From 2009 to this very day I have not gone to one single appointment with Allie (my wife) to see her oncologist. Not because I don’t want to go, but because she doesn’t want me to go.
Now, you might be thinking that is very strange, like many of the people in my life who just don’t get it.
At first, I thought that her decision was absurd, nobody should go to see their oncologist alone. They need moral and emotional support, the 2nd set of ears, and maybe a 2nd opinion.
Every single one of my family members reinforced my futile beliefs at the time. This encouraged me to push my personal beliefs onto Allie even harder. My persistence of trying to enforce my personal beliefs upon Allie led to numerous heated debates and arguments.
I started to resent her for her decision, and she started to resent me for my persistent pressure on her to cave into my personal beliefs. I cannot remember exactly how long this went back and forth for and if I was to guess I would say a couple years.
The stress this placed on our relationship nearly broke us apart and nearly killed her, literally. For those of you who don’t know anything about the relationship between stress and cancer, stress significantly hinders the body to fight cancer (or any other disease for that matter) and leaves cancer to treat the body like an amusement park, doing whatever it wants whenever it wants.
I made it about ME…I wasn’t listening
For me to really “hear” what Allie was telling me I needed to put my personal vendetta aside and truly listen.
The day I truly understood that she was the one with cancer and not myself, was the day I realized that it was her decision to make all along.
If I did not like her decision that was MY problem, but I made it OUR problem.
I still remember the thoughts that reinforced my personal beliefs at the time:
If she doesn’t want me to go with her that means:
“she doesn’t trust me enough, what have I done to create this distrust?”
“I don’t deserve this, what did I do to deserve this?”
“I’m not worthy enough for her to bring me with her”
“My feelings aren’t important to her”
“If I accept her decision then that will confirm all of my thoughts to be true”
Not one of these thoughts turned out to be true!
And to explore the opposite of these thoughts…
If she does want me to go with her that means:
“I AM trusted”
“I AM deserving“
“I AM worthy”
“MY feelings are important to her”
Ultimately, I wanted to go because it I thought it would make me feel better, not because it was the best decision for Allie but because it was the best decision for myself.
What I learned
Each and every one of my thoughts was about me. I couldn’t accept her decision at the time because of what I made her decision mean. I totally blinded myself to what Allie truly needed from me at the time, and that was love and understanding, not me badgering her about my personal beliefs.
When it comes to dealing with cancer or any other illness, there is no best way to do anything. There is only your way, their way, and everyone else’s way, with none of these ways being right or wrong.
When you release attachments to your personal beliefs and understand they are not universal truths, you are free from yourself and of service to the one you are trying to help.
Lesson: Are you blinded by YOUR personal beliefs?
Whether you are a caregiver or not, you can find out if your personal beliefs are blinding you to other people’s needs through self-observation of your thoughts, emotions, and actions up until now. You must be honest with yourself or this will not work.
These observations will tell you everything you need to know. If your observations lead you to a path of “ME, ME, ME” and it’s all about how “I” feel then there is a good chance you are blinded by your personal beliefs.
Beyond that, have you put yourself in the other persons’ shoes in an attempt to try and truly understand their needs?
Can you remember a time when you were blinded by YOUR personal beliefs?
I would love to hear from you in the comments below!
Learn from all of your experiences, opportunities are everywhere.