Updated: Mar 11
An unexpected method for life after cancer worries
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If you haven't read this post "5 STEPS TO FIGHT CANCER WORRY" you'll want to go check it out.
You know the worries that just play on repeat over and over again like the annoying song from your childhood? Or the ones that wake you up in the dead of night costing you hours of sleep? Yeah, nothing new to someone affected by cancer that's for sure.
But what if there's a way to silence the annoying worry on repeat?
I'm about to explain to you a process that I myself (a cancer survivor - read my story here) use in order to get rid of the non-stop worry that haunted me at night (and honestly, still sometimes does).
And, this one might surprise you.
The process actually entails doing the one thing I'm helping you not do. What a mind boggler, I know. If you're confused it's okay, it will make sense in just a bit. So let's get to it.
Here's what I do:
1. Set aside time
Plan 30 minutes to yourself, alone, without distractions. Do whatever you need to do in order to set this time aside. Make plans for the kids, explain to your family the importance of them leaving you alone, and silence your phone.
Grab a notebook and pen.
Find a quiet spot and set a timer for 15 minutes.
3. Worry...the one thing you thought I wouldn't tell you to do
For the first 15 minutes, write down all of your worries. Think of all those "what if's?". Play those negative scenes in your mind and put them on paper. It doesn’t have to be pretty or in complete sentences. Bullet points or even scribbles are fine. Let your mind do what it wants for 15 minutes without any judgement or need for control. Just let it loose and write down every single thought that is on replay in your mind.
By actually writing it down, it sets it in “concrete” so that you don’t have to hang onto it anymore. Since it’s there on the paper, it doesn’t have to replay in your mind 50 times because it’s already out there, out of you, in existence outside of your mind. I look at it as by writing it down, it validates the worry and releases me from having to carry the weight of it.
Now, when the timer goes off, set it again for another 15 minutes. As this new time starts, tell yourself that you're done. It's over. You allowed yourself to give life to those thoughts, they had their turn, and now it's your turn again. Grab that notebook and pen, turn the page and reset your focus. Write down some positive things. I personally go one of two ways here.
I either write down arguments to my worries (yes, I am basically arguing with myself); such as "the symptom I'm worried about could just be mono" (which it was one time) or "the scan could actually show that I'm completely healthy...and this worry would be all for nothing. Then, I wasted my time and energy on what?" You could even go through your worry list and write arguments for each worry you wrote down.
The other method I use here is to write down what I feel God is telling me about my situation. I pray, read my bible, a devotion or two, and then focus on the good things like:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5.
"For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11.
I find that I get the most peace when I go this second route, but you need to find what works best for you. Try different things. Maybe write a list of things you're grateful for, positive affirmations, or set some goals for the week.
Whatever it is, make it positive with the decision that you're moving on. It's your turn to have control of your thoughts.
5. Try it, adapt it, & repeat
I didn't come up with this. This method is simply a tool given by some brilliant psychologist at some point in time and has now drifted down the pipe to me...and now to you. I've found it works for me and have adapted it a bit to fit my needs. Feel free to do the same.
It's shocking to me the power writing things down has over my mind. It solidifies and validates my emotions and thoughts so that I can work through them and move past them. I have done this in the middle of the night before and fell right back to sleep afterward. We all know what an accomplishment that is amidst a cancer scare. I've had to do this more than once for the same scare before, so don't feel as though it's a one and done. Use it as much as you need and adapt to best suit you.
If you try this, please do let me know. Take a photo of your timer, your scribbles, or your quiet place, post it on Instagram and tag me at @jessicabellalvarez to let me know! It makes me feel good to know I'm not the only worry wart out there trying to better themselves. Seriously, it would mean the world.
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