In my last post, I talked about a piece of advice that is often given to people trying to conceive: “just relax and it will happen”. This comment is misguided because it dismisses all the other facts and details that YOU know are relevant to your fertility situation. Fertility problems are rarely, if ever, due to one single factor.
Essentially this ‘advice’ says: “if you weren’t so stressed you’d get pregnant”.
Being told to “just relax” is an indirect way of blaming the person who is struggling to conceive
Whist I believe that most people are genuinely trying to help – blame leads to powerful feelings of shame. We can feel shame regardless of whether we are blaming ourselves or being blamed by somebody else.
The ‘psychological responsibility’ of being “to blame” for fertility problems is too much to cope with. And so automatic, unconscious defences kick in to protect us from those feelings of shame.
The most common defence to blame is: deny it!
Denying stress has a downside.
When we deny that we’re stressed by our fertility problems we are also denying our true feelings. We are telling ourselves (often unconsciously) that “it’s not that big a deal”. Or, that we “should” be able to cope with this (which is another way of saying it’s not a big deal!)
We “soldier on” and “put on a brave face”. Eventually we lose touch with our true feelings. But our feelings are still there – it is just that they are hidden away out of conscious awareness
When we deny our true feelings they can “spill out” when we least expect it
Many of my lovely clients first come to see me because they’ve been “knocked sideways” by something like a pregnancy announcement or a milestone birthday or anniversary.
Often these women are shocked by the intensity of their feelings. They had genuinely thought they were coping well until suddenly they found themselves overwhelmed by an avalanche of pain. It saddens me that so many of these lovely women feel guilty about how they feel. They have spent so long telling themselves “it’s not that big a deal” that they feel ashamed by their own feelings.
Having a baby means so much to you – it is a big deal!
The point I am making is that living with fertility problems is stressful and it is a big deal. I have been there myself and all of my clients are managing stress levels to varying degrees.
Having the baby or babies you long for means so much to you. The word “stress” doesn’t even come close to describing what it feels like when your long-held dream feels out of reach.
There is absolutely no shame in feeling stressed by fertility problems – it means you care
I believe that acknowledging the stress you are experiencing is an act of kindness to yourself. It is an act of self-care to acknowledge that you are in pain or stressed.
When stress is acknowledged, we take a crucial first step towards doing something about it.
Of course, doing something that “really hits the spot” in terms of reducing stress, is not always easy to achieve. There can be many factors to address – see the list of fertility stressors in my previous post!) But more importantly, many of the things that cause the most stress are internal. By internal, I mean things like our thinking style, our beliefs, our expectations and mindset.
High quality, therapeutic support can dramatically reduce ‘internal’ stress and transform the way you experience your fertility journey
I understand that when struggling to conceive, it is common to feel “burnt out and jaded” by all the things you’ve done or are doing to help your fertility. It can feel like a big step to reach out for therapeutic support and you may not even be sure that it will be “worth it” for you.
ANY further investment of your time, energy and hope really must ‘count’. And so, if you’re going to commit to reducing your stress – or seeking professional help – you have to believe it’s going to be worthwhile.
Information is power – you need to know why reducing stress is important for your fertility
In my next blog post I will give you the low down on stress and fertility. Reducing stress DOES increase your fertility.
But this next post has no wagging fingers, no blame, no shame…. Just the facts.
I hope that when you fully understand how stress affects your fertility you will feel inspired to make changes in a way that is meaningful for you. From an informed position, you can make your own choices about whether or not to take steps to reduce your stress load. And if you need help with that, of course I’m here for you.
With my best wishes