or worked I volunteered as a health coach for the University of South Carolina for a study they were doing for this last year on getting previously sedentary breast cancer survivors to begin an exercise program. And I worked with each one of my clients for 12 weeks. And it was just a wonderful experience. i There's nothing I love more than getting to be the guide and the witness to seeing other women realize their power and change their lives. And I gotta tell you out of the the women that I worked with in that study, there were two in particular who literally changed their lives. One in particular who could not walk into a store on her own. And at the end of that study, was driving to the store owner or walking through the store on her own coming home on her own was just amazing, the endurance and the strength and the confidence. And that's the beautiful thing. So in that interview, one of the questions they asked me was, what was it that caused me to say yes to being a coach for them and to continue to do it for a year. And my reason was, it's such a joy, to be able to support and be a part of other people finding a way to have a better life. There's just nothing better than that. And to me, why extend that thank you so so heartfelt, is that by leaving a kind of review like you did Connie is at let someone else who might need to realize that this is something that can help them find their power and sharing your experience. When people read those reviews and they see what other people have experienced in their own lives. They get a little bit of hope right they get a borrow hope from you. And in you taking the time to do that. I really do believe it's a gift to someone else that might change their life. So, so I wanted to say again, thank you. Thank you so, so much. And this kind of leads right into what we're talking about today on the podcast, because we're talking about relationships, and even in leaving a podcast review, right, someone's trusting you, if they read that, and they trust you, and they think, okay, this person had this experience, I'm going to go with that. And I'm going to take that advice, and I'm going to try this thing for myself. And it's so important in our lives, our relationships are so incredibly important in our lives. And where I coach people in my third pillar of breast cancer recovery is called regroup for a reason. Because there's so many times in our lives, when we have relationships that aren't serving us. And we keep going back to those relationships, and we keep putting energy into those relationships. And we keep exposing ourselves to those relationships. And there's reason for that, because you have thoughts about it. And those thoughts about it may cause you to believe that if you don't continue to put energy and exposure into specific relationships that says something mean about you. So I'd like to talk on the podcast about things that are actually going on or that I'm experiencing, and things I witnessed, and see and deal with in my own life, because I think we all have very similar experiences. And recently, I was a witness to a relationship interaction. That was very unhealthy. And I witnessed one person be really verbally and emotionally abusive to another person. And there were a group of people that witnessed this. And after the incident happened, what was fascinating to me, were that there were some people in the group that said, I'm never going to let myself be in that situation again. And there were other people in the group whose thought was, gosh, if I could have done something different before, then maybe that person wouldn't behave that way now. So it was really interesting to watch that dynamic. Because I know, depending on what we've been through in our lives, we're all gonna have these different thoughts. But when I talk to people about regrouping their lives, here's the thing. And let me do one more story that add on to that. So you're going to be hearing a podcast next week that I did, that I recorded with a woman who's an amazing coach for breast cancer survivors. And she and her husband are both cancer survivors. And her husband is a survivor of brain cancer. And she's a survivor of breast cancer. And she's amazing. And she's so cool, I love her. But she talks about how the relationship changed because of what they were going through. And there came a point where she said, you know, this is never going to be what it was. So we've got to start over and make it something new. And I believe very strongly when we go through breast cancer, when we face a life threatening illness and do the things we have to do, which are not easy things, to get ourselves through and to survive. And then to support ourselves in recovering from that. I know for a fact from my own personal experience, and all the women that I've coached that it is very common, if not 100% of people experience this thought of like, what now? Whoa, who am I now? What is my life like now. And instead of really embracing where we are, in that moment, as I've talked about so many times, we want to go back to normal, but this is really the period where we can stop and say, let me take everything off the table here. And let me check in with myself and spend time with myself and ask myself, How do I want to feel? How do I want to experience friendships, romantic relationships, parent child relationships, sibling relationships? How will I take care of myself with in these relationships? In my regroup pillar, there's an exercise we go through to talk about and