There’s a lot of emphasis today about the power of positive thinking. And I agree that there is great value in this practice. Yet, at the same time, what we resist persists. If we resist looking at negative thoughts and concerns, they will stick around. The negative considerations may even fester and grow as we’re trying to pretend that they don’t exist or will just go away. If we’re straight with ourselves and put our disempowering notions in the forefront and examine them, we have the opportunity to reframe these thoughts and feelings or do something empowering about them.
It can be useful to put pen to paper and write down the seemingly “good,” “bad,” and “neutral” thoughts that you have about pregnancy. What positive or empowering thoughts do you have? What are you excited about? (And remember, what’s empowering to you, might not be to the next person. So, trust yourself.) It might be, “I’ve always known that I want to be a mom” or “I can handle anything as long as I have a happy, healthy baby at the end” or “Women in my family are great at being pregnant!” It’s great to identify these “good” thoughts, and then you can choose to increase your focus on them.
Next, what negative thoughts or concerns do you have? What makes you nervous? Look at each concern you listed and examine it: Is it outside your control and you just need to let it go because worrying won’t make a positive difference? Is there something that you can do to ensure the experience or outcome that you want? Can you look for evidence that your concern isn’t as big as you think it is?
Here’s an example of how you might look for evidence that your concern isn’t as daunting as you might think: During my first pregnancy I got overly concerned about getting hemorrhoids during labor. I was a little obsessed. When I got straight with myself, I saw that if I just spoke with one mom who had pushed a long time during her delivery and didn’t get hemorrhoids, then I had evidence that it was possible to have a baby and not get hemorrhoids. I found a mom with this kind of experience right away and the concern shrunk. Ask yourself: What can you do to put your fears in perspective?
After identifying seemingly “good” and “bad” thoughts you have, ask yourself: What presumably “neutral” perspectives do I have? Some examples of these might be, “Women are pregnant for a long time” or “Morning sickness is really common in the first trimester.” Write these out and take a second look to see if they empower or disempower you in any way. Increase focus on the empowering ones and reframe any disempowering ones using the techniques described above.
Again, there’s power in looking at our empowering (“good”), disempowering (“bad”), and seemingly “neutral” perspectives. We can then see where we want to focus our attention to further empower ourselves and increase our positive outlook. It can seem counter-intuitive at times to take a closer look at our negative thoughts and concerns. Yet, if we leave our concerns to run around in our minds unchecked, we might not take the actions that will lead us to what we ultimately want.
Other examples of how to process your thoughts and concerns in an empowering way are included in our 6 Keys to Loving the Pregnant You service (which is a low-cost, simple, streamlined way to receive “coaching” in your inbox for 6 weeks).
When has it served you well to “be straight with yourself”?