There is always something else behind that top level explanation though, and it comes up in various forms.
It maybe that they don’t want to be pitied, or be seen as weak or worse a failure in some way (this is a big one for the guys).For some it is emotionally taxing to have to try and explain why it is so painful to struggle with infertility, to people who just don’t understand.
Often it is about not wanting to attract unsolicited useless (albeit often well intentioned) advice. However, there is an emotional toll to be paid for this ‘secrecy’, and I use the word secrecy deliberately because to those struggling with infertility it can feel like they are keeping a big secret can’t it?
And here’s the thing…
Whilst we sometimes keep a secret about something that is fun, more often it is about something we are hiding out of shame or guilt, and I am talking about this today because I believe that no-one should feel ashamed or guilty about something that is out of their control. There are enough difficult emotions that come with infertility aren’t there, without adding shame and guilt about keeping it hidden into the mix?
So, it is important for those who have fertility issues to change how they perceive ‘hiding’ it. Because as well as the possibility that keeping infertility hidden exacerbates feelings of shame and/or guilty, there are three other important problems to be aware of that come with keeping secrets.
- Having secrets and feeling the need to hide something from other people makes us feel worse than we would if we didn’t have them. Pretty obvious huh?
- Research has shown that having a secret means that we are more likely to be focussed on the information that we are hiding, even when we are not around the people we are hiding the information from. Like people who are struggling to have a baby aren’t thinking about infertility enough.
- Studies show that having a secret makes us feel like we aren’t behaving authentically. Now I am not necessarily talking about keeping things hidden from strangers, more about from those close to us. Because that is when those struggling are more likely to be thinking “they don’t know about our struggles with infertility”, which adds further stress that they can definitely do without.
I appreciate that at first knowing this, isn’t going to necessarily have you jumping for joy, if you are struggling with fertility issues. Because I am betting that if you are currently choosing to keep your struggles to yourself, then you don’t really want to hear how doing that is causing your further stress.
The great thing about both our minds and our emotions though is that although it doesn’t always feel like it, we get to choose out thoughts and because our thoughts determine how we feel, then we get to choose that too.
Which means that the answer to the potential problem of secrecy causing more stress, is to get really clear on why you don’t want to share about your infertility, and to understand this in a way that doesn’t include difficult emotions like shame and guilt.
Here are my top three questions that you can ask yourself to help with this.
- Why is it important for me not to tell those close to me?If it is about the other person's reaction you might wonder if there is an opportunity for you to educate them in how you would like them to support you (see my previous post on ‘How to respond when your 'bestie' tells you she has infertility’, that you can use to have a conversation with them)?
- Is keeping my fertility struggles a secret from those close to me causing me more pain than it would to share with them?Get really honest about this and if again you are worried that they won’t ‘get it’ use the blog post I mentioned previously to do some re-educating.
- Does it matters if they know or not?I know this sounds a big back to front but in truth there are lots of things we don’t tell certain people in our lives aren’t there? We don’t see those things as ‘keeping a secret’ because they aren’t that important to us in the first place, so we don’t feel like we are hiding anything. By deciding that actually it has no relevance to your relationship with certain people, you won’t cause further stress by feeling inauthentic.
Having asked and answered these three important questions make sure that you find a way to take action, because that’s where change can truly take place for you with regards to feeling more emotionally in control of your fertility journey.
If you feel like it would be useful for a Freedom Fertility Formula Specialist to support you with this, take a look at what else you will gain if you do that, by clicking here. I believe that you deserve to live a fulfilling life whilst waiting for a baby, and I know that there is a proven way of doing that which also enhances your chances of becoming pregnant too. This is why I have made it my mission to put Mental Health and Emotional Well-Being at the forefront of Fertility Care.
If you are interested in finding out what it would be like to work with a Freedom Fertility Specialist, please click here.