explore who are the champions in your life? And by champion I mean, who are you right or dies? Who are the people that you know, I can turn to this person, they will always be there for me, I can call them in the middle of the night and say I needed you and they will say, Okay, I'm here, who are those people in your life? And then who are the people on the opposite side of that coin? Or you might step in to a situation and think Laura Lummer 9:46 geez, persons coming in. They're really hard for me to manage my mind around. When I'm around that person. I feel drained and exhausted and it's so hard. And I don't want to blame that person because that's really When not how I think. And in fact, in my own experience recently, I was going into this situation, I had to think to myself, Okay, what's my thoughts going to be here and I choose the mantra. Whenever I'm around someone who in the past, I found it difficult to manage my mind around their behaviors, I choose the mantra. If this person was my teacher, what could I be learning here? Sometimes I've learned Don't be so damn judgmental, right? Everybody doesn't think like you, Laura, or he doesn't behave the way you want them to. Don't be so damn judgmental, right? That can be a really big lesson. Other times I've learned, you need to step up and honor your boundary girl. Right? you are allowing yourself to violate your own healthy boundary, it does not feel good. What are the reasons that you're doing it? You know, what are the reasons that we expose ourselves sometimes to people who really have behaviors that are toxic? And what is the difference between healthy boundary and judging someone else? Can you tell the difference there? Well, I think I'm just going to offer this for you to explore for yourself, that the difference is the way you feel. So I believe in healthy boundaries and healthy boundaries are saying, you know, this person's behavior, I won't let someone raise their voice at me, I won't let someone cuss at me, I won't let someone throw something at me. Right? Whatever your boundaries are. There, okay, that's good. Whatever you believe is right for you, keeps you feeling safe, protects you, and honors you keeps you in your own integrity, and supports the standard that you want to be treated with by other people, right, whatever that boundary is, it is okay. And when you honor that boundary, when you're around people who may have difficult or challenging behaviors, and you honor that boundary, I believe you feel good about it. I believe that you see that and you say, okay, the behavior that that person displays is something I find to be toxic, I find to be maybe even emotionally or energetically violent, I find to be just completely unacceptable in the scope of my life. And I wish well for that person, I hope they find the help they need. But I cannot have that around me. Okay, that to me, as are the kinds of thoughts when you have a healthy boundary, and you feel good about yourself, you feel like I'm protecting me, it may not always be comfortable. Because we sometimes do things that are good for us that don't feel comfortable in the moment. Because we've got a lot of conditioning that says nice people don't do that girl, good girls, don't do that. Just accept everyone. And I think that by honoring your boundary, when it comes to who you expose yourself to in relationships, it isn't about good girls, bad girls are meaningless. Unless judgment comes in. Right? And by judgment, what I mean and the difference between healthy boundary and a judgment is the judgment is you are judging a person based on the manual you wrote of how people should behave. Okay? So, in establishing a healthy boundary, I said, and this is my own personal healthy boundary, I will not tolerate people raising their voice at me or calling me names. No way. Never. I just won't do that. So that to me, protects me, that to me, is treating myself with integrity and expecting others to treat me with integrity, okay? If I'm in judgment, then I'm looking at someone and saying, that person is a jerk, that person is this, that person shouldn't behave that way. And I'm gonna be angry with them, or I'm going to talk crap about them. Or, you know, I'm just gonna say like, what a yucky human being they are. Now we're in judgment. And judgment doesn't feel good, right? Because you might do that you might think some of those things and find yourself in judgment about people. And then hear yourself say things like, ah, being mean, oh, what a terrible person I am. Because it doesn't feel good, right? It doesn't feel good to sit in judgment. Now, isn't there an element of judgment to something? When you're looking at saying, well, here's my healthy boundary, this person did this behavior. I'm not going to be around them. Yes and no. Right? Because it's in here's the criteria. Here's the line I've drawn. And in the healthy boundary, I haven't said if that person does this, I'm going to think they're a jerk, or whatever. And I'm going to be angry and I'm going to be sad and I'm not attaching my emotion to their behavior when I am honoring a healthy boundary for myself. I'm just saying I won't be treated this way. Or I only expect to be treated this way. And if that's not a way that another person can treat me, that doesn't mean they're a bad person or an awful person or anything like that. It just means I am not down for that. Not doing it. Okay? So the judgment isn't a personal isn't saying this person isn't worthy, isn't good is bad is anything you're just witnessing