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Thinking Like a Child: A Strategy for Dealing with Adversity

A few years ago, I found myself dealing with the adversity of cancer. I was feeling totally exhausted after chemotherapy and was expected to return to my full-time teaching position after taking a medical leave of absence. At this time, I was fortunate to meet a wonderful yoga instructor. Rajyogi emphasized the importance of staying in the present and thinking like a child when dealing with adversity. Some of his suggestions, among others, helped me deal with the effects of cancer and I continue to try to use them today.

Strategies for dealing with adversity

Staing in the present to reduce anxiety

Instead of thinking about what could go wrong in the futue, I try to think about what is going on now. Try making a simple mental list of things that are right in your life. I have found this to be an extremely useful strategy to help stop myself from overthinking.

Spend time playing as a child

Find something that you find enjoyable and relaxing. Classical music and relaxation tapes help me find a calmness. Consider a hobby such as art, painting, games, or anything that you find enjoyable. Today, I enjoyed playing monopoly with my granddaughter as we laughed and had fun.

Try something new

Be daring and try something different. What have you ever thought about doing but were afraid to do? Parasailing with a friend on vacation was frightening for me but, at the same time, refreshing. I felt relaxed with renewed confidence. The beach is my happy place. This summer I plan to try some new water sports.

Find your imagination

While going for a long walk, I let my mind wander. Slow down and give yourself more time to see the things around you. I find myself appreciating the changing color of the leaves, chirping birds, and shapes of the clouds.

Don’t be afraid to cry

Crying can release tension and lower blood pressure.1 Recognize your feelings and allow yourself to “feel”. After a good cry, you may feel more relaxed.

Try not to hold grudges

Children have short memories. We too should forget slights or mistakes made by friends or family.1 Constant anger and bitterness can affect you and make you unhappy. Try to let go and avoid negativity. I have recently reconnected with an estranged family member. Making peace has allowed me to feel free and relieved. This strategy works but takes effort to continue.

Dealing with cancer has many challenges. “Thinking like a child” has helped me cope with many cancer-related stressors and I am hopeful that this strategy may be helpful to others.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. 8 Reasons Thinking Like a Child Will Make You Happier. Mental Floss. Available at