Personal Improvement-Why a “Why Me?” Attitude Doesn’t Help

Apologies for the sporadic posting. I kind of have a little more than usual to deal with. A few weeks ago I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. And I go under the knife tomorrow morning to have it removed. It was caught very early and the outlook is very good. I busied myself getting work, home, and other segments of my life prepared to weather my hopefully short recovery.

Because I have this going on in my life, I decided to take the opportunity to go over handling bad news or adverse situations.

StillLifeWithASkull

“Still Life With A Skull” By Philippe de Champaigne – Web Gallery of Art:   Image  Info about artwork, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=369918

Why ME?

What is the first thought that comes to mind when something bad happens to you?

Do you immediately think “Why ME?” Do you look for reasons, actions, or people external to yourself to place the blame for the bad news?

 

I used to. My first thought would be “Why do I have such bad luck?” or “What did I do to deserve this?”

I eventually realized that no matter how much I worried or wondered or looked for blame, it did not better the situation.

 

Why “Why ME?” Doesn’t Work

The only thing to come out of it was that I added anxiety and stress on myself. This is not good for a  person mentally or physically.

I think part of my realization of this was when I was about eleven or twelve years old. My parents were divorced and my father would arrange to take us for the weekend. Then he would not show up. After many times of packing a bag for the weekend, waiting all weekend for my dad to show up, then, on Sunday night, unpacking the bag because Dad never showed up or called, I finally realized that there was nothing I could do about it, so there was no point in making myself sick worrying about it.

 

I was a much happier person once I gave up worrying if he was going to show up or not. I reasoned, to myself, “He is still my dad. I will still love him. But I won’t trust or rely on him to make me happy.”

This approach of not allowing worry or anxiety to add stress to your life is very similar to the Serenity Prayer.

My take on the Serenity Prayer is:

Change the things you can

Don’t worry about the things you can’t

 

MementoMori

Memento Mori

Another way to approach this is as Stoics do…remind yourself daily of your mortality. There are variations on how to do it, but most involve asking yourself if any of what is bothering you will matter when you are dead.

It also helps to keep ego out of any decisions.

 

Tying back into what I currently have going on, I can’t influence the outcome of this surgery. The “after” will be only slightly different from my current lifestyle. A few more pills added to my daily regimen, the same doctor overseeing my diabetic care will also oversee my thyroid care (he is a top endocrinologist).

I am lucky because I only have thyroid cancer. It is slow-growing, does not spread like other cancers, and we found it very early, by accident.  I currently have at least 5 friends that I can recall off of the top of my head who are dealing with various types of more serious cancers that could be/are life-threatening, in the near-term.

 

In summary, if you take anything away from this post, follow these rules for life:

Change the things you can

Don’t worry about the things you can’t

 

And, as always, let me know what you think in the comments. Ask questions, tell your story.

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