#97 How to Have Peace While You Live With Fear

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If I had to pick only one of the biggest challenges' women deal with in breast cancer recovery, it would have to be fear. 

Fear permeates our lives in ways we could never have imagined before going through breast cancer. It can be debilitating, paralyzing and difficult to find someone who understands what you’re going through. 

Fortunately, there are ways to manage fear and even learn to live with it and still find peace of mind. 

In this episode I’m going to tell you how to do that. Fear not…you can find happiness and peace of mind after breast cancer. 

Resources:

7 Things You Need to Know About Fear

Full Transcript Below:

#97 The truth about living with fear.

Hello beautiful welcome to the Breast Cancer Recovery Coach podcast.

Thank you.

I’m excited about today’s topic because, as I’m sure you’re well aware, fear is a big part of going through cancer.

It’s terrifying to be diagnosed and the fear of recurrence looms large afterward so large that it can often be debilitating or even lead to depression.

So I want to talk about what fear actually is, how it plays a role in your recovery and in your life... and give you something to help you work through fear so you can live a fuller and more peaceful life.

Webster’s dictionary defines fear as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

Now certainly when you get a diagnosis of breast cancer that’s some in your face awareness of danger. But then as you move into recovery it becomes the belief that something may threaten your life or cause you pain at another point in time.  

A point in the future.  So essentially fear stems from a belief and a belief is a thought that pops up in your head that you buy into.

You are buying into it is the part I want to focus on here. 

Fear is a part of our life long before we have cancer. When we’re little our parents teach us to be afraid of things that might hurt us. When we’re older and someone is mean to us and it doesn’t feel good, we become fearful of judgement and rejection...basically because it doesn’t feel good and we don’t like things that don’t feel good...makes sense to me.

But, by definition fear doesn’t feel good. Right it’s defined as an unpleasant emotion. Yet we cling to it so often. 

An article in psychology today says fear is part instinct, part learned, and part taught and that not only can we get scared because of what we imagine could happen. But that we may be the most fearful creatures on the planet because of our ability to learn, think, and create fear in our minds. 

That’s pretty powerful when you think about it...you can create fear in your own mind. But it is SO true!

One of my favorite mark twain quotes is 

“I've lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”

We cause ourselves so much suffering because no one trains us to train our minds. 

We have unintentional thoughts that pop up out of nowhere and then before we realize what our mind is doing it’s gone off on some tangent that could be a scene in one of the worst  and saddest hallmark movies ever made.

That’s how we reinforce fear in our mind, and it becomes ingrained in our lives.

The obvious fear here is the fear of a cancer recurrence but there are so many others as well.

There’s the fear of people viewing us differently, thinking of us as weak or as victims not capable of doing things that we could before cancer.

There’s the fear of people not wanting us romantically or physically again because of the way they might think of us.

There’s fear of making a big decision or commitment and then not living to see it through.

I could go on, but I don’t think I need to because I’ll bet your mind is already coming up with its own fears isn’t it?

Thoughts of your own worst-case scenarios bouncing around like ping pong balls in your brain.

So here’s the thing, you are most likely never going to be fearless, because fear serves a purpose in your life. There are many instances when you need to pay attention to the feeling of fear and act on it to protect yourself. 

The important thing is that you need to train yourself to see the difference between fear that serves you, and fear that is the product of self-doubt and imagination.

And again, even when you recognize the difference in these types of fear, the fear itself won’t go away. 

It will come up when you try something new, it will come up when you have to go in for a scan or bloodwork, it will come up when you hear of someone you know getting a diagnosis or a recurrence or losing their life to breast cancer.

But here’s the thing if you are willing to look at fear head on. If you allow it to be there with you and you face it. You will take away its power.  You will diffuse it and it will begin to show up less and when it does show up it will be weaker.

Consider this for a moment.

 Would you think that real fear or imagined fear is more powerful?

Think about the fear you felt when you were diagnosed...what action did you do when you received your diagnosis? You took action right. 

You thought get this out of me, cut it out, radiate it, poison it...whatever path of treatment you followed was how you exercised your power to face your fear through action.

And that felt better right. I mean I know it was still scary and the actions you took weren’t things you wanted to do but it felt good to know that you were doing something to save your life and each positive result took that fear down a notch.

