The start of a new year can be a big challenge when you’re on a fertility journey. Not only is it right in the middle of the most family and children centred celebrations of the year, but it’s traditionally also a time to look back over the last year and look forward to the next.
What did I achieve in the last 12 months? What were the year’s highlights? And what are my plans for 2021? What can I look forward to?
These are innocent enough questions but are a stark reminder that the past year has been blighted by fertility issues and that looking ahead fills you with dread that it will be more of the same. You may just want to hide under the duvet and stay there until all the “New Year, New Plans” talk is finished which could be… around springtime?!
I could tell you now that the New Year is the *perfect* time to make plans, set goals and commit to a new fertility boosting regime. You could start the year by investigating new clinics and treatments, and plan to take all the action needed to make sure THIS year is the one you do become a parent.
However, I don’t want to sugar coat the facts or hide away from what I know is a tough time of year for you.
Even if you do take all the action above (and more!), I’m guessing that a little voice will still be saying to you “What will be different though? Will this year really be when my luck changes… or not?”
Whatever positive action you intend to take, whichever new path you plan to go down in your pursuit of parenthood, fear and doubt can linger like a bad smell. And if your mindset is tuned into and expecting the negative (usually out of a sense of self-protection) everything that you do will be affected by it.
There will be no excitement, hope or expectation; just a sense of worry and imagining the worst before it has even happened.
When we look ahead to the future and try to predict what will happen, in a way we are already living there. This can feel good when we are looking forward to something exciting or positive. For example, I’ll admit that I love the planning of holidays almost as much as the holidays themselves! It’s as if the enjoyment of the 7-day break extends by several months because I’m already imagining myself there and looking forward to the experience.
But when you have this same projected thinking about a future you feel worried or uncertain about, it’s as if you’re already living the worst-case scenario before you even know if it will happen. This isn’t living your life and can rob you of potential happiness and special moments in the present.
So, what can be done to make the new year feel a less ominous and more hopeful time? What can we change to ensure we have a positive experience?
There is only one thing you can change, and it’s also the only thing you do have control over: your thoughts.
Managing your thoughts, while not always the easiest thing to do, can definitely be mastered by anyone and will transform the whole experience of your fertility journey and your wider life. Your thoughts are constantly with you and if you have ever tried to meditate and “empty your mind” this will have confirmed for you just how ever present your thoughts are! So, if you’re going to have a mind full of thoughts, and we know they have the power to greatly influence our actions and happiness, it must a priority to take back control and create space for positive, supportive thoughts.
Remember that your thoughts lead to beliefs, and your beliefs affect the actions you take.
So, if you have a thought about how difficult your fertility journey has been so far, and this leads to a belief that it will always be difficult looking ahead, this could then affect what you do next with regards to your fertility.
Does this negative belief mean that you can’t face pursuing any more treatment? Does it mean you’d rather put your head in the sand, than take another look at your situation and try to find a solution?
When faced with a challenge like fertility issues most of us tend to dip in and out of both positive and negative states of mind. That’s understandable and is a big part of what is often referred to as the “emotional rollercoaster” of fertility issues. It is when you stay at the low point for too long, lacking in hope and motivation, that it feels ever harder to lift yourself up and to a more positive mindset.
So, what can be done to take back control over your thoughts and create a mindset to support both you and your fertility?
The first step can be to get super clear on the thoughts you are having. When your mind is full and busy, it’s as if all your thoughts are tangled up in a big mess and it’s very difficult to pick them apart. Instead you just feel overwhelmed and the idea of adding in more thoughts such a creating a fertility plan for 2019 can feel impossible.
An easy strategy to cut through overwhelm is to journal. By taking pen to paper and writing out all your thoughts, you are emptying your mind and giving yourself the chance to see your thoughts and reflect back on them.
Some people like to start every day by journaling and write several pages before doing anything else! Another perfect time to journal is at the end of the day, before you go to sleep to help you process all the thoughts of the day and again empty your mind, so you can have a peaceful sleep.
You may also want to journal when you feel overwhelmed and stuck. Maybe you have a big decision to make on your fertility journey about treatment or your next steps, and you’re confused by all the conflicting thoughts you have. Writing them down will help you to see them more clearly and start to bring some order to them.
Another important aspect of managing your thoughts and creating a supportive mindset is to acknowledge and work through any emotions that are keep those thoughts present. It may be that you have a thought that you won’t get pregnant in 2019, and this thought is backed up by the emotions of fear and worry.
When strong emotions are connected to our thoughts it can be extra challenging to simply change your thoughts. The emotions attached keep us stuck in that thought pattern and can increase their strength.
Therefore, it’s essential that in order to create a positive mindset to support your fertility in the new year, have a way of working through negative emotions.
The approach I recommend and is the foundation of the fertility support I offer at Fertile Mindset, is EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques, also just called “Tapping”). This technique works with the Chinese Meridian system, as used in acupuncture, to balance our emotional reaction to challenges. EFT can be quickly learned and used on any emotional issue and supports you in easily releasing any emotions that are not serving you. By releasing these emotions, it leaves space for your most natural and supportive mindset to come forward. Once you are feeling calmer and more rational, you will be able to bring order to your thoughts and recognise the ones you need and discard the ones you don’t.
By taking back control over your thoughts, emotions and mindset you will be preparing yourself for your best year possible in 2019. No one can predict the future and know exactly what will happen, but you can choose to prioritise YOU and your wellbeing, whatever challenges you face.
I know that you have more strength than you realise and as we begin a new year, this is the time to make a positive decision to do things differently, and then be curious about the outcome. Wishing you all the best for the new year.