How do I manage negative thoughts?

6 fertility expert(s) answered this question

How to deal with negative thoughts during infertility?

It is entirely natural that during such a demanding and challenging process like infertility treatment you may feel negative thoughts crawling into your mind. How to manage them and go through IVF with strength and hope?

Answer from:
Psychologist, In Vivo Fertility, Founder and CEO In Vivo Fertility

How do I manage negative thoughts?
Let’s start again by defining negative thoughts.
I ‘ll share a secret with you: the Human brain cannot tell the difference between reality and imagination. Yes, you heard me right!
This is to a great extent due to the way our brain is built. In very simple terms we have a structure in the brain called the reticular activating system and the existence of mirror neurons. This system and these neurons basically allow us to experience as if they are true, things that are not happening there and then, simply by imagining or retrieving them from our memory.
That is why for example we may cry in a moving movie, get angry simply by remembering what someone said to us the other day or get frightened by what may happen to us tomorrow.
So now you know the effect of negative thoughts. Thoughts recreate emotional experience even for events that never happen.
Again, I am going to answer the question by taking one step back, and asking some more questions: write them down if you want!

How do I create negative thoughts?
What are the thoughts I am reflecting upon, and I consider or ‘label’ them as negative?
What happens just before, during and after I get these thoughts – in my body and my behaviour.
Self-observation is a very valuable skill that can be applied to so many areas of self-development and emotional management.
Let us be the detectives of our behaviour.
Let us enquire with curiosity – Could we be the creators of our own ‘fake news’?
Once we have observed and identified what exactly happens with negative thoughts, how and when they happen, negative thoughts tend to lose their grip and power over us.

Answer from:
Fertility Coach, Founder of Your Fertility Hub

It’s really hard to move away from negative thinking during infertility. It can feel very all-consuming; these worries and thoughts that you’re having and very negative. But it is possible, and I think that’s what I’d love you to get from this video is that there is a different way of thinking. It’s just almost a case of training yourself to think in a different way.

Literally, in our brain, we have paths that our thoughts travel down, our neuron paths, and our brain automatically goes down the easiest route that we always go down. It does take a bit of work to create new paths and new neurons in your brain but it’s possible to change your negative thinking, to become slightly more positive even whilst the situation remains the same.

There are some tools and tricks that you can use to help you with that, getting support from a therapist is definitely one or a coach. Another area you could try is using something like fertility affirmations. These are positive forward-facing statements that I really encourage my clients and members to stick up everywhere around their house, on their fridge, on their phone screensaver, all around, so you are continually reading statements of how you want to think. That actually helps to create those new pathways in your brain and create those new ways of thinking. I think that’s what’s so important is that even though infertility may not have changed, even though you may not be pregnant yet, there are more positive ways to think on this and there are some other tools that you can use as well such as journaling. I always talk about journaling but it’s important to be aware of your thoughts even if you’re not the kind of person who would want to write out a whole stream of consciousness. You may be a bullet journaler and just journal out a few of those thoughts because that creates awareness and actually it changes the way that a thought works in our brain when we write it out. Just getting pen to paper can actually really help you process some of those more complex negative thoughts that you might be having.

Gratitude is another one. Often with a negative thought, we’re focusing on the lack, being aware of and being grateful for some of the things that are good in our life is so important. Starting may be to think of three things that you could be grateful for that day, it really can have a massive impact, a really compound effect the more that you do it and create that habit it can really help you to change and channel your thinking into the things that are positive around you.

Lastly, often when we’re going into say a cycle or approaching a period we think negatively as a way of self-protection. We think ‘oh, it’s not going to work’ because then you’re going to protect our thoughts. Studies actually show that being more optimistic can actually bolster not only our support but also our thinking becomes clearer, our decision-making is better. Don’t be afraid to be optimistic. Unfortunately, if you do get a negative, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you fall harder. You will still experience those horrible emotions around that negative result but being more optimistic is your lived experience every day. Moving yourself to that more positive way of thinking can really help you live your life a little better, with a little bit more joy, a little bit more positivity, even whilst going through infertility.


