Five Points of a Survivor Star

By Louise Lubin, PhD.

“ Regardless of what happens, I will always come home to myself.

I am not alone, and I will not give up on myself”.

– Survivor Self Talk

Two decades ago, I heard Dr. Neil Fiore, a clinical psychologist ( deliver a talk, “Living As If Your Life Depended on It.” He spoke on the five keys to living with more passion and the blocks to living fully. I think these were and continue to be important for any survivor to keep in focus. These are not listed in any order of importance- all are goals to reach for on your journey.

icon_star_alt 1. FREEDOM is knowing that you will not give up on yourself and having a sense of inner peace that is not always dependent on external events. When Freedom is blocked, FEAR, WORRY & ANXIETY occur. You lack self acceptance, are critical and don’t trust yourself. Survivor Self Talk is:

“ Regardless of what happens, I will always come home to myself.

I am not alone, and I will not give up on myself”.

Try to remember a time in your life when you were afraid and unsure of what to do. What helped you find a way to manage that situation? What helps you feel more trust in yourself?

icon_star_alt 2. UNITY brings your focus, energy and purpose together for your overall well-being. Your stress is turned into action. When your Unity of purpose and sense of choice is lacking you feel unclear and unsure of yourself and what to do. You may have many difficult decisions to make with limited choices. Instead of staying stuck, survivors pull together the information they have, make a decision based on their personal values, vision, and what it right for them.

Survivor Self Talk is:

“ I will take responsibility for this choice and not blame myself or others

and take care of what needs to get done.”

Think about what helps you make a difficult decision. Do you rely on others and how do you know what is right for you? How do you feel in your “gut” when you know something is not right for you ? Can you work to accept that even though you may not have all choices, there is a choice that is best for you?

icon_star_alt 3. CLARITY is a focus on what you can do now. Accepting that you can’t do it all, can’t please everyone, you recognize the limits of the control you have over others. When you lack Clarity, you try to do as much as possible even when there are people and events beyond your control. You feel trapped with too much to do and end up feeling resentful of what you are doing. A survivor has clear priorities based on their values and an acceptance of what is possible to accomplish in a limited amount of time with limited control.

Survivor Self Talk is:

“ My needs must have priority, and my peace of mind is very important.

I can accept that others may not always approve of my choices.”

Remember a time when you had to say No to others because you knew that if not, you would become angry, sick, or resentful. How did it feel to say YES to yourself and recognize that you needs and feelings mattered? Was it as difficult as you thought it would be?

icon_star_alt 4. COMPASSION is accepting your human condition even with the limits and vulnerability that your illness has created in your life with a sense of reverence for what it means to be human and imperfect. When Compassion is lacking, you are critical and judgmental of yourself and others. You want to be rid of that part of you that is “weak” and compare yourself to others or to how things were in the past. This leaves you angry and resentful. Survivors look to life with an acceptance that there is much we can’t control in life and attempt to be open to the future with a sense of wonder and purpose.

Survivor Self Talk is:

“ I can work to accept that I don’t know what the future will bring.

I will not assume the worst and be open to the possibility of new beginnings.”

When you compare yourself to BC ( before Cancer), how does that make you feel? AC (After Cancer) is a new world which is not easy, but looking backwards only makes you feel badly. How has cancer made you a stronger more resilient person? How can you show yourself more love and compassion for who you are today? What is one step you can take to accept yourself, your body, and your life as it is today?

icon_star_alt 5. GRATITUDE is being thankful for what you have rather than resentful for what you have either lost or craving what others have. It is valuing the present moment with all it has to offer. When Gratitude is lacking, you become focused on the future and what you have is never enough. You can’t feel “full” because you always gobble objects, food, or people rather than savoring a few.

Survivor Self Talk is:

“ I can stop struggling to control the future.

I have chosen to be in this place focused on what I have and can do now.”

When was the last time that you stopped and focused on the present moment and what you have in your life? Can you list how your glass may be “half full” rather than “half empty”? Try coming up with your list of the top ten things in your life that you feel grateful. All of these points on the SURVIVOR STAR are goals you can strive to achieve. None of them are easy to reach without a daily commitment. Pick the one point where you would like to begin. As Dr. Fiore has stated, it requires “living as if your life depended on it”.


Clinical Psychologist