Infertility sucks. It’s an emotional rollercoaster full of unknowns that drains the very vitality needed to conceive. When I struggled to get pregnant, I plummeted into the dreaded cycle that you probably know so well. I stressed over ovulation sticks, charts, and fertility apps. During a small window of every month, I demanded daily sex from my husband and then wanted nothing to do with it for the rest of the month. I felt like my life was on hold. I agonized over the dreaded two-week-wait to see if I’d get my period. I spent hours googling problems I probably didn’t have. I felt anxious and overwhelmed with the whole process, bracing myself for disappointment at the end of every cycle.
After eight months of trying to conceive and crying over another negative pregnancy test, I set an intention to retrain my brain to reach for thoughts that made me feel better. I dared myself to reach for joy instead of dread. I wanted to enjoy the process rather than let my fear of not being able to conceive get the best of me. As a certified meditation teacher, I already knew the tools required to reconfigure my thought process, to reach for the best-case scenario instead of ruminating in the “what ifs.”
I taught these techniques to other people, so why was it so hard for me to practice them myself? Because it’s natural to suffer when we don’t get what we want. It’s okay to feel disappointment. In fact, it’s better to feel your way through these emotions rather than repressing them. Instead of beating myself up for feeling bad, I gave myself space to fully experience the fear, worry, sadness, and grief. Once I let it all out, I immediately got to work practicing positive affirmations daily. I gave myself space to fully experience the fear, worry, sadness, and grief. Once I let it all out, I immediately got to work practicing positive affirmations daily.
Affirmations are simple, positive statements that help you create new neural pathways in the brain. Scientific studies have proved that positive affirmations help activate parts of the brain that are associated with self-related processing and reward. The studies also indicate that positive affirmations can help build or restore self-competence.* When we are overwhelmed by the external stimuli encountered throughout our chaotic lives, we sometimes develop automatic negative thought patterns. By reprogramming our thoughts, we’re better able to prepare ourselves for potentially negative outcomes or to recover when bad things happen.
For my next cycle, I set the stage with the affirmation, “I am healthy. I am strong.” During my ovulation window, I said, “I am fertile” daily. In my two-week wait period, I repeated, “I choose happiness no matter what happens.” When I worried about finances, I reached for the simple yet powerful words, “I am wealthy. I am rich” or “I expect more money to flow to me.” Whenever I found myself worrying, I mentally said, “Cancel, cancel.” Then I replaced the negative thoughts with positive, self-affirming ones.
As I practiced, my mood changed. Hope replaced fear, and I began enjoying the journey again. I stopped taking pregnancy tests to further alleviate anxiety, and I felt more equipped to handle disappointments.
Despite feeling optimistic again, I had a setback. After my husband’s sperm test and my hormone check both came back normal, my doctor approved a hysterosalpingogram (HSG), a procedure to see if my fallopian tubes were blocked. I was excited to get another piece of the puzzle, but I needed to wait for my insurance to snail mail a piece of paper, giving me permission to schedule the test. Excitement turned to anxiety as I waited.
When it finally came, I called immediately to make the appointment. The test needs to coincide with your menstrual cycle, and I was literally one day too late! I would have to wait another month to take the test. Cue the tears! All my training went out the window in that moment, but this time I allowed myself to grieve without feeling guilty because I remembered my affirmation, “I am strong.” After I thoroughly experienced my disappointment, a week later, I instinctively reached for what made me feel good again; my daily affirmations.
At the end of that cycle, I found out I was pregnant. The test I was waiting for was no longer needed.
I can’t say that affirmations alone gave me my positive pregnancy test, but they made me feel so much better during the six months I practiced them, and that’s what matters. I still practice my affirmations, but now focus on other challenging areas of my life. You did not create your infertility with negative thoughts, but you can combat difficult thoughts and emotions that naturally arise when you struggle to conceive. You don’t have to hold on to those emotions and let them control you.
I’m not saying your infertility will go away if you stay positive. You did not create your infertility with negative thoughts, but you can combat difficult thoughts and emotions that naturally arise when you struggle to conceive. You don’t have to hold on to those emotions and let them control you. When you’re ready, reach for thoughts that make you feel calm, peaceful, and even happy, despite your circumstances. If affirmations are not enough to get you through the really tough moments, I also suggest practicing breathing exercises, guided visualizations, journaling, spending time in nature, talking with trusted friends, and perhaps seek out a therapist. Reach for any support tools that help you deal with the anxiety and grief that naturally arises from unforeseen setbacks and heartache.
You may also find that some days the affirmations make you feel great and other days they don’t. This is a daily practice, not a one-time cure. It takes time to plant these ideas into your consciousness, so daily repetition is key. Another important element is belief. Reach for words and thoughts that you believe are true, at least on some level. Even if you’re struggling with infertility, are you otherwise healthy? If you’re going through IVF, perhaps your uterine lining is thick and, therefore, you are fertile. Even if you have an unexpected path to parenthood that involves a donor and/or a surrogate, you could focus on the affirmation, “I feel grateful for my dream team.” Find the statements that make you feel good because you believe in them, then repeat them often.
Here is the most effective way to practice affirmations and to create your own.
How to Practice Affirmations
The most effective way to practice affirmations is to say them out loud and then slowly bring the words inward. Here’s a step-by-step guide and some tips: The most effective way to practice affirmations is to say them out loud and then slowly bring the words inward.
1. Say the affirmation out loud.
Shout it if you’d like! By saying it out loud first, you’re grabbing the attention of your conscious mind. It’s like telling yourself, “Pay attention! This is important.”
2. Repeat the affirmation again in a slightly lower speaking voice.
3. Next, whisper the affirmation.
4. Finally, say the affirmation mentally.
As you lower your voice and bring the affirmation within, you’re planting that truth inside your subconscious mind. Eventually, you’ll train your brain to reach for these thoughts versus the automatic negative ones you may have unknowingly practiced previously.
5. Practice your affirmations throughout the day.
A Few More Suggestions
Focus on one affirmation at a time.
Practicing too many at once may confuse your subconscious mind and won’t be as effective. Stick with one until it really feels great to you—a day, a week, or even a month. Once you feel you’ve mastered it, then focus on another one.
Post the words in places where you’ll see them for little daily reminders.
How to Make Your Own Affirmations
1. Always keep it positive.
“I am” rather than “I’m not” or “I won’t.”
2. Make it present tense.
We’re telling our subconscious that this is our reality. Not later, but right now. All we have is now.
3. Use clear, strong wording. Keep it simple.
4. Use words you can believe, at least on some level.
You might not be feeling super healthy, but if you know you are strong and capable of health and you focus on that higher truth, you may feel the words resonate within.
To get you started, look for affirmations shared in the infertility community that seem appropriate for you. I’ve posted videos on my Instagram and TikTok channels that may also inspire you. Even if you’re skeptical that affirmations can work for you, what do you have to lose? If a positive statement makes you smile or brings you a few moments of relief, it will be worth it to help you feel empowered on your fertility journey.
JP Kriya is a certified meditation teacher and author of Zen & The Art of Making Babies, a book that uses affirmations, visualizations, meditation, and other soul-searching exercises for coping with infertility. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son. To learn more, visit www.jpkriya.com and on Instagram or TikTok @jpkriya.
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