Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Life Coaching For Cancer Patients And Their Loved Ones

 Guest blogger Emily Walsh is the Community Outreach Director for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.  She is passionate about helping cancer patients find holistic complementary therapies that address the wellbeing of the mind, body & spirit.

Life Coaching For Cancer Patients And Their Loved Ones , Emily Walsh

Living with cancer is a daily challenge that affects all aspects of life. Marriage and love relationships, parenting, work, finances, recreation, and spirituality are some of the things that families must deal with, in the context of cancer.

People affected by cancer must deal with a range of emotions that run the gamut, from depression and confusion, to anger and frustration, to feeling powerless and hopeless. While every family member experiences these emotions to one degree or another, the cancer experience can feel like an endless, isolated situation.

Whether cancer is treatable (like an early-stage skin malignancy) or rare (such as mesothelioma), all cancer patients can benefit from having an understanding support system. Women with breast cancer, men with prostate cancer, and even those with an unfavorable mesothelioma prognosis, need to know there are things they can do to cope with their disease.

Life Coaching For Cancer Support

Studies show that cancer support networks can positively affect the emotional health of cancer patients and their families. Not only do they teach important coping skills, but they also improve a family’s overall quality of life. Support groups are not, however, the only support system for cancer patients.

Life coaching, also known as wellness coaching, is another beneficial support for those affected by cancer. Life
coaching helps cancer patients look at their unique situations from a different perspective. It is a powerful support that looks at life in a positive, non-judgmental way.

An Integrative Wellness Service

An integrative wellness service, life coaching addresses the social, emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of cancer patients and their loved ones. Coaches help patients gain a better understanding of their current situation, including their strengths and weaknesses, their assets, and their resources.

The coaching process gives patients a clear focus and awareness of what is truly important in their lives. While wellness coaching involves interaction between coach and patient, a large part of the coaching role is to listen to patients and offer supportive feedback.

Life coaching does not dwell on past issues and experiences. Rather, it helps families discover their strengths, skills, knowledge, and abilities as they focus on the present and move toward the future. It enables cancer patients to
face their daily struggles with hope, dignity, and balance. Life coaching empowers everyone affected by cancer, in all areas of life.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Crank up Your Subjective Well-Being

At the recent World Congress of the International Positive Psychology Association, Ed Diener, psychologist extraordinaire, said the number one predictor of enjoyment in life is reflected by the ability to say: “I learned a new thing and I used my abilities today.”

By “enjoyment in life,” Diener is referring to subjective well being (SWB).  SWB is a combination of positive emotion, negative emotion and overall satisfaction with life.  As you might expect, more positives, fewer negatives and a good amount of satisfaction lead to a high score in SWB.  How do you score yourself?  How can you crank it up a notch?

On the learning side, we may learn something about the world by reading the newspaper or a novel.  We may learn something new from a film, a conversation or an article on the internet.

With respect to using abilities, you may use some of your abilities, or strengths, at work (e.g., determination, creativity, zest), and perhaps other abilities with your friends, partner or kids (e.g., lovingness, problem solving, patience).

There are lots of ways to tweak learning and to use your abilities.  Often we combine both.  If you decide to take a class in French cooking, you’re learning and you may be using your strengths in courage and creativity.  If you set a goal of learning one new fact about the world daily, you may also be using your strength in intellectual curiosity and open-mindedness.

My challenge: notice daily whether you are learning and using abilities.  If you aren’t, crank it up a notch.  If you are, crank it up a notch anyway.  Then see whether you feel a greater sense of enjoyment and confidence, and maybe even courage.

Music to crank it up a notch:  I Feel Good, James Brown

Friday, August 12, 2011

Are You Moving Forward?

According to Thomas Delong, a Harvard Business School Professor, if we’re not moving forward, we’re regressing.  The only way that individuals change is to do something new, which by definition means you’ll do it poorly…  Delong believes people can change at any age.
Sometimes it’s difficult to move forward.  We get complacent.  As Jeffrey Rubin, psychotherapist and author, says: When all is going well… we feel good. And we continue to do what works. But success is a barrier to creativity. We often coast during those times. And as a result, we don't learn anything new, and we don't grow.
How do you keep moving ahead when you’re not in crisis?  Think about the times in your life you were really moving forward.  What got you going?  You probably had a specific goal or purpose in mind.  You wanted to get a job and needed a degree or training.  You wanted to play a concerto and needed to practice.  You got an idea that you wanted to run a marathon and it kept sticking around.
There are many ways to be in stay in action.  Possibilities include:
*Keeping a running list of ideas about things you’d like to accomplish, adding to it and modifying it on a regular basis
*Journaling routinely about the goals you’re working on and would like to work on
*Challenging yourself to be better in something daily by, setting a daily intention
*Inspiring yourself to take on something new by writing it down and getting specific
*Creating more inner space to give yourself an opportunity to consider a new direction
*Jumping in and trying something different, just because it seems fun or interesting
My challenge to you:  pick one of these, or create your own, and work it
Takes time, you pick a place to go, and just keep truckin on.  Truckin’, Grateful Dead

Monday, August 8, 2011

Parenting Resilient Kids

In How to Land Your Kid in Therapy, Lori Gottlieb talks about how privileged kids grow up to have self-esteem and coping problems.  The problem?  You guessed it.  Parenting.