Answer from:
Fertility Coach, Freedom Fertility Formula Specialist and co-host of The Fertility Podcast Freedom Fertility Formula Specialist and co-host of The Fertility Podcast

It feels like a roller-coaster of emotions because it is and there’s a whole range of things you’ll feel; anger, guilt when you’re not happy when a friend announces a pregnancy, shame that maybe you’re letting your partner down if the issue is with you or if you’re a female and you’re getting your period each month, if its a male factor and you might blame yourself . All of these emotions are in a new context, so you’re going from one to the next and you might find one month if your period is a bit late that there’s hope but then your period comes and there’s sadness. Because it’s constantly changing and there’s so much uncertainty there, it can feel like a real roller-coaster of emotion, therefore it is important to be kind to yourself and understand that this is unfortunately, part of the process and the better you become at coping with these different feelings, the easier, each time they come, it will start to feel.

How do I cope with infertility grief and loss?

Answer from:
Fertility Coach, Specialist Fertility and Miscarriage Counsellor Wendy Martin

Yes, sometimes they aren’t actually negative thoughts, they are what I would call realistic thoughts. What can happen is that at first, you might feel very very positive, you might feel very optimistic, you might be very hopeful and everything is going along fine and then some things start to happen where it becomes clear that this is not going to be as easy as you thought or it might be that you are really really positive and maybe you have an IVF cycle and then maybe you have a negative outcome and you really were convinced that it was going to work. In those cases it can be quite a shock because especially if you really convinced that it was going to work, they found out what the problem is: “I’m just going to do this treatment, I’m doing everything I can, I’ve got this good diet, I’m taking these supplements, I’m doing everything right, it’s definitely going to work” – then that can become as a real shock and people and women can feel like not only heartbroken and really distressed and upset and sad that it’s not worked and everything that means to them but they feel shocked too. What do they do the next time? They’re a little bit more cautious in how they think about it, how they’re in how they manage their expectations. They say things to themselves like “well, it might not work this time, it might not work” and other people say “well, don’t be so negative, you’re thinking negatively”. Husbands and male partners can often say this, who can be notoriously optimistic and buoyant in their approach and it can be quite confusing for people because she’s not being negative, she’s not assuming it’s not going to work which would be negative. I mean, if you really did not believe it wasn’t going to work, you wouldn’t do it. There’s some part of her that hopes. Everything in her, every fiber of her being hopes that it’s going to work but she’s preparing herself, bracing herself for the possibility that this might not work again, so that she’s not shocked again.
I give the example of like the difference between you drive along the motorway and you expect to get to your destination, if you expect to get to your destination so much that you don’t wear a seat belt and you don’t have a car with an airbag and then you have an accident that is quite a big thing but if you prepare yourself for the possibility and you have a seat belt and an airbag. The accident happens. You’re more braced for it and you are more prepared. So to me, those negative thoughts like “what if it never works”, “what if it never works” are another one. That’s a different one but being being prepared for it not to work, is not negative in my view and women will often say but i’m just being realistic because it might not work “I’ve only got a 40% chance of it working or a 30% chance of this embryo transfer resulting in a pregnancy, I’m not being negative, I’m just being realistic, I’m preparing myself for the fact that it might not work, so that i’m not shocked” and others can hear that as negative. That’s why I say: are these thoughts negative – not really.
If you start to worry “what if this never works” that’s a different thing. As I’ve said that it’s the thwarted maternal drive of all these other fears, all these other worries come in “what if it never works” but you just have to hold yourself together and keep trying.

Answer from:
Fertility Coach

I think it is very important to manage your negative thoughts because you have to realize that it’s not the situation itself, for example, your fertility process itself, that determines how you feel and how you act. It is your thoughts about the situation, it’s your thoughts about the fertility process that determines how you feel and how you act.

