OVERCOMING CANCER: OVERCOMING POTENTIAL PROBLEMS WITH THE MENTAL IMAGERY PROCESS

Some people are more visual than others; they think in images. Some people tend to sense things. Others feel things. Some think in words. Because of these individual differences, we have found that when we use the word “see” in our instructions to the mental imagery process, some people might instead “feel” what it is like to be well. When we would say, “See yourself becoming well,” they might have the “sensation” of energy and health. It has become increasingly clear to us that a person should stay with the process or way of thinking that he or she is most comfortable with, rather than trying to become primarily visual. In the long run, all types of thinking tend to intertwine. A person who is mostly visual will begin to become more feeling, and a person who is more feeling will begin to become more visual. Permit yourself to operate first in the sense that is most natural to you.
Another problem we have found to be very common during mental imagery is the tendency for a person’s mind to wander. This often represents a lack of concentration, which can be aggravated by certain medications, by pain, or fear. From time to time it is a problem that affects everyone using the process regularly. One of the most effective ways for dealing with distraction is to stop the process and ask yourself what is going on: “Why is my mind wandering?” Pursue that line of thought for a short time, perhaps five minutes. Then focus back on the exercise and go through it with whatever degree of success you can attain.
A third difficulty is the feeling that saying the cancer is “shrinking” is actually lying to yourself. We’ve heard statements such as, “I’ve got a cancer growing on my shoulder, I can feel it, it’s not possible for me to see it shrinking when I know it’s growing bigger.” The problem here is a confusion about the purpose of the mental imagery process. We are attempting to help the patient visualize the desired outcome, not what may be happening at the time. It is possible to picture the cancer shrinking even when in reality it may be growing; you are picturing in your mind what you want to come about. Understanding this distinction is very important. Mental imagery is not a method of self-deception; it is a method for self-direction.
Now that you know the basic relaxation/mental imagery process, the next chapter will help you interpret and develop specific mental images so that you can understand your underlying beliefs about cancer and create a more positive expectancy for recovery.
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