Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Pillars of Strength to Cope With Cancer Short and Long Term to Improve the Journey

Where do we begin to try to cope with this difficult challenge - cancer? Consider assessing how we choose to face this challenge, how we feel, and our personal forecast for tomorrow, and ask how we are we doing with our current effort to cope. If current efforts are not effectively allowing us to enjoy days of peace, purpose and happiness, we may want to consider a fresh perspective to improve the journey. More often than not, we fail from allowing our emotions to consume us and command our days. A situation like this may have us longing for a way to not accept our confusing and conflicting emotions, to instead manage them by following the Pillars of Strength, to improve the journey.

Pillars of Strength:

Acceptance - Accepting our situations, conditions and people free of judgment, criticism, frees us to move forward. Instead of asking "Why me?" accept the fact that cancer is here and it cannot be changed or erased. Once we decide in our mind, heart and soul that the struggle with cancer is here and must be faced, we lessen our burden to eventually become free of self-pity, doubt, fear, anxiety, resentment and hopelessness. This is not to say that these emotions will never resurface. Acceptance provides us with perspectives to now manage and diffuse these emotions before they rule our day.

Awareness - For many of us, cancer sensitizes the reality of our situation while also enhancing awareness of our surroundings and our goodness within. Awareness has us seeing in high definition, to now see what was once missed. We begin to view our situation with focused clarity for greater appreciation of life, purpose, meaning and what truly matters. This fresh view warms us with a state of serenity to calm us to appreciate our goodness. We can now recognize opportunities to act with kindness which in the past we missed or ignored. Expand the heart to embrace the enlightening, calming benefits of possible enhanced awareness.

Humility - Humility was a foreign concept to us during our early years when we felt invincible. If not prior, cancer has a way to introduce us to a consciousness to see our shortcomings, to strive to improve our contribution to community and sense of purpose. Following the footsteps along the path of humility brings the never-ending test of our character. Along this path comes the wisdom to see the best in others, instead of what we expect from them. Humility is serving others before self, while expecting nothing in return. The grace of humility is the ability to see where we fall short. It offers encouragement to better ourselves, thus contributing to the betterment of others. Too often, humility is misinterpreted as weakness, but the opposite is true. Humility requires strength of devotion and faith. Compassion forms the foundation of humility and empathy the cornerstone. Introduce humility in life to give back for a sense of community. While expecting nothing in return, unexpected blessings seem to come our way.

Forgiveness - For many, pride hinders freeing ourselves of the burden of resentment. Where do we begin to forgive cancer and its accompanying struggle? Emotional forgiveness is the most challenging type of forgiveness. Without forgiveness we hold a grudge exacerbating our emotions consequently causing conflict within. Listen to the heart and let it guide us through this emotional maze. Trust the heart to provide compassion, wisdom and love to best serve us to gradually direct us to the desired destination of forgiveness. Clarity will slowly emerge with calm and peace for the serenity and grace to forgive. The heaviness of our struggle is now removed to provide strength to manage the emotional journey associated with cancer. Forgiveness is not necessarily forgetting. Forgiveness removes the burden to be free to enjoy life. Since cancer significantly impacts us and is now a part of our life, it becomes difficult or nearly impossible to forget. We do not need to forget cancer; instead use it as a reminder for motivation to reach higher and achieve beyond our expectations. Seek a balance when recalling cancer to use it as a positive rather than a negative influence along our journey. Draw from cancer's experiences for direction to follow the Pillars of Strength for sustainable healthy well-being. Open the heart to experience serenity from the grace of forgiving.

Gratitude - Life seems to be more abundant and peaceful when letting gratitude permeate life. Expressing gratitude and thankfulness is a choice. We have the choice to be grateful or simply ignore gratitude and its positive effects on health and well-being. For gratitude to develop, it helps to consciously be aware of everything around us, accepting things just as they are, free of interpretation or critique. This is the basis for a methodology that finds the will to give thanks for all the goodness in good situations as well as in bad situations. Once we have mastered this ability to find the good in bad situations we have discovered the power and grace of gratitude. Incorporating gratitude daily enhances awareness to see the good within and surrounding and to appreciate its gratitude to recognize its power and positive effects on life.