Gottlieb isn’t talking about parents being abusive or neglectful, she’s talking about a kind of emotional overindulgence.  It’s about the idea that we have to make our kids happy.  All the time.  And we have to make sure they’re never unhappy.  Ever.

What’s the problem with this?  If we protect kids from any type of emotional upset, how do they learn to cope with discomfort?  If we protect them from anything that doesn’t go their way, how do they respond when things don’t go their way as adults?  How to they develop resilience?

I’m recalling a friend telling me, totally calmly, that she’d have to call me back.  Her son was calling her from college.  She was at her job in New York.  He wanted her to give him directions to a job interview…in Colorado.  Seriously?  She thought it was totally fine.

I’m also recalling the time I had my son, 4 years old or so, in a time out in the post office and was told by a woman, You should be ashamed.  Of what?  Parenting authoritatively?  It’s on such occasions I’m tempted to give a stranger my card and suggest they get in touch about any parenting problems they may have in the future.

Gottlieb references Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of theTiger Mother on how we try to protect our kids from the pain of competition and pretend that average achievement is superior.  Who are we helping with that?

My suggestions:

*Let your child make their own apologies, whether it’s to the shopkeeper after they’ve taken a candy bar or their friend, after they’ve hurt them.
*Let your child negotiate their own issues with teachers, whether it’s about a grade they didn't like or an assignment they need more time on.
*Be honest about their weaknesses, and their strengths.
*Use rewards appropriately, i.e., when they’ve done something worthy, not just because you don’t want them to feel bad.
*Be a good coach, i.e., work on how your child might do and say things, but don’t do or say it for them.

You’re going to watch your child go through all manner of losses, failures and hurts.  It’s all going to make them stronger.

House in the Country, Blood Sweat & Tears

Sunday, August 7, 2011

When Did You Mysteriously Stop Doing…?

 I used to love reading mysteries.  At some point, I decided I didn’t have the time and it wasn’t really productive reading.  I just finished The Private Patient, by PD James and really enjoyed it. I even got some ideas from it (like this blog).

I’ve heard the same refrain, wistfully, from a number of people in the last week:

I used to [paint, write poetry, play music, etc], but…

Is there something you used to do?  I don’t mean something you’re happy not to do, like get drunk on Friday night, drive too fast or, well, you get the idea.  But is there something you used to enjoy doing that you’ve given up?  Was it something that renewed your energy and gave you a little more zest?

Reasons people give for giving up things they love include, but are not limited to:

*I don’t have time
*It makes my bf, gf, mother, spouse, etc., nervous, competitive, etc.
*I’m not that good at it
*It seems stupid
*I don’t make money doing it
*It’s not important

I see way too many people these days with no hobbies, interests or activities that they engage in just for fun.  They work, take care of kids or other family members and maintain households.   They do things like plant gardens that will look nice but they have no time to enjoy them.  They go out to lunch with people they don’t like that much because they ought to.  They paint rooms in their homes because they think they should.

Stop for a moment and consider if there are things you used to enjoy doing that have mysteriously slipped out of your life.  Consider whether you’d like to have them back.  I know it takes a little time, but does that spare room really need to be straightened out this week?  Can you leave work behind for the 30 minutes it would take to listen to a little music?  Go crazy and cook that fantastic dish that’s going to take an extra hour to make, just for the fun of it.  Or just pick up your favorite mystery writer’s latest.

Just for fun: Mysterious Ways, U2

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Create Inner Space

One of Jeffrey Rubin’s suggestions for flourishing is creating more inner space.  He calls it “the capacity we all have to sit with and reflect on thoughts and feelings at our own pace.”  You can access inner space anywhere by doing a variety of things.  Meditation, yoga, reading, music writing and being in nature are some of the ways he identifies.  Anything that cultivates “clarity and equanimity” expands inner space.
The task for you is to consider what helps you think more clearly and what enables you to create more acceptance in your life. These are the things that help create more inner space.
In Poser, My Life in23 Yoga Poses, Claire Dederer says, about one type of yoga:
It’s a quality of inwardness, of contemplation…Try to feel from within, rather than judging and looking at what’s on the outside.
This sounds a lot like creating inner space.  Poser is also a great read.
I’m unable to locate any scholarly work addressing inner space.  That’s my euphemistic way of saying I don’t know if there’s any research to support this.  But it sounds a lot like, but not quite the same as, cultivating mindfulness, which does have a great deal of research support.
My suggestion:  think about how much time (or how little time) you spend in quiet reflection.  Ask yourself if you’d like to take steps to increase that time.  If that’s a yes, identify a couple of things you can do to expand your inner space.
My other suggestion:  Time, Pink Floyd.