In the early days of learning I’d never have children, I realised it was possible to retrain my brain. I remember catching myself thinking “if I get pregnant” and shutting down that thought - the thoughts that had almost become an obsession - by a) telling myself “that is not going to happen now,” and then b) deliberately turning away from that thought. I think that the thoughts themselves brought such painful feelings of shame and failure in those early days, that I realised I simply couldn’t go on letting myself think that way.
I was reading an article this week when I found a reference to a quote by Jeffrey M. Shwartz, who, it turns out, writes books (that I might now read) about this exact idea – that you can consciously train or – as I have always called it – reprogramme your brain.
"The struggle is not to make the feeling go away; the struggle is to not give in to the feeling by thinking about the obsession.”
This is not an effort to shame those of us who feel grief, rather it allows us to understand that whilst those feelings are natural, our brains have also been programmed to think one way (ie, that our lives will be nothing without children). Unless we make a conscious effort to change, we risk being stuck in a pattern of grief and longing for what we will never have.