Facing Cancer with Confidence: Problem Generating vs. Problem Solving

Life is filled with change. It is also filled with choice. Success is largely based on the choices we make when facing change.

Many of the changes we face are not welcome and quite challenging, such as getting laid off; going through a restructuring; and, even more importantly, dealing with a serious health issue, such as cancer.

Many of us believe that if we worry enough, we can control the outcome. I used to fall into this category, and then I realized:

I can’t. No one can. The only thing we control is ourselves, and how we react to change: Our thoughts and actions.

Confidence is all about self control.

When we face change, we come to a fork in the road, and choose from 2 paths: The problem generating path and the problem solving path.

The problem generating path is where we create problems by being too negative. We lose confidence on this path, and we lose our way. It’s where we:

• Dwell on the past
• Worry about the future
• Doubt ourselves
• Shut down
• Get stuck

“Dwell” is the operative word here. It’s natural to feel anxious and fearful at first. But, when we dwell on the negative, we mentally go around and around and come out at the same place—nowhere.

When first diagnosed with cancer, dwelling on the negative may sound like this: “What did I do wrong to deserve this? Why does God hate me? Why can’t I handle this? I hate doctors—I don’t trust them. I hate reading about cancer. I hate saying the word “cancer.” What if I can’t handle going to work? What if I lose my job? Can I really do this? What if I can’t get better?”

Sound familiar? Doesn’t get us very far, does it?

Now, let’s look at the problem solving path. When we problem solve, we gain confidence. We move forward and succeed. It’s on this path that we:

• Acknowledge and accept our fears
• Take control—talk ourselves through it
• Begin to think positively
• Ask “What are our next steps?”
• Take action
• Turn fear and doubt into planning and action

This path helps us deal instead of dwell. We take control, think empowering thoughts, ask better questions and take action.

It may sound like this: “OK—I’m frightened, but I’m not going to let that stop me. First, I’m going to educate myself about my cancer and the treatments available. Then, I’m going to reach out to my friends and family and ask ‘Who can help me?’” I’m also going to ask my doctors for the best referrals.

In our case, we asked doctors: “If this was you, who would you go to?” Then, we asked for help from friends and family who were positive problem solvers, not negative problem generators!

See how it changes? Which path holds you back and which one takes you forward and closer to a better outcome?

Your ability to deal with change –by making better choices, and problem solving, not problem generating —will have a big impact on your confidence, your health, and your success.



Copyright 2015 Michelle Kerrigan

All Facing Cancer with Confidence posts are dedicated to everyone battling cancer, and those that fight alongside them: If these posts help you in any way, I am thrilled!

I am also giving a shout-out to my friends at the TJ Martell Foundation, the music industry’s largest research foundation that focuses on finding cures for Aids, leukemia and cancer. Thank you!

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