Decisions Made For Us
Our lives are full of choices and decisions. We are making them constantly. We decide what to buy at the store, what to make for dinner, what time to get up, what doctor to see. These are just some of the decisions we make consciously.
There are a lot of other things in our life that we feel like are decided for us. We can’t go after that promotion because our husband’s health is still uncertain. We can’t go anywhere because of COVID. We can’t do anything fun because our husband is sick.
Sometimes we feel like we just don’t have any choices at all. We may feel like we have to be there always because he has cancer. We think we need to be strong and supportive for him. Taking any time for ourselves isn’t even an option. Our husband’s cancer has us feeling stuck and helpless.
My Own Stagnation
After my husband was diagnosed with a tumor in his arm it seems like everything in our life became about his cancer. I wanted to be there for him and support him every step of the way. Even after that first year while my husband was in remission, it still felt like cancer was a shadow over his life and mine. I became stagnant in my own life and career. I stopped pursuing my own dreams. What choice did I have? In the back of my mind, I felt trapped. I loved my husband, but his cancer had robbed me of my own dreams. At least that is what I felt in the deep corners of my mind.
We Become A Victim
The problem with blaming cancer or any other circumstance in our lives is that we give away our own power. We get caught up in blame and resentment, looking for anything and anyone outside of ourselves as the reason for our unhappiness. We blame cancer, the doctor, the medial system, or our husband. We become a victim to whatever we have made the villain in our life.
I Was Responsible
I didn’t really realize that I had been blaming my husband’s cancer for my own stagnation. The truth is, I had become stagnant in my life long before he got cancer. I was just using this latest situation as an excuse for my own unhappiness.
It was only after I started getting coached that I realized I alone was responsible for my own stagnation. This blew me away initially. I didn’t want to be responsible for my own misery! Then I learned how this was actually great news.
We Always Have A Choice
The first step to taking responsibility for your decisions and actions is to recognize that you always have a choice.
I’m going to repeat that.
You always have a choice, even when it feels like you don’t. It may feel like you are stuck, or limited by outside circumstances. You may think to yourself,
I have to go to work.
I have to pay the bills.
I have to stay home so I don’t compromise my husband’s immune system.
The truth is, you don’t have to do any of those things! Really. No one is forcing you. No one is holding a gun to your head. In reality, you don’t even have to get out of bed in the morning if you don’t want to.
A better way to look at it is that you choose to do those things because you don’t like the consequences if you don’t.
That is a very important distinction.
It may just seem like a shift in perspective, but it’s the key to taking responsibility. When you recognize that you do have a choice and that you are in fact making a decision, you put yourself in the driver’s seat of your life.
You Are In Control Of Your Decisions
Once you recognize that there is always a choice and you are the one deciding, then you will also see that you can change your mind at any point. You can decide differently because you are the one in control.
Knowing Your Reasons And Liking Them
It’s also important that you know the reasons behind your decisions and you like them.
For example, if you now recognize that taking care of your husband for the last several years is a choice you made, the next step is to understand your reason for that decision.
Here are two possible options:
I’m taking care of him because that is what a good spouse should do.
I’m taking care of him because I love him and I want him to be healthy.
The action is the same in both cases (you’re taking care of him), but the reason is very different.
The first reason comes from a sense of obligation and society’s expectations about a good spouse. The second reason comes from love. Neither reason is right or wrong, but they will evoke very different emotions. One will cause a feeling of obligation and the other a feeling of acceptance or even peace.
When making any decision, know your reasons and decide if you like them. Be honest with yourself. Only you have to like your reasons. Then make that decision and stick to it!
Remember… you don’t’ have to do any of it! There is a lot of freedom in reminding yourself of that.
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