Mindful Resilience 

Tools for Post-Breast Cancer Wellness Blog

Navigating Life’s Challenges Through Breast Cancer With Your Journal

overcoming obstacles Jul 08, 2024

Hey there, friends! Linda Dyson here.

As a mom, grandmother, entrepreneur - and breast cancer survivor, I know firsthand how overwhelming the challenges we face can be. But I’ve found a useful tool to help navigate these obstacles and make a big comeback: journaling. Today, I want to share my personal stories and why I believe in the transformative power of journaling.

Solving Life’s Challenges With Your Journal

A journal can serve as a wonderful tool for not only recording your life but also for helping to find solutions to life’s challenges. Many people view a journal as the same thing as a diary, but there is a fundamental difference. A diary is used to record events, but a journal is to record your thoughts, feelings, and ideas. The difference can be profound.

Consider these benefits of keeping a journal:

  1. A Journal Creates Focus. Few of us really take the time to examine our lives. We commonly feel that we either don’t have the time, it won’t be beneficial, or it’s simply too uncomfortable. By regularly making an appointment with yourself to work with your journal, you can create the necessary focus to make positive changes in your life.

  2. A Journal Forces You to See the Truth. We’re all amazing at fooling and distracting ourselves, but there's no place to hide when the truth is right before our eyes in black and white.

  3. A Journal Releases Stress. There’s something cathartic about getting your thoughts on paper. Reducing your stress also creates a more effective state of mind for solving challenges.

  4. A Journal Provides a Means of Measuring Progress and Growth. Have you ever seen a friend’s child and noticed how much they’ve grown? You wouldn’t notice the growth if you saw that child every day. Our own personal growth is similar. Small changes aren’t noticed when you’re exposed to them daily. A journal provides a way of looking back and seeing just how far you’ve come.

My Journey with Journaling

Dealing with the Fear of Recurrence

One of the biggest challenges I faced was the constant fear of cancer coming back. This fear was paralyzing, and it took a toll on my emotional well-being. I started journaling to address this fear. Each day, I would write down my thoughts and feelings, allowing myself to fully express my fears and anxieties. This process helped me see patterns and triggers, and I began to develop strategies to manage my fear. Journaling helped me focus on the present moment, reducing my anxiety about the future.

Emotional Well-being and Self-Esteem

After my treatment, I struggled with body image and self-esteem. The changes in my appearance were hard to accept, and I often felt down. Journaling became my outlet to express these feelings. I wrote about my journey, my frustrations, and my small victories. Over time, I started to see my body as a symbol of strength and resilience. Writing positive affirmations and reflecting on my progress helped rebuild my self-esteem and emotional health.

Finding Purpose and Meaning

Post-treatment, I felt lost and struggled to find purpose. As a mom and grandmother, my family is my world, but I needed something for myself too. I used my journal to explore my passions, interests, and goals. Writing about my dreams and setting small, achievable steps helped me rediscover my purpose. I started focusing on what truly mattered to me, and this process of self-discovery was incredibly empowering. Journaling guided me to find new opportunities and meaning in my life.

Using Your Journal to Solve Challenges

1. Record your thoughts about the challenges you’re facing. Find a quiet place. What is the fundamental issue? How does it make you feel? How would your life improve if you were able to get this challenge fully under control?

2. Keep a list of possible solutions. For several days, your mind can provide dozens of possible solutions. Record them for future reference. Avoid being judgmental. Simply record the ideas that pop into your head.

3. Develop an action plan. Eventually, one idea will stand above the rest. If you find yourself torn between multiple options, do whatever it takes to make a decision. Even flipping a coin is better than remaining indecisive. Start your action plan with small steps that are simple and easy to accomplish. A little momentum can be invaluable.

4. Record your progress. Record the actions that you took each day to overcome the obstacle in your life. Also record your thoughts and feelings about your progress. If you can make yourself feel good about the process, success is much more likely. Acknowledge improvement, no matter how small.

5. Look for self-sabotage. Everyone is self-sabotaging to varying degrees. Record your thoughts and behaviors that are creating resistance to your progress. For example, if you need to lose 25 pounds but you’re eating ice cream every day, that’s a behavior that’s not supporting your goal. Create a list of solutions for dealing with your counterproductive habits.

6. Make journaling a daily habit. I highly recommend Julia Cameron's "The Artist’s Way" and her technique of Morning Pages. Writing three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness first thing every morning can be incredibly freeing. Let's face it: It’s easy to let things slip through the cracks and create even bigger challenges if you don’t write in your journal daily. Take advantage of this easy way to keep your life moving forward in a way that pleases you.

A journal can be an effective way to create positive change in your life. Even if you’re skeptical, give journaling a try for a month to build the habit, and measure the improvement in your life. With regular effort, you’re certain to reap many positive rewards.

Remember, friends, you’re stronger than you think, and every challenge is a chance to grow.

Keep pushing through the messy middle to a place of transformative living!

Want another way to Refuel your recovery?  Check out my FREE Guide here: https://www.lindadyson.com/pl/2148417212 

Huge hugs & strength, Linda Dyson