Feb 1, 2022
This week we’re going to learn how to pull out the facts in your story so you can create new and powerful thoughts that motivate you to take action towards your goals.
In episode 20 of the So Now What Podcast we focused on identifying what is true and what is just a thought.
This is an important distinction to make because you will often have thoughts that you believe are 100 percent true and factual, however the majority of the thoughts we think are not actual facts!
In Episode 21 we talked about why our mind takes us to the negative thoughts that keep us from wanting to take action. It is because your brain has evolved to keep you safe. Its main job for the past thousands and thousands of years has been to look for danger, avoid it, and survive. Because of that repetition in thinking, our brains have become conditioned to cycle everything we perceive through a filter based on our past experiences. That creates a neural pathway, basically a shortcut our mind uses - to work more efficiently.
This means that after our fertility treatments end, many of us can spend years of our lives playing negative soundtracks about how terrible our life is and how depressing and empty our future seems because we don’t have kids. These thoughts repeat over and over without us spending a single second questioning the truth of those stories.
As we do this work on our awareness and of these tired old stories and perceptions, we will get really good at boiling them down to the bare facts and consciously teaching your brain that it can totally attach a new story to the same facts. The better you get at identifying the true facts of your life, the easier the thought work I’m teaching you will become.
To recap, what is a fact?
A fact is anything that is going on outside of you - your age, the number of IVF cycles you have been through, the number of people you know that are pregnant, you received and invite to a baby shower.
Facts are things that can be measured and things that were said that no one can question. Think about things that would hold up in a court of law. These are the kinds of facts that we want to get good at identifying.
Facts, when stated, are not good or bad on their own. They just are statements, numbers, dates, until we attach our own thoughts and meaning to them.
As we’ve talked about before, facts are boring and drama free!
When you review a list of facts should feel like more like reading a dusty car manual than a tabloid of a magazine. And second, Your facts on their own will be totally neutral — not good or bad. That means that whatever you identify as your fact, needs to stand up in court. It needs to be non-emotional so you can decide what it is you want to think with your conscious brain.
Facts are always boring sentences - no embellishments, adjectives, or judgements. This is going to feel awkward at first because your brain is so used to processing fast and using your past to create your present.
When you are paperthinking and rewriting the facts will help yourself slow down and really get to the heart of what is true.
An easy test when you’re trying to check whether something is a thought or fact is to read the sentence aloud and see if it causes you to get emotional. When something is a fact, we don’t get emotional about it.
When something is a thought, there’s an emotional attachment.
Facts don’t hurt or feel good until the human brain attaches a sentence to it. If think you’re getting emotional over a fact, there’s likely a hidden thought to uncover beneath it.
For example, here’s one of my favorites, someone tells you, ”you can always adopt” and you might find yourself feeling hurt. Your brain tells you that the words made you feel bad. But that’s not true. Your THOUGHTS about the words made you feel bad. The easiest way to find out is to ask yourself “What thought am I thinking based on these words is causing me to feel what I’m feeling?” Then listen to the answer your brain gives you.
I’ve coached on this topic
before. The thought commonly attached to those words is something
like “I felt judged for not pursuing adoption,” or “I feel like
people don’t think I tried everything I could to be a mom.”
It’s so important to know the fact does not cause the emotion, it’s the thought you have about it. As you get good at training your brain to believe that you can have that same fact be true and you can generate new thoughts that don’t cause feelings that aren’t useful to you.
Now, you might hear yourself saying — I already know the facts of my life — Nothing goes right for me, I waited too long to have kids, and I’m the only unlucky one in my group of friends who couldn’t get pregnant.
Those thought loops are what get in the way of creating a future that you love. Your brain loves to go the past for evidence of your previous failures and challenges ans tells you what you can’t or shouldn’t do, and makes up imaginary rules of what is and isn’t possible for women without children.
Let’s break them down so you can start to see what some of this thinking looks like in your life.
