Can Mindset Change Our Outcomes?
Last updated: April 2023
For most of my adult life, I have played with the concept that mindset is everything, and that our outcomes can be shaped by our beliefs.
My coaches first taught me about mindset
This started as a teenage athlete for me. We athletes were guided by our coaches to visualize our track races and our actions in competition in general. This practice of visualization has been proven in several studies to not only improve athletic performance but can increase immunity and enhance brain activity for academics and more.
Applying an athlete's visualization to my cancer
On my worst days during my first bout with leukemia, when I was feeling weak and worn out, I would imagine myself running up the hill in front of my house. This was an action I had lost the ability to perform as the blood cancer was proliferating in my cells. In fact, one of the clues that I had leukemia was when I found myself unable to even walk up this hill without stopping for a rest break. But mentally I was a champion at conquering that hill. I could do it easily in my mind. And as I got well, it was something I worked to achieve.
Write it down
Another practice that has served me well is writing down exactly what I want. For example, one year after going through blood cancer treatment, I decided to move to a new city. I was divorced and my kids were in college, so I had very specific needs for affordability and space. I took a piece of paper and wrote down every specific need and desire for my new home, from the price I wanted to pay to the type of appliances I wanted. I looked at this list of things several times a day for several days in a row. And when I actively went searching for a place to live, I was blown away to find an ideal home for the exact price I had written on that piece of paper.
Surprisingly, this also worked for me in meeting my husband. After my first marriage ended, I started to write down qualities I hoped to find in a mate. I included very specific things such as , loves his family, will enjoy hanging out with my kids, and will sing with me in the car. Over time, I would add to the list until there were over thirty things listed. Admittedly, I forgot about the list until my now husband and I were moving into our home. While packing, I found the list and showed it to him. He asked if I had just written the list because there was only one item out of thirty-three that didn’t fit him to a tee.
Applying mindset and belief to treatment
When going through treatment, I have written down exactly what I want my blood counts to be, and visualizing increased physical stamina has become a norm in my life. And while it requires action on my part, my body and my health have always bounced back after 3 separate bouts with blood cancer.
The one ingredient to this transformative formula that I’ve not yet mentioned is a mindset of belief. And this piece is a bit like the chicken and the egg. Does believing make visualization work? Or does visualization work because we first believe? Either way, if positive change is a potential outcome, it feels like it is worth the effort to give it a try.
What blood cancer were you diagnosed with?