How to Overcome a Life Setback
Well, I’m just going to come right out and say it: I thought we’d be pregnant by now.
I actually thought we’d be pregnant a long time ago, but surprise, surprise, things are not going as planned.
I shared in my post earlier this week what’s been going on medically for me over the last few months, including why I needed surgery two weeks ago. What I didn’t say was that our OB basically told us that we would need to wait for a few more months before trying to grow our family again to let my body heal from the surgery. Understandable, but definitely another frustrating setback to our plans for bringing Baby Carr into the world (our miscarriage being our first one.)
I was in a super bad place for a while after getting that news, along with the anxiety of not knowing if this surgery would work for us and fix the infertility problems we’ve been dealing with for almost a year. It’s amazing how fast you can spiral when you get fixated on one (albeit major) thing going wrong in life. Before I knew it, I had absolutely NOTHING positive to say…about anything. I cried at pretty much everything and I just felt so sorry for myself. I sat in bed a lot, I distanced myself from my friends and family, and I watched a lot of Netflix to numb myself to the sadness I was feeling. It was pretty dark.
And then, one day a few weeks ago, I decided that I just could not live like this anymore. Yes, I was dealt with some crummy cards and yes, having to go through a surgery and heal from it before trying to start our family felt like a major setback to my life plans, but there was no need to spend the next few months being such a sour puss. I didn’t want to look back at this time in limbo and feel like I had wasted it being so sad and doing nothing with my life. So, I sat down, did some soul searching, and slowly, but surely, came up with a plan to help bring the light back to my life. It’s been working. In fact, it’s been working so well that when I sat down with my therapist earlier this week I told her how happy I’ve been and that I felt like I was in a good enough place to push our visits from once every week to once every month for the time being.
I’ve been asked to share more about how I’ve overcome life challenges lately, so here’s what’s been working for me.
5 Ways to Overcome a Life Setback
Reframe Your Mindset – I’m learning that the mindset I have and the stories I tell myself make a HUGE difference in my attitude and my ability to overcome my challenges. For those first few weeks, I found myself thinking “I will never get pregnant” and “I have nothing else to work towards” and “If I can’t be a mother, I will have no purpose in life.” Not only were these thoughts really dragging me down to a super dark place, but I wasn’t doing myself ANY favors by telling myself stories that were not true. I slowly realized that my stories would only come true if I kept telling them to myself in that way. Turns out, though, I’m the writer, and I can change my story and outcome whenever I want. So, I’ve been working on rewriting those stories and changing my mindset to “I can have new goals to accomplish!” and “I am still fulfilling my purpose in life” and “I get extra time to grow as a person.”
Act How You Want To Feel – I heard this in a podcast the other day with Gretchen Rubin and Rachel Hollis and it totally shook me to my core. Gretchen explained that there was some psychology behind that statement and that we presume that we act because of the way we feel, but that in fact, we often feel because of the way we act. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I had been allowing my feelings to control all of my actions, but what would happen if I started acting differently than my feelings? Would I feel different?
I decided to give it a go. Instead of spending the day holed up in my bed with junk food and Netflix, I got up early and got a workout in. I cleaned my house that morning. I called my mom. I took my dogs for a walk. I cooked a nice dinner. I acted and did everything I would do if I felt like I had my life together and great things going for me. It was a game-changer! Not only did I feel like I actually had my life together, but I was so distracted by doing all of the things, I didn’t have time to dwell on the negativity that had been consuming me previously.
Give Yourself A New Goal or Purpose – For most of this year, my goal has been to start our family and having that goal taken away from me (or at least pushed off) left me feeling pretty lost and purposeless. It was a less than ideal feeling. I decided I didn’t want to spend the next few months just sitting around, waiting for the time to pass and not accomplishing anything in the meantime. If there’s anything I’ve learned in my 29 years of life, it’s that life is short and
So, I thought about some goals that I could work towards during the next few months that would help me feel accomplished and that I was doing something worthwhile with the time I had. I decided to put my main focus on my health. I really, truly want to be stronger and to have more energy than I do right now because I think it will help me prepare to be a mother someday. I am already fighting an uphill battle with my health history, but I signed up for a health and nutrition coach and have committed to following a program for eight weeks (I’m almost finished with week three!) Having this goal has really renewed me and made me feel so alive! I love that I have something to actively work towards every day, I love that I am doing something that is bettering me now and bettering me for the future and I love that I have something to get me out of bed every morning!
Surround Yourself with Positive & Uplifting Media and People – Not that I intentionally filled my life up with negative people and media, but every once in a while, I step back and look at the people who I spend the most time with and re-evaluate if their friendships are making me a better person or if it’s not a good fit for me anymore. That sounds kind of harsh, but I’ve realized that it’s so important to choose myself and my mental health over everything. If something is no longer adding value to my life (including relationships) then it’s time to release it and move on. That meant that I put some distance between myself and a few people who were lowering my vibe and focused my own efforts on cultivating and growing new friendships that were really helping me feel more positive. I also made a distinct effort to not spend as much time reading the news so that I wouldn’t be weighed down hourly by the sad things happening in the world, and I intentionally filled that time with uplifting media, like podcasts and audiobooks and shows. It’s made a world of difference in my attitude and has helped me focus on living a fuller life, despite the setbacks I’m facing.
Recognize the Good – I told my therapist a few months ago that I was tired of always focusing on the bad things that happened during my day. We realized that I was always expecting things to go wrong that I didn’t recognize or appreciate when things went right. She specifically gave me an exercise to help me get into the practice of recognizing the good things in my life. This is similar to gratitude practices that people like Rachel Hollis talk about, but instead of writing down what you’re grateful for at the end of every day, I write down 10 good things that happened to me or within my life. No matter how small or seemingly insignificant, I write them down. Sometimes my list is full of small little events like: “I didn’t mess up my winged liner today” and “Teddy didn’t chew up anything when he got out of his kennel.” Sometimes my list was full of big events like: “Dustin closed his biggest deal yet!” and “I got a great performance review at work!” Being able to end my day recognizing all the good things that happened has helped me wake up the next day ready to look for more good things. And yes, there are days that are still rough and hard. However, instead of focusing on the bad things that happened, like “The nurse blew my vein out while trying to get my IV in” I’m able to focus more on the good things, like “My surgery went really smoothly and my doctor is optimistic that he removed all of the growth.”
This may all sound like a bunch of mumbo jumbo, but I can honestly say these tips and tricks and practices have truly helped me overcome this life setback and feel more hopeful and positive about the future. The biggest tip I can give you, though? You have to truly want to change your outlook and you have to truly do the work. Reading this post won’t do anything to help, but honestly putting these things into action will.
So, are you willing to take action? If so, what are you going to do?