A diagnosis of life threatening illness such as cancer is often accompanied by negative expectancy for poor quality of life and even death. Most medical practitioners, when talking to patients or their family members prefer the honest approach where the worst case scenario must be taking into consideration. After all we know that cancer can and does kill.
Truth be told it is challenging to “sell” positive expectancy because it’s hard to measure it, and we can never be sure if a person with a chronic illness really believes he or she have the ability to heal.
If they really do believe they poses the resources to heal, well, their chances to heal are so much higher. If however they say they do because they feel it’s what their loved ones want to hear, these words are empty and meaningless.
Phrases such as “I’m going to beat this” or “I’m going to fight this thing” may be verbalized but if the person with do not fully believe they can beat or fight their illness they won’t.
It’s hard to believe what we do not see or understand, but the study of Psychoneuroimmunology changed that equation. Now we have facts and evidence of the power of our psyche, quality of mood, state of mind and expectations to affect illness. What this study makes clear is that a positive state of mind and positive mental expectancy boost immune function and therefore health.
Information is one thing, following through is another. The PNI findings in themselves means little if we do not take ownership of our minds and hearts.
This means matching our thoughts and words with actions – for example going about our daily lives as normally as possible rather than taking to bed – then it would appear that we really do not hold a firm expectancy that we can heal and get well again.
Of course I am not talking about the times when one undergoes medical treatment and cope with its adverse side effects. There are times when bed rest is absolutely necessary. But even when bed rest, it is our “job” to maintain a positive mental expectancy for recovery.
It’s Not Your Fault!
If you do not know whether you hold negative expectancy toward your healing process or not, listen to your inner dialog. Is your inner dialog one of fear and anxiety or one of self assurance and trust?
I heard someone saying that if you don’t like your life you should change your beliefs. While I agree with this statement it is easier said than done. In fact this is what people seek my help for. Whether we like it or not, fear is a natural reaction to life threatening illness – again we all know that life-threatening illness can be and is at times fatal.
Society’s negative expectations can also contribute to a person’s thought process. Many people with cancer report that some friends started to avoid them because they do not know how to speak to them or how to handle the situation. The possibility of death is difficult to face for all of us, let alone speak freely about.
People with chronic illnesses and cancer pick up perhaps more easily on other’s negative feelings and it doesn’t always stop with family and friends. Medical professionals may also contribute to the feeling that the possibility for healing is minimal.
My thoughts on this subject are not to condemn anyone however I do believe that by encouraging a positive expectation that is grounded in reality we can improve the patients quality of life.
As I have said previously promising recovery is promising false hope, and yet by helping people to change their expectations and beliefs about disease we can work wholeheartedly towards a more positive outcome.
That positive outcome may be the strength and courage to face death or it may even be the path back to wellness. The main aim is to make the journey as peaceful, as positive and as healing as possible.
If this post inspired you to revisit your expectations please let me know?