and saying, Hmm, yeah, I'm not down for that behavior. I believe I deserve to be treated better than that. Okay, I don't feel safe, around someone emotionally safe, or maybe physically safe to, if that person is behaving this way, I'm removing myself from my own protection. And it's an act of self love. Okay. healthy boundary is an act of self love. And I want to clarify that because I hear so often people judging themselves for being mean, or being evil. I've heard this on so evil, because I think this about them. And I, it's a really important area to explore. Because one of the things we do to create and sustain a healthy lifestyle for ourselves, is reduced stress, and emotional trauma. And if we are violating healthy boundaries, and if we are criticizing ourselves for violating our own healthy boundaries, think about how that feels to you. I know how it feels for me, my insides feel hot, like I feel fire inside of me, that's my Are you medically that's my Pitta energy that comes up. And just like the fight is on, right? I feel like a constriction in my throat, in my stomach, I feel what my thoughts that chemical reaction that is giving me a physical response, and it doesn't feel good. That's my feeling. And, you know, it's just like, when there's an animal out in the wild, and they have a scent or signal or something to enter other animals as as danger, let's get the hell out of here. Right? Those are my dangerous signals. And when I feel that, I honor that and say, Hmm, you know, whenever I'm around that person, I feel this. And I don't like that. So I'm not going to expose myself to that. There's a very big difference there. I hope you see it, I hope you hear it, then to say, imagine this, putting yourself back in the situation, whenever I'm around that person, I feel this way, it literally makes me feel sick. But gosh, that must be mean. So I'm just going to keep putting myself back in that situation. I just think it is critical for us, as survivors, for us as human beings. For us, as people who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and kindness, that we get a real and true understanding of why it's important that you have a healthy boundary. Why it's important that you decide how you deserve to be treated, and that you take whatever time is necessary to learn the skills and the tools to work past what is often an uncomfortable feeling when you start practicing, implementing and honoring healthy boundaries. Okay. When I talk about healthy boundaries, it reminds me of a book that I once read called the gift of fear. And I don't recall the author off the top of my head, but I'll look it up. And I'll put the book in the show notes. I read this book years ago. And it's written by a man who has a long history in security and being a bodyguard for royalty, and celebrities and politicians and all that. And he writes the book really for women. And he's writing the book for women. And he's saying that, for some reason, that we are the only mammal who doesn't honor that feeling of fear we get in our gut, that like I just gave you the example of a deer any other animal gets fear, they run, they get away. But for some reason, and especially human females, we are so programmed to be nice to Don't be a bitch, don't be rude. And we equate being rude with establishing a boundary with saying that doesn't make me feel safe back off. That doesn't make me feel good. I feel bad in that situation. I'm not going to do it again. I won't go there again. But we talk ourselves out of it for whatever social conditioning we've been through. And so I think that that book, the gift of fear is something that's a real benefit to read for anybody. Because it's not just if you're somebody who may be in a really toxic relationship or have very toxic friendships in your life. But there's little tiny things that we do all the time, wherever we are on the spectrum. Have what we decide is healthy and what relationships we're involved in, there's always little tiny things we can do to learn to be more aware of our own behaviors. And when we step into that, and we become aware of that, and we can realize you may need a healthy boundary there, we not only do the work of regrouping our lives, which means bringing into it, only the things we really love, only the things we really want in our lives. But we also do the work of releasing old conditioned beliefs, and thoughts and habits that do not serve us. And I thought it was so important to talk about this today. Because I know for myself, that there have been times where I have said, Okay, I will not expose myself to this other person because of certain behaviors, again, because they're just unacceptable behaviors. And then over a period of time decided, let me step back in, you know, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I think it's perfectly okay. Because normally what I'll do is say, let me step back in in a safe way, let me step back in, in a small way, in a short period of time, or at a distance or something of that nature. And let me see has changed occurred, because I do believe people can change, if they're working on it, if they're intentional, if they're getting therapy, if they're getting counseling, if they're doing self improvement things, if they're getting coaching, I do believe people can change as they increase self awareness, but not always. And not all people, and a lot aren't willing to do that. So I think that for me, I always have to check in with myself and say, How do I want to show up? Do I want to give