Advice/Information From Every Direction
Every person who’s been diagnosed with cancer knows that once people find out you have cancer, information and advice comes at you from every direction. Of course, you have the medical professionals telling you what you need to do next, and that’s necessary. But then you have well-meaning friends and family members giving you advice. It seems like everyone and their brother has something to say that will help you get better or feel better.
I Remember That Feeling…
People told me what books to read, who to talk to, what to eat, do and think. People gave me information on special treatments in Mexico that cure cancer, told me to eat more raspberries, urged me to keep a positive attitude (don’t get me started on that one)…well, you get the picture.
Not That It’s Bad, Just A Lot to Take In
I’m not saying any of this was necessarily unhelpful or bad advice, because some of it was really helpful…it was just a lot to take in. And I’m almost positive that, if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, you can relate, because hundreds of cancer survivors I’ve spoken to have had a similar experience. Again, these people are well-meaning and want to help, and they just don’t understand the amount of information you’re trying to absorb on a daily basis.
The Problem: Overwhelm
So here you are, dealing with cancer, which is hard enough in and of itself, and then you find yourself completely overwhelmed. There seemed like so much information coming at me from all directions at all times, I would find myself thinking, “Incoming!” whenever anyone would open his/her mouth.
Dealing With Overwhelm: The Filter
I found that if I didn’t come up with a way to deal with all this information I would walk around feeling like I might be crushed under the pressure of all this information and advice. So I came up with a “filter.” I decided that whenever anyone spoke to me, what they said would have to pass through the filter.
The filter sorted out into 3 categories:
1. Makes Sense (Try it, it can’t hurt)
2. Maybe Helpful (Not sure right now, save for later)
3. Nah. (Unhelpful or overwhelming)
1. “Makes Sense” Category
If information made it into the first category, then it made sense to me and could be helpful to incorporate into my life. Or it couldn’t hurt to try it, and doesn’t feel overwhelming. So for me, if someone told me to try a certain over the counter medication for heartburn because of chemo, I’d probably try it. Wouldn’t take much effort, and can’t hurt to try. Then I can decide for myself if it’s helpful. My doctor’s advice always went into this category, because I trusted him and he knew what he was doing.
2. “Maybe Helpful” Category
If it made it into the second category, that means I determined it might be helpful, but I didn’t want to act on it right away, so I might store the idea for later and decide at another time. For example, I might not be sure that eating raspberries would help much with anything, but I’ll store it in my mind for later. Then if I happen to go past some in the grocery store, I might pick them up. But I’m not going to rely on them to cure my cancer or run right out in the middle of my day to buy a crate.
3. “Nah” Category
If it went into the 3rd category, I would say “Nah” to myself and let it go. In other words, I didn’t buy the advice/information that was coming at me, or disagreed with it, or it felt overwhelming to me to think about doing it at that time. For example, if someone told me to go to Mexico for a special treatment for my cancer, I would thank them politely for the brochure, and then to myself say “Nah, I don’t think so,” and put it in the trash after they were gone. If something feels overwhelming, it is a sign that it goes in this category. Overwhelming = not helpful at this time. Use your belly as a barometer. If you start getting that anxious feeling in your belly, it’s probably adding to your overwhelm and you can let it go.
Now, maybe the Mexico brochure would be in someone else’s 1st or 2nd category…we’re all different. But for me the idea of going to Mexico in the middle of cancer treatment was too much. Anxious feeling in my belly, circular file.
Try this the next time someone gives you advice/information and see if it helps with overwhelm. I’d love to hear how it goes.
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Photo Credit: adrysmomma04