But now, in recovery there’s all this fear and no action. There’s just waiting to see if your fear will come true and that does not result in feelings of power. That results in feelings of paralysis. 

That puts you smack in a victim mentality just like the people in the scary movies when the villain is lingering somewhere in the yard. And you're sitting there watching them hide behind the couch, yelling at them to do something, get a knife, get a bat do something!

So I’m going to give you something to do. Actually, a few things.

1-recognize all the things that you actually are taking action on.

Are you eating healthy low sugar unprocessed foods?

Are you getting regular exercise?

Are you making time for stress management?
Are you setting and honoring healthy boundaries?
Are you reducing toxic exposures in your home and in your life in general?

If you said no to any of those, now you have some action that you can take.

Get connected to your body. Be the expert on you... meaning understand how your body feels on a day to day basis. What are normal aches and pains? How does your body respond to certain foods? When you are in tune with your body and the signals it sends you feel more confident in your own health.
That way, when fears you are imagining come up, you can say to yourself, no, no I’m not buying into this, these are the things that I’m doing to take good care of myself.

There is no evidence to support that fear, it’s just a story I’m telling myself and I chose to have a different story.

Each time you choose not to give power to that fear you weaken it.

You can also hone in on sensations that might be concerning. You’ll know more quickly if something feels off and then of course you speak to your doctor as soon as possible.

There’s a health belief model that says when we see other people, we can relate to accomplish something that we want to accomplish, we strengthen our belief that we can do it too.

This comes back to the thoughts we chose to think again. So, hearing stories of long-term survivors can be empowering. I know that was something I loved seeing when I was early in my recovery. 

I’d meet someone who would say I’m a 25-year survivor and I’d think wow, imagine how much better treatment is now than it was 25 years ago and she’s still here. That’s awesome and inspiring. 

Another action you can take is journaling. Now don’t roll your eyes and dismiss that. If you haven’t tried it...commit to it for 30 days and see how it changes you.

When you journal and you get those thoughts out on paper it is literally a release. It’s like popping a blister. Seriously. Get it out of your head and onto paper and look at the things you’re telling yourself.

And then ask what is the result those stories are creating in your life? Are they serving you? Are they making your life better?

If not, what do you want to think? What is the result you want to see in your life and how do you have to think differently to make that result happen?

When it comes to managing fear, there are a lot of misconceptions. It’s like meditation. People think that meditation means clearing your mind of all thoughts and they’ll say oh gosh my mind is so full I can’t possibly meditate.

 Of course, they’ll say that because you can’t tell someone with an untrained mind to sit down and not think anything. That's nuts.

 But you can teach someone to sit for a few minutes at a time and become aware of when their mind wanders and how to bring it back to the present moment.

And I can tell you that you will do things in spite of fear. Fear will come up; you'll recognize it and then you’ll put it back in its place.

One of my empower members,  Mary Jo, reminds me of her favorite quote from one of my podcasts where I said sometimes you have to take fear by the hand and say come on you little shit we’re doing this anyway.

hard yourself wondering how to not have fear. Be gentle on yourself and recognize the fear, then face it, take away its power and then do your life your way regardless of the fear.

I’d like to share an excerpt of a story written by Alex Niles. He is a writer who was diagnosed with stage 4 gastric cancer when he was 30 years old.

“I realized there was no way to eliminate fear from my life entirely, and that this valid emotion was one that would build character, and teach me what I had within me, and how to act with courage.”

I love how he says this valid emotion because it is very valid and I would hate for you to dismiss your emotion with thoughts of I shouldn't be afraid, or I should just be grateful.

You feel what you feel, and you have every right to those emotions. The question is as I said a minute ago is that emotion serving you in the way you’re thinking about it now. If not, work on changing your thoughts, not becoming emotionless. 

You know I’m here to support you in that journey. And if you want even more support, come and join us in the breast cancer recovery group on Facebook. This is a rapidly growing group of survivors who are all working to love a full and empowered life and to support each other along the way. 

There’s nothing better than being with a group of women who truly understand your experience in a judgement free zone. 

If you have questions or comments about today's show or you want more direction to come and find me on Facebook Laura Lummer or on Instagram @thebreastcancerrecoverycoach


I am happy to answer your questions and support you in your recovery.

 

















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