Fighting cancer is such a long road. As the caregiver, it requires a stamina we are rarely prepared for. There are so many ups and downs. One week your husband is doing fine and feeling better, the next week something comes up and you are back in the hospital getting more tests and more drugs. You have to play so many roles… nurse, spouse, parent… You are making financial decisions and keeping your household running, perhaps also holding down a job.
The ups and downs of cancer take such an emotional toll. You will find yourself thinking “we cant go on like this” or “I don’t want to do this anymore.” Immediately you feel terrible for even thinking that way. You end up stuck in a loop of thinking negative thoughts then feeling bad for even thinking them. You feel caught in your own misery at the situation life has handed you.
No Desirable Options
Dealing with my husbands cancer was a long journey. He was getting treatment overseas at a clinic in Vienna, Austria when complications from his cancer arose and he ended up in the hospital having emergency surgery. He had been in the hospital 10 days and was just beginning to get enough strength back to stand and move on his own when he developed another complication. It felt like just one more setback and as I left the hospital that evening I felt so defeated. It felt like there was no end in sight and no desirable options ahead of us. In my misery, all I kept thinking was “I don’t want to do this anymore!”
I don’t want to do this anymore!
I felt terrible for even thinking it, but yet couldn’t stop. I was stuck in a loop of my own misery and self pity.
I Don’t Have To Change How I Feel
As I walked to the subway, I recalled my coach training. Negative emotions are part of life. I reminded myself that I don’t have to change how I feel, I just have to own it. I’m choosing this and its OK. Its just a thought in my head and nothing to feel guilty about. I also get to decide how long I want to feel this way. At that time, I didn’t want to feel any different, but by taking responsibility for my thought, I was freed from the negative guilt spiral. I could continue feeling bad without out the guilt.
Owning Your Negative Emotions
When you are stuck in a negative thought loop, thinking negative thoughts then feeling terrible about it, the quickest way out is to own it.
When you take ownership of the fact that you are choosing your negative thoughts, even though it may feel like an unconscious choice, it will free you from the victim self-pity spiral. It’s not like I decided consciously to think “I don’t want to do this anymore.” But by recognizing that it is just a thought my brain unconsciously choose, but that I do control is incredibly empowering. I can decide just to let myself think it for a while. No one can tell me I have to think its all going to turn out rainbows and daises.
Once you own your thoughts and the emotions they create, it allows you to move past the victim mode and actually access your inner wisdom. By that I mean you can start asking yourself, why am I thinking this way? Perhaps I need more support. Or someone to help me make these decisions.
Most of all, taking ownership of your negative emotions will ultimately shorten your negative thought loop. The sooner your recognize you are in control of all your thoughts and emotions, you will be freed from them controlling you. Again, this doesn’t mean you need to think only positive thoughts. That is not realistic, nor necessary.
Stop Your Loop
The next time you find yourself in a loop of negativity, self-pity, and guilt, just own it. Remember that you don’t have to change how you feel, you just have to own it. This one simple act of taking responsibility with out judgement will free you from the loop and let you move on in your journey with more sanity and peace.