Ever find yourself watching people and wishing your life was a little more like theirs? You don’t know them from Adam, you know zero about their life, but you find yourself being drawn towards them.
These ordinary people appear in your line of sight and you can’t take your eyes off them.
I’ve been there. I know that feeling. It usually happens to me when I’m on my own. Usually it involves a woman with her baby, maybe meeting a friend for coffee. Or it might be a couple with a small child, riding on Dad’s shoulders. I gaze at them with that thousand yard stare and I covet what they have, or at least what I see through the lens of my own experience.
If I notice a cigarette in Mum’s hand or perhaps Dad engrossed in his phone while his little boy seeks his attention, it’s easy to convince myself that it’s not fair. Look at them. Look at all they have. They don’t even realise how lucky they are and they are squandering it. “I bet she smoked before she was pregnant, I wonder if she smoked through her pregnancy? That baby looks so healthy & happy….God it’s unfair.”
Newsflash – Life is unfair.
None of us want to hear that, but it’s the truth. This journey we’re on is hard. It challenges our sense of identity, our health, our relationships, our careers, our finances! It’s a mistake though, to think that no-one else is having a hard time. At some point, everyone struggles. Every single person we meet has their dark days and their challenges. Most of us put on a brave face and do our best to get on with it.
So, what the hell do we do? How do we navigate those feelings of resentment, sadness, crucifying weariness? I have a Sanity Checklist that I use, when I notice myself feeling this way. It goes like this:
- I remind myself that I have a choice about how to feel. I may not be able to control the circumstances of my life, but I can choose how to respond. Not always a comfortable truth, but truth nonetheless. I call BS on my own claim that “I just can’t help feeling this way.”
- I ask myself if I know everything about the person I am internally cursing. Usually I don’t. This means I can’t compare my life to theirs, because all I know is what I see and that rarely paints a complete picture.
- I breathe. I take long, slow breaths, deep into my chest. No matter how I’m feeling, this simple process of bringing attention to my breath and slowing it down also slows down my internal chatter. It gives me space to think and make wise choices.
- I pay attention to the voice in my head. If it’s full of vitriol, comparison and ‘woe is me’ I smile to myself and say “How interesting that those thoughts are arising. I wonder where they’re coming from?” I don’t often get an answer, but that’s not the point. Smiling and being curious takes the heat out of those thoughts. It takes away their power and gives me a sense of clarity & calm.
- I look again at the Mum with her cigarette, at Dad engrossed in his phone and I say to myself, “Wow, I live in a Universe where it’s possible for those people to have kids? If it’s possible for them, then it’s possible for me too…”
This process slows down my thoughts. Breathing slowly and deliberately keeps my nervous system calm, reducing the production of stress hormones. Flipping my perspective reminds me that I’m not alone in my struggles, we’re all having a hard time.
Try it out for yourself, the next time you find your thoughts spiralling into negativity and comparison. It’s a practice. It will take time for these steps to become second nature, but boy is it worth it.
I’d really love to know how you get on, if you try my Sanity Checklist. Perhaps you have your own technique for dealing with runaway emotions. Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below. As ever, I love to get your emails, so please drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would prefer to chat more privately.
Give it a shot. I know it can be scary to slow down enough to really notice what’s going on in your head and heart. It really is worth it though. Join The Fertility Companion Community for support and inspiration. Register below for my free Sanity Guide to Fertility Treatment and be part of a growing community of people who want to THRIVE on their fertility journey.