this other person the benefit of the doubt? And if my little small voice says, Yes, I think it's okay for you to give this person another chance right now. That's okay. And I'll, as I said, I will plan that out and do it in a safe way. But if I see that that person still does not meet the criteria, for they honor my healthy boundary, that I'm out, right, I'm out, and there are some people whose behaviors are so intense or so unacceptable to me, and so deeply in violation of boundaries that I might have, that there's no question that I will not go and be in the presence of that person again. And when we think about doing something like that, and stepping into that and becoming more aware, this is a piece that's so subtle. When we come out of cancer diagnosis where we're dealing with a health issue, we always think about food and exercise, and toxic burden and things like that. Friends, this is a toxic burden, okay? If you are exposing yourself to people who behave in a way towards you, that you are left feeling really bad inside, whatever that means to you. That is a toxic burden. Okay? It is as toxic burden as picking up some petroleum based product and putting it on your skin, or some toxic glyphosate filled food and putting it in your body. It is equally as toxic emotionally. And if something is toxic, emotionally, it is toxic physically, because it sets off a chemical reaction in your body that causes a physical result. Don't underestimate that, okay? Don't think that when we put ourselves in positions, where people behave in ways that really don't honor our healthy boundaries, that it's okay, and that it's not having an impact on you. Okay? Because I think if you stop and you pay attention, and you check in with yourself and see how you're feeling, you'll notice that that is not true. You'll notice that there is definitely an impact there. And then the question that I want to offer you is will you allow yourself to feel like that, knowing that certain situations caused this feeling and you will you allow yourself to be put in that position again, because we always have a choice. And the emotional piece of our healing is equally if not more potent than the physical piece of our healing. They're so intertwined. They can't even be pulled apart. I hate to even talk about them separately. When I found out that I had cancer in 2018. I didn't discover it till 2020. But when I found out that that tumor was in me in 2018, I knew I knew what caused the vulnerability in my system, because that prior year and a half, two years before that 2018 April 2018 scan, we're probably to have like in the top three of the most stressful years of my life. And because of that, and because of my realization of that, it has caused me to do some really deep work on what I will allow, and what I won't. And to think of and and notice one thing, and I mentioned it just a minute ago, but I just want to emphasize it again, when we're doing something that is good and healthy for ourselves, it doesn't always feel comfortable in that moment, especially if you've never done it before. It's hard. It's hard to start a new boundary, because it's hard to allow yourself to feel the emotion of the discomfort. So if you're judging your boundaries based on the fact that it feels uncomfortable to think of setting it up, know that that uncomfortableness is not necessarily a sign that the choice you're making is not the right choice. It's just a sign that the choice you're making something you're not used to, you're not comfortable with. But you know, when you know that this is the right thing for you. And we can do things that are right for us, even if they are uncomfortable. And we can set boundaries without hatred, judgment and animosity, because a boundary isn't about that person on the outside. It's about this person on the inside. It's about you loving and taking care of yourself. So that's the question. Am I loving and caring for myself? In this situation? Am I taking care of myself in the right way? Would I let someone who I love more than anything in the world, which I hope is you but I know most of you don't think that. So I'm gonna say your kid, your sister, your best friend, your spouse, would you let that person be treated, the way you're considering allowing yourself to be treated. And I think that that is a really important thing to explore. It is not a easy thing to explore, and it can take a long time to work on it. And through all the thoughts that it has been stacked on, in order to allow yourself to be treated in a way that's inappropriate. So important to give some thought to so important to do some exploring on to ask yourself, how are you regrouping your life because once again, I just want to reiterate, we cannot get well in the same soil in which we got sick. And if that soil in which we got sick was a soil full of toxic relationships, and stressful emotions, then they have to be addressed. They have to be addressed to support your body's ability to heal. Alright friends, I'm here to help you with that you can find me at the breast cancer recovery coach.com Join my life coaching program where we work on exactly things like this, and I am there live to answer your questions to coach you through and to help you see the thoughts that may not be serving you in your life so that you can create the life that you really want. And one that's better than before breast cancer. All right. I will talk to you soon. Until then, be good to yourself.


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