Browser does not support script.
Skip to main content
Find out how we produce our information|
Usually we barely notice our thoughts. However, when we become aware of them, we can check to make sure that they are as helpful as possible.
Thoughts go through our minds constantly. They can be about many things including:
Being aware of your thoughts can help. For example some people reading information about cancer may think: ‘I don’t understand any of it’. They might go on to question this thought to see if it’s right. They might then realise that: ‘there are some bits I understand and I can re-read the other parts’.
Some people find it useful to keep a diary of their thoughts. Others prefer just to think about them regularly. This can help you identify their effect on your feelings and behaviour. It can also help you see unhelpful thinking patterns. Questioning your thoughts can help you change them if needed.
There are a number of different unhelpful thinking patterns:
This involves the use of key words such as never, always, nobody and everyone: 'Everyone will stare at me if I go to the pub.’
This is thinking everything is related to your appearance or body changes: ‘I didn’t get the job because of my appearance.’
This is paying attention to the negative and ignoring the positive: ‘The lady in the newspaper shop didn’t understand what I was saying as my speech is so poor now.’
This is when someone thinks they know what someone else is thinking without checking that their thoughts are correct: ‘My husband/wife will think I am ugly because of the changes in my body.’
This is when someone thinks in terms of extremes, for example either/or and all/nothing: ‘If I can’t eat a full meal then I can’t go to the restaurant with my family.’
People with body changes can sometimes develop unhelpful ways of thinking. They may have negative thoughts and these then affect how they feel and behave. This can be known as a vicious circle.
Diagram showing how negative thoughts can affect the way you feel and behave
View a large version of the diagram|
If you consider your thoughts, feelings and behaviour in relation to a recent situation you may may realise that you have unhelpful thoughts about your body changes. It may help to ask yourself the following five questions:
By questioning their thoughts people can start to think in a more positive, balanced way. Here are some examples of how you can change negative thoughts into more balanced, positive thoughts.
'Everyone will stare at me if I go to the pub.'
'Some people will stare but it will probably be due to curiosity.'
'I didn't get the job because of my appearance'
'I didn't get the job because there was someone who was better suited to it.'
'The lady in the newspaper shop didn't understand what I was saying as my speech is so poor now.'
'Although the lady in the newspaper shop did not understand what I was saying the first time, she understood it when I repeated myself - so I can make myself understood.'
'My husband/wife will think I am ugly because of the changes in my body.'
'Although I am aware of my body change, my husband/wife may not notice it so much. Anyways, I have other attractive qualities.'
'If I can't eat a full meal then I can't go to the restaurant with my family.'
'It would be nice to go out with my family. I can ask for a small portion of food.'
Content last reviewed: 1 July 2010
Next planned review: 2013
For answers, support or just a chat, call the Macmillan Support Line free (Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm)
If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just want someone to talk to, ask Macmillan.
If you have any questions about Macmillan we would love to hear from you| .
You can also follow us| on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or YouTube.
© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
what are these?|