Feel hopeful, at peace and relaxed on your fertility journey without trying.Oct 16, 2023
When I start working with a client, I always ask them how they want to feel. The answers vary; however, the most common responses are that they want to feel content, peaceful, hopeful, or relaxed.
These are completely understandable responses, given the overwhelm, the burnout, and the unrelenting emotional toll that infertility places upon you. We just want to feel lighter.
And if you’re anything like me, if that’s how you want to feel, you’ll make a plan, do all the things you can possibly think of, and sit back and wonder why that sense of peace continues to elude you. As your typical type A personality, over-achiever, over-thinker, over-analyser…..slowing down has never come natural to me.
A number of years ago, I was so determined to find a sense of peace, that I booked into a beautiful retreat and spa, nestled on 20 acres of breathtaking hinterland around Byron Bay. The promotional material claimed to draw upon it’s mystical healing heartland, to provide a grounding and restorative experience. I was going to do morning yoga overlooking the mountains, with a view to the ocean, eat the award-winning chef prepared meals, have afternoon naps, and indulge in daily massages and bath soaks. I was certain that this would lead me to feeling relaxed and content – how could it not?!
Well, no matter how hard I tried to immerse myself in the beautiful environment and activities, the more disheartened I became. I spent that first day struggling and fighting to find a state of peace, calm and tranquillity. But my mind would not let me. The cogs would not stop turning. On the final day, I gave up. I threw my hands in the air, said fuck this shit, and I let go of the expectation that I would find peace here. And guess what?! A few hours before I had to pack up and leave, I finally found it.
And as annoying (and expensive) as that experience was, it taught me a valuable lesson. We can’t force ourselves to feel a certain way. And in fact, the harder we push to feel it, the further away we get.
So, when I read that this is actually a law or established concept, and not just me being completely weird, I had to share it with you.
If you too are struggling to feel content, or peaceful, or hopeful, or relaxed (or any other emotion or state of being) it’s not because you’re doing it wrong, nor is it because you’re not trying hard enough. It’s due to a little concept called the Backwards Law.
The Backwards law was created by Alan Watts (although it originated from the Tao Te Ching or Zen Buddhism) and talks about the idea that the more you try to grasp something, the further it moves away.
Which is exactly how infertility feels most of the time. The more things you do, the less likely it feels like it will actually happen. And when people keep telling you that they tried for years to get pregnant, and then it happened on the month they weren’t trying, it’s kind of frustrating – but makes you question things.
This is definitely not me saying to stop what you’re doing – the changes you have made to improve your health and lifestyle are helping. But this concept definitely has merit when we’re talking about our emotional state.
One of my favourite examples is meditation. How many times have you tried to meditate (because that’s what everyone tells you to do to help you relax – and apparently relaxing is the cure for infertility 😊), so you say to yourself – right, I’m going to clear my mind. And as soon as you say that, a million thoughts pop up in your head. You’re remembering all the things you forgot to do that day, you’re creating a shopping list in your head, and you’re punishing yourself for not being able to calm your mind – because if you can’t calm your mind, how will you ever be able to get pregnant?!
Telling yourself to clear your mind only creates more thoughts, which leads to anger and frustration. Whereas if you sit down for 5 minutes and give yourself permission to think and have zero expectation to feel relaxed, it’s more of a peaceful experience, because there’s no resistance.
Control is also a big one. As a self-confessed control freak, this is something I struggle with daily. Before infertility I thought that I could control every aspect in my life and achieve anything I ever wanted based on the effort I put in. The majority of the time, it worked. Which is why infertility knocked me on my ass. Because there was so much out of my control – I couldn’t control my cycle, the lining on my uterus, when I ovulated, the timing of scans for my IVF treatments or egg collections, and ultimately whether we got pregnant or not. That didn’t stop me from trying, but unfortunately the more I tried to control things and gain some certainty, the less certain and in control I felt.
So, if you’re struggling with the uncertainty and lack of control, the best way to get around this is to accept that there are certain things we cannot control. And the more comfortable we feel with the uncertainty, the more secure we’ll feel.
Hope and happiness are very similar. Our pursuit of these things is a reminder that we don’t have them. The more we try to feel hopeful, the further away from it we feel. The more we try to feel happy, the less satisfied and joyful we feel. But if you give yourself permission to feel however you feel, with zero expectations or goals, it removes the pressure.
And who could forget stress? People keep telling us to reduce our stress because it impacts our fertility. So, then we try to reduce our stress, which doesn’t help – because the harder we try, the more stressed become, because we’re now getting stressed about being stressed. It’s such an exhausting and viscous cycle.
This concept is also connected to the principal in The Gap and the Gain, by Dan Sullivan. When we live in the gap, which is the space between where we are currently i.e. feeling hopeless, overwhelmed, or scared etc and where we want to be i.e. feeling hopeful, calm and content, we end up feeling even worse. This is because we focus on the things we aren’t feeling, and as a result, we feel more like a failure, frustrated, and it leads to us feeling disheartened.
Unfortunately, on our fertility journey, we find ourselves living in the gap constantly. We’re always focused on that end goal of having a baby.
Once again, I want to be clear that I am not saying to stop trying to improve your emotional well-being. But the way we are going about it could use some adjusting. And I can’t believe I am saying this, but maybe there is merit in not trying so hard (ok, the over achiever in me just had a little panic).
I know this goes against everything you were ever taught growing up – it definitely does for me. But when it comes to our emotional state, perhaps we need to take more of a laid-back approach. Accept that what we’re feeling right now is understandable and normal. And while it may feel uncomfortable, it will pass. Our emotions are temporary. Our situation is temporary.
Imagine how it would feel to stop struggling with your emotions.
Imagine how it would feel to own the way we feel, but without falling victim to it.
And I can tell you from personal experience – there is more power in acceptance, than there is in battling and wrestling with it.
Perhaps we don’t have to get down and dirty to get to the place we want to be.
Because the resistance keeps us stuck. I see this time and time again with my clients. They push down the sadness or try to sidestep around it to get to happiness or joy, but it doesn’t work. But once they accept that sadness is part of this experience, it opens up the space for joy naturally.
What I love about this law, is that it gives you permission to rest. To put down that rope that you’ve been playing tug of war inside your mind with for so long, and walk away. And if you’re anything like me, the pushing and trying and constant pressure and juggling is making you feel exhausted right now. So, if you’ve tried everything else and it hasn’t worked yet, what’s the harm?
Not sure how to lean into acceptance and find peace using this principle? I can teach you through my 1:1 coaching program. You can find more information HERE.
Would you like to know more about how you can work with me, so you can get back control of your life and start moving forward? My 1:1 coaching program is packed with information, tools and support. Find out how you can get on the wait list now.
Are you ready to BEAT STRESS + BOOST FERTILITY?
It's no secret that stress can have a negative impact on your fertility.
That's why people keep telling you to "just relax", which is NOT helpful, and only fuels your stress.
But HOW do you reduce your stress, when infertility is stressing the heck out of you to begin with?
HOW do you slow down, feel at peace, achieve a little more balance in your life and say good bye to the inner struggle?
Download this free PDF for 3 simple hacks you can implement today to tip the scales in your favor.