I believe a positive mindset is one of the critical factors of healing for myself and others with cancer. Yet, I find it hard to reconcile a positive mindset with the mainstream messaging used to describe our journey through this time.
Words like fight and battle and kill and destroy pose cancer as some vicious enemy looking to conquer us and evoke conflict and opposition. These feelings ultimately make our bodies the battleground and turn our minds against them. The resulting response is one of fight or flight – also known as the acute stress response. Science has shown when we are in a constant state of stress, even mild stress, our bodies pay the price.
We need to move away from looking at cancer as an enemy to be fought and destroyed. Allow me to recommend a different approach, one that will allow for a positive mindset about cancer and the daily journey we make with it inside us.
First, the positive mindset: Changing the words we use in our everyday conversation and even our self-talk can drastically improve our thoughts about the daily challenges of coexisting with cancer. Moving away from using words entailing conflict and destruction and moving toward using words focusing on healing, recovery, relaxation, and restoration will create a foundation for a positive outlook and improve our overall health. Although it's not clear why it works, positive thinking has many health benefits and enables you to tackle your life stresses better.
Second, our cancer journey: Notice my use of the word journey instead of struggle or battle. I'd like for us to think of ourselves as being on a journey with cancer because seeing it this way reframes our lives with cancer into a collection of activities we can engage in to improve our health, mental wellness, spiritual growth, and even our relationships with others. We all have a different journey to take, and each one of us knows the goals and destinations we are trying to reach to have the best life we can live. Let's set these goals for ourselves and begin our journey to better think about our lives with cancer.
Shifting from a message of conflict and destruction to positive thoughts about our life with cancer and a vocabulary of healing, restoration, recovery, and relaxation will result in a positive mindset about our journey with cancer. I believe this with every ounce of my being and already notice improvements to my physical and mental health, happiness, and relationship due to adopting this positive mindset. I hope you will, too, so you can experience the impact a positive mindset can have on your cancer journey.