The Paradox of Control and Letting Go
Expanding on the Emotional Side of the Equation
We got a lot of great response from our exclusive interview with Dr. Bernie Siegel! This week, I wanted to expand a bit on the delicate topic of how our emotions play into the brain-body and fertility equation. In particular, the paradox that exists between wanting (and needing) to feel in greater control but at the same time needing to let go – all in an effort to improve your emotional health through your TTC journey. Our thoughts are literally translated to changes in our body chemistry – both on the good side and bad.
In my research for this week’s work, I looked at a variety of different sources for inspiration – ways we can learn how to deal with our emotions with the hope of providing real world tips in order to salve the roller coaster of TTC emotions. There are many simple lists already out there of ways to either de-stress or find bits of happiness throughout the day. Here, here and here. There is no reason to regurgitate this type of information.
Rather than trying to make ourselves feel better superficially, let’s get to the heart of the matter. Let’s try asking ourselves the difficult questions..and discovering new layers of truth we can learn from.
Getting to the Heart of the Matter
In my experience with TTC, PCOS and secondary infertility, I think my roller-coaster of emotions stemmed from the fact that I felt completely out of control (not to mention the obvious problem of not getting what I wanted). The difficulty in not knowing how the result would turn out, getting different information from every source I went to – and then not being able to hold a pregnancy to term – all of this was fuel to create the most unpleasant experience. When we feel out of control, we are stressed, anxious and full of fear.
Bernie has a “name” for the patients that take control of their health, he calls them “Exceptional Patients”. Exceptional Patients are those that gave their doctors a hard time, asking the difficult questions and exploring all of their alternatives. Internally they said “no” to their prognosis and took charge of their life.
Our good friend Cindy Bailey, author of the Fertile Kitchen is an Exceptional Patient. After having a fertility work-up completed, the doctor gave her a 2% chance of getting pregnant naturally. A 2% chance. Rather than “turn her head toward the wall” and accept this grim prognosis, however, she refused to think of herself as a statistic and took charge of the situation, changing her diet and using relaxation techniques. She was pregnant naturally only four months later. Brilliant.
Greater Feelings of Control, Yet the Need to Let Go
But here is a paradox that I would like to explore with you. The opposite of feeling out of control is possessing all of the information that you may need AND controlling every single factor that goes into TTC. This is akin to putting a tight grip on life and not letting go. If that’s the case, why is letting go so paradoxically empowering?
What do I mean by letting go? It’s kind of like trying to catch a butterfly and simply opening the palm of your hands and letting it land there. Being completely non-resistant to the events unfolding around you, and creating limitless possibility along with deep peace from within.
So, there is a fine line that must be traversed in creating the right emotionally healthful situation for pregnancy: The fine line between feeling in control, but conversely letting go and letting life unfold. As says the Tao de Ching:
Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.
Easier said than done? Here are some suggestions:
1. Become Your Own Patient Advocate. Be the pain-in-the-ass patient in ascertaining your situation. Explore all the avenues that you must, and refuse to believe – either subconsciously or consciously – that the fate rests only in your doctors hands. This is your body, and retain complete control and power within. Trust yourself.
2. Listen Internally. As I have proposed in the past, the brain-body connection works both ways. Listen to your body and trust that it is telling you what you need to hear. Christina left a comment in last week’s post about using our IVF Program and the fact that she visualized two eggs in the right ovary and one in the left ovary and that the two eggs in the right were smaller than they needed to be. Guess what? She was right, and then she focused on growing those two smaller eggs. Guess what? They grew larger and became viable to the amazement of her doctor. Incredible.
3. Journal Your Feelings. I may start sounding like a broken record, but I do believe this could be life transforming for you now and for the rest of your life. Journaling in the present tense, explore the wide range of emotions that you are feeling every day. You might even want to journal as if it is one year from now as well and see your life in exact and precise terms that you want it to be…expressing gratitude as you do.
4. Practice Mindfulness and the Art of Letting Go. Meditation or prayer, like journaling, opens up a new window inside to your soul. Quieting the mind and your thoughts for even just a few minutes a day will relax and ground you in a way that is hard to describe. Come to the full realization that “soft is strong.”
In Other News….
* We are proud to be involved with Resolve of New England. Sue was elected to the Board of Directors a few short weeks ago, underscoring our commitment to doing what we can towards patient advocacy.