Getting Through Tough Times

Hi everybody, Eric here again. In my last few posts I’ve talked about dealing with fear, stress and disappointment. Today, I’d like to take you to a somewhat different place. All of those challenging emotions, and many others, may be a part of your IVF experience. But let’s “go up a level” from tactical ways of coping with them individually to an even bigger, more powerful idea, and that idea is this.

You’ll get through it. And you know why? Because you’re stronger than you think.

You can survive all of these challenges. You can pass through these difficult days and come out the other side. No matter how hard, depressing, anxious, uncomfortable or fearful you may be, you can, in fact, get up every day, and go on. And no matter what the outcome of your infertility journey, you will actually be, at least in some ways, better when this time is behind you than you were when it started. And lest that sound like mealy-mouthed platitudes, which are of no use to anyone…

I’ll prove it.

Actually, I won’t prove it. You will.

You’ll need three things. A memory, a conversation and a test. Ready? Here we go…

  1. A memory: Think back to the absolute toughest time in your life before now. Perhaps it was when you were grieving a loss of someone dear to you. Or a health challenge. Maybe you were stuck in a job, or a place, you absolutely hated and had to drag yourself out of bed every day.

Whatever it was, grab it in your mind and dredge it up from the muck and look at it. And don’t just say, “Oh that was when thus and such happened.” Sit down for two minutes, two quiet minutes alone, and go back to that place. Really go back there and explore the events, and feelings you went through. Got it? OK. Now, go look in the mirror. See that? You’re still here. Look at that person in the mirror and say “hell, yeah!”

Whatever that was, that thing, it didn’t break you. It didn’t beat you. Don’t look at all that’s going on with fear, but as a challenge to be overcome, something to be beaten, a battle to come out of victorious. Look at your past victories to remind you that you won before, and you will again. Confidence in yourself is self-fulfilling.

  1. A conversation: Someone much smarter than I am once said, “Success in life is dictated in part by the number of uncomfortable conversations we are willing to have.” It really took a while for that to sink in with me. But once it did? It is a totally transformative concept. Here’s why.

For all but a few people, (those pugnacious, combative souls who spoil for an argument and relish the battle), confrontational conversations are really, really uncomfortable. We don’t like to raise a fuss. We’re fearful of the consequences, even if we haven’t actually enumerated what those might be. In some cultures, it’s almost an article of faith. For example, in Japan, there’s even a saying to communicate this notion to schoolchildren as a virtue – “The nail that sticks up gets pounded down.”

But here’s the thing – the most difficult conversations, the ones we shy away from, the ones we’d rather avoid at all costs? Those are quite often the conversations we most need to have.

Is your boss treating you badly, or worse, inappropriately? Is a family member being unfair, unjust or self-destructive? Is your spouse or partner “giving you the silent treatment” or undermining your relationship by refusing to communicate? These are the hardest conversations to broach, but the most important ones to actually start. So start one. And don’t tell yourself you don’t have one. You do, and you already know what it is. Go have that conversation.

I’ve adopted this practice and I can tell you, it is incredibly powerful in two ways. First, the moment you’ve done it, you’ve proven to yourself you can. And you go from “I couldn’t possibly” to “Well, that sucked, but I did it anyway.” You have now proven to yourself that you can do it. There is pride and confidence in it, regardless of the outcome of the talk itself.

And that brings the second, larger impact. Once you’ve done it, it changes difficult conversations from something to be avoided to something to be gone through. When you see difficult conversations as a challenge to be taken on, charged through and vanquished, instead of something to hide from, you begin to be entirely comfortable with having them, because you know that once they are done, you will be better, stronger and more confident for having done it, no matter how the actual conversation goes. It becomes a vehicle for self-improvement, instead of a looming fear. So find the conversation in your life you most wish to have, but have most avoided having, and go do it. If only to prove to yourself you can.

  1. A Test: By now, you may have noticed a theme building here. It is one of testing yourself, surviving life’s challenges, and building the confidence and the comfort within that you can and will get through the tough parts, and actually come out better when you’re done. So the third step is a concrete manifestation of this concept in its simplest, but most tangible (and therefore empowering) form.

Set a goal for physical activity. It doesn’t matter what it is – Run your first 5K. Max out your bench press. Take a karate class and learn how to hit something. Stretch until you can do a split.

Pick SOMETHING you think can’t physically do. Then work with a friend, a trainer, an expert or your doctor to lay out a safe, demanding 30 day plan to do the “impossible”. Then start. That very day. Here again, the outcome is not the point, though I am sure you will surprise yourself with how much you can accomplish.

No, the point is that physical activities are great for this kind of changing your belief system, because progress is so clearly measurable. Your weight goes down, what you can lift goes up. How far you can run, or how fast, or both, change demonstrably. Data is unequivocal and feedback is tangible, and before you know it, something amazing happens.   You. Will start. To believe.

So remember this – You can do more than you think. You’re stronger than you know. You’re tougher than you believe. Remember your worst days, say what needs to be said, and go do something you didn’t think was possible, and together, we’ll prove it…

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