March 16, 2009

Tactics for Surviving Nervous Times

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Today in a guest blog post on Glamour.com, I wrote about tactics for surviving nervous times:

“For starters I engage in the power of realistic thinking. March 18th is my six-month check up, at which I’ll learn the status of two tumors perched on my jugular vein. Of course I’m afraid that my tumors have grown. Who wouldn’t be? And, when I get real with myself about how truly hard this waiting game is, I feel surprisingly better. The same is true for the majority of patients interviewed in my book.

A meditation teacher once gave me this instruction: When a thought enters your mind don’t slam the door on it. Notice it. Gently say to yourself ‘Oh, I’m thinking,’ then come back to focusing on your breath. I do the same with worry too. ‘Oh, I’m worrying again. Right, tumors are scary business.’ Then I go back to folding laundry, writing a chapter, or walking my dog with much less stress than if I were sweeping my fears under the rug of denial.”

I was also sure to mention additional tactics like consuming copious amounts of raw cookie dough, crying on Shannon’s shoulder, and calling my mom at 3 AM.

Whether you have cancer or not, what are your tactics for slugging through nervous times – like worrying about a family member, or managing economic uncertainty? Is it true for you that acknowledging your fear sometimes makes it easier? Or does it do the opposite for you?

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Comment(s)

  1. The SAMFund Says:
    March 16th, 2009 at 11:42 AM

    I do believe that raw cookie dough, much like homemade chicken soup, can solve a lot of problems.


  2. Adam Says:
    March 16th, 2009 at 3:48 PM

    It is amazing that when you are in the actual folder-laundry moment–like right now typing this comment–all is fine. i’m a good typist and I feel the slight greasiness on the keyboard and I have no worry.

    So it’s confusing: do I think realistically (i.e. my business is suffering and I don’t have a plan B) so that I am worried but hopefully creating a Plan B (oops, not yet)–or do I just go back to the moment and stay there as much as possible?


  3. Kairol Rosenthal Says:
    March 16th, 2009 at 3:57 PM

    Hi Adam,

    I think you have a great question: Do you think realistically about your fears (potential downfall of a business) and create a plan B or do you stay in the moment as much as possible?

    My advice is to find a balancing act between the two. Creating a plan B can sometimes help alleviate worry, because you are actively seeking realistic options thereby telling yourself something like – “Hey, if my fears come true, I have a back up. It may be hard at first but I can get by.”

    However, when the plan B switches from being a useful tool to being a Pandora’s Box of new worries about plan B, it is time to get back into the present.

    Have others tried to walk this line? What do you think?


  4. Nathania Johnson Says:
    April 19th, 2009 at 3:29 PM

    I saw a cancer counselor once and she said I should allow myself to purposefully worry for a set amount of time, say 30 minutes. Then move on with the day.

    I usually stop worrying before my time is up.

    This is in line with concepts from Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy.

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