How my Gratitude Practice transformed my life and my fertility struggle
I’m grateful for my infertility. Is it easier to say this now that I have a child? Absolutely.
When I reflect on my own fertility journey I made some big changes across all aspects of my life but none bigger than working on my mindset.
One of the key ways I moved through some of my negativity and frustration with my infertility was to develop a gratitude mindset. You don’t need to take my word for it, the Journal of Fertility and Sterility by Alice Domar, Director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health, revealed that the women who were involved in a mind/body program for stress reduction, while undergoing IVF treatment, had a significantly higher pregnancy rate than those who did not participate. I hope that’s motivation enough.
Here’s what I did and it pretty much shifted everything for me.
The truth is our ancient brains aren’t hardwired to be grateful. So what kind of gratitude practice did I adopt? I adopted a daily practice. Developing a gratitude mindset doesn’t happen over night and you really gain a lot of momentum by committing to it daily. It’s a skill you actually have to practice. I would sit down either in the morning or of an evening and write down a list of what I was grateful for. What’s important to note here is writing it down makes all the difference - we actually access a different part of our brain when we write things down and for me being able to re-read the list helped me to see more things I could be grateful for. A little tip is doing a gratitude practice at the end of a shitty day is much harder but can also be more rewarding if you can push through some of the resistance of even doing it when you’re tired and fed up after a long day.
Every time I wanted to give up I realised I would NEVER have the life I wanted if I didn’t change my thoughts and for me changing my thoughts started with a gratitude practice. It was key to shifting my perspective and how I saw the world.
To be honest many times I couldn’t even write down ONE thing that I was grateful for. I feel ashamed admitting this but it’s the truth. I remember some days my husband would have me sit me down with pen and paper and say ‘Write down 20 things you are grateful for’. Sometimes I used to sit there for 20 minutes seething with anger that he was making me do this. Something inside me made me persist.
For me gratitude opened the door to realising my own personal power, it enabled me to tap into my own inner wisdom and knowing. I realise even more than I did when I was stuck in the middle of my struggle that I was GIFTED infertility so I could develop a mental fortitude that I never knew existed within me. It enabled me to see that I am strong and that my mindset has the ability to create everything I choose and sometimes that’s realising that the journey to where you are going might have to take a little detour or be different to how you imagined it.
I realise I was GIFTED ovarian hyper-stimulation to help me appreciate how extraordinary my body is. I was terrified of child birth before getting pregnant and had I not worked on developing a strong mindset beforehand I wouldn’t have been able to imagine having a natural child birth. How amazing is that?
The tears, frustration and anger of ‘why me’ gave me even greater clarity and definitely more gratitude. That’s the beauty of cultivating gratitude it actually rewires our brain chemistry. And some days you’ll fail - you’ll miss a day. The aim with a practice is to do your best not do it perfectly. I find it helpful to be aware of that little voice inside your head that says “You've missed a day. You've failed miserably at being grateful!” Please ignore it. Your mean girl has a way of always trying to convince you you’re not cut out for it – but persist and you will see the shifts and changes that come as a result of a consistent and mindful gratitude practice.
I have developed a free 7 Super Gratitude 7 days of 7 challenge. If you are interested in starting a gratitude practice this is a great place to start as it gives you my gratitude prompts as I like to refer to them. They will help break down any barriers to you not starting or coming up with your gratitude list in the first place. I hope you find it useful.