“Nothing ever works for me” is a great example of using the past to try to predict the future. One of my mentors always says, your past is a great teacher, but it’s not a fortune teller.
Ask yourself, is this really true? Probably not — I highly doubt you’ve never had one outcome come to fruition in your life . So let’s make this factual. Here are 3 of mine: “I did 7 rounds of IUI. I went though 4 cycles of IVF. I don’t have a child.
That might be just enough to keep me from feeling stuck in an endless thought cycle.
Once we get factual, we can go a step further — is this fact useful for me? How does the number of rounds of IVF play a role in my life right now?
THIS is where we go to our paper thinking and expand on intentional, targeted questions.
Sidenote: If you need help finding intentional and targeted questions, I got your covered. Download your Guide to Loving Your Life Again and I offered you up 7 days of Journal prompts. Taking time each day to do paper thinking helps to get at the heart of what we are thinking and feeling about the facts of our past, rather than just letting crusty old thoughts like “Who’s going to take care of me when I am old” run amok in the back of our heads.
Now let’s take a look at another common thought in our community “My body is broken”
Are you getting the hang of this that “broken” isn’t very factual - it’s kinda dramatic which means it can’t stay in the fact pile.
For some of you, saying “I couldn’t get/stay pregnant” is factual but generates lots of triggering thoughts for you, and that is OK. Those are the ones we do our work with and many time offer us our greatest breakthroughs.
Our brain just wants to trick us into thinking we will never be happy or able to love and embrace a life without children — our whole identity becomes how defeated we are by our infertility, or how much shame we have that our body didn't do what “it was supposed to”, and we waste time in worry about what is wrong with rather than discovering the actions we want to take to change our lives. As complex as sour brain is, it likes repetition and simplicity, so you thinking new thoughts and believing new things about your future are going to make it so some extra work
The way I teach my clients to think is always focused on the present and your future self.
I find this to be more useful because it’s much easier to have thoughts that are future-focused on your success and where you’re going rather than trying to come up with answers based on the past.
It takes daily, deliberate practice to find facts, and weather you are part of out So Now What Sisterhood or not, I give you tons of opportunities to discover the facts that are generating the negative and useless thoughts that get in the way of keeping you from creating a future you dream of anf a life that you love. That's why I will always prompt you to start digging into the thoughts that lead to your facst.
We always want to start with the facts first and observe the thoughts from there.
So here’s what I’m asking you to do going forward — Each day I want you listening like your life depends on it, for thoughts you have about you, your body, and your infertility journey.
Even just catching one a day teaches your brain to start recognizing that not everything you think is automatically true.
Your best work happens when you write things down. Don’t just catch the thought and try to wish it away or forget about it. Write it down - maybe on a post-it, text it to yourself or open the notes app in your phone - just record it somewhere and paper think on it later.
Recognize and celebrate yourself just for hearing the thoughts, even if you don’t like them or if they don’t feel great. We’ll cover off on different ways to change your negative feelings in future episodes, but being able to observe your thoughts is always the first step.
If you’re shutting down before you allow yourself to your hear thoughts and figure out the true facts, you miss out on that opportunity. And if you’re not catching the thought in real-time, do not freak out. It takes practice. What you can do instead is go to the back of your paper thinking and use the prompts I give you in the Guide.
If you made it though those and want more, DM me and I will give you all kinds of good questions about your beliefs, thought patterns, and how you’re showing up in the world.
When you practice recognizing what the facts really are versus the thoughts, you give yourself the gift of looking at your life from a neutral place.
We spend time with the facts to give ourselves an opportunity to look at the situation without all the judgements.
Most of the time, you will see that you have pulled together a whole lot of painful thoughts over some words that someone said, and the outcome of a cycle, but your past has nothing to do with how you could be showing up today.
The gift you give yourself is getting to decide what you will think about your facts on purpose.
Have a great week and gift yourself some time to recognize and clean up those facts in your paper thinking. And remember, its never too late to discover your meaning.