Posted on December 9th, 2019by Georgia Witkin Emotional Support

How To Handle Receiving Too Much Advice

If you are going through infertility treatment, you have probably been encouraged to reach out for emotional support from you friends and family. "Don't be shy," you are told. "Don't think reaching out is a sign of weakness," everyone reassures you. "Don't think you have to take this journey alone," say the advice givers. And they are right. Talking with supportive friends and family can give you an opportunity to hear yourself and listen to yourself as another would, an opportunity to change or fine- tune your feelings, and a chance to know and accept your feelings.

But suppose you do ask for emotional support but get too much! Suppose, with the best of intentions, your people are asking too many questions, giving you too much advice, telling you about too many of their own experiences, and trying to fix things by taking over. Your worst nightmare? Don’t use this possibility as an excuse to avoid asking for support if you want it and need it. Instead, use these four strategies to make sure this doesn’t happen.

  1. Choose your support group thoughtfully.
    Choose listeners who will respect your privacy and let you take the lead in the conversation. And don’t make dates with downers.

  2. Don’t feel pressure to share.
    If you are not ready to talk about your miscarriage, let your support system know that you would prefer not to talk right now, but just want their company. They will probably feel relieved that they don’t have to come up with answers to your problems, and flattered that you feel good just being around them.

  3. Be proactive.
    You know that fertility treatments are mentally and physically taxing and may test your stamina and psychological reserves. Rather than wait for issues to arise and find yourself being emotional with the wrong people or at the wrong time, set up dates with the right people for you during the two-week wait or when you expect other results. It’s easier to cancel than to reach out at the last minute.

  4. Don’t pretend it’s all fine if it isn’t.
    Expecting too much of yourself is adding insult to injury. You are already coping with infertility, don’t add to your struggles by putting up with too much advice or too many questions. Just say something like “I’m on advice overload but thanks,” or if it’s someone who is close to you, “I just need some comforting today.”

Now suppose you use these strategies and still find that talking about your fertility journey with more than your doctor, partner, and best friend is not for you. That's fine, too. Even though the popular notion is that expressing feelings helps you sort them out, the research says ‘not so much’. Actually, a study in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology of more than 2,000 people found that many of those who did not express their many emotions after September 11 showed fewer signs of distress later on than many of those who did. For some, it seems, talking is cathartic but for others it’s a rehearsal and reminder of negative feelings, anxieties, and can hold you back. Know yourself before you reach out for advice and know who will give you what YOU need.

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