Right now you just have a front door behind which is a home desperately waiting; to hear the sounds of a child/children, to see the preparation of a baby’s room, for nursery furniture to be built, for pictures to be hung on its walls as a child grows. Your home even longs for its toilet to receive the morning sickness of the woman who lives within its walls, who is finally pregnant after x amount of years of wait.
How do you deal with that day after day?
We can’t stop the happy posts of a child’s first day back at school, of pregnancy announcements and birth news. I know you wouldn’t want that, another person’s happiness after-all is not responsible for your pain.
The shitty curve ball of infertility is to blame for that.
So, what can you do?
You can allow your emotions to do their job and guide you towards the next best action to take. When working with my clients I teach them how to use the 4A Process for this.
Whilst I don’t have all the time I need to share everything there is to know about the 4A Process in one blog post, I want to share with you the 4 core steps that will undoubtedly help you, if you choose to follow them.
Aware - As soon as you become aware of any difficult feelings you are experiencing identify the emotion(s) – eg. is it Sadness, Frustration, Fear, etc?
Acknowledge - Before you do anything else acknowledge the emotion(s) for wanting to help you – this will ensure that you don’t just squash the feelings down. All emotion(s) are useful and are there to guide you, however difficult some may feel. Thanking them for wanting to help you is the first step towards feeling emotionally in control, even if sometimes it feels counter-intuitive to take this step.
Analyse - Explore how the emotion(s) want to guide you. Once you get used to doing this you will often find that you can do this almost instantaneously. However, initially you may want to write the feelings down and give yourself some time to dive deeper into how the emotions are wanting to help you.
Act - As with any form of guidance, if you don’t listen and avoid taking action then nothing will change. FYI – this is what causes your emotions to get squashed down and allowed to fester. They will keep cropping up though, often at the most inopportune time and will more than likely end up making you feel worse.
Let’s look at three key feelings that may come up when you receive a difficult external impact of life, like the back to school pics on social media and how to use the 4A Process in relation to them.
Acknowledge: Seeing a post highlighting the loss of a baby you haven’t yet welcomed into your life is incredibly hard and so allow yourself to experience that as much as you do. When you are ready thank the Sadness for wanting to help you.
Analyse: What next best action does your Sadness want to guide you towards? Sadness is there to slow us down and give ourselves the space to heal. In this respect I don’t mean healing from your fertility struggle in general, I mean the healing from the impact of what you have just experienced. That post on social media or even from face to face interactions. So spend some time sitting with those feelings of Sadness so that you can decide whether you need time alone, to reach out to someone who understands, or to look for something to do that will bring you some pleasure if that’s what you feel able to do.
Act: Follow what feels right for you. Whatever, action your Sadness wants you to take do that.
Acknowledge: If you feel angry then you have an absolute right to do so as your situation is completely unjust. So, feel the Anger as much as you do and when you are ready thank the Anger for wanting to help you.
Analyse: What next best action does your Anger want to guide you towards? Maybe it wants you to shout at the post about how unfair your situation is, “why don’t I have my baby yet?”. Perhaps it wants you to scream into a pillow or maybe punching a pillow might make you feel more satisfied. Whatever you do allow those feelings to come out, don’t squash them down behind the sadness where they can do you more harm.
Act: Follow what feels right for you. Whatever, action your Anger wants you to take do that.
Acknowledge: If you feel guilty because you don’t feel happy for someone else’s happiness, then this is one of the most important things I want you to know. The useful purposeful action of Guilt is to guide us towards making something right when we have deliberately done someone harm. You not being able to feel happy is not hurting them. Thank the Guilt for reminding you of this fact.
Analyse: If you haven’t deliberately done anything to hurt another person, then the Guilt you feel is actually harming you, so allow your Guilt to guide you to a place where you are being fairer to you. Maybe simply by acknowledging that it’s ok to feel all the other emotions you might be feeling, because your situation is so unfair.
Act: Follow what feels right for you. Whatever, action your Guilt wants you to take do that.
How you can use what you now know about the 4A Process.
I want you to appreciate that there is no right or wrong when it comes to your feelings and how they want to guide you. The examples of the guidance I’ve shown above are exactly that, examples. Which means that your feelings may come up with different ways to guide you.
Following the 4A Process will enable you to find the right answers for you.
So next time something has caused you to struggle emotionally remember; Aware, Acknowledge, Analyse and Act.
You can’t change the fact that you will be affected by difficult external impacts of life, only how you emotionally react to them. Feeling emotionally in control does not mean controlling your emotions though.
It means making sure you take notice of them so that they can always guide you towards the next best action to take, whatever that is for you at the time.
You can find out more about the 4A Process and other useful strategies to support your emotional well-being by reading my book - "I just want to have a baby: a guide for your emotional well-being on your journey from Fertility Despair to Fertility Freedom. If you are in the UK you can purchase by clicking here, or search for it on your local Amazon.