The Beliefs That Don’t Serve Us
Sometime during the caregiving process, we begin to have recurring thoughts. Thoughts that feel terrible. We start thinking things like:
This will never end.
I can’t keep doing this.
I’m so alone.
It’s not fair.
I have to take care of everything.
It’s too much.
It happens subtly, and often subconsciously. Over and over again, we think these thoughts. To us they seem completely and unequivocally true. They feel true in our bones. They have become our beliefs.
What Is A Belief
It may seem weird to call the sentences above “beliefs.” That is exactly what they are. They are just thoughts we keep thinking over and over and we have accepted them as true.
We usually think of the word belief in religious or spiritual terms. But we also have beliefs about ourselves, the way the world should be, and how people should behave. It is these beliefs that I’m referring to here.
Beliefs are not good or bad, right or wrong. They are simply a repetitive thought.
Like all our thoughts, they are either serving us or they aren’t.
I’m So Alone
One of the things I hear women who are caring for a spouse with cancer complain of is how alone they feel. This is such a normal and common feeling. There are unique challenges to have a spouse with cancer and seeing all your friends live their “normal” lives, it can feel very isolating. It’s no wonder we start believing we are alone.
The problem with all the beliefs that I listed above is that they feel terrible for us. When I think that this will never end, I feel frustrated. When I tell myself that I can’t keep doing this, I feel stuck. When I think, it’s too much, I feel overwhelmed. When I tell myself I’m alone, I feel sad.
The other problem with these beliefs is that we will only find more evidence for them. Our brain filters the world through our beliefs. It will look for evidence for things we already believe. There is a name for this, it’s called confirmation bias. It is our tendency to look for information that supports our preconceptions. This is especially strong when we are very emotional about a belief.
Think about someone you know who has strong political beliefs. Are they open to hearing information that contradicts what they already think? Not usually.
That is confirmation bias in action.
We are doing the same thing when we believe we’re exhausted, or alone, or that it’s too much. We’ll only see all the ways these thoughts are true. Therefore, what we see will only reinforce these beliefs.
There is good news here, I promise! Since a belief is just a thought we have repeated and accepted as true, we can actually change our beliefs.
You can choose what you want to believe!
Loosen Their Hold
Beliefs can have a tight grip on our brain. They can be hard to let go of. To loosen it’s hold on you, you have to first recognize it, then start to question it.
Let’s take the belief: This will never end. It feels true!
Now, you need to question it. Open up your brain and let in other evidence. Ask yourself questions like:
Is it really true that it will never end?
How am I wrong about this?
How about the belief: I’m so alone. Let’s question this.
How is it also true that I’m not alone?
Are there certain times when I don’t feel lonely?
Who can I connect with?
You can also tell yourself:
“I’m so alone” is just a thought I sometimes believe.
Shifting Your Beliefs
The goal here is to just shift some of these beliefs you may have unconsciously adopted, to something that feels better. Remember, these are just thoughts you have repeated so often, they feel true. Start questioning them. Loosen their hold on your brain. Look for evidence of how they are not true.
What we think and believe creates our experience of the world. Now, go find a belief that feels better and start practicing it instead!
If this post resonated with you and you would like to learn more, then you have to watch my free video. In just 10 short minutes I teach the three most important things to know about being a caregiver for a spouse with cancer. What I share in the video will literally change your experience of what you’re going through.
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The 3 Secrets I Wish I Knew About Coping With My Partner’s Cancer