3 Powerful Lessons on Life and Death From Pancreatic Cancer Survivor, Dr. Martin Inderbitzin
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Wisdom and lessons that are not just helpful for cancer patients, but can benefit anyone seeking to deepen their wisdom about life.
Here in this article, are three lessons about life and death, taken from the interviews I did with Martin on The IPS Podcast.
If by the end, you feel like you want to learn even more from him, you can listen to both interviews from Dr. Martin Inderbitizin here:
1. How to Help Your Mind and Body Heal
Question: What do you do when you’ve gone through another surgery, like your last one, to help your mind and body to heal and that you could also recommend to anyone who is recovering, whether from surgery or something entirely different?
Martin Inderbitzin: Bringing fun back into your recovery process can be key to success. One way to do this is to tap into your childhood memories and ask yourself what you would have done as a child if you were ill and had the freedom to choose. Allowing yourself to have a sense of curiosity and openness can help you to try new things and not get stuck in a rigid mindset.
Another tip is to try different approaches through trial and error. For example, when training for a marathon, you may need to experiment with different sports drinks and foods to see what works best for you. This allows you to find your own personalized approach to recovery.
You can also look to others for inspiration and find role models who have successful recovery strategies. Remember that you don’t have to stick to just one role model, but can gather inspiration from a variety of sources and create your own personalized system. Always be sure to pay attention to how different approaches make you feel and adjust as needed.
2. The Positive Effects of Pain and Suffering
Question: What would you recommend to anyone listening right now who might be going through pain to help them find meaning in their suffering? Are there any words or pieces of advice that have helped you that you would like to share with someone struggling to find meaning?
Martin Inderbitzin: Try to change the story around your pain. The classic story is: “Oh this hurts. Oh this sucks.” because it does.
But, pain can be seen as more than just a negative experience. While it is certainly unpleasant and can be caused by various physical and emotional issues, it also serves a purpose in our lives.
Pain is a warning signal that tells us when something is wrong and gives us the opportunity to take a closer look at what might be causing the issue. It can be a moment to reflect on our bodies and our lives and ask ourselves why we are experiencing pain.
In addition to serving as a warning sign, pain can also be a way to connect with ourselves in the present moment. When we are in pain, it becomes difficult to think about anything else, and we are forced to be present with the pain. This can be similar to deep mindfulness which is achieved through meditation.
By embracing the pain and allowing ourselves to sink into it, we can actually reduce its intensity. It’s important to remember that pain is not just a negative experience, but it can also be a tool for self-reflection and connection with ourselves in the present moment.
3. Powerful Mental Exercise to Help You Face Challenges in Life
Question: Can you share a mindset exercise from one of your courses at The Mindset Academy that you discovered either by studying neuroscience or from experience that can help you be mentally prepared to face any challenge in life, no matter what obstacles you may encounter?
Martin Inderbitzin: Facing challenges and unexpected events in life can be difficult and often triggers negative emotions such as fear or anger. These reactions are normal and automatic, as fear is one of the oldest and most primal emotions we have. However, it’s important to remember that these automatic reactions may not always be the best response to a situation.
To work on your mindset and approach challenges with a more open and positive attitude, try the following two-step exercise:
- Observe the emotion as it arises without judging it. Simply acknowledge the emotion and say to yourself, “Oh, I’m feeling fearful” or “I’m feeling angry.” Don’t let the emotion carry you away and take control of your actions.
- When you feel an emotion arising, give yourself a moment to process the situation by saying, “Ah, interesting.” This gives you a moment of pause and allows you to consciously choose your response rather than reacting automatically. It also frames the situation as an opportunity for learning and growth rather than a negative event.
It’s important to practice this exercise with smaller, everyday situations before attempting to apply it to bigger problems. For example, if you miss your train or something else doesn’t go as planned, try saying “Ah, interesting” and see how it affects your mindset and approach to the situation.
As you become more comfortable with this exercise, it will become easier to apply it to more challenging situations.
If you want to learn more from Martin, again, I can highly recommend you to check out his interviews on The IPS Podcast: Episode 010 — “A Survival Story of Pancreatic Cancer: The Lessons, Hardships, and Becoming a Triathlete” and Episode 026 — “How to Handle Pain and Suffering with Dr. Martin Inderbitzin.”
Both episodes provide valuable insights and are definitely worth your time.
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