I don’t generally believe in the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions, but I’ve still chosen to make some promises for 2018. I’ve learned that the most important promises are the ones that I make to myself, changes I initiate in an effort to improve the quality of my life or to help nurture a sense of purpose.
I’ll begin by taking a close look at some of my relationships. Many experts argue that the most important choice you’ll ever make is the people you surround yourself with. Since my cancer diagnosis I’ve basically developed zero tolerance for having toxic people in my life. In 2018 I promise to do all that I can to eliminate the power these individuals exert over me. There are some obvious signs of a toxic person and you’ll generally recognize it when you are in such a relationship. Here are some of the common red flags:
- Nothing you can say or do is good enough.
- They comment on the smallest flaw or perceived imperfection.
- They drag up your past and won’t allow you to grow or be different.
- They act like they are fabulous and never make mistakes.
- They leave you feeling guilty and ashamed of who you are.
- They are critical, controlling and don’t think about your needs.
- They leave you feeling beaten, wounded, battered bruised and torn.
- They violate your boundaries and never respect no.
- They don’t care about your feelings and they like to see you suffer.
- It’s always about them and what they think and want and feel.
If you notice these signs, it’s best to cut the person out of your life completely or to at least keep them at a distance. Such individuals are capable of inflicting serious emotional and psychological harm, especially if you are in frequent contact with them over a prolonged period of time.
i hear a thousand kind words about me
and it makes no difference
yet I hear one insult
and all confidence shatters
focusing on the negative
I can definitely relate to this poem which appears in the collection The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur. I promise to be less critical of myself and to focus more on why I am a special and worthwhile human being. I promise to focus on my positive qualities and the valuable contributions that I am able to make while I’m in this world. My battle with cancer has revealed to me that people often won’t love and respect you until you choose to love and respect yourself.
Finally, I promise to be more mindful in my day to day living. I’ve discovered that one of the best ways to quiet my mind and focus my attention is a technique called mindfulness. The eminent psychologist Jon Kabat-Zinn pioneered using this method with cancer patients and other groups at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Mindfulness is basically just a way of paying attention, a way of awakening our minds and being present in the here and now. With principles found in Buddhism, mindfulness teaches us to live the moments contained in each day rather than focusing on what might lie ahead.
Acceptance and letting go are crucial components of mindfulness. A philosophy of mindfulness encourages us to come to terms with our life, even difficult experiences such as a cancer diagnosis. Acceptance means seeing things as they actually are in the present. Mindfulness doesn’t require that you have to like your situation—you don’t necessarily have to assume a passive attitude toward suffering or life’s unfairness. However, you must come to terms with things as they are and acknowledge them, whether it’s a diagnosis of cancer or the possibility of its recurrence.