Q: How can I justify spending time and money on myself when my partner is battling cancer?
A: This is a great question and one I struggled with myself. In fact, I still struggle with spending time and money on myself, even though I no longer have a partner with cancer. That is revealing already. It means that the real issue is not a question of time or money, it’s a question of values. Do you value your mental and emotional well being?
I think this is one of the hardest things we struggle with when someone in our life needs us. We struggle with our desire to answer that need and to balance it with taking care of ourselves along the way. Often, we forego our own care in order to do everything we can for them.
This strategy can work for a while, but it’s simply not sustainable. My husband battled cancer off and on for over 5 years. There is no way I could put all his needs ahead of my own for that length of time. Nor would he have wanted me to.
We spend our time and money on things we value. Period. That is always the choice we are making whether someone is battling cancer or not.
Let me offer some reasons why I think why supporting your mental and emotional health is critical. 1) You have probably been taking on more tasks and more thus, more stress. 2) Your partner and others rely on you and in order to be at your best, you need support too. 3) You simply don’t have to be miserable and feel like you don’t have any control over this part of your life. 4) The more resilient you become, the better you are able to help yourself and everyone in your life!
Q: Can I really feel better if my partner’s health doesn’t improve?
A: Yes, absolutely! I say this with confidence because your partner’s health does not cause your emotions. Only your thoughts cause your emotions. That is great news because you are entirely in control of your thoughts!
So often we think cancer is in charge of our life and how we feel. When we think this way, we become a victim of our partner’s cancer and the only way we can feel better is when their health recovers. The problem is, we can’t control their health. So when we give away control over how we feel to their health, we give away all our power and autonomy.
We can control how we feel by how we think. Now, I’m not saying you are going to feel great about your partner being sick. You don’t want to feel that way. But you can feel calm, confident in yourself, resilient, and at peace… You don’t have to feel miserable, constantly worried, anxious, exhausted, and overwhelmed.
You can feel better, more in control regardless of your partner’s health by building your emotional intelligence and capacity and developing a resilient mindset.
Q: What do you mean by “building my resiliency?”
A: I define resiliency as the mental and emotional capacity to handle challenges with courage and bounce back from upset and disappointment.
When I talk about building resiliency, I mean building up the skills that enable you to successfully cope over the long term with all the ups and downs that come with a partner having cancer. Resilience is a skill you can develop. I teach you how to do this by focusing on three areas: building your resilient mindset, increasing your emotional capacity, and boosting your caregiver skills. When you work on all three of these areas, you will develop resiliency skills that you will have with you for the rest of your life.
Q: Does getting a coach really make a difference?
A: Here is a list of all the benefits having a coach provides:
- A coach can help you to see what is possible for your life
- A coach can show you where you are wrong about yourself/your life/your situation
- A coach can help you to shift your limiting beliefs
- A coach is someone in your corner, who truly understand what you are going through without judgement
- A coach sees your potential even when you don’t
- A coach sees the YOU, you want to be
- A coach helps you to find calm and clarity so you can make make decisions
- A coach can teach you what you need to learn and grow
- A coach sees you, acknowledge you, and support you always; you feel less alone
- A coach sees celebrate your successes and remind you of how much you’ve already grown
- A coach sees helps you work through your worries so you can be fully present for the ones who need you
- A coach sees keeps you honest and moving forward
- A coach helps you get unstuck
- A coach saves you time and mental energy when worry and self doubt is exhausting you
- A coach sees helps you navigate the pain of growth
- A coach can help you find levity even in the most difficult situation
- A coach will help you improve your relationships, even the most difficult ones, without changing anyone but you
- A coach will teach you how to love and take care of yourself
- A coach will inspire you!
Q: How can you really help me?
A: I work with people who are struggling with the effects of their partner’s cancer. It’s a difficult journey for both of you. I work with my clients in three areas to develop their resiliency.
Here is why each one matters and how it helps.
Mental Resilience: Building mental resilience is a critical component to taking back control over your life, even when your partner has cancer. How you think about yourself and the world around you literally determines how you feel. It can be very easy to fall into depression and despair when you are facing your loved one’s cancer. However, when you learn to become aware of your thinking and uncover the thought errors that are keeping you stuck, you gain authority over your outlook on the world. You learn to see how there can be love and peace even in the most difficult of circumstances. You learn that while you may not control the destination, you are in charge of how this journey goes.
Emotional Capacity: One of the realities you face with your loved one’s cancer is that you will be on a seemingly constant roller coaster of emotions. This alone can be overwhelming and exhausting if you don’t have the capacity to process these emotions as they come. Processing our emotions is not a skill most of us were taught. That is why learning to grow your emotional intelligence and increase your capacity to handle all these emotions without reacting to them or stuffing them down are key skills to building your resilience. When you learn these skills, you will get some of your energy back and will be able to be calm and present even in the most difficult of times.
Caregiver Skill Set: When you are in this role of caregiving for your spouse, you end up taking on a lot of other tasks and roles. This can feel overwhelming and exhausting if you don’t have the skillset to handle this increase in tasks and shifts in responsibilities. When you learn how to make decisions with confidence, how to make the most of your time, how to allow for self-care, and how to define your role according to your values and priorities, you will have the confidence to know you can handle whatever the future holds.