Free yourself from the comparison trap
By Juliana Kassianos, Transformational Fertility Coach, Yoga Teacher and Founder of The School of Fertility
Do you constantly find yourself comparing your life to that of those around you? Perhaps it’s to your pregnant best friend with her ever-growing bump, your work colleague and her adorable new baby boy or your younger brother who recently had twins, without even intentionally trying.
Having gone through all the months of scheduled sex, pricey supplements and fertility investigation, you feel it’s your turn to play happy families now, as you compare your life to what you believe it should be. All those years of being super careful not to get pregnant, for what you ask yourself, as feelings of anger and resentment boil up inside of you.
What really rattles you though is when that work colleague with her adorable new baby starts to whinge about how little sleep she’s had. Can she not see how you would literally love to have her life right now! Oh, then there’s your pregnant best friend moaning about not being able to fit into her skinny jeans as her bump’s too big, when there’s you longing to feel a bump and to be able to wear maternity clothes.
Of course, all these comparative thoughts play no positive role in your life. Instead they act to strip it of all joy, leaving you feeling isolated from those around you and completely dissatisfied with the cards you’ve been dealt. Your whole existence becomes focussed on what is lacking in your life and what you believe you should have. So, how do you break free from this painful comparison trap you’ve got yourself caught up in?
BE MINDFUL OF YOUR THOUGHTS
Become more aware of anything that triggers you to start comparing your life with that of others. These might be pregnancy announcements, bump updates or new births. Notice any thoughts that you have. For example, you friend sends you a picture of her new born baby girl, your immediate thought isn’t “Aww how cute, she looks so beautiful”, but instead “She has the perfect life, it's not fair, I want one”. Don’t judge yourself for having this thought or get caught up in it, just acknowledge its presence and let it pass.
You can’t change what’s already happened, you are where you are today, and this is something you need to learn to accept. For example, if you’ve had the unfortunate experience of having a miscarriage, you might find yourself trying to fight it by saying “It’s not fair, I should be so and so weeks pregnant”, but this won’t change what’s in the past. I know it’s hard to do, but we need to come to peace with our fertility journey to date and any trauma we’ve experienced along the way, so we can be in the right frame of mind to keep on moving forward towards creating the family of our dreams.
EMBRACE YOUR JOURNEY
Your journey may not have been an easy one compared to others you know, but everything you’ve been through so far has no doubt made you stronger as a result. Try to embrace your fertility journey and take note of how much you’ve grown on it, perhaps not just as an individual, but as a couple too. Give yourself some credit that you’ve made it through some pretty tough times and yet you haven’t given up hope, you’re still trying.
IT'S NOT A RACE
Remind yourself that you’re not in a race to get pregnant with everyone else around you, although I know it can feel like you are at times. This is even more the case when you feel your biological clock is working against you. You’re taking your own path, you’re writing your own story, you’re leading you own life, not following that of others.
THINK OF THE POSITIVES
If your friends are getting pregnant and having babies, just think that when it’s your turn, you’ll be able to learn from them. They’ll be the perfect people to call when you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing, because they will have already been through it. Also, try to think of it from their perspective. They may be the first in your friendship group to get pregnant and might not have anyone close to turn to for advice or share their own fears with. They may feel just as alone and scared as you do at times.
IT ISN'T THE END
Know that you’re on your journey, you haven’t reached your destination. Just because it hasn’t happened for you yet, doesn’t mean it never will. A few years from now you might look back and think, if only I knew then how it would all turn out okay in the end.
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS
It’s important to take time out in your day to be truly thankful for what you already have, instead of focussing on what your life’s lacking. Count your blessings by writing down or thinking about at least one thing you’re grateful for every evening before bed.
SOCIAL MEDIA DETOX
Social media can provide you with a great support network, however, it can also bombard you with trigger posts as it shows the edited "perfect" lives of others getting pregnant and having babies. To stop comparing your life to theirs, try having a digital detox now and again or unfollow any accounts that cause you distress, then notice what difference it makes to your overall wellbeing.
NO-ONE'S LIFE IS PERFECT
As much as we think everyone else around us has the perfect life, it’s generally not the case. If you hear a pregnancy announcement your automatic thought will probably be, “They have it so easy, it’s not fair, why can’t I get pregnant”, but little do you know the struggle they might have been through. So, remember, no-one’s life’s perfect, if they’re not struggling with fertility, they most likely have other battles they’re fighting behind closed doors.
COMPARE YOURSELF TO YOU
All that time you spend comparing yourself to others, you could be using to prepare yourself for pregnancy. Ask yourself what more can you be doing to optimise your fertile health and wellbeing. Focus your time on you, be present and show up for yourself.