Drowning In Your Thoughts
Have you ever found your self spinning with the news from a recent doctor visit or test result? The doctor tells you your husband’s cancer has spread and you mind begins to spin…
I don’t know how will we get through this!
He might have to quit work…
I’m so exhausted already…
I don’t know what to tell the kids...
It can become hard to see beyond all these thoughts and sometimes it feels like you’re drowning in them!
I have felt this way many times. Often I couldn’t stop the mental spin and would wake in the middle of the night in a swirl of anxiety and worry.
How To Make Sense of Things by Separating Out the Facts
It is so easy to get bogged down by all the thoughts and emotions that come up surrounding cancer. How do you make sense of things? One technique I learned through coaching and have found particularly helpful when I feel like I’m drowning in my fear and confusion is to separate out the facts from everything else.
Once I did this, I would quickly notice that there are very few facts and a lot of assumptions and judgments. What is swirling in my head keeping me up at night is everything I’m making those facts mean.
Recognizing the difference between the facts and your assumptions and judgements about them can provide a lot of relief because it allows you to gain some perspective. For example, there is what the doctor said, and then there is all your worry, anxiety, and fears about what he said.
The second part is optional! Truly! Imagine if you were reading a medical result for a complete stranger. It is unlikely that you would have as many emotions tied to it. It would be easier for you to make decisions and see things for what they really are.
Make Sense of Things By Making a List
When your partner has cancer and you find yourself consumed with crazy thoughts and emotions about the latest news from the doctor, sit down and separate the facts from your judgement of them.
First write down everything in your head. All the thoughts you’ve been ruminating over.
Then, make a list with two columns. On the left, list all the things that are facts. On the right list everything else.
How do you identify the facts? Think of how a medical report is written – dry, factual language. Tumor is 3 cm in size…. Cancer metastasized in left lung… You get the idea. See my post about circumstances to learn more.
Judgement Are Optional!
Most likely you will have only one or two facts and A LOT of judgement. Judgments are just thoughts and you don’t have to think them. You may not be able to stop thinking them easily, but sometimes just recognizing they are optional can be freeing. Our brains naturally go to the worst case scenario. It’s what our brains do and it doesn’t mean anything.
Awareness Is Freeing
This process can bring you awareness, and that is first step to freeing yourself from the clutches of a mind running wild. There is no doubt that coping with the ups and downs of your partner’s cancer will continue to be challenging. However, remember a good starting point to regaining some calm is to separate out what is factual from your judgements and fears. Then remind yourself, these are just your thoughts and you don’t have place all your focus on them!
Check out my other blogs on how to build your resiliency in the face of cancer. Or click here to view ways I can support you on this journey.