It’s safe to say that I was a pretty lost soul after getting out of the hematology floor at Presbyterian St. Luke’s in Denver. Of course, I was excited for the fact that I was alive and able to share my story.
The reality was a very scary proposition. I essentially came out of the hospital as a clean slate. A blank canvas.
And that was a scary thought. There was a lot of fear at the time, mostly because the unknown was laid out in front of me.
I was dealing with recurrence fears, I knew that I was having memory issues. and just the overall feeling that my health was going to be a challenge for the rest of my life.
But there was an underlying excitement. The opportunity had given me a chance to rebuild my life. The unknown gave me a chance to refresh my body and my soul.
All I knew was what I wanted and what I didn’t. The old normal was a thing of the past.
Thats when I started prioritizing the things that were most important to me. And since I used all of my financial resources to battle my lymphoma, I knew this was going to be a tough road.
Fortunately I had a couple people mentor me after my cancer experience. This started me down the path to figure out the next steps within this blank canvas.
A pattern emerged. All of them asked me one important question…
What is your “Why”? Why this question is so important
We got really deep into my psyche and battled my ego.
Why do you work? Why do you want to help people? Why do you want to start a business? Why do you want to live?
This is a pretty scary question. This question gets to the heart of a lot of what it means to be you! And when you think about it, understanding this word really becomes an all encompassing question at a very deep level.
Before lymphoma, this question and many others we’re never asked. They were never discussed. And there’s a good chance I wasn’t ready to answer those questions.
I was a pretty lost soul after all my snowboarding endeavors fizzled out. Broken some may say.
I truly believe that lymphoma saved my life. it helped me understand my purpose. It helped me define who I am.
By asking yourself “WHY” is the start of digging deep into the motives and decisions that make up everything you are and want to be. It makes you question your own psychology. All your theories in life.
For most people after dealing with a life changing event or situation, it’s only natural to start asking deep-rooted questions about themselves.
The curiosity of life’s purpose!
The best way for me to describe it is there was a burning in need within myself to start understanding what my purpose in life was. I knew I wanted to help people and I knew that survivors and caregivers needed help once they got out of the hospital after their last treatment.
So for the last eight years, I’ve been slowly creating a survivorship care plan to help guide survivors through the twists and turns that they will experience in their “New Normal”.
I go deeper into this question and the psychology in my book Internal Architect. In the chapter, The 4-W’s, I hit onto a more encompassing strategy of why you need to question yourself after cancer.
Well were going to dive into a little psychology and start getting to some of the roots of who you are and what you want your purpose in life to be. All while trying to find that ultimate peace that we’re all looking for. And this my friend, can mean a lot of different things to us Lymphoma Survivors.
Ultimately, the topics I’m going to discuss are really just some simple tools to help you find what it is that you’re looking for.
So, to start gaining insight into The Self-Concept, It’s time to start asking yourself some questions. Were going to start with 5 important questions you must ask yourself. Now, these five are not the only questions to ask, just a good starting point. There are dozens of similarly base questions that can help you round out the exercise to start creating the baseline of your Self Concept.
Grab a sheet paper and a pen. Take 5-10 minutes for each question and write down everything that comes to mind. Be honest with yourself. There is no wrong answer!
If your on the go, Check out my Podcast of Self Concept below!
5 Questions to Start Defining your Self Concept
1. Who am I?
This question is to start adding framework and begin defining your background.
I like this question because it make you take a look at all the parts of your life that has essentially made you who you are today.
To help answer this question, you can ask yourself additional questions like, Where did I grow up? What was my family like? And what kind of background do you have?
I’ll use myself as an example…
“I am a husband, a stepfather. I am an a retired professional snowboarder, excavation contractor by trade, waste water service technician. The founder and director of a legitimate non-profit. A business owner and a Hodgkins Lymphoma survivor. I grew up in the mountains of Colorado in a loving blue collar family.”
I write pretty in-depth about this topic in my book Internal Architect. The chapter is called the Four W’s and it dives into the roots of who you are and what it is that you want to be. In this self-concept, questions like “Who am I” really starts to get at the core part of who you are. By asking yourself questions like this you start to break down the things that are going on, not only in your life, but in the surrounding parts of your life as well.
