By Paula Holland De Long ACC, CPCC, What’s Next For My Life? ™ Inc.
“I’m totally stressed out; I wake up at 2 a.m. terrified my cancer will come back; and I think I’m seriously depressed,” my new client said hesitantly, with tears in her eyes. “I finished chemo over six months ago and every day I tell myself I’ll feel better and I don’t. I should be grateful just to be alive,” she broke into sobs that lasted several minutes, and then raised her head.
I burst into applause. She looked at me like I was crazy.
“It takes a lot of courage to say your deepest fears out loud. It’s a lot easier to bury them or pretend they don’t exist. How long have you been carrying this fear and stress around with you?” I asked. “I’ve felt it since my diagnosis.” Sigh. More applause from me. Her shoulders go back as she sits up straighter.
“Take a deep breath. How’s your stress now?” “Better,” she said, surprised. Then smiled. “MUCH better.
I feel like I’m taking charge of my life instead of just tolerating it.”
“Close your eyes, take deep breaths, and imagine that your stress and fear are standing in front of you. If you had to name them something, what would it be?” Pause. “Rat –On-A-Wheel.” “OK. Client, shake hands and say hello to Mr. Rat –On-A-Wheel.
Her giggle surprised me. “What about Mr. Rat makes you giggle?” He’s a sneaky, ugly little rat, like a cartoon character.”
“Is this cartoon rat running your life? I queried. “Heck no,” she said strongly.
I asked my client to stand up, take a bow, and give herself a round of applause. Mr. Rat and I clapped and cheered.
“Why are we applauding?” she asked.
You are applauding yourself. You just stood up to this Mr. Rat character who was trying to run your life. You’re giggling at him. How cool is that? Whoo hoo to you!
Mr. Rat’s applauding because he’s relieved. He’s truly is a rat and he’s tired of you and ready to move on.
I’m applauding because you’ve just managed your own fear, and you can do it again.
Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap!
Use these simple steps anytime to take your life back when fear, despair, and stress take over.
1. Acknowledge and release your emotions.
- Explore your feelings honestly. What’s your truth?
- Release them: Write them down, have a pretend conversation with them, share with someone else.
- Applaud yourself for your courage when you’re done.
2. Create a persona for the feelings and get curious.
- What does this persona want and need? Does it really want to be doing what it’s doing?
- Applaud yourself for your curiosity.
3. Decide what you want to happen next.
- Take one small step to get started, like asking for help.
- Applaud yourself for making the choice and taking the first step.
Right now, I challenge you to pick one thing, take these steps, and tell us if it works for you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Breast cancer survivor, professional life coach, award-winning author, and inspirational speaker Paula Holland De Long ACC, CPCC is an authority on how the lessons of survivorship can bring joy, passion and purpose to anyone's life. Her personal battle with cancer inspired her to found What’s Next For My Life, Inc., whose self-guided cancer journals, workshops, and support products are offered directly to patients and at cancer treatment centers and support organizations. Email paula@WhatsNextForMyLife.com or visit WhatsNextForMyLife.com.