What The World Would Be Like If Disenfranchised Grief Didn’t Exist

I never heard of the term “disenfranchised grief” before infertility. At first I was surprised by the fact that the world didn’t know how much emotional pain I was in day to day during that chapter of my life. Then, after living in it for years, I uncovered what it really meant to experience disenfranchised grief directly in our culture and what was needed to move beyond that to a place of healing and well-being.

Right now there are millions of people walking around in the world carrying grief we know nothing about. Dr. Kenneth Doka coined the term “disenfranchised grief” more than 20 years ago. According to his research it is classified as grief that people experience when they incur a loss that is not or cannot be openly acknowledged, socially sanctioned or publicly mourned.

In our culture this includes miscarriage, stillbirth, and infertility.

There are millions of people who experience these things every day with a heavy emotional toll but it is not something we acknowledge on a wider scale in our society. When was the last time you saw a sympathy card that said, “I’m sorry about your infertility struggle”?

When we know our grief won’t be publicly accepted or understood we end up hiding it. We don’t share it with others because we have a deep fear of shame and alienation about it. As humans we are hard-wired for connection and don’t want to be different from the rest of the world. Because of this need, we know that these experiences set us apart and show that we are on a different path than most of our peers.

What does a world without disenfranchised grief look like? For starters, it begins with every person believing that the feelings and emotions they are having are valid and okay. It begins with people feeling comfortable to acknowledge their grief as their own and ask for what they need during that time. It begins with people being willing to talk.

So much of disenfranchised grief is perpetuated because people do not openly share their experiences when it comes to these very personal experiences. When we don’t talk about it we silently say that it doesn’t deserve the attention other types of grief are given.

The first step to living in a world where disenfranchised grief doesn’t exist is for you to own and acknowledge the emotional pain you are in, and to share that with those around you. We often seek out people who have had similar experiences to us because we think they understand what it is we are feeling. To help the world understand more about what you are grieving, you have to communicate about it, which means you can’t be hung-up by fear or shame.

Want to let go of your shame story that is keeping you in a continuous state of grief? Reach out to me and schedule a free strategy session for help.

Why You Want To Separate Science From Drama During Infertility

It is easy to tangle facts with drama when you tell the story of your infertility experience. We all do it, though. But knowing how to separate out the two will save you a world of heartache along the way to motherhood and is a skill worth learning now.

We each have a story to tell about the journey we are on. We know the pains and the struggle all too well and how to emphasize where we deem things unfair or any injustice to have been served. We are storytellers by nature and that is a good thing but in the case of infertility, it is important to be mindful of what story you are telling yourself.

With infertility there are two elements: science and drama. Science is all of the facts. Facts are indisputable. They could be proven in a court of law and universally everyone would agree on them. This is everything that happens externally from us in the world that we can’t control. Science doesn’t have emotion attached to it and it certainly doesn’t have a lot of descriptive adjectives either. The world is made up of a bunch of circumstances that are completely neutral until we think about them.

That is where drama kicks in. Drama is what occurs in our heads. It consists of all of the beliefs we have crafted from our thoughts over time. Those thoughts are the sentences that run through our brains all day. They are our opinions and judgments about all of the facts of the world. In essence, they create all of the juicy parts of the story we tell about anything.

But things get muddled in our minds when we start taking our thoughts and stating them as facts. Remember, circumstances are neutral and everyone in the world would have to agree on it. If they wouldn’t, then it probably isn’t a fact. “Infertility sucks” is completely your own opinion. “I had a miscarriage” is a fact of your life experience. See the difference?

The most important thing to point out is that your thoughts are always optional which is a beautiful thing to know because that means you can change them. The science is harder to change, but the way you think about it will make all of the difference in what kind of story you are living.

Want to change the story you’re telling about infertility? Reach out to me for a free strategy session to get started.

Hope Is Not The Answer To Infertility: Here’s Why

Hope is a word that gets used a lot in the infertility community. It sounds good and positive but when you dig deep into examining how you actually feel when you are in a place of “hoping” you’ll be surprised at what you uncover.

Hope is an uninspirational feeling with massive amounts of expectation. It is very passive and doesn’t require any action from us. Hoping something will happen doesn’t give you full responsibility for taking steps to make the thing happen. Hope is dependent on something else and rather than claiming our own power we end up giving it all away.

I hope I get pregnant.

I hope I lose weight.

I hope my marriage doesn’t fall apart. 

When you live in a place of hoping for things to be different than they are you are trading the current moment for something you think will feel better in the future. We often use the idea of hope as the promise of something we can’t control.

When we hope, we let go of our own responsibility in the situation. When we hope we don’t do. We passively wait for things to happen and then are surprised when they don’t go in our favor.

