Breast Cancer: Emotional and Systemic Aspects

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October is the month of awareness about breast cancer prevention through the October Pink campaign. According to INCA, breast cancer is the most incident in women in the world, representing 24.2% of the total cases in 2018, with approximately 2.1 million new cases. It is the fifth leading cause of cancer death in general (626,679 deaths) and the most frequent cause of cancer death in women. In Brazil, excluding non-melanoma skin tumors, breast cancer is also the most prevalent in women in all regions. For the year 2020, 66,280 new cases were estimated, which represents an incidence rate of 43.74 cases per 100,000 women. Another serious public health problem that needs to be understood in depth if the scope of prevention is to be truly effective and comprehensive.

The causes for cancer involvement are part of a series of factors related to lifestyle and genetic propensity associated with the body’s ability to defend itself from external aggressions and even to fight the disease. Emotional factors are relevant in the causes, since several studies point out personalities and mentalities that can favor the development of cancer. From a systemic point of view, the vision and interpretation of the world and of life, the emotional color that is given to the lived experiences, can be predisposing factors, stimulating the development of cancer, in the same way that the disease block can also be related to changes in emotional and relational dynamics, in addition to the interpretation of renewed and healthier life.

Any involvement by disease, within the systemic awareness, signals the need for changes to the continuity of life in a reinvented and healthy way, bringing to the existential journey, pleasure, evolution and healthier paths also for the descendants of the family system. The emotional dynamics usually observed in people affected by cancer in the intrapersonal dimension (individual with himself), interpersonal and systemic, are linked to the difficulties of putting limits on relationships (difficulties to say no to the other), needs to please, excessive care towards all the demands of the environment, a saving posture in the face of problems, a donor personality, a willingness to take care of everything and everyone, loving everyone but themselves. They live from a young age to the other and cannot perceive their own needs, having been taught that this is the meaning of loving. Behind this limitless availability, there is a great omnipotence as if the well-being or suffering of others depended only on their actions, which brings a great sense of guilt to get out of this “salvation” position of the system, in addition to prioritizing pain on the other, not to look at their own pains and emotional conflicts. Emotional dependence and addiction are also present. A way of loving is taught systematically, often through several generations, in which love becomes synonymous with dysfunctional donation, without balance and without order, as if the only possible and pertinent way of existing was for the other, which allows different invasions of the emotional world, without identifying what is harmful and negative, making it impossible to place the limits and distances that are necessary in a healthy existential trajectory. Getting sick becomes, in addition to the “alarm clock” for changes, the only way to get the message out that it is no longer possible to help, to the accumulated invasions that become the disease. to cancer, with several sick members, which can also signal the hidden fidelity to ancestry, unconsciously happening the repetition of destinies, which shows symbiotic relationships. In symbiotic relationships, individualities are annihilated, life projects are impaired, characterizing a form of bond in which people only exist for relationships and for the satisfaction of one or a few members of the sick system. The greater notion of the system and its need for continuity for the flow of life towards the future is lost, which is a fertile ground for various illnesses and even the death of the family through the generations.

In the case of breast cancer (symbolically very related to the female characteristic, although men also have breast cancer in a much lesser incidence), or other exclusively female organs associated with the reproductive system, the disease may signal that women are sick throughout the process. ancestry or even emotional suffering related to the maternal figure as a reference for the female family, which can be a manifestation of the destruction of the maternal function. Culturally, women are also symbolically clothed with the concept of unconditionally misunderstood love and unlimited donation, which reinforces the saving and donor characteristics directly related to cancer. Abusive dynamics can also be established by the imbalance between giving and receiving in relationships where much is expected of the Feminine. The big question is not to lose yourself, on your side, the power of your individuality – which unfortunately happens in many situations when some roles are crystallized, as in the case of women “assembled” to care and “nourish” , without possibilities for life projects, expression of essence and personal development.

The body in its functioning is the result of our choices, decisions and changes in emotional dynamics. If permission for the invasion of the internal world by the various toxicities that we will deal with on the way to remain, without putting the necessary distances and limits, even though physical healing happens, diseases tend to resurface. For treatment, that is, for changing emotional dynamics, the following needs are pointed out:

– Learning to love yourself: self-love is essential for identifying needs and self-care. Perceiving sensations, self-knowledge, never ignoring feelings and knowing whether to prioritize is essential and contributes to relationships with other people much more genuine, pleasant and healthy. You deserve love and care for yourself for yourself. In fact, no one better than ourselves to take care of ourselves within needs that only we can masterfully identify!

– Exit the dynamics of dependence and codependency: even in the saving posture, theoretically full of purely infantilized omnipotence, what is governing behavior is in reality the dynamics of dependence and codependency. The Savior appears when there are fragile people who will “suck” the energies, parasitizing the system without healthy affective exchange. This dynamic is often maintained by the valuation it apparently brings, but at the expense of the high price of going through life betraying oneself and seconding one’s own needs, extinguishing the singular and personal path that is no longer built.

– Learning to love in an adult way: being subservient to the wishes of others and always or almost always meeting people’s needs to obtain love and acceptance is a childlike way of loving. In childhood it is learned that the expectations of others must be met in order to obtain affection, a dangerous and sickening path for adulthood. Dealing with our various systems adding up in a cooperative way with balance and when it is possible it is different from failing to build your own future to focus on the needs of others, losing sight of yourself. To love in an adult way is to give yourself, but also to receive, to know how to give yourself, to know how to put limits when necessary, to know what displeasure is part of, to learn to say no. Accepting what is healthy and positive in relationships and knowing how to limit what is toxic, without allowing yourself to be invaded.

– Death of cycles and dynamics: letting go of what is already over and transforming unhealthy dynamics is another essential need to restore health, since imprisonments in the past also lead to illness. Experiencing these mourning, taking care of the pain and going to Life causes the illness to go away – literally. In the group Systemic Constellation sessions, when we reach the resolution phase with healthy life continuity dynamics, the element representing the disease loses strength and moves away until leaving the field in a clear expression that it has already fulfilled its “role” in sense of awakening the person to new paths and following his journey.

– Reorganize relationships: knowing the place it occupies in the system, healthy functions, also letting go of people who only glimpse the “usefulness” of those who propose to donate without limits. As painful as some departures that seem to happen with this new posture of life may seem, remember that the flow for the emergence of healthier relationships becomes open as we become healthier. In addition, new attitudes can also improve existing relationships, an open path for bonds with much more quality, whether old or new.

Becoming healthier – physically and emotionally – brings resonances to the descendants, providing a healthier continuity also for the youngest, even those who are yet to arrive. Studies on Epigenetics point out that the emotional, habits and postures acquired through the generations are transmitted to the descendants, creating for the continuity of families new paths that are much more promising for the development of the family system over the centuries and generations. In other words, looking for what is healthy contributes to the larger system, greatly benefiting family systems from individual to collective, strengthening the expression of families’ lives throughout their survival through the centuries.

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