One of my guilty pleasures is daytime television shows. I have to DVR them, since I can’t watch them during the day when they’re aired. One particular show recently talked about “de-cluttering” your home, office, etc. It got me to thinking about how this concept can be helpful for people who are finishing or have finished with cancer treatment. This is a perfect time to “de-clutter” your life.
De-cluttering requires us to take stock, right? We have to take stock of what we have that is piled up or out of place, things we want to keep and things we want to get rid of. When people finish cancer treatment, they often notice that they have had to put some things aside to get through treatment, whether it was activities, events, personal growth, or even relationships. Now is the time to make some decisions about what things you want to keep in your life and what things you really don’t. It is a time to use your powers of discernment to look closely and figure out whether certain things in your life actually serve you in some way. I remember clearly “taking stock” of my life after I finished cancer treatment and that helped me to make plans for the future.
For example, there may be activities you were involved in before cancer that have dropped off the radar since you started treatment. Maybe you were on the PTA, in a book club, on committees at work, etc. Take a close look at which of those activities feels meaningful to you and has a purpose in your life. Which ones do you really enjoy and which ones were you doing because you felt obligated?
It’s always a good idea to write down your thoughts when making decisions. You could do a pros and cons list for each, as to how that activity is good and not so good for your overall health–physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. You could write a number by each, designating a “weight” from one to ten, as to just how good for you each thing is, how much it serves you, then prioritize the activities based on their weight. Then you will have, either with the lowest number, the least “pros,” or the most “cons,” the activities that you could reasonably not continue or pick up again.
Here’s the thing. You don’t have to do everything you were doing before cancer. You can make the choice to do only the things that you enjoy, have some meaning or purpose in your life, or serve you in some way. Yes there are some things that we do because of a sense of obligation, but by doing this process in a written form, at least you will be aware of which ones those are and be aware that you are choosing to fulfill that obligation and for what reason. And you can also limit those obligatory activities. You can “play the C Card.” You’ve had cancer…you have the right to say No to things that you did before cancer that do not serve you in some way. You can give yourself this permission.
If you are brutally honest with yourself when you look at your life B.C. (Before Cancer), there will be activities that you can let go of, which will ultimately serve you in your overall health A.C. (After Cancer). Taking a close look will get you started in the process of “de-cluttering” your life. Life A.C. is your chance to create or re-create a life you love, and de-cluttering your life can be part of that process.
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Photo credit: Adrienne Byard