But letting go of the idea of hope and relaxing into knowing that our lives are going to be filled with challenges no matter what helps us reclaim that responsibility that we had let go of before. Life is going to push us to the edge of our comfort zones, and when we embrace that we can use those challenges as opportunities to go beyond where we are at, to evolve and to participate in the fullness of the human experience.

Instead of reaching for hope the next time you are trying to get through something difficult, try out a different emotion instead. How about certainty or confidence or courageous? These emotions are available to you right now and they are so much more engaging than hope. They will inspire action better than hope ever could.

Hope doesn’t require much of us. It doesn’t require us to show up and be seen or heard in the ways we know we need to. If you are into your infertility experience you know what I mean. The more hoping you do the less action you take and the more out of control you end up feeling. It’s a vicious cycle when you know what you want but you end up abdicating your responsibility in the process.

Are you passively hoping for a change in your life and getting nowhere? If you are ready to stop hoping for things to happen and actively move forward, reach out to me to get started.

Infertility and Adventures In Unconditional Love

At the center of life is love. Truly. Everyone wants to feel love and belonging and with 7.6 billion people on the planet, it is something we all have in common. Sometimes when I’m scrolling through social media I have to remind myself of this. We’re all on a love seeking quest in life.

When life is going well and everything is lining up the way we wanted, it is easy to experience love. But when life is not panning out the way we had hoped and we take another pregnancy test that turns up negative, it is easy to forget about love – for ourselves or for others.

Fundamentally love is just an emotion felt in the body created by thoughts. It is a vibration that we create for ourselves and it is always available. Whether we choose to access it or not us up to us.

During infertility we make all kinds of decisions every day about love – who we will love, how we will love, who we will not love. It can be exhausting to navigate, but important to understand that we are always the origin of love in our lives. No one else.

When you choose not to feel love, it never hurts the person you are withholding it from. It only ever hurts you. Why? Because you are at the source of it. If you choose to love everyone, it doesn’t necessarily benefit all of them but it certainly benefits you. If you think this way, you get to always be around people that you love.

Who are you withholding love from right now? How does that make you feel? Probably not very good. How would you feel if you chose to love them today, as they are? Think about it. Remember, you always get to decide how you feel.

Want to learn more about turning to love during times of hardship? Reach out to me for a free strategy session to get started.

Why These 7 Common Stereotypes Are Ineffective When It Comes To Relaxation

The stress of infertility can be comparable to a cancer diagnosis. Anyone navigating the world of appointments, shots, ultrasounds, and multiple doctors knows that there is a lot to manage and a lot to think about. So how do you cope with all of it? How do you let yourself relax?

To relax means to make or become less tense or anxious. Take a look at what you do to relax now. Does it involve food or alcohol or shopping or social media? If it involves any of those things I would wager that you may not feel better or less tense or anxious from it.

After an unsuccessful round of treatment or a miscarriage, you are bound to feel stressed and sad. But then what? How do you feel afterwards? If eating the bag of chips or having that third cocktail don’t bother you at all, by all means continue. But if you are left in a deeper pit of misery after indulging in those things, that is worth evaluating.

Here are seven common stereotypes when it comes to relaxation. (Keep track of how many you do.)

  1. Take a bath
  2. Have a glass of wine
  3. Enjoy a massage
  4. Take a vacation
  5. Eat some ice cream
  6. Have a cup of tea
  7. Spend time exercising

All of these activities have to be motivated by a feeling first and every feeling is caused by a thought. Being relaxed is a feeling, which means it is triggered by your thinking. Thoughts are the only thing that can lead you to feeling relaxed. No amount of other action will get you there. Perhaps the thoughts driving you to feel relaxed lead you to participate in one of those seven common stereotypes, but the activity is never the reason you are relaxed. Your mind always is.

Want to learn a new way of relaxation that doesn’t depend on outside influences? Reach out to me and schedule a free mini session to learn how.

3 Ways To Nurture Yourself To Survive Your Grief

When was the last time you really checked in with yourself? Like sat down and had a heart-to-heart with your own reflection in the mirror? A week, a month, or longer?  If you are like most people it hasn’t been on the top of your to-do list lately.

Most of us manage to get by without a regular check in, but when you are struggling with grief it becomes much more important to take the time you need for you to heal. That means knowing what is going on inside your head and with your own heart. I call it “tuning in” where you have a greater understanding of what is happening in your life beyond the surface level.

When you are grieving it is more important than ever to nurture yourself. Your pain and your path to healing both start and end with you. The more in tune you can be with your own needs the faster you will navigate to a place of wellness. Here are three ways to nurture yourself to survive your grief.

