After a cancer diagnosis, there are wounds beneath the surface that most people can’t see. Even your closest friends and family might not fully grasp what you hold, especially if you’ve developed a good poker face. If you’ve found the standard reply of “I’m OK,” or “I’m fine,” easier because to go there would be a big undertaking, you’re not alone. For people diagnosed with cancer or who have had other major life and body changing illnesses and injuries, SO much can change. The body can seem unrecognizable to who you once were. Your focus, your plans, your finances, your relationships and opportunities may have been impacted. Your challenges and concerns might be so very different from same aged peers without these same issues. You may be flooded with uncertainty now. With all of that comes a deep well of emotions to process.
And how about your relationship with yourself? How have your feelings about your body and being in general changed? What thoughts and feelings stand in the way of having a kinder and more loving relationship with yourself?
Emotional healing is not a there and done. It is a practice. It’s a cultivation that takes place over time with commitment and knowing oneself. I look at it as a combination of expressing, nurturing and supporting yourself, and integrating your experiences as you go along. It takes patience, curiosity and willingness. Very importantly, it takes a knowing that you are worth it. It involves healthy boundaries and often redesigning with the people in our lives. I see it as a balance between processing the past and planting meaningful seeds for the future.
In my coaching work with cancer survivors, there are different ways that this need for emotional work expresses itself. Here are just a few. Do you ever find yourself falling into one of these traps?
Putting on a brave face for others and stuffing feelings -Being overly positive all the time, while minimizing the real shadowy emotions that are there under the surface.
Overcommitting -Notorious for saying yes to everyone and everything else, and putting themselves last. Saying “no” seems inconceivable.
Numbing -through drugs, alcohol, food, or overwork
Poor self image -Hates to look at themselves in the mirror, and only sees their faults and flaws. Never feels good enough, and is largely cut off from the goodness of life (love, connection, pleasure, etc.)
Constantly comparing -overly concerned with how they imagine other people see them, and what they imagine is being said about them. This is often paired with being overly judgmental of others.
Cancer steals enough, but it shouldn’t get to eat away at your relationship with yourself. Today you are here reading this, and today you have a choice as to what kind of relationship you want to have with your body and your emotions. Are you ready to do some courageous and worthwhile work?
One tool that I love to share with my clients is EFT Tapping. EFT or Emotional Freedom Technique is a stress reduction practice that has been effectively used to support people who suffer from anxiety, chronic pain, addiction, and fear. By tapping on specific acupressure points while repeating a series of phrases, you can effectively switch the body out of fight, flight and freeze mode, and send calming signals to the nervous system.
I will be sharing a FREE EFT session for cancer survivors on Thursday 3/25 at 8pm ET specifically focused on the topic of increasing feelings of self acceptance after surgery. No previous experience is required. Come learn about tapping and follow along with me. I’ll be sharing a handout afterwards so attendees can practice on their own. If you are interested in the link, please message me at Melissa@MelissaEppardCoaching.com and I will share that with you.
In closing, please be gentle with yourself. You’ve been through a lot, and you’re likely still healing. ❤