The good news is you cannot change the situation, but you can always change your thoughts, and if your thoughts change, your feelings will change and your actions will change. I will give you a simple example to illustrate this. It has nothing to do with fertility processes, but it’s just a simple example to make it clear. Suppose you wake up in the middle of the night, and you hear a noise outside your house, and you think, “Oh no, this is a burglar, and he has a big gun, and he will shoot me.” Then you panic, and you feel fear, you get out of bed, you call the police, etc. If the same situation takes place, you hear this noise, and you think, “Oh, it’s just a neighbour; he comes home from work after a night shift, and everything’s okay,” then you just sleep on, and you don’t feel anything of fear and panic. It’s the same situation twice but with different thoughts, and so different feelings and different actions.

This is why managing your negative thoughts is so important, and I always teach my clients as a fertility coach to question them very critically. Ask yourself, “Is it true what I’m thinking? Why is it true? Can I prove this? Can I replace it with a positive thought, and how do I feel then? What changes then?” And then they often conclude, “Well, this positive truth can as well be true as a negative thought.” And it’s a world of difference which one of the two you believe. You can, it’s up to you which one you choose, the positive or the negative thoughts, and yeah, as I said, it makes a world of difference for your vibe and the energy that you feel. And it’s also very important to succeed in your fertility process.

Answer from:
Nurse, Fertility Coach Enhanced Fertility

How do I manage negative thoughts when trying to conceive? If you have ever had negative thoughts like “I will never get pregnant. My body isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do. I’m weak. I’m not doing enough. I’m never getting pregnant”, then you are not alone. These thoughts cross everyone’s mind when they are trying to conceive. What I’m going to invite you today to do is to change the way we are perceiving the world, the way we are perceiving the circumstances that are happening to us to see if we can change the negative thoughts in our brain.

The first thing that we need to do is to recognize those negative thoughts that, so many times, are thought distortions – they are not a reality. Our minds have a very clever and persistent way of convincing us that something that isn’t really true. So these inaccurate thoughts are going to reinforce negative thinking so we need to recognize them very early on. One of the ways of recognizing distorted thoughts is by noticing the words we are using when we are thinking or believing something. One of the things that you’re going to notice is black and white thinking. If you’re going to see everything as one way or another, black and white, if you start by using words like “it always happens to me” or “it never happens to me”, “always” and “never” are words that immediately identify this black and white thinking.

A second thing that you might notice that might give you an indication that is a thought distortion is personalizing, assuming the blame for everything that is happening to you when, in fact, there are lots of reasons why infertility is happening to you. There may be lots of reasons why the miscarriage happened to you, there may be lots of reasons why this cycle didn’t work. If you notice yourself blaming yourself for what is happening again is likely a thought distortion.

The third aspect that you’re going to pay attention to is filter thinking and here is when we only choose to see the negative side of the situation and we’re not looking at the overall picture.

The fourth thing that you’re going to notice is catastrophizing. If you’re always considering the worst possible scenario so start paying attention to your thoughts and if you notice any of these four points, it’s likely that it is a distorted thought. Once you notice that this sort of thought you’re going to challenge it because our brain does it very easily to come to those conclusions so we’re going to challenge that thought and we’re going to think about all the evidence that does support the thought. But we’re also going to think about all the evidence that refutes the thought. It might be that this time your cycle is going to be positive because you’re using different medications or you’re having a different diet or you’re under a different clinic. Think about all the reasons why it’s going to work, all the evidence that refutes your thought.

Secondly, I would say you need to release the judgment, allow yourself to observe the thoughts that come in your mind but not judge them, just tell your brain “thank you for sharing” and then just choose a more appropriate thought.

I would say the last bit of advice to manage negative thinking is to start practicing gratitude that can create such a big impact on your levels of positivity and happiness. It can really start changing the way our brainwaves work so start by noticing things in your life that you are grateful for, focus on the things that you are able to do, focus on your strengths and the world around you. Your perception of what is happening around you will change.

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