By Adriana Ermter
I read a lot. About everything, really, including Jackie Collins’ Hollywood Wives, which I’m about three decades late on, I know, but I just watched Lady Boss, The Jackie Collins Story on Netflix so here I am. The book is good too, in a dishy fantastical way, so naturally after 15 pages in I went back online and bought the sequel Hollywood Wives: The New Generation. But, that’s not the kind of reading I want to share. Books about the power of the mind, self-esteem, and mental health and how to create a positive reality are what I’m referring to. I like these types of books and have piles of them, because I honestly believe they work. I just wish I’d fallen back on them when I was initially diagnosed with breast cancer and going through surgery and treatment.
Then, I was exhausted with my day to day, just getting out of bed so I could go to work and pay my mortgage, along with researching breast cancer, staying on top of and advocating for myself and my health so I could feel in control of my life and so that I would survive. It felt very all-consuming, because it was. But I wonder what would have happened if I had forced myself or even just reminded myself to take 10 minutes every day or maybe just on weekends to sit in my pajamas and focus on how I wanted to see things and how I wanted to see my life, rather than simply observe the way it appeared to be unfolding. Would that have helped me heal faster, increase my energy and make me feel more hopeful? I think it would have.
Power of the mind
I’m not an expert on the power of the mind, although I have been reading and practicing mental-strength techniques for more than 15 years. I stopped cold turkey with my diagnosis though. Therapy too. I believed, then, that I didn’t have the bandwidth for both survival mode and self-improvement mode. In hindsight, however, if I shoulda-coulda-woulda, I would have kept it all going at the same time.
Years ago, when I was the beauty director for Fashion magazine and seriously cash strapped, I wished wholeheartedly that I had one or two new pieces of clothing in my wardrobe that could somehow, magically, transform the clothes in my closet. I was frustrated with my outfit choices and felt frumpy at media events. My desire for even just one new item was intense and I thought about it daily. Like they could read my mind, a PR company sent me the cutest navy blue Michael Kors cardigan in a press package about a week or so afterwards. It was my size and the answer to my prayers and I wore that sucker with everything. It made my jeans and boots look pulled together, my skirts and dresses more on trend and I felt better about myself every time I slipped my arms through the thick sleeves, which to be perfectly honest, was at least twice a week. I’ve come to realize, receiving this sweater was not a moment of happenstance. It was proof that when I focus on something clearly and with heart-felt emotions, I can make what I need and what I want happen, and that I can apply this method of thinking to pretty much anything I like. I’m just not super consistent about it.
But what if I was. And what if I had been consistent and purposeful with my thoughts when I was at my lowest. How could I have turned my own vibe around and in my favour when I was feeling my most alone, vulnerable and terrified? This could have, would have been good for me. I don’t think it would have vanquished the cancer living inside my body but it most certainly would have changed my approach towards healing from it.
I’ve since healed, yet I still periodically experience cancer’s heart-gripping fear. It hasn’t completely gone away. Sometimes, depending on how my day has been, my head swirls with insecure self-messages about not being strong enough or feeling too tired. And then, questions such as, “Will I make it to my five-years cancer-free milestone and can I prevent or avoid a recurrence or a secondary cancer courtesy of the radiation I endured?” pop into my brain. The practical side of me banters against the actual validity of these thoughts and to be fair, in cancer’s stats-based environment it may just be a smart place to live. Except that it doesn’t work for me, emotionally that is.
I prefer to pay attention to the way I want to live and to be. It’s why I choose to imagine myself healthy, abundant, free and happy every morning. I even try to act as if I already have everything I desire and randomly say affirmations and my feelings around these thoughts out loud. Yes, I could fall back into a place of thinking that says I’m being delusional and need to get real and be serious, which might be the wiser person’s choice, except I know my brand of positivity works for me. When I focus on the good, my preferred state of being, my reality, shifts and makes me feel happy, calm and secure. It may not alter my current circumstances, I will now forever be a cancer survivor, but I also have room to grow and for continued self-improvement.
I view this as an opportunity. My beliefs are simply a collection of the same thoughts I’ve had over and over again. They are a reflection of how I feel about myself. So it only makes sense that I can change my thoughts to change my reality, to make it work and feel right for me. My right doesn’t mean my friends, coworkers or my family’s path is wrong, it just means that my right way of being is mine. I know that my every thought matters, each word I write or say out loud has wings that flutter until they form my reality. So I strive to be consistent with the positive ones, even when I think they’re not working because I know their good energy will eventually kick in. Because when I am consistent, I can create it. I have the blue sweater.
Adriana Ermter is a multi award-winning writer and editor. Her work can be read in Figure Skater Fitness and IN Magazine, as well as online at 29Secrets.com, RethinkBreastCancer.ca, Popsugar.com and AmongMen.com. The former Beauty Director for FASHION and Editor-in-Chief for Salon and Childview magazines lives in Toronto with her two very spoiled rescue cats, Murphy and Olive. You can follow Adriana on Instagram @AdrianaErmter