Month after month of negative results and set backs can take its toll. It is hard to feel positive when all you have experienced on this fertility road is the opposite. When failure is all you’ve known, feeling positive can almost feel foolish. Yet there is the notion that we must’be positive to increase our chance of conceiving. Well meaning family and friends reminding you to ‘just be positive’, can make you feel that somehow if you could just muster up a little more positivity then maybe it would all work out.
When I was trying for my children and had experienced my third miscarriage I was deep in the depths of this. I took myself off to my very wise therapist, Gay Landeta, to discuss my negativity. What she said to me is still very clear in my mind, and 12 years on I still find myself regularly sharing her sage advice with my patients. Gay held out her hand as if she was holding energy and said “Your desire to have a baby is so strong, that no amount of negative thinking could possibly be stronger than that desire.” I remember at the time realising that what she just said to me was so profound because it was tremendously valid. My desire to have a baby was infinitely stronger than all of my negativity. That day I allowed myself to let go of my worries around my negativity. I knew it was a direct result of what I had experienced and was not going to affect my chances of becoming a mother.
In my clinic, I am surrounded by patients worrying about their negativity. The vast majority of them head into repeated IVF cycles concerned about not feeling positive. Most end up quite numb to feeling anything at all. I remind them that they are not alone, that I daily listen to patients expressing the exact same mindset. I explain that this is a natural consequence of repeated failure at anything in life. I encourage them to keep putting one foot in front of the other, take one day at a time and keep moving forwards towards their goal.
When discussing negativity with patients, I also recommend becoming an ‘observer’ of your thoughts. Negative thinking and ruminating worries, once initiated, can continually circulate and weigh you down. Remind yourself that these thoughts are pointless, they are not able to eventually come up with a solution for you. Take a step back from the thoughts and see them as unwanted guest knocking at your door. In your mind visualise the guest leaving your door. Shift your attention to focus only on your breathing. Breathe in and out with only the word ‘peace’ in your mind. When you find the negative thoughts have returned, once again step back from them, consciously observe that they restarted and repeat the process of seeing them leave your door and focus again on your breathing. Regularly engaging in this practice distances yourself from your thoughts, allowing you to feel more peaceful.
Remember in my previous blog post ‘Include Joy in Your Fertility Prep’, we discussed the benefits of regularly taking your mind off your fertility struggles and immersing yourself in activities and hobbies that you enjoyed prior to being on this path. Focus on the joy that you feel while engaging in these. Feeling joy increases your endorphin levels and balances your endocannabinoid system, which in turn enhances fertility. Perhaps focusing on following joy, rather than trying to be positive, is the solution to feeling negative.
The next time you are given a well meaning ‘Just be positive’ don’t wonder if you should try to be. Focus on instead on immersing in joy, becoming an observer of your thoughts and know that your desire to have a baby far out weighs your need to be positive!