Almost every client I work with comes to me with this underlying feeling of brokenness. Whether they have experienced (or are currently experiencing) infertility, a high-risk pregnancy, preterm delivery, or time in the NICU, it's the backdrop against which most of my clients live their lives when they reach out to work with me. I remember one client, who was experiencing multiple pregnancy complications at the time, lamented to me, "Who else is there to blame? I'm the one carrying the baby. My body is failing us." You could see the weight of this responsibility literally in the way she sat and talked. Her face was drawn down. Her shoulders slumped, like she was carrying a 747 on her back wherever she went. She looked exhausted. Can you relate to that sentiment?
The worst advice you're probably hearing
If this sounds or feels familiar, you may have been told to think more positively. Loved ones might have told you to give yourself a break. Professionals may be trying to get you to name 10 ways your body is strong or capable.
And, you probably found it hard to do, right?
Maybe you couldn't think of anything, which is massively frustrating. Maybe you got angry at the person asking (or yourself) because, this shouldn't be so hard. You want to believe you're strong, that you're not broken. On some level you intellectually know that to be true. But you don't feel it.
At night, when you go to bed, you can feel that lump in your stomach, the aching in your heart, the heaviness like my client is carrying. You carry it with you. At the end of the day, when you reflect, you still feel like you failed. You're broken. You're to blame. This is your fault.
You're not alone if you feel this way.
Surprise! It's not guilt Let's start here: There's nothing wrong with you for being unable to shift your thinking. There's nothing faulty about you. You're not being negative or stubborn or whatever you're telling yourself.
This feeling, which we often call guilt, is actually shame.
Shame is a common trauma response on the family-building journey. It activates your arousal system the same way as if you were being chased by a bear. When that arousal system (AKA threat response) is on, your body's number one goal is to get you to safety. To do that, the self-reflective parts of your brain take a back seat, making cognitive re-framing and self-care so much harder (if not seemingly impossible). So you see? It's not you.
Your thoughts are not the problem. You are not being too negative or staying stuck in the self-blame cycle. This is trauma.
So, how do you stop feeling this way?
As you can imagine I will say, it has nothing to do with your thoughts and shifting them. In order to break this cycle of shame and self-blame, you have to feel safe in your body first.
That is what the Whole Story program is all about. The free webinar to learn about the program is open and we have about 50 women registered already!
I can't wait to see you on the inside!