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Tuesday, 22 May 2012

All in the mind

I started reading Louise L Hay's 'You Can Heal Your Life' yesterday and although I haven't got very far with it the concept that you can turn things around by changing the way you think is an interesting one.  Of course, this is not the first time I have come across this theory, but the book has brought it back into my thoughts at a time when I am unsure about my future.

I have had Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which is a similar concept, that my changing the way you think and do things that you can make positive changes in your life.  I would have to say that this is an approach that I have found very useful, but at the moment I don't feel as though I have much control over my thoughts, or feelings.

I also did a Mindfulness course last year which I found to be even more useful as it gives you a constant and simple technique to help you get control over your thoughts by bringing your attention back to your breathing.  One of the reasons I seem to have tipped over an edge a bit recently is that I had a bad chesty cough and cold which lasted several weeks and it is impossible to bring your attention back to your breath when all you can concentrate on is how badly you are wheezing, and how your concentration is broken by bad coughing fits.  The more I tried concentrating on my breath the worse it all got - wheeze, cough, cough, cough.

However the mind in a very powerful tool for anyone, but especially for a cancer patient.  Maybe the breathing problems have drawn me in to thinking too much about what is going wrong at the moment, when what I need to be able to focus on is what is going right at the moment.  I have never been the most positive of people, it is not a concept that I was brought up with and we are all influenced by our childhood and upbringing.  Remember how long it got for you to be 10; in double figures?  How long it was before you were a teenager, finished school, turned 18, became an adult, and turned 21.  Life seems to have accellerated from then, and as with most people I have come to wonder how I got to be 52 years old.  Remember how long the summer holidays were?  Now they are gone almost as soon as they started and for me I am haunted by the fact that my life has just gone by without really achieving anything or doing anything special.  I suppose that is one of the things that I find so hard to deal with in relation to being made redundant from my job.  I have worked at the same place since 1984 and until recently I always felt a loyalty to it, but I feel that has been broken.

I am faced with a 'life limiting disease' which affects many aspects of my life, including my mobility.  The cancer spread to my bones, and I have arthritis and back problems from the 20 years that I worked at the college as a cleaner.  I feel especially rejected by the college as there have been comments about the amount of time I have had off for medical reasons this academic year.  They seem to have forgotten that I did most of my job working from home just over two weeks after having total hip replacment surgery.  I have begun to think that is a contributory factor in getting the infection.  I put my job and the pressure on my colleagues before my health.  I didn't want to give my employer the burden of having to get a temp in to cover me, I wanted to save them money, and now my job is being made redundant.  I put them first, and now I realise that this was a misplaced loyalty and priority that I created.  The loyalty is now broken.

But can a positive frame of mind really attract positive things into your life on all levels?  I have never really like the whole being 'postive' theory.  I think it is oppressive as it makes you feel as though a single negative thought can bring the whole house of cards down on your head.  I prefer the idea of confidence.  Since my diagnosis I have tried to be more confident in myself and my own ability to contribute towards my healing.  This is not to say that I don't realise that this disease will probably kill me, but healing is a multifaceted thing.  I have tried to heal my past and let it go, and I do believe that to a great extent I have been successful in this.  I feel at peace with the past; regretful about things that have not gone especially well and what I haven't achieved in life, but it is too late to worry about that now.  Potentially I only have a few years left and I am determined not to waste them, and the healing of that part of my life has contributed to my continued survival.  Statistically I should have been dead a couple of years ago but I refuse to think of myself as just a statistic.

Having confidence in myself and trying to think confidently is the one thing I really need to get back in touch with.  It is about micromanagement of my life.  Basically one day at a time, the Mindfulness concept of living in this exact moment, because this is the only moment that we are actually ALIVE in.  Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery.

I can't remember who said that what we are all really scared of is the power that we have, and how wonderful each of us actually is (Maya Angelou?) and for me on so many levels this is true.  Because I was always told what a failure I was, and was going to be in my life, I really bought into that concept.  Maybe what I really fear is realising that I am wonderful and talented and a nice person because this is something that is new and foreign to my way of thinking.  So maybe it is time to try that way of thinking...

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