Fertility Toxic Positivity: 5 tips to authentically support yourself and others trying to conceive in 2021.
Look, we need to get serious about toxic positivity. Toxic positivity can look like brushing off legitimate concerns and denying uncomfortable yet necessary emotions and replacing them with “good vibes only” t-shirts and “be happy” mugs simply because the latest self-help fad told you this technique will help you “live your best life”. Unfortunately, this can actually cause more harm, pulling you further away from your self-actualization. Toxic positivity is persistent in all areas of society, but it can be especially hurtful when trying to have a baby. Understandably, sometimes the last thing we want to do is look at problems straight in the face. When we are constantly being bombarded with notifications of overwhelming news about the latest environmental disaster, Coronavirus outbreak trends, and economists’ predictions about our society’s crash, it can be nice to put on some meaningless Netflix comedy and tune everything out. So to find a balance between validating your own fertility experience or someone else’s while staying sane, we have put together a guide with our top 5 tips:
- Never, ever, say “Just stay positive”:
In search of hope, we tend to desperately cling to our desires that everything will work out just fine. We have been brainwashed with the fad of “good vibes only” and “live, laugh, love”. But what if it doesn’t miraculously work out and “just be positive” is not manufacturing any results? Telling someone, “don’t worry, everything will be fine, you’ll get pregnant soon,” will not help. Comments like that can leave someone feeling like you don’t care, are dismissing their experience and are not listening. Instead, try saying, “I hear you, this IS really difficult, and I am here to support.”
- Validate emotions and lean into the discomfort:
If you or someone you know is struggling to conceive, you will know that gut-wrenching feeling month after month of desperately wanting to get pregnant. If nothing you try seems to work, it’s understandable that you may feel anxious, stressed, or overwhelmed. It is always ok to feel these emotions at any time but especially so when going through the ups and downs of trying to have a baby. We must constantly remind ourselves that these feelings are normal and they serve a purpose. Be gentle with yourself and know that it is no one’s fault. There is something to be said about working with your shadow, about leaning into the discomfort. Here you will find calm, acceptance, and ultimately, release.
- Find techniques that help balance these emotions:
While it’s unhealthy to be in denial of your own or other’s emotions, it is equally harmful to be constantly worrying about what is out of your control or overthinking things. The tendency to ignore “bad vibes” will not set us up for success in life, but likewise “bad vibes only” also won’t. Neither side of the toxic positivity or toxic negativity debate is wrong, rather each only has a half-truth. Ask yourself or others, how can you balance feeling your emotions while still ensuring they do not consume you? How can you bring more fun into your daily routine? Trying to conceive can feel like it has completely taken over your entire life, but remember, there is much more to who you are and other factors that give your life meaning. Partake in activities you love and rekindle some passions you might have been neglecting. If you are trying to support someone going through this process, plan a fun activity and do something that will bring them a moment of happiness.
- Create a plan for dealing with challenges:
Meditate, cross your fingers and set up the crystal grids if that helps to ground you, but also be prepared for some emotional challenges and work on a plan to help deal with them if or when they arise. If you are supporting someone through this journey, it is important to not brush off their genuine feelings.If you are the one experiencing it, reach out and tell your support circle how they can be there for you. Every individual has unique needs; sometimes they need a listening ear, other times they may need some advice or perhaps someone to help them walk through this. If you are planning to conceive, let your support network know precisely what you feel like you need at that moment. Direct communication can sometimes be difficult, but try to remember that not everyone will genuinely understand what it is like to experience fertility challenges and therefore may not know how to respond. If you want to effectively support someone through this process, ask them what they would like and what they need from you. When they share their experience with you, the best thing you can do is listen.
- Continue to foster intimacy and build authentic communities:
It is time we stop making authenticity taboo. Instead of further creating a culture where it feels isolating to experience any genuine human emotion other than happiness, let’s create a community that holds each other through our grief, sorrows and challenges. That way, when things don’t work out, as they inevitably might not in certain areas of our lives at some point, we have already forged ourselves into fertility warriors that will bend under pressure instead of break. Find your tribe and seek out people that understand what you are going through. There is a wonderfully supportive community in the Fertility Circle app or come join us on IG where there is a super friendly bunch of people that just “get it”.