Cancer has been a part of my life for the past 10 years. I had testicular cancer and I remember going in for radiation treatments.
I would go in right before lunch. Do my treatment. Go back to work, get very tired and power through the day. My mindset around work was weak at best. I struggled to be grateful for my lackluster career.
I arrived at the doctor’s office a little early for radiation treatment. I knew that radiation was basically poison for my body, but I kept doing it because I knew it would help kill off any possible cancer that might spread inside of me. On this day I wasn’t sure if I should go inside. I was nearing the end of my treatments and I just didn’t want to be tired anymore.
As I sat there and just thought about everything, I felt stuck to my seat. I didn’t want to open my car door and walk inside.
I was the farthest away from feeling grateful than I’d been in a long time. This was before I really started building my gratitude practice. As my 11 am appointment time approached, I felt this pressure inside of me. I wanted to just start up my car and drive away. The thought of driving away from my family snapped me out of my self-pity and at 11:02 I opened my car door and went inside.
This shift in my perspective came suddenly. I had to visualize my life without my wife and son to get me to get up and go inside. I felt grateful that I had them to go back to each night.
If you can learn to ask yourself the right questions, you can develop the ability to shift your perspective in an instant. At this time in my life I didn’t understand the power of questions and how powerful self inquiry can be if done well.
I was very unhappy with myself and my job. I loved my wife and son and that was what got me out of bed in the morning. I appreciated them so much that it kept me going.
Fast-forward 10 years and I’ve done a lot of inner work on myself. My cancer diagnosis, treatment and staying mostly healthy during these years has been a huge motivator for me. I’ve made so many important realizations through asking myself tough questions that I began to turn it into a process.
This five question method has helped me create quick mindset shifts that have brought me back to a calm state when I’m feeling overwhelmed, sad, angry, tired, etc. Each time I go through the process, I’m able to get a little more insight into my mindset.
The five questions are...
- Is it good or bad?
- Is it 100% good/bad?
- Why do you feel this way?
- What is one small thing that you can appreciate about the situation?
- What opportunities could come out of this situation?
What I’ve found is that nothing is 100% good or bad, and asking myself these questions help me to process my emotions. For example, I hurt my back a few months ago and I still struggle with it at times. I get frustrated that it hasn’t completely healed. When this happens I go through “The Shift” question method.
1. Is my hurting back good or bad?
Sometimes my answer is it’s bad. I’m in a bad place and I just get so frustrated that I can’t seem to find any joy.
2. Is my back hurting 100% bad?
No. It’s not 100% bad. I have my wife and two boys. I get to laugh with them at the dinner table. I get to write these words to help others. There are many other good things in my life.
3. Why do I feel this way?
I feel this way because I’m angry that I was stupid enough to try to catch the bags of dirt falling out of the wheel barrow, when I could have just let it topple over and picked them up off the ground. I was angry at myself for stacking them too high. Angry for jerking my back to catch something that didn’t matter if it fell in the ground. This surprised me. I didn’t realize that I was being so self-critical. My inner bully was pushing me around in my subconscious.
4. What is one small thing that you can appreciate about the situation?
I’m still able to walk and ride my bike. I’m still able to eat good food. I’m still able to practice light Yoga. I’m still able to meditate.
5. What opportunities could come out of it?
I’ve gotten a lot of self-awareness out of this tough situation. I see my body more clearly. I’m getting older, but still in very good shape.
I also need to work on my anger issues. I know that I have anger inside of me that I’m still afraid to face. This back pain gives me a chance to get a better understanding of how I let my anger overwhelm me.
I’ve also been able to show my sons the value of doing more Yoga. It has helped me improve how I feel and it helps my sons see the value of stretching their bodies.
The Shift helps on two levels. It helps you see your stories that go on in your head and how emotionally attached you can get to them. It also helps you see that there are 1,000 ways to look at a situation. Whether you lose your job or get pneumonia, there are many perspectives you can take. If you can find just a small way to enjoy the situation, you relax and find ways to grow stronger from it.
For me it all began with building my evening routine. Each night I would write in my gratitude journal to help give myself a boost. Then I expanded it out to help me relax and use my sleep to strengthen my good habits. Try creating your own evening routine. Start with one of the four parts of the S.O.A.R. method. Look at what you struggle with the most and start with that one first. It will give you the Waypower to really make some improvements to your routine.
If you have any questions, just message me or write a comment below. I’m guessing if you have a question it could probably help someone else too.
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