As a cancer survivor, there are so many ways in which you face losing control. As you heal emotionally, it is important to find ways to influence how you are doing, where you are going, who you have become, so that you can be more resilient to the curve balls you face in life.

In studying psychology, I learned that there were two general ways that people process- internally within their own minds or externally by mulling it over with others. Most of us are a combination of the two, but often we tend to prefer one over the other.

It’s important to keep in mind when it is wise to switch your tactic and look for a different type of connection.

For example, an internal processor might be very capable at self analysis, until you encounter a recurring thought, emotion, relationship hurdle or struggle which has never been fully dealt with. If the internal processor persists in trying to manage that situation by oneself, the end result is more likely to be stuck in the proverbial rabbit hole, ruminating and getting stuck rather than breaking through.

On the other hand, an external processor might be very comfortable with sharing their thoughts and feelings with others to arrive at conclusions or solutions. However, if an external processor wants to rehash recurring issues and problems, it’s important to watch for whether or not the conversation is repetitive- demonstrating the same rumination and stuckness that an internal processor faces in their minds. An external processor might get temporary relief from rehashing, yet ultimately be just as stuck in the rabbit hole.

The good thing is that independent of where you fall in the spectrum, the change in tactic is the same- connection. An internal processor needs to connect more with others when they get stuck, whereas an external processor needs to connect more with themselves to move forward- becoming quiet enough to observe the less vocal parts of their inner world.

-Stephanie McLeod-Estevez, LCPC, is an art therapist and breast cancer survivor, and a former oncology counselor at the Dempsey Center. She began Creative Transformations to help others who are healing from a life threatening illness or injury. Through Creative Transformations, she works with people in person and online to offer cancer coaching, an Art as Therapy program, workshops, and this weekly blog. Check out the individual packages, the self assessment tool, and virtual workshops.  Sign up today so you never miss a blog and find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.