I have a confession…
When I hear the word “thrive” used in the context of struggle, there’s a part of me that feels resistant. Skeptical.
“Thrive” can sometimes imply that we should be happy-joyful-awesome no matter what kind of painful crisis we’re navigating. The word can feel flippant, invalidating, and naive to those who are really hurting.
So, Dusty, why in the world would you call you practice Thrive (in)Fertility?
When I reflected back on my decade of experience in the field of infertility counseling, I observed there was a universal yearning present within every one of my clients...
A desire to go beyond simply existing in the waiting room of infertility hell. A longing to move beyond feeling like they’re just barely surviving.
They want to feel resilient, to reclaim joy in daily life, and to be able to thrive in the midst of the current pain.
Thrive: verb - to grow vigorously; to progress toward or realize a goal despite circumstances
The pure definition of "thrive" perfectly captures the overall mission of my practice and what my clients strive to experience.
And I’ve seen time and again that it’s fully possible to achieve it!
What does thriving during infertility look like?
- Being able to express your emotions in productive ways
- Controlling them from spilling out when you don’t need them to
- Eliminating destructive coping habits
- Not letting pregnancy announcements or other triggers ruin your week
- Grieving but being able to bounce back after a failed cycle
- Having the courage & energy to keep trying
- Breaking free from thinking patterns that only increase your suffering
- Quieting the critic in your head that judges you
- Not being a slave to worst-case scenario pessimism
- Remembering your worth and identity as a woman apart from reproduction
- Having the insight to know when to take a treatment break and when to keep pressing forward
- Staying connected to your support system by teaching them what you need
- Creating boundaries (without guilt!) around people & events that cause you pain
- Having fun, satisfying sex that has nothing to do with conceiving
- Being able to healthily communicate & meet your partner’s emotional needs
- Learning to say no, express and prioritize your needs
- Getting rid of insomnia
- Gaining control over disordered or unhealthy eating patterns that are hurting fertility
- Having fertility friendly exercise solutions that help combat hormonal treatment weight gain
- Eliminating stress induced bodily pains & tension
Take a moment to really imagine what the experience of infertility would be like if you were able to achieve even half of what's on these lists.
Feels like such wonderful relief, right?
But then the cynicism barges in, telling you that it's impossible.
I feel you.
It is indeed impossible to eliminate all the pain of infertility. Loss is loss, and it’s gut-wrenchingly painful no matter what.
But after counseling hundreds of women and couples, implementing the principles of proven research, and witnessing first-hand the power of the techniques I teach, I know it is possible to significantly reduce (and often put an end to) the causes of secondary suffering that often makes up the bulk of our painful experience.
If you can find the faith to trust me, I will show you how.
The Fundamentals Needed to Thrive during Infertility
#1: Adopt a systems thinking approach
In my last post, The Infertility New Years Resolution that Cannot Fail, I explained why it is essential to have a systems thinking vs. a goals oriented approach. To recap:
In Scott Adams' book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, teaches that goals are a reach-it-and-be-done situation where you exist in a perpetual state of failure that you hope is temporary.
Whereas a system "is something you do on a regular basis with a reasonable expectation that doing so will get you to a better place in life."
Goal: I’m going to become and stay pregnant this year.
System: I’m going to implement daily practices to help me feel as healthy as possible emotionally, physically, socially, and maritally as I navigate this crisis, and that serve me forever, no matter the outcome.
#2: Believe you have the power to transform your experience
Infertility feels like an assault that we cannot control or defend against. It is unfair and can often put us into a state of passivity, leaving us with a victim mentality.
But this position steals your power and must be challenged.
Yes, there is much of the infertility experience that you cannot change, but trusting that you have the ability to both contribute to and/or reduce your suffering is essential to transforming the way you feel.
#3: Learn & Practice the Mind-Body Counseling approach to infertility
The skills needed to gain more resiliency and control over your mind, emotions, body, and relationships are like muscles that need to be built up.
Experiencing real change in these areas requires a commitment to learning and PRACTICING these new approaches.
The 5 areas of focus in the Mind-Body Approach for INFERTILITY
- Mastering the Physiological Relaxation Response
- Controlling Negative Thoughts that Cause more Suffering
- Optimizing Marital Communication & Connection
- Creating a Safe and Smart Support System
- Advocating for and Increasing your Self-Care
In future posts I will be breaking down each of these areas to educate you on the simple and powerful ways in which you can begin to thrive.
Sometimes when I go through a period of struggle I find that a little symbolism can be helpful. In this case let’s consider the dandelion, that magical wish giver from our childhood.
Did you know dandelions are considered masters of survival? These dainty little wildflowers can take root in the most desolate places, often shoving their way though rock and cement, easily thriving in barren habitats.
This is why I use the dandelion in my logo.
Like these flowers, we too can grow in the most unlikely of places.
We too can be impossible to destroy.
We too can thrive in barren lands.
I look forward to showing you the way…
I hope you’ll join me on social media and subscribe to the blog to get notified when new posts go live.
Need a more personalized, deeper level of support? Don't hesitate to reach out. I would love to work with you one-on-one!