Resiliency: Moving Forward in Life with Improved Purpose
Resiliency is something we really don’t get an opportunity to learn until we are faced with a challenge in life. Cancer and the procedures which follow can challenge or strengthen a person to become more resilient and potentially grow to be stronger and more appreciative. In life we only get to make choices about how we cope and cancer is one of the choices where we can either embrace the news and make the most of during the journey, attempt to avoid thinking about it and potentially make the choice not to do anything, or stay stuck in neutral being unable to move past fear and frustration. First and foremost, it is normal to experience a range of emotions and they can come and go in waves, but at some point, resiliency is about making a choice to decide what to do with situations and life events we can’t change, but only cope with.
When you really sit back to think, each day is filled with a challenge of some sort. It could be traffic jam, a snow or rainstorm, maybe your vehicle breaks down and you have no idea why, or the even smaller nuisances such as that single sock in the dryer with no mate to ever found again. Any of the examples are inconveniences in life and generally once we have learned to cope with an obstacle even once, we are often more prepared for other obstacles in life as long as we were learned to cope in a manner which was somewhat constructive to our overall life and health.
I recently heard someone pose an interesting question: “If you were given the option to sleep though your adversity and awaken when it was over with would you do so?” For some, this might be tempting, but what do we learn if we never have to overcome a challenge in life? Cancer and maneuvering though the healing and treatment process might be one of the most transformational times of your life, depending on what you do with the actual experience. We get only one chance to live every day we are given, despite it being in sickness or health.
While working on healing and physical wellness, can you also take the time to examine and explore areas of spiritual wellness. Spiritual wellness is not just our connection with a particular faith or religion, but it encompasses how we may someday be remembered; the quality of the relationships we have formed with ourselves and others; our connection with nature and the world around us; and hopefully living in a manner which is consistent with our values as well as potentially having a positive impact on our community.
I can now reflect upon how I would spend some of my days while healing and thank goodness for technology. Following a double mastectomy, I was initially unable to bathe or dress myself. Freedom and progress came in the form of managing small tasks of self-care, but it took several weeks before I had the strength to hold a book, so I relied upon my cellphone to build and visit my connection in life. While friends and family were at work, I made the choice to read and share quotes, I read books online, and found helpful and inspiring blogs to encourage me to reach new goals in life. I literally had time to reflect upon my life and decide what choices I could change to become more in line with my goals to include personal and employment options which would follow my physical healing. Many days, I would drop my phone due to a lack of strength and inability to move comfortably. Breathing was still a challenge, along with managing pain and the range of motion in my arms was initially comparable to a tyrannosaurus rex. My phone bounced back until about the fifth time I dropped it and the screen finally shattered. I had it repaired and a new screen was installed, but for some weird reason it would not allow me to search or google new material or topics until it sometimes opened older searches. Despite anything I tried to get my phone to work the way it had previously, it stayed stuck and would at times flash past any site I had visited before allowing me to move forward or would not respond at all. Frustrating, but it reminded me the point was to move forward and not to dwell in the past or give up. I remained persistent in taking in new information, using patience because my phone was never going to be the same as it was before I broke it, and I was learning to overcome yet another challenge as I had to wait until my cellphone contract was up for renewal. Several weeks later, I eventually had numerous options on the type of phone I could purchase, but most importantly, I also had more available options as to how I would live my life once fully healed and how I could manage daily life activities with a sense of improved priority and purpose.
We all have choices in life and sometimes it can feel as it things around us are preventing us from moving forward, but maybe you can use your time and experience to evaluate your life and make meaningful choices over such things as how you spend your free time, the satisfaction you receive from the job you work in, the quality of the people you want to surround yourself with, and not waiting to spend time with people or in places you prefer to be in or visit. Taking any positive from your experience to even improve one relationship or to build a new positive hobby may make you more resilient and happier. Try something new and if you don’t like it try something else, but keep moving forward in healing and in life.