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Fertility from the Inside Out

by | Aug 3, 2015 | Mindfulness | 0 comments

I took my son to see his first feature film last week.

We saw, “Inside Out,” the latest Disney/Pixar collaboration.

If you haven’t seen it already – go! It is a psychotherapist’s wet dream.

But more than that – it is an essential emotional road map for those struggling to make sense of their inner world.

What I love is that Disney/Pixar consulted with the Greater Good Science Center’s founding faculty director, Dacher Keltner, to make sure the film’s essential messages about emotion are consistent with scientific research.

And they ARE!

Without bogging the film down, the psychological insights enliven the main character who is struggling to make a big life transition.

With humor and tenderness, Inside Out shows us how difficult emotions like sadness, fear and anger can be extremely uncomfortable for people to experience – which is why many of us go to great lengths to avoid them.

Sound familiar?

But we learn through the film that all of these emotions serve an important purpose by providing insight into our inner and outer environments in ways that can help us connect with others, act wisely and skillfully, recover from loss and increase well being.

Although Inside Out is the story of a young girl moving with her family across country, the emotional processes highlight those taught in the Mindful Fertility Journal – and are profoundly relevant to the conception process.

So I wanted to share them with you here – without spoiling the film, as a way to introduce you to the work we do here at the Mindful Fertility Project.

1. Fertile mind-body states are not just about positivity.

We often misunderstand the role of positive emotions in optimizing fertile health.

Women who experience “emo-diversity,” or a rich array of both positive and negative emotions, have better mental health which means better fertile health.

While trying to conceive, feeling a variety of specific emotions gives you more detailed information about your particular situation, thus resulting in better behavioral choices.

FEELING (in the body) heartbreak, fear, anger, sadness, joy and guilt is a significant part of a healthy mind-body and these embodied feelings are very potent fertility drugs!

In fact, when we give up control to some of these emotions while trying to conceive, we seem to transcend positivity and achieve a deeper state of health – that of well being.

2. While trying to conceive don’t try too hard to be happy.

Many women grow up with messages that there is something wrong with them if they aren’t positive and happy all the time. Add to that all of the research about the importance of reducing stress (“You can’t feel afraid or it’ll harm your chances.”) while trying to conceive and this message gains potency.

Making happiness an explicit goal of trying to conceive can actually make us miserable. The more you strive for happiness the greater chance that you’ll be disappointed – and less happy.

Forcing happiness does not help you conceive. It may, however, make you feel isolated and angry.

So what is more effective than pursuing happiness?

Prioritizing YOURSELF.

Which is to say deliberately carving out TIME while trying to conceive for experiences that you personally ENJOY.

And this does not require avoiding or denying negative feelings or the tough situations that cause them. Avoidance and denial are counter-productive.

3. Sadness and loss are VITAL to your fertile health.

You may wonder what purpose sadness and loss play in your fertile health?

Sadness connects deeply with people – a critical component of well being – and helps you do the same. It is sadness’s empathic understanding that will help you through the inevitable ups and down’s of trying to conceive, not your attempts to put a positive spin on your losses.

Sadness elicits compassion, making you feel closer to yourself, your partner, your friends and family – transforming the potentially challenging memories of trying to conceive into ones full of deepening meaning and significance.

4. Be mindful of difficult emotions – rather than suppress them.

Emotional suppression is an emotion-regulation strategy that leads, over time, to anxiety and depression. Trying to contain sadness or anger or fear while trying to conceive ultimately backfires, creating an immense amount of stress.

Cognitive reappraisal (“This is happening for a reason.”) is a strategy often considered by psychotherapists as the most effective way to regulate emotions. But putting a spin on pregnancy loss, or struggles conceiving sometimes increases rather than decreases anxiety and depression.

Researchers now consider the healthiest method for working with emotions is learning to accept emotions for what they are – an important part of our emotional lives. Instead of avoiding or denying sadness or anger or fear or reappraising them, feel them without interpretation or judgment.

Mindfulness teaches us the learned skill of emotional acceptance: rather than getting caught up in an emotional reaction, we kindly become aware of the emotion without judging it as “right” or “wrong;” as “damaging” or “enhancing” our fertility.

This embracing of emotion actually creates a space from which to choose a healthy response.

And here is the DEAL my fertile friends.

Each authentic, compassionate, attuned response IS the act of mothering.

Yes.

Mothering begins now, today – from the Inside Out.

Ok, this is not the end – I want to hear from you.

How do you deal with the emotional ups and downs of trying to conceive?

Can you feel vulnerability, fear, and anger without interpretation or judgment or do you try and avoid your feelings?

Remember, no judgment.

Please respond in the comments below so I can be in touch with you directly.

 

 

Buffy

 

 

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