Pulled in Different Directions

We all know that time is precious, but my patients tell me — and I experienced myself — that the concept of time changes after a cancer diagnosis. You suddenly wonder how much time you may have left for everything you want to accomplish. Oh boy, there is so much to be and do! Make your legacy. Spend time with loved ones. Maintain your body as healthily as you can. Some of these goals and tasks, whether simple or complex, are in direct conflict with each other which can cause decision fatigue and frustration. How do you decide what’s more important? How do you compare the choices when they are different like apples and oranges?

Do you eat that cookie or a carrot?

Do you go to the gym or sleep a little more?

Do you spend time with loved ones or alone?

Do you stay in your current secure job or do you venture into a job that is more meaningful to you?

Do you work on your career or preserve your free time?

Do you build towards a legacy or make memories with loved ones? Can you find something that would target both?

Do you simplify your life by downsizing your house or keep everything as it is until the end and have others help at that point? 

Do you spend money on a trip to visit your loved ones or a trip to a new destination so you can broaden your horizons and become newly inspired?

Do you have a(nother) child, find a new partner, friend, or pet or spend more time with the loved ones currently in your life? 

There is no magic answer, no way to know that the choice, decision, or path you arrive at will work for you. In fact, the “right” answer may continue to change over time. 

Some choices might be more challenging than others. Desire and fear can coexist; human minds are fascinatingly complex. Your thoughts and feelings can be opposed, perhaps resulting in feeling ambivalent, conflicted or shut down. You might be able to repress one of the opposing thoughts or feelings temporarily, but sooner or later the conflict may come to haunt you again. Conflicts between quantity vs. quality of life and hope vs. reality might become more intense when the stakes are higher, such as for cancer survivors.

It’s possible to work your way through decision-making on your own by reflecting on it in your diary or during a nature walk, but sometimes you may need to talk with loved ones or even a professional. We all have blind spots and others can help us understand why we are conflicted and facilitate a resolution. 

Here are a few pointers to help you with your next fork in the road:

  • Make decisions or plans when you are well rested and well fed.
  • If you have the luxury, sleep a few nights over your decisions to ensure you’ve made a choice you’ll continue to feel good about.
  • Discuss the decision with your loved ones and the persons who will be affected by the decisions you’re about to make. This, along with possibly talking to a professional who can help you gain insight into the motivation behind your thinking, will hopefully provide clarity.
  • Sometimes it can be helpful to break a decision down into smaller steps and decisions.

Nature has a way of working things out on its own. A constellation of circumstances like humidity, temperature, and wind create a unique snowflake that can travel for miles carried by the wind, being pulled in seemingly random directions, until it reaches its destination and falls into place with many other snowflakes creating a beautiful white blanket that provides shelter from the harsh weather for animals and protects plants and roots until the warmer weather causes each snowflake to turn into water again, continuing the circle of life.

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