For Dee (and everyone else, too!): Challenging Negative ThoughtsAugust 25 2012 at 8:43 AM
|Hopeful in Delaware (no login)|
Dee, I hope the transfer went well, I've been thinking of you.
I'm on day 4 of the tww and having a hard time staying in a hopeful mental space (no pun intended, given my screen name:))
My clinic (Shady Grove) gave us a handout about coping during the tww, focused on positive reframing and challenging negative thinking. I was really impressed. Did not get it at my first transfer there.
Anyway, yesterday, I just finished reading Learned Optimism, by Martin Seligman, a research psychologist at U of PA. I read it for work (I'm a leadership and life coach), but immediately started using it on myself for this tww. By the way, optimism vs. pessimism as he uses them in the book are not just whether we predict things will turn out well or badly. He defines it as our "explanatory style," how we talk to ourselves when bad things happen. If we're pessimistic, we explain bad things to ourselves in a way that's permanent (it and we will always be this way), pervasive (it's not just this situation, but means bad things for other situations in our lives and about us in general), and personal (it's our fault, something we did or didn't do caused this.) If we have an optimistic style, on the other hand, we will tell ourselves it's temporary, isolated to this situation, and due to external circumstances.
He believes that people can learn to have a more optimistic style, and here are his instructions about how to do this. I'll use myself as a case study to illustrate.
-What's the actual Evidence? List all the evidence, both supporting and contradicting the self talk/beliefs.
-What are some possible Alternative explanations? List some alternatives other than the worst case scenario cause you jumped to.
-What are the Implications? even if there is evidence for your negative self talk, are there other implications besides the worst case scenario implication you jumped to?
-What's the Usefulness of thinking this way?
What I was saying to myself: My fresh transfer didn't work and I was so confident and hopeful then. I felt my baby's presence deeply and viscerally, and was dismayed snd devastated to get my BFN. This is never going to work. Why would this time be different? I don't even feel hopeful or connected to my baby now, so there's probably even less of a chance this time. Why am I putting DH and me through this torture? I suck at being spiritually open; if I were able to maintain a more positive, determined attidude, I'd have had success by now. I'm a hopeless failure at manifesting good things in my life. And I've forgotten to take my superantioxidant supplement for the whole tww so far. It's hopeless; I should just give up.
My rebuttal, based on the above questions: I had one failure, yes, but DE is often not successful on the first try. (Evidence) All those OE failure are not relevant here; I'm using different eggs; it's a new game now. (Evidence) Plenty of others have had success with subsequent DE tries. (Evidence) It's possible those polyps on my uterus hindered implantation last time (Alternative), and we've removed them (Evidence). Sure, it would be great to just KNOW and be blissfully confident, but I've heard many stories of women who got a BNP when they weren't feeling confident about the cycle. (Evidence) And even if this cycle is not successful, it doesn't mean I won't be in the future. (Implication) So I forgot to take my OPC, that doesn't mean it's going to cause a BFN or mean anything bad for the baby. (Implication) And I've done everything else just right: shots, prenatal vitamins, extra acu appts, done yoga every day for the past 2 months, got my abs up to par over the past two months. (Evidence) Spiritual intuition comes in many forms and is often indirect and on its own inscrutable time frame. The fact that I haven't had success yet is not a simple cause and effect situation. (Alternative) Who knows what groundwork I'm currently laying with my spiritual practices? (Alternative) I have many good things in my life that are the result of my vision and effort (Evidence). All that negative self just makes me more tense and depressed, definitely not helpful. (Usefulness)
You get the picture.
These concepts are similar to the ones on the SG handout and other models for challenging negative thought habits. (ANT, Byron Katie, etc.) I find it very powerful. I didn't have any role models growing up who exhibited positive thinking, empowerment, or spirituality (my parents are lovely people and totally supportive of me, but they both experienced tragedy and hardship while young, and they just don't find life joyful or approach it with enthusiasm or determination) so I'm having to learn it on my own.
This IF journey is so hard on our psyches, I thought I'd share this, in case anyone find it useful. If pessimstic self talk predated your IF, or whether IF has caused it, these models for changing thought habits really do work!
Hopeful in Delaware