Mentally: Check in with what thoughts are going on in your head. You can do this in the form of journaling or just free writing for 15 minutes to see what comes up. Pulling thoughts out of your mind and committing them to paper forces you to draw attention to them. Most of the time we just let these thoughts exist in our brains, completely unaware of the impact they are having on our lives.

Emotionally: Understand what feelings are coming up for you. Depending on what thoughts you are having, your emotions may be all of over the map. That’s okay and that is normal. Don’t try to resist or avoid the feelings you are having. Allow them and, if possible, name them. Call them out for what you know them as. Remember, feelings are vibrations in your body caused by your thinking. Angry, sad, frustrated, are all examples of feelings.

Physically: Often when we are grieving we turn to something external because we think it will make us feel better. Depending on what that is, it could have physical implications later on. For example, eating an entire bag of cookies when you are sad may make you feel some sense of relief in the moment, but that action will have on your body will linger long after the initial dopamine hit of sugar. To nurture yourself physically when you are grieving, ask “Will this have a net negative outcome for me?” If the answer is yes, then it would best to pass up that activity. This could include the impacts of overeating, over drinking, over spending, etc. Anything where you are seeking to feel better because of an outside source will not bring you long term wellness.

Looking for a road map to help you nurture your way through grief? Schedule a free 25 minutes strategy session with me to get started.

How To Fail and Still Reach Your Goals

Why doesn’t everyone achieve the goals they set for themselves in life? Why are we all not super successful or happy or healthy or wealthy? Why can’t we just move forward towards the things we want?

Because we are afraid to fail.

Fear of failure is the number one reason you are not living the life you want to be. It is why you didn’t step outside of your comfort zone and take risks. It is why you are unhappy and dissatisfied with the decisions you have made. It is why you feel stuck where you are.

If you lower your expectations you can avoid failure altogether. You can muddle along through life and never ever feel it, but you also never really feel success either. Both failure and success are feelings, which means they are triggered by our thinking.

Failure is what you feel when you don’t meet your own expectations. Success is what you feel when you do. But perhaps the most significant difference between the two is what you do after you have the feeling. Most of the time, failure causes us to stall and spin out. We stop taking action and give up on moving forward. We may even decide that it means something terrible about our ability and worth.

So how do you end up meeting your own expectations? You fail. A lot. You try, execute, and evaluate – regardless of the outcome. In the process, you learn how to fail without making it mean anything terrible about you. To take everything in as information to move forward and not hold you back.

If you decide ahead of time that when you fail, you will not make it mean anything negative about you, then why would you not put yourself out there and go after the goals you have? If you aren’t trying to avoid the feeling of failure and instead become okay with it being part of the process you can fail hundreds of times and still reach your goals.

Learning how to do this will build your strength and confidence. When we learn how to fail and get back up and try again, we build a skill that gets better each time we practice it. Keep practicing, keep failing, and keep moving forward.

Ready to learn how to fail your way to your goals? Let me teach you how.

Process vs Product: The Recipe For Success In Life

During seasons of struggle in life people often shut down. They don’t allow their minds to explore the possibility of other options to help them figure out what to do next. Call it tunnel vision, but we end up so very focused on the end product that we forget about all of the life that will be lived up until that time. We focus on the product (the end) instead of the process (every moment until the end).

What are you really focused on right now? What process are you going through to get it? Here are a few things I uncovered when I started to focus on the process instead of the end product to my problems.

The process of learning is delightful. It helps me uncover how to solve my problems. I don’t try to rush it by focusing on how far I have yet to go. I don’t compare myself to others who can do it better. I don’t try to hide my mistakes.

The point is not the result. The result is a given. There’s no rush or judgment. I use the result only as a way to adjust and focus, not to beat myself up. I never doubt that I will get there. I enjoy the process. I never give up.

Becoming process focused happens when you repeat these stages:

  • Learning
  • Understanding
  • Practicing
  • Making mistakes
  • Getting feedback
  • Practicing
  • Making fewer mistakes

And over and over again. Really that is what life is all about. When you fall into enjoying the process of going after the things you want in life, the recipe for success becomes much clearer. To me it comes down to these truths:

  • The more and better you practice, the better you get
  • The more mistakes you make, the better you get
  • The better attitude you have, the more willing you are to make mistakes
  • The more you enjoy the process, the better your result will be

Think about that from the standpoint of growing your family. Are you focused on the process or the end product? In the end, the process is all we have because we are constantly evolving. Every moment of every day.

Ready to tackle the process of infertility like a boss? Set up a free strategy session with me to get started.

How Important Is Your Past To Your Future?

The past can seem benign and blissful for some and filled with turmoil and anguish for others. Which camp do you fall into? I would wager the latter if you have walked through any era of infertility. Regardless, most people can usually think of something in their past that irks them. Something that makes them wish it were different or that things had turned out a different way. I will hear my clients say that their past experience with infertility is shaping their decision about what they do next.