2. Who am I RIGHT now?
What I want you to start thinking about is Who Am I Right Now? What are the things that really make you, you? These are really important questions to ask yourself as you start trying to define what your self-concept is. Because once you understand that, I can help you move forward into the other aspects of the Internal Architect Concept and learn how to build an understanding, not only to find inner peace, but how to find whatever it is that you’re ultimately looking for!
Lets see, My example is this…
“I am a dedicated husband and Stepfather. Snowboarder/Split-boarder in the winter and Mountain Biker in the summer. Business owner and employee. I am a teacher, mentor and survivorship life coach in both my work and personal life.”
By defining these first two questions, the framework is being created to move forward in understanding your purpose!
3.How do you see yourself in the future?
In the video above, I ask two questions. The first one is “What do you do for work”? I asked this question because it’s important to understand where you’re at in this moment of time. The second part to this question is “what would you “like” to do for work”?
Those two questions separate the now and the future. The “Now” sets the base line for where your at. And the “Future” is where you really want your efforts and energy to move you towards. By knowing and understanding that question in itself will help you define what it is that you want to accomplish and what it’s going to take for you to get there!
I like using what we do for work because it is that one activity that we must do in order to live in this modern world and have a feeling of “comfort and safety”. We may not like our “JOBS”, but as long as we know what we want, we can look at the work we do as a means to achieving our goals or desired outcome.
4. What is your social life like?
Do you have a lot of friends or are you really reserved and a bit of a hermit? Are you outgoing or like to volunteer for things you want to contribute to? Beginning to understand your social life helps start defining how you’re going to work towards finding that piece that you want. It’s also going help you understand what it’ll take to surround yourself with people that you probably should, and learn who you shouldn’t be surrounding yourself with.
Do you socially drink? Do you enjoy happy hour? What do you do for hobbies? Do you enjoy sports? Questions like these will continue to help define how you spend your most valuable asset, Time!
Which leaders me to question number five…
5. How do you spend your free time?
This is also an important question because if you are spending your free time, say watching TV, or if you’re on your phone engaging in social media or playing games. This tells me that you might be wasting your valuable time that could be used to do something really good and adding value to yourself and others in the future.
The one good thing about our mobile devices is most of them have a feature that observes and defines the usage of time on your device. On iPhones, it’s called Screen Time. On Android devices, it’s called Digital Wellbeing. Highly suggest checking the software out and start using these features to help understand just how much time you are spending, or waisting on your phone.
I go a lot more in-depth with these questions in my book Internal Architect. Click Here if you want to pick up a copy from Amazon. It’s important to really start thinking about the broad picture of what you think is important.
The reason why I ask these questions is to help create a baseline for where you’re at in life, at this moment in time. From here forward, the choices can be really simple or really difficult depending on what your Mindset is. What it is that you want to do? Being able to look back over time and see the progress that you have made on these goals and these challenges you are working on really is important. Over time you’ll learn to about keeping yourself accountable.
I personally have been given a second chance and I’m gonna make the most of it. The Lymphoma Experience has really given me an increased sense of purpose and peace in my life than anything else that I’ve done.
Now, Where to begin…
Took me a little time after cancer to really start feeling comfortable with what I considered “the new reality”. Cancer really shattered that collection of believes that really defined who I was up to that point. A lot of it has to do with “Facing your own mortality”.
I like getting myself into a really quiet space and and putting some reflection time into who I am and where I’m at right now. I do this pretty frequently just to help keep tabs on the metrics I’ve created for myself. Over time, this has really made a big dent into my life approach. And slowly finding that peace that I want. This approach has really helped a lot of other people in the path of finding their purpose and defining their own peace.
And that’s the good thing about cancer, is it forces you out of your Comfort Zone in unthinkable ways.
A number of survivors that I’ve talk to have struggled with their self-concept as they are unsure of what to do next. Having no real direction as a survivor. And that could lead you down the rabbit hole of Assumptions.
I am a firm believer in writing ideas and conversations down that are going on in your head so they are visible. And writing down The collection of beliefs of who you think you are is a great place to start when understanding the feelings and emotions you go through as a Survivor! I have stacks and stacks of notes and writings I created just to work through the internal conversations that I had and continue to have.
I am not what you consider a medical expert, just a common guy that’s survived stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. These are my views and opinions and should not be considered medical advice. Feel free to leave a comment below and ill respond ASAP!