Being empowered to heal, not blamed for having cancer
When I first started telling people what I was learning about the mind-body connection and how it can be used for healing, I got some hostile reactions.
I was excited by the idea that a cancer diagnosis didn’t have to be the end of the world. That given the right conditions, the body can heal. And that through my mind I could influence those conditions.
People would get angry and say that it’s outrageous to suggest that our thinking could have an impact. They accused me of saying that someone else hadn’t tried hard enough. That they hadn’t been positive enough. That they were to blame for dying from cancer.
I’ve heard this again and again, at parties, when I teach meditation, whenever I talk about how our mental state can affect our physical wellbeing.
It’s definitely not my intention to hurt someone, or to blame anyone for their illness or even for dying from cancer. Cancer is a complex disease in a complex biological environment. There are so many variables that it is impossible to point to just one thing as being responsible.
Most of us have no idea about the role our mind plays in how we feel, or our health, or even that we have some control over it. It’s not taught in schools and it’s certainly not taught at university. We tend to find out only by accidence. How can we be to blame when we just don’t know?
You are personally responsible for everything in your life, once you become aware that you are personally responsible for everything in your life.Bruce Lipton, The Biology of Belief
When you are told that you have an incurable cancer or that there is nothing the doctors can do for you (both of which happened to me) learning about the mind-body connection, and how you can use it for healing, gives you hope.
It isn’t about the past. It is about being empowered to heal, not being blamed for having cancer.
Our immune function is affected by our emotions and our thinking. We know that stress suppresses our immune system. We also know that it acts as a fertiliser for cancer. (See this post here)
We can just as easily activate the stress response in our bodies by having a thought about someone we don’t want to see as being nearly hit by a bus. And when we consistently have negative thoughts, such as replaying resentments in our mind (resentment comes from the French word resentir, to re-feel), or worrying about the future, we end up living with chronic low grade stress. Our bodies pay the price.
The flip side of this is that if we change the way we perceive the world and how we think, then our bodies can benefit.
So learning that our mind can be a powerful tool to activate healing is incredibly empowering. It means that there is something we can do to support all the other approaches that we decide to use - diet, medicines, lifestyle. Or even better, we can use the mind to choose which of those things we will use. To get well.
Positive thinking can help. It can be the starting point in using the mind to activate healing in the body.
It’s also the thing that seems to annoy people the most. Mostly because people misunderstand it.
Positive thinking is not being positive all the time. And it’s definitely not about having so-called positive emotions all the time. So-called negative emotions have their place and can be helpful. Provided we don’t deny them and we allow them to be expressed. (See this post about releasing suppressed emotions)
It’s not just about slapping on a happy face.
It’s about having hope. And it’s about being realistic about the current situation.
Positive thinking is about having a clear goal in mind and believing that it is achievable. And then working out the things you can do to make that goal a reality.
Wishful thinking is where you hope for the best and do nothing about it.Positive thinking is where you hope for the best and do a lot about it.Ian Gawler, You Can Conquer Cancer
We might have to review anything we have done that has, or might have, contributed to us getting sick. Again, not to blame us for being ill, but instead, to help us to identity the things we can change.
Any inventory requires a business to discard those things that are not useful and to build on those that are. Maybe doing the opposite of what we have been doing can take our health in a whole new direction.
And there are lots of mind-body tools we can use to work towards the goal of healing:
- conscious relaxation through techniques like the progressive muscle relaxation
- mindfulness to develop awareness of the present moment, our thinking and the choices we make constantly through the day
- contemplation to connect us to our inner wisdom to help make decisions and set goals that are right for us
- imagery and visualisations that send messages to our unconscious mind to change habits and beliefs (including learning to forgive), and to our bodies to activate the immune system and other healing
Once we work out what we can do, then it’s just about doing it. As best we can and enjoying doing it. Keeping in mind the benefit it might bring.
And continuing to hope for the best.
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, things just don’t work out the way we want them to. But personally, I’d rather that happen, knowing I tried everything I could, than regret not having done more.
Being told that it is possible to heal through our own agency, by changing the way we think and act, is not blaming us for what happened in the past. It gives hope and empowers us to take responsibility for what we can.
What do you think? Do you think that being told the mind has a role to play in both us getting sick and getting well is empowering? Or do you think it makes us responsible for things outside of our control? Let me know in the comments.
Be happy. Be well.
And so be it.
Cancer as a Turning Point, Lawrence LeShan PhD
The Biology of Belief, Bruce H. Lipton PhD
You Can Conquer Cancer, Ian Gawler
The Mind That Changes Everything, Ian Gawler