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How to tap into your strength when facing a health challenge

coaching hypnotherapy mentoring Nov 01, 2022

”You never know how strong you are… until being strong is the only choice you have.”― Cayla Mills

In 2005, life dealt me another severe blow when I learned from a consultant neurologist that I had a rapidly growing benign brain tumour and was told the likely prognosis was very bleak. 

Detailed MRI imaging had revealed a shadowy mass growing on the right side of my brain and, because of it's size and location, any prospect of an operation was deemed to be out of the question and doctors gently suggested it might be necessary for me to think about putting my affairs in order.

As you might imagine, the delivery of this terrible news was emotionally catastrophic on so many levels.  I was a sole parent with a small daughter I had to be alive for. My whole reality was turned on its head and it would be some weeks before I was able to fully absorb this new reality, and come to terms with what I was possibly facing into. 

In time I did and it was then I knew the importance of me learning to develop a strong mindset and to develop some personal coping strategies to be able to withstand what lay in store, and to increase my chances of staying alive.

The full story of how I came to find that miracle surgeon who was the only person willing to undertake risky brain surgery in a bid to save my life and the details of my full healing journey is shared in Flying on the Inside, my best selling story of trauma and recovery, available to read on Amazon by clicking here)

But for the purpose of this blog, I want to share with you some of the strategies I used at that time to build a strong mindset and to find ways to remain emotionally resilient whilst dealing with my serious health challenges.

"Life keeps throwing me stones. And I keep finding the diamonds."

- Ana Claudia Antunes.

If you are facing a health challenge, or, indeed any life challenge, and want to find a stronger version of you, these strategies might help you to find that strength and just might give you the energy you need to keep going.

1. Allow yourself to acknowledge your fears. It's ok to not be ok and it's ok to be scared. It's entirely normal to feel what you are feeling right now, so don't feel guilty for any feelings or emotions that come up.  Health challenges call everything we previously knew to be true into question and they overturn our sense of safety in this world.  Be kind and patient with yourself as you comes to terms with your new reality.

2. Try your best to eliminate any "Should's". They drain your energy and add an extra burden to our current situation by allowing that inner critic to have free reign.  Try as best as you can to eliminate thoughts like:

I should be stronger,

I should know what to do,

I should shoulder on.

I shouldn't be a burden

2. Conserve your energy where you can. Health challenges can send our nervous system into overdrive. To be able to develop and maintain a strong mindset we must make sure we get adequate rest.  Work on finding new ways to rest, even if you can't sleep.  Lying down and listening to some soothing music or a meditation audio will help with conserving your energy.

3. Enlist a medical advocate. Don't go it alone. Two heads are better than one. If you have lots of new information to take in or need to attend doctors appointments, enlist a close family member or a trusted friend to be an extra pair of ears for you, and to take notes.  It's difficult to take in new information, to process our own feelings and to formulate important questions when we are under pressure.  Your advocate will be invaluable for making sure you get the correct information, have notes to refer back to later on, and can offer that much needed emotional support.

4. Inform yourself.  Empower yourself by reading about your particular challenges and always check out new research in this area. Leaving no stone unturned is always a good idea (you can always have someone do that for you if you don't feel up to it)

5. Look up and research all the positive stories/outcomes attached to your health challenge. Statistics are only just that - statistics. Search out and look for success stories to remind yourself that people do get well from even the most difficult conditions.

6. Take charge of your thoughts.  Become aware of the stories you tell yourself and choose to use self-supportive and nourishing words.  Make your inner world as kind and forgiving as possible.

7. Have a confidant or therapist you can speak to.  There are times when we really need to say how we are feeling, to vent, and to process our emotions and having a trusted friend or professional who can hold that space for you is invaluable for keeping an empowered mindset.

8. Let people know how you would like them to talk to you about your current situation.  Having health challenges can be very isolating, especially if people avoid us or avoid talking about what we are going through for fear of breaching our privacy or upsetting us. Let those around you know how they can help and what conversations you are up for, or not. People mean well and will generally respond readily to some guidance and direction from you.

9, Work on self-forgiveness. When we are unwell and stressed, it's not uncommon to feel angry or to have emotional outbursts.  Forgive yourself if this occurs, offer an apology if needs be, and get back to looking after you.  Try not to beat yourself up - everyone understands, believe me.

10. Know that your needs and wants will change and evolve over time.  And that's ok.  Be prepared to revise and update any of your strategies and mindset goals at any point in time - you are a human being and you are dealing with a lot.

I know how hard it is to have to live with new ways of being on the world and I know how difficult it can be to remain emotionally resilient when going through so much.  I hope these strategies can help you in some way. 

And do remember, if you would like to speak to me in person, go ahead and book your free discovery call by clicking the link to my diary.  I'm here to help!


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