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How Thoughts Become Feelings

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This morning I have started to listen to a new podcast. It’s nothing to do with breast cancer, in fact, I didn’t even think that it was related to positive mindset. But my mind is blown and I just have to share with you all some of the things I learnt hearing about how thoughts become feelings.

The podcast in question is “The Life Coach School” by Brooke Castillo. I added it to my podcast app back in June 2021 because I heard it mentioned on another podcast I listened to. I have a bad habit of doing this, and I end up with dozens of podcasts about all sorts of topics sitting in my app waiting for me to get to.

Some I listen to one or two episodes, decide they are not for me, and move on. This one hasn’t appealed to me all that much, I mean, it’s been sitting there for nearly a year, but this morning I thought I’d go right back to the beginning and have a listen, probably not like it, and move on.

Instead I’m sitting here hitting the back button so I can take notes, because what Brooke is saying is gold. While she relates it to her background (as a weight loss coach), in my mind it also provided some great ideas to help us deal with breast cancer.

The first episode is called “Why aren’t you taking action?” and I thought it was going to be all business stuff. What it is really about is the intangible things that hold us back.

One of the big take-aways from the episode is the concept that thoughts create feelings, and feelings create actions. So the reasons we aren’t taking action can be linked back to our thoughts. I was not so focused on the action part, but instead on the feelings – after all don’t we all want to feel better in ourselves while we are going through this?

I’ve vaguely heard this idea that thoughts create feelings before, but for some reason today it really hit home. It’s something that I think I’ve been aware of without really understanding it.

Ever since my breast cancer diagnosis I have controlled my thoughts. I decided right at the beginning that I was running this show, not cancer, not my doctors, not my emotions. Okay, maybe cancer was having a little input, but I knew that I wanted to face this head on, do what needed to be done and get on with life.

I had no time for “woe is me” feelings, or days wallowing in misery because I wanted to learn as much as I could so that I could make the most informed decisions possible.

But as you know, just because this is what we decide, doesn’t mean our mind is on the same page. Like everyone else, those insidious thoughts would creep in through the back door. “What if I can’t beat this?” “What if I do die?” “Why me?” “I’m going to be deformed”. And of course it would be at 3am when there was nothing else to distract me.

So laying there, in the middle of the night, I would start to spiral down these negative rabbit holes. These thoughts didn’t serve me in any way. All they did was make me worry, and I felt sad or scared or depressed. But I realised I had a choice. I could allow these thoughts to continue – or I could stop them.

Feelings

Easier said than done, I hear you say. And yes, you are right, it can be difficult at the start, but within days, I was getting better at it.

And it’s as simple as this!

  1. Notice the negative thoughts
  2. Tell yourself that they are not true and that nothing good can come from them
  3. Think about something else

At first, you will find yourself back in those negative thoughts just thirty seconds later – but you do it again. And again. And eventually, you will fall asleep again (remember it’s 3am 😂).

I didn’t realise it at the time, but what I was really doing was changing my feelings. I didn’t want to feel sad or stressed or scared. I wanted to feel confident and empowered and prepared.

Looking back now I can see there were so many points in my treatment where making a choice to “think positive” really made a difference.

I know there are many people out there who get frustrated when they are told to have a positive attitude. They often argue that it doesn’t help. While I don’t believe thinking positive is going to cure cancer, I do think it helps us live through those months feeling calmer and happier than if we indulge in negativity.

One pivotal moment for me was after my DMX. The first time I got to look at the place where my breasts were I had a choice to make. I could decide that what I was seeing was okay, or I could focus on what I had lost (my nipples) and the huge scars I now had right across my chest.

I filled my mind with thoughts like “at least my new boobs will be perky” and “I am so happy that my surgeon was able to partially fill my expanders so I’m not completely flat” and “I am now cancer free”.

You can use thoughts to help you feel more confident when you lose you hair with chemo too. Look in the mirror and remind yourself that you know the chemo has reached every part of your body. Think about the cool wigs you can try that you would never have dared with your real hair. Remind yourself that it will grow back (and even Prince William can’t say that!).

Every time you have these thoughts, your feelings will change. You will feel less self-conscious about your lack of hair. You will feel more confident to go out in public.

Brooke continued this theme into the second episode of her podcast, which is even more relevant and called “How to feel better” – and don’t we always want to do that!

She used some great examples, and one that really resonated with me was around how we feel about our spouse. The things that we think about our spouse determines how we feel about them. We often think they cause us to feel a certain way, but that is not the case at all, it is in fact our thoughts.

Towards the end of the episode Brooke suggests an exercise to help us. Write down and think about these four things

  1. The three feelings you have most often
  2. What thoughts are creating those feelings
  3. The three feelings you want to have
  4. The thoughts you need to believe & think to have those feelings

By writing these down you will now be aware of the thoughts, and more likely to use them when you need to.

I’ve not listened to any more episodes yet, but I certainly will be doing so. I recommend you have a listen to these first two episodes and perhaps some of this information will also help you feel better through your breast cancer treatment.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts

https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/the-life-coach-school-podcast/id870239631

If you can’t listen to it on Apple podcast, you can listen on the web. This is the link for episode one https://thelifecoachschool.com/podcast/1/

Have you joined a breast cancer support group on Facebook but been completely overwhelmed by some of the posts? It’s fantastic that these groups are an open forum and all sorts of questions, worries and issues are addressed, but sometimes they can be too much. In fact sometimes they can be downright scary.

If you would still like to join a support group on Facebook but not be faced with some of the scarier aspects when you don’t want to see them, come and join Positive Breast Cancer Stories. Here we share positive stories, celebrate milestones and encourage each other rather than deal with the technical information >>
Click here to join now

Want to read more of my story? Try these posts

For some breast cancer information, click through to these posts

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