Answer from: Karenna Wood
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: Andreia Trigo, RN, MSc
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.
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?