It’s not hard to see how other people create the meaning of events in their lives (although it is not quite so easy to see how we ourselves do this). For example, the loss of a job can mean a number of things:
1. A defeat or a sign of failure.
2. A challenge.
3. A chance to start out fresh.
4. A sign that life is unfair.
Which of these meanings people attach to the experience is dependent on other beliefs they have:
1. Perceived opportunities to get other jobs.
2. The degree to which the job was a symbol of personal worth.
3. Beliefs about being in charge of one’s life.
4. Their ability to create a positive new situation.
The principle that you create the meaning of events applies to all the stresses typically identified as occurring prior to the onset of cancer. As painful as some of these experiences can be—loss of a loved one or of an important role, for example— the amount of stress and particularly the degree to which these events make you feel hopeless and helpless are the result of the meaning you attach to the experience. You determine the significance of events.
By exploring the beliefs that limit your responses, by considering alternative interpretations of life’s events and alternative ways of responding, it is possible for you to create positive meanings where negative ones existed before. When the crucial beliefs that have created the blockage in a healthy, forward flow to life are discovered and dislodged, the full energy of life can flow smoothly once again. And with that flow can come the vital force that will restore the body’s natural defenses to normal potency.
Although the exact form this freeing up will take varies from person to person, it almost always involves giving oneself permission to experience life differently. Some people may participate in their health by saying no to others’ expectations, others by saying yes to experiences and parts of themselves they have denied. When the energy begins to flow again, while there will still be problems and stresses to face, they will be faced with the belief that the problems can be solved or at the least coped with—with the belief that one has the power to make decisions that will contribute to getting well again.