It’s getting closer to the end of the year, which for many of us is a time of reflection. You might be looking back at what you’ve gone through, you might be taking stock of what has worked/not worked, you may be wondering… what does the next year hold for me?
If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, this reflection can take on a new level of purpose. After all, being diagnosed with cancer is a direct reminder that no one is alive forever. Time becomes precious, and hopefully you see your life, your body, your mind, and your spirit as worthy of your attention and dedication, just as you prioritize your dedication to your dearest relationships.
However, when you sit down to think of your goals, do you hold yourself in high regard OR do you tend to be critical of the areas in which you perceive yourself to be not good enough?
When you sit down to think of your goals, do you feel overwhelmed OR are you able to compassionately acknowledge that you are doing your best and seek to take small steps that embrace the life that you wish to live?
When you start working towards your goals, are you accepting of your humanity when you fall off of your chosen path? Or do you end up in a whirl of self judgement and loathing?
Some of the pitfalls I have both experienced and witness related to making change include:
- trying to obtain a specific outcome (i.e. the trap of being attached to the end goal rather than focusing on the process and the present moment)
- setting goals and expectations based upon other’s needs (i.e. fearing that the relationship can’t tolerate you putting on your oxygen mask first)
- buying into other’s definitions of what is good/desirable/”healthy” (i.e. disregarding your own instinct/intuition/voice about what feels good, desirable, or healthy to your body, mind, spirit, and self)
Breaking free from these chains is not easy. Breaking free from these chains when you feel the pressure that you’re living on borrowed time can cause you to freeze or give up. Yet breaking free is what you’re being called to do, in order to live a life that reflects your beliefs, your values, and your deepest wishes.
This is why I feel like approaching goal setting as an act of self love is so important. If you are approaching something from a loving place, you’ll find it easier to listen and to follow your own unique wisdom. It opens up the opportunity to break away from setting goals that are not aligned with your greatest good.
I am a huge fan of Yoga with Adriene, she creates free yoga videos that you can find on YouTube. Adriene has coined the phrase “Find what feels good”. I use it as my personal mantra when I know I need to be tender and accepting of myself. When I take time to listen to the response, I often find what I need at that moment.
It’s hard to stay focused on the here and now. Cancer is compels you to sit with uncertainty. It’s powerful to recognize that while you can’t control the future, you do have the power to influence the here and now. This is the gift that compassion offers you along the way.
So tell me- what steps do YOU want to take to find what feels good? Let’s inspire one another by sharing in the comments below!
-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 emotionally from cancer. Through Creative Transformations, she works with people in person and online to offer the self assessment tool, cancer coaching, an Art as Therapy program,virtual workshops, and this weekly blog. Sign up today so you never miss a blog and find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.