Friday, December 16, 2005

Positive Thinking

I was at a Christmas dinner this week, and the discussion turned to a lady who was not present. She couldn't make it, because she was in her final week of chemotherapy treatment for colon cancer. Those present discussed her fighting attitude, her independence and her positive outlook, including the fact that she insisted on driving to her chemo appointments.

They also discussed another lady who has been recently been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. This woman has become, in the words of her friend, 'a real patient'. She's undergone surgery and other treatments to fight her disease, and is bedridden, weak and has little zest for life.

Now, I realize there are a lot of other variables involved in the superficial renditions I've provided of these women and their individual battles with terrible disease. But, the one aspect that stuck out most for me was attitude. One of those women is a cancer survivor the other, a victim of cancer.

Are you a victim or are you a survivor?

So many of life's tragedies are faced with one of these two attitudes. And the attitude, the outlook and the views of others around use are all coloured by that approach.

Think of a tragedy--a divorce, a natural disaster, a terrible illness or injury.

Think of someone who faced it as a victim. Consider your reaction to that person or image. Did you feel pity for someone who was dealt a terrible blow by a cruel world?

Now, think of someone who faced it as a survivor. How did you react to that person? Perhaps with admiration for their courage, resourcefulness and strength?

Who came through it the same or better than before (emotionally)? Who was able to put that terrible event behind them and move on in life?

As a writer, this is an important issue to consider about your characters. If you know your character approaches life as a survivor, then you know how she will react to a setback.

Further, I believe we all can harness the strength of the survivor mindset to face life's little challenges. And, I believe we can use that positive mindset to help others through difficult times.

For example, your friend, a writer receives a rejection letter. Each writer will have a reaction based on her inherent approach to life. Most of us are either miffed or upset initially. The survivor mindset says, have a little self-pity party and then make a plan to move on. The victim mindset says 'poor me, the world is against me, maybe I should quit'.

What is your reaction? How can your use of survivor or victim mindset help your friend deal with this set back?


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