Not true.

You see your past is a neutral thing. Done and over. It doesn’t have the capability to influence you until you think about it and the only way it even exists is because you have current thoughts about it. That’s it. There really isn’t anything more to it than that. Your past is made up of your current thinking which is the only way it affects you now.

When you have a thought about something that happened in your past, then you have an emotional response. Maybe it makes you happy, or sad, or angry. Any of those feelings can come to the surface after you replay something in your mind.

But whatever thoughts are coming up for you, know they are always your choice. You always get to choose what story you tell yourself about anything. The same is true about the future. The only place the future ever exists is in your imagination. In the present moment, you can think about both but you are only ever having the experience of now.

Because your past is made up of your thinking and thoughts are always optional, it means you can change it any time you want. Think about the infertility story you are telling yourself now. How do you describe it? What words do you choose? Then, what feelings come up for you?

If you like how you feel when you think about the story, keep it. If you don’t like it, know that you can change it at any moment.

So how important is your past to your future? Not at all. When making a decision you’ll look to your past to gather evidence to help you but be aware of what story you craft around what has happened and how do you feel about it. It is all optional and your future can look completely different than your past. You always get to decide.

Ready to change your past? Schedule a free strategy session at www.talktocara.com to transform your story.

Unexpected Discoveries I Made On My Yoga Mat During Infertility

I started practicing yoga when I was in college. Well, to say practicing might be a stretch. I bought a yoga mat and attended a few classes on campus but didn’t really take it seriously. Every now and then I would find a video online, roll out my mat, and follow along to the cues the instructor called out. It wasn’t until many years later when I was searching for a way to heal the wounds of my soul from infertility that I felt the very real power of connection with my own physical frame when I showed up on my mat.

I am fortunate to have a yoga studio near my home. Not only is it a beautiful space but the owner and lead instructor is someone with a teaching style and message that resonates to me. She combines the beauty of this ancient practice along with the journey of the mind. As your body moves through the postures she guides you into, she always brings it back to show you how it is really your mind that is learning how to be more flexible, malleable, and forgiving, not just muscles and joints.

Yoga is all about learning how to quiet your mind and be present with yourself. Two things that were very hard for me to do during the height of my infertility experience when all I could think about was how much I wanted to scream and run from my situation.

But in yoga, that is not what you do. In yoga you learn to be present, you learn how to be still, you learn how to watch your mind and you learn the power of a single breath. You learn how to travel worlds upon worlds in your head, all while staying on a rectangular piece of padding. While all of that was taking place, I had a few things unfold for me that I wasn’t expecting to learn about myself in the process.

My body is amazing. I didn’t grow up with the most positive body image. I always believed there was something wrong with my body because I was bigger and taller than my older sister. I internalized a lot of negative feelings about what I was capable of based off of that. When infertility entered the scene I thought it was just another indicator of my physical shortcomings.

During yoga, all of that changed. When I was able to slow myself down and watch my mind I uncovered so many thoughts that weren’t serving me. Up until that moment I had taken them for truth. But when you learn that you are the creator of all of your truth you start to question why you were so mean to yourself thinking the things you did.

I learned I couldn’t hate myself into becoming a mother. However motherhood was going to happen for me, it would not be achieved if I kept thinking that my body was broken and there was something fundamentally wrong with me.

Possibilities are abundant, if you look for them. After years navigating infertility I had shut down to so many ideas of what was possible. With each month that passed I saw doors closing and opportunities lost. I was focused on the lack in my life. Lack of happiness, lack of time, lack of a baby. I compared my life to everyone around me and it never measured up.

In yoga, the only person you need to compare yourself with is the version you were yesterday. The person you are today can be completely different than who you were tomorrow and with that, the opportunities available to you are only attainable if you open up to them. Thinking about what you do not have will not create more of what you do want to have in your life.

When you show up for life, life shows up for you. I committed to practice yoga at least once a week and as I stepped onto my mat each class I felt something open up and allow the channels of grief and sadness to flow. In the rest of my life I covered up these elements really well. Highly functioning grief makes everything appear normal and fine, and yet you cry in the car when you are alone because you just can’t stop the tears.

Showing up for yoga was the start of me learning how to show up for myself. It taught me how important my needs are and how taking care of myself was the only way to get through infertility, let alone my entire life. No one else was going to assume that responsibility for me. I had to take it on for myself which started with me paying attention to what I put into my body for food, who I chose to spend time with, and the thoughts I allowed myself to think. Stepping back and taking stock of these things I became much more aware of how I was showing up in life and it was only then did the possibilities start to unfold for who I wanted to become.

Are you having trouble seeing what possibilities exist for you? Schedule a free strategy session and let me help you find them.