Attitudes and Cancer
One of the most important first steps to take once you receive a cancer diagnosis is to digest it emotionally. Cancer affects not only your body, but your emotions and mental outlook as well. However, this is not to your detriment, as you can control how you feel and what you think. Coming to terms with your illness, and then developing a strong, positive mental armor to protect you throughout the cancer journey is something that will be extremely helpful.
Control What You Can
Cancer can be overwhelming, especially if you feel as though you are not in control of much. However, if you take a moment to think of what you have true control over, you might be surprised at how long the list becomes. You control how you think, what you feel, how and you want to communicate, and how you spend your time when you are not receiving treatments. That’s a lot, and the list will only grow as you spend more time brainstorming!
Focusing on what you can control greatly impacts your overall attitude because it helps reinforce your power: you are in charge of your complete self, and this includes how you mentally and emotionally to physical obstacles. Engaging your willpower, “the ability to resist short-term gratification in pursuit of long-term goals or objectives,” to focus on remaining positive and the areas of life that you can control will increase your overall mental strength and help you to take charge of how you think about and respond to your cancer battle.
Positivity is not just a good practice to make into a habit – it is scientifically proven to improve your overall life quality. Research has revealed that “when you are experiencing positive emotions like joy, contentment, and love, you will see more possibilities in your life. These findings were among the first that suggested positive emotions broaden your sense of possibility and open your mind up to more options.” Further, studies have shown that “positive emotions provide is an enhanced ability to build skills and develop resources for use later in life… [known] as the ‘broaden and build’ theory.” This theory entails that “positive emotions broaden your sense of possibilities and open your mind, which in turn allows you to build new skills and resources that can provide value in other areas of your life.”
Therefore, it is important to adopt a positive attitude, as it is not as ‘just feel happy all the time’ as it seems. Rather, developing a positive attitude takes time, practice, and mindfulness; it means taking whatever situation may come your way and learning how to see and make the best of it, even if you are naturally inclined to do the opposite.
As important as it is to be positive, expressing all of your emotions without feeling as though you are being held back is even more important. This is where it is important to have a loving support system that is there for you unconditionally. Katherine Puckett, PhD, has observed that, “so often I have heard a loved one say to a cancer patient who is crying, ‘Stop crying. You know you have to be positive... However, when we make space for people to express all of their feelings, rather than bottling them up inside, it is then easier for them to be optimistic. It is OK to allow tears to flow — these can be a healthy release.”
Having a support system of loved ones - which can include family, friends, co-workers, online communities, or other friendly faces you can rely on – that you can rely on is essential. They help you to maintain your positive outlook, but also to express all of your emotions fully. They are a listening ear for you, a shoulder to cry on, and a source of hope and love; they are there to help you be your best you as your progress on your cancer journey.
For More Information
CMN firmly believes in a comprehensive treatment plan, meaning we utilize treatments that addresses and treats your physical, mental, and emotional health; plans are customized to fit you and your unique situation. To learn more about some of the treatments we offer, click here. You can also contact our medical team here; we look forward to assisting you!
“What You Need to Know about Willpower: The Psychological Science of Self-Control.” American Psychological Association.
Clear, James. “The Science of Positive Thinking: How Positive Thoughts Build Your Skills, Boost Your Health, and Improve Your Work.” The Huffington Post. 2013.
“Fischer, Kristen. “Can a positive attitude cure cancer?” Healthline. 2016