Compassion - Compassion softens pain; judgment misses the opportunity. Why so many people readily consider judgment instead of compassion? Compassion - the desire to see beyond a person's appearance to see within their eyes wanting to know their story inside - contributes much to our journey. When people are struggling, they find it difficult to take the first step to ask for help. They are usually too embarrassed or to be seen as weak. Compassion provides strength to move forward to offer empathy, to soften their hesitation and to accept help during their time of struggle. A simple way to show compassion is to ask people about their situations and listen with heartfelt empathy. Caring is an act of kindness that provides encouragement and hope to others to build steps from the abyss of despair to solid footing to restore and sustain well-being and balance. Give thanks that compassion helps to recognize these opportunities to act.

Generosity - Generosity begins with the ever-present opportunity to give of self with acts of kindness. We need only open our hands and heart to awaken generosity in life. Too often, we associate generosity with charitable giving of money. Less frequently we correlate generosity with the willingness to freely share ourselves and our gifts. With unselfish willingness to share our gifts we recognize opportunities to give back. This act of unselfish kindness from within, leads to feelings of connection, belonging and community to not only help others, but to also feel the goodness of giving. The initiative to help others, while expecting nothing in return, shares the grace of generosity. By being generous we feel the presence of enhanced meaning and purpose. Strength derived from generosity should not to be ignored. Volunteer; attend support groups, engage in the community of cancer, etc. - for a sense of belonging and to contribute to the well-being of others and ourselves.

Faith - Faith in our gifts and abilities, along with self-esteem, can help us surpass our self-defined limitations. Imagine the alternative of not believing in ourselves and its ramifications on our quality of life. Without faith we lose the will and determination to hang in there. Belief in self supports self-worth and confidence to be strong when times get harsh. With faith we refuse to give in or give up. No matter the many attempts by situations that arise, or from others to question our faith to cope with and conquer our challenges, we continue to believe to stay the course and remain free from self-doubt. Keep the faith. We will endure. We can also derive strength and comfort from spiritual faith. Faith can be grounded from religion, nature, meditation or other ways that encourage and frequently remind us to express gratitude and follow the Pillars of Strength.

Hope - A close friend of optimism, hope encourages us to see the goodness throughout our journey when coping with our difficult situation. Hope warms the heart to approach each day anew with energy and enthusiasm. Furthermore, we ignite the spirit to not give up for the will to stay the course to defeat our struggle.

To review, Pillars of Strength include; Acceptance, Awareness, Humility, Gratitude, Forgiveness, Compassion, Generosity, Faith and Hope. These are the pillars providing strength and character to have the will and determination to look our challenge in the eye and face it head on to manage our emotional state instead of our emotions managing us. With the challenge of cancer there needs to be a leader. There is no one better to lead, then you. Begin to establish these Pillars of Strength into daily life as a guide, and eventually sustain these habits to provide enduring strength to face cancer and hopefully conquer our associated struggle. Each of us has our own unique situation, we respond at our own rate, so be patient. Keep the faith to never give up. From this position of strength we have a guide to draw from to help us to endure the harsh times to lead us to recovery to enjoy peace and purpose along our journey.

Pillars of Strength

• Acceptance
• Awareness
• Humility
• Gratitude
• Forgiveness
• Compassion
• Generosity
• Faith
• Hope

"Pillars of Strength to Cope with Cancer Short and Long Term to Improve the Journey" addresses the need to improve coping skills for cancer survivors as supported by the American Cancer Society recently publishing the revealing conclusions of a study of cancer's psychological effects on survivors. "Research supported by the society has added to our understanding of the physical and psychological effects of cancer on survivors. But there is still much to learn and more to do. That's why the society is collecting information about the quality of life of more than 15,000 cancer survivors nationwide through the Studies of Cancer Survivors surveys. Society researchers hope to identify the needs of long-term survivors and design programs and interventions to improve their quality of life." (1) Mr. Ward comments that talking with cancer survivors indicates that psychological treatment appears to be lagging behind biological treatment and understandably so. However, as a consequence the push continues for a cure and rightfully so, but meeting the psychological needs of the cancer survivor deserves scrutiny for continued attention and improvement. Mr. Ward recognized this need in 2011 and continues to further explore and share methods to improve the cancer journey.

(1) - American Cancer Society, Explore Research, Treatment and Survivorship Research, Palliative Care Research, Studies of Cancer Survivors - Retrieved 31 August 2014.

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