One of the things I learned after my cancer diagnosis is that emotions, like fear and anger can make me sick. Feeling joy and gratitude can keep me healthy. I include gratitude because it’s hard to feel pissed off when you’re grateful for something or just feeling happy to be alive.
Before cancer, my emotional state was pretty much a roller coaster. For the most part, I am a happy gal but if someone rubbed me the wrong way… watch out! If the person making me mad was my boss, then I would internally fume for hours and fantasize stabbing that person with a dinner fork (since I worked in restaurants most of my life, a fork seemed like the logical weapon) until I felt better.
It wasn’t until I was in my forties that someone told me, “No one makes you angry, you choose to do that. You are in control of your emotions.” Those words hit me like a splash of cold water. No one ever said that to me. I always thought it was outside influences that made me mad, sad, fearful and happy. I allowed myself to get sucked into whatever drama was unfolding all the time because I just didn’t know any better.
Over the next fifteen or so years, I still found myself getting angry over something another person said, but at least I was aware of it. What I didn’t know was how to stop doing it. I also didn’t know that my emotional state affected my physical health… until I got sick.
My diagnosis turned my whole world upside down and I knew intuitively that if I didn’t make BIG changes, STAT… I would not survive. I turned to the Internet, read blogs, found websites and read books on how to get my body well and back in balance. Many of the posts I read, had to do with emotional health and how negative emotions, chronic stress and anger can and will kill you. Many medical studies have been done proving anger, especially long term anger, contributes to heart disease.
Western medicine is finally figuring out that emotions do affect our immune system. For the longest time, doctors thought it was either bad genes or bad luck. Not so, negative thoughts which become emotions, damage the immune system… which leads to disease, even cancer. My medical team was terrific but not one of my doctors suggested I look into meditation, visualization or some other way to lower my stress. Who knows if they even understood there was a connection. I found that out on my own. It was the writings of Louise Hay And Kris Carr that taught me the importance of keeping my body, mind (and spirit) in balance. Both of these women are not only cancer survivors, their lives changed for the better.
Today, I am cancer free. Everything I learned when I was going through treatment, I still do today and that includes watching my thoughts. I still get mad but I allow myself to feel the emotion for only a few minutes, then I let it go. Stuffing emotions is bad for your health also. If its someone I think offended me, I let them know immediately. If its something I can’t control, I try to find a better way to look at the situation or come up with a positive solution. But no matter what, I always let it go and don’t hold onto my anger for long. Forgiveness helps. I’m not letting the person off the hook, instead I’m choosing to not allow myself to be held hostage by the behavior of someone else. In the end, I cannot control anyone or what life challenges may come my way, but I can control how I respond.
My number one goal each day is to do everything possible to keep myself healthy and balanced: body, mind and spirit.
Be well and Pay Attention to Your Thoughts,