Two negative ovulation tests in. That’s to be expected. Expected positive test is around October 2nd. Today is officially my 32nd birthday and we’ve got record heat in my town. Trying to figure out what to do with myself and enjoying all the dings from my phone from friends and family wishing me a Happy Birthday on Facebook.
I’m working really hard to imagine and visualize my insemination as successful. It’s crazy how, when you really really want something to happen, your brain can go overtime imagining all the ways it could fail.
In the past few months, I’ve caught myself imagining what I would do if I were infertile, had a miscarriage, stillbirth, car accident and a thousand other terrible things that could go wrong. All out of my control and equally possible.
And completely useless to spend energy on.
I know these kinds of thoughts are completely normal. They’re the foundation of or evolution of threat assessment and capacity to prevention plan. By imagining and reimagining all the things that might go wrong, it gives us the chance to avoid obvious pitfalls and come up with alternatives or backup plans. All well and good, but when this helpful function goes into warp speed, that’s the foundation of anxiety.
Prevention planning is useful.
Worry is not.
But the two are so closely related that it’s often very difficult to tell when you’ve slipped from one to the other. For me, I’ve realized that the slip happens when I’ve gone from working on solutions to simply replaying scenarios over and over again in my head.
See, when you’ve thought about a thing, and come up with a solution. There’s no reason to go over it again.
Repeating a possible scenario, or even a bunch of scenarios based around one theme, without a solution…that’s not really a helpful thing to do. This goes for things that we haven’t found solutions for…and for things with no answers.
That’s the easiest way to slip from prevention planning into worry or anxiety. Ruminating over things that have no solution. Things that are entirely outside my control. Things that I have no idea how I’d respond to. These are things not worth spending my energy on. And yet, they’re so tempting to obsess over.
But I genuinely believe, that pouring that energy into unsolvable negative outcomes actually makes them more likely to occur. We’re more inclined to detect things in our environment that we’re actively looking out for.
If someone says “Hey, there sure are a bunch of red flowers today,” you’re more likely to notice more red flowers for the rest of the day.
The thing is, those red flowers were there yesterday too. But, because your attention has been drawn to them, for YOU, there are more red flowers than there used to be. This is how negative rumination works too.
Something draws your attention to a bad thing. Say…someone points out how often people let you down. You do a quick, filtered assessment of your memory and say “Yeah, people do let me down.” And then, for as long as your attention is focused on being let down, you’re morel likely to notice and remember people not having your back.
But, just like the red flowers, people haven’t changed. They’re just as likely or unlikely to be there for you has they were the day before. But now, your experience of your world is decidedly more negative, more filled with let down.
And what’s the point of that?
Because the neat thing about attention is that it’s not topic specific.
The same focus works for positive stuff as it does for negative.
So, you can say “Hey, people tend to smile at me when I smile at them.” And…well, you get the picture. The point of this story is that our experience of the world around is dependent upon the things we choose to pay attention to. We may not have control over what other people say and do, but we do have control over how much attention we choose to pay those things and, through that attention, how we experience them.
Attention isn’t a recipe for eradicating negativity from your life. But it is an extremely effective tool for being able to transition from a negative experience to a neutral or positive one. And one really cool thing about the human brain, more specifically pain tolerance, is that our tolerance is greatly improved when we know when the pain is going to end. And attention is a tool and a skill that, when practiced and developed, gives you a way to end pain on your terms, or at least greatly reduce it.
So, what am I going to do with all this fancy information?
Every time I catch myself ruminating on the potential negative outcomes, I’m going to thank myself for my efforts and redirect my attention to the things I have control over, the things I want to feel, and the things I enjoy experiencing.
And the more I do it, the easier it gets.
Happy Monday everyone ❤