One of the unexpected ways that a cancer diagnosis can impact our psyche is the effect it has on our sense of self confidence. While self confidence exists on a spectrum, from low to over-confidence; as we mature, the goal is to have self confidence that is defined by a realistic appraisal of our judgment, ability, power, and so forth. When our self confidence is based in reality, we can often feel capable of navigating the ups and downs of our lives as we know it.
However, hearing the words that you have cancer, isn’t something that most of us anticipate. It brings us face-to-face with one of our deepest fears, our mortality. It causes us to come to terms with our lack of control over our lives. It asks us to take action and accept medical interventions that have serious side effects. It asks us to take a major leap of faith, to trust that our doctors will be able to safely get us to the other side… This list could go on and on.
Since sitting with the unknown is such an uncomfortable place for most of us to be, we may struggle to accept the changes and confusion that this time brings. Parts of our life that use to feel more effortless to navigate can suddenly feel foreign and unknown, causing further disruption in our self confidence. If we tie our self confidence to the desire to control the experience, we can deepen our pain.
In these moments of dire need, it is critical to find ways that allow us to stay present rather then kicking off the fight or flight response. To do so, this often requires a blend of relaxation techniques that keep us inside of our bodies, while stoking the fires of resiliency that can help us tolerate the distress we feel in order to remain in tune with our lives for as long as we have the honor to live them.
Dictonary.com defines resilience as: