Cancer and Politics: How to Navigate Both Without Losing Your Joy
Since I am simultaneously navigating my own journey through cancer and treatment as well as experiencing a highly volatile political time in our country, I am noting some similarities in how to maintain emotional balance that will support my wellbeing, rather than destroy it.
Shortly before my diagnosis I announced to my Facebook friends that I was going to take a break from being a regular poster other than managing our business page and a private group I monitor. I had noticed that my time spent on social media had more of a negative effect on me rather than a positive, particularly in the face of our current political climate. Although I have missed reading positive updates and news from my friends, not exposing myself to constant fear producing politcal commentary had a positive impact on my own personal level of peace.
Last week, however, during my brief time on FB for my daily check-in I happened to see a post from an old highschool friend that caused a deep sadness as I read his words. This was a political related post that clearly came from his own fears of losing his rights if our country steps up to to help the poor, needy or others from neighboring countries that are desiring a life free of oppression and poverty.
In his rant I noticed his understandable fears caused him to create some gross generalizations and stereotypical conclusions regarding followers of the Muslim religion and our neighbors to the south. It was clear to me that his fear mongering, inaccurate observations and accusations were not going to help solve our current problems, but will rather create a deeper divide between the citizens of our country.
Even though I tend to avoid getting involved in FB dialogues of this nature since blaming, making insults and disrespectful behavior is the usual result, I chose to make a sincere heartfelt request that people of both political camps stop insulting each other by posting hatelful memes and accusations and simply seek out the facts. I made the suggestion that we stop and truly listen to one another rather than simply add more fuel to the hateful fires that are sweeping our country. Sadly, my friend deleted my post, leaving only the viewpoints that supported his opinions.
What I noticed in myself when I read my friend’s hateful post was that he was in fear. He was afraid of losing something important in his life and that this loss would have a very negative effect on his own wellbeing. Obviously, he is not alone. Both poltical camps practice this type of approach in facing our problems, which unfortunately keeps us all stuck.
Rather than seeking a viable solution to the many serious issues that our country faces he and many others are apparently choosing to take a path of blaming and attacking. Clearly this approach is the antithesis of a well thought out plan that can bring people of varying viewpoints together so actual progress can be made. Cooperation, listening and understanding will go much farther than creating a greater divisiveness using tactics that unnecessirly exaserbates everyone’s fears.
So, what does navigating our political climate have to do with cancer?
My epiphany was that falling into the trap of fears will never serve anyone, regardless of the situation. When we are in a state of fear, we can tend to lose our common sense. When we’re scared we want to protect ourselves so we may choose to attack the messneger or seek someone or something to blame as we seek relief. We also tend to make up even scarier stories that causes us to feel an even greater victimization and loss of control.
I knew in navigating my own journey through cancer focusing and exacerbating any fears that may pop up would actually disempower myself from maintaining my natural healthy attitudes and perspectives that would more likely carry me through cancer treatment with less trauma.
Since I know that living in a state of fear does not bring out our best and actually causes us to behave at our worst, it takes a lot of effort to step back and notice if our current fears are realistic. If they are then taking immediate constructive steps to solve the problem would be indicated. Doing so in a way that does not create a fearful reaction in the other side will get you closer to a resolution faster. This basic approach is effective in any situation.
Since I am unwilling to hand over my joy to any person or situation I must remember to think the thoughts that keep me aligned with my best. Hate does not make me feel good. Insulting or blaming someone or something does not bring me joy. Celebrating other’s failures will not improve anything in my life. Feeling sorry for myself will not make me healthier or stronger.
The bottom line is we are each in charge of how we navigate this life we’re living. We can choose to stay alinged with what is naturally positive and good in all of us or we can fall into the trap of fear that brings out our worst.
Since I know I am at my best when in a state of peace and joy, I will consciously be aware of my own fears when they appear and then take whatever steps are indicated so I can return to peace.