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Article: The Three ‘Cancers’ of The Mind

The Three ‘Cancers’ of The Mind

The Three ‘Cancers’ of The Mind

As a medical doctor, I have sadly seen the impact of cancer on patients whether that be breaking the bad news, joining them on their journey or at the end of their lives. These cancers are unpredictable and research is still ongoing into the fight against cancer.

There are other ‘cancers’ which we somewhat have more control over. One definition of ‘cancer’ in the Oxford Dictionary is ‘an evil or destructive practice or phenomenon that is hard to contain or eradicate’. These are ‘cancers’ of the mind. A good friend and mentor, who also happens to be a monk, Sutapa (check out his blog, a similar post was written by him in 2008!), discussed this in one of his talks a while ago.

Our mind can be our best friend or worst enemy. We are constantly talking to it but we sometimes think our mind is actually us. The mind tends to do three things:


These are the ‘cancers’ of the mind. I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to these habits, in fact, I do them daily. As a medical student we were taught to try our best and that naturally means we compared ourselves to our peers. When we are working we compare ourselves to our colleagues, we can even compare ourselves to our siblings or extended family. I believe the power of social media has now made that more present than ever before. What happens when we compare? We become more dissatisfied and produce certain stress hormones in our body which has an overall negative impact on our wellbeing.

It’s not only that we compare, we often complain and/or criticise others to ultimately make ourselves feel better about our lives. This actually has the reverse effect! It makes us even more unhappy - rather than gossiping about others - we should look at stopping these habits and replace them with empowering ones.

Here are some solutions:


I have spoken about how the mind is constantly talking, like a radio, and you have to decide what you tune into. So the first step to combating these ‘cancers’ is to become more present. I now have been becoming more aware of the ‘radio’ and when it starts to compare, complain or criticise I recognise it and stop those thought processes.


Why bother comparing yourself to others? Does it take away from their achievements? Does their success detract from your own? Rather than comparing, criticising or complaining - start focusing on yourself. Look at how you are and start focusing on improving yourself.


Rather than being envious, feel genuinely happy for their achievements. By fostering these positive thoughts your intentions with others and yourself will become infectious and you will start to see the world in a positive manner.

A new webinar will be given by Sutapa and myself on 18th March 2020 at 12pm (GMT) on both Facebook Live and Zoom. Go to for more information.

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