-ism schism

I tend to think of myself as being a generally positive thinker. I try to keep the best outcome as a focal point while staying mindfully aware of the worst which hovers in the peripheral. My head usually swims in starry optimism while my feet are grounded on steadfast and unwavering realism. I don’t feel as if I’m being negative, but I do feel like I’m waist-deep in realism instead of merely standing on its firm foundation. We have a very real chance that this upcoming cycle will not result in a take-home baby at its conclusion. It’s hard to stare a statistic like "you have a 25% chance of live birth with Mia’s eggs" in the face and "positively" ignore the implications of the remaining 75%.

Last night Mia and I had a long discussion about The Secret. She’s currently reading it and I read it about a year ago merely to see what all the hype was about. She was eager to get my take on the book’s principles and it proved to be an enlightening conversation about where each of our mental states are as we head into the thick of this cycle. I can take some principles from the book and leave most of the others, because much of it sounds like sensationalist hogwash. I agree that visualizing the things you want to achieve and trying to stay positive can be good for the soul and can help keep one focused and on track. However, I don’t buy into the concept that even a shred of negativity can be a barrier between you and that which you most desire. You just can’t happy-sunshine-rainbow think your way into some things. I don’t like the fact that the book places the blame for unrealized dreams squarely on the shoulders of the dreamers: "You didn’t get pregnant/have a healthy baby/deliver full-term? Well, my dear, you simply didn’t think positively enough, so it’s all your fault." Bullshit. Think positively? Yes – I’ll at least try to in each challenging situation that I face. But I refuse to feel guilted into accepting the blame for poor results merely because I wasn’t 100% committed to my positivity.

Mia also agrees with that line of thought, but I get the sense that she is not as firm as I am on the bullshit factor of The Secret. I’ve always followed some Secret-like ideas as just a basic part of my personality – I usually try to picture the things that I want and imagine what it will be like to reach those goals. Sometimes, though, it’s easier on the heart and mind to put idealism and perfectly pure optimism to rest and focus more on the realism of a given situation. Idealistically, Frank would never suffer from any effects of his MS and we’ll live happily ever after. Realistically, it’s more acceptable to believe that we’ll still live happily ever after, but with a chance of wheelchairs and walkers someday being a part of our daily routine. The subtle expectation is already there so I will not be quite as shattered if and when that comes to pass (I hope). 

Mia is envisioning idyllic scenes of she and Urs going on hikes and long walks with a baby in tow, carried in a backpack-style carrier. The baby is an even blend of the two of them with dirty blonde hair and sparkling eyes. I can’t get past envisioning a positive pregnancy test, and even that image is a bit fuzzy around the edges. Is this negativity? I honestly don’t want to feed negativity into this process. Yesterday a friend encouraged me to think more positively and I had to stop and think because I didn’t (and don’t) view my mindset as such.

If realism is viewed as a sliding scale on which optimism is on one extreme and pessimism is on the other, at what point does positive thinking give way to negative?

7 Comments

  1. sara on May 13, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    Gee, could you have said that any better? Well put, well put. You just put so many of my feelings these days into words. I’m struggling with the blurry line where optimism transitions into negativity myself. I would think it’s got to be even harder in a situation like yours where you have Mia’s heart involved as well. I am so hoping that you guys have a great cycle ahead of you, I’ll keep putting you all in my thoughts and prayers!



  2. susan on May 13, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    I totally agree with your degree of believing in the principles of The Secret. I used affirmative prayer (posted at the top of my blog) and still say that prayer from time to time, but I also believe that you can’t ignore the possible negative outcomes. Just imagine how earth-shattering that would be to think that you believed with everything you have for the positive, but received the negative outcome. How does one get over that type of failure? It’s a set-up for disaster.



  3. Moxie on May 13, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    Sara, I can surely see why this post would really hit home for you. That being said, you have such an optimistic tone to your posts about Spot. I know that it’s so hard to walk that fine line, but you seem to be doing it well. You’re also in my prayers; I hope that pesky placenta moves up and out of the way! I’m also getting the vibes that Spot is a girl; I’ve been right on the last 6 pregnancies that I guessed on!
    Susan, I’ve always liked your affirmative prayer; I especially liked the fact that you had it posted boldly at the top of your blog even while you were in the 2ww. The idea of Mia not preparing at least a little for the possible negative outcome is what scares me the most at this point; I fear the additional damage that might do to her.



  4. Carrie on May 14, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    I, too, worry about Mia being let down. I just hope that she won’t have to be.



  5. luna on May 15, 2008 at 2:54 am

    ah yes. I also completely agree with your take on “the secret.” I believe there is a mind-body connection, but it pisses me off to no end to be blamed for my body’s failures because I didn’t *will* myself to get pregnant all this time.
    like so many other phenomena, I think “the secret” is a lazy quick fix for instant gratification, like fast food self-help. it completely ignores the complexities of real life.
    as to your sliding scale of realism, my hub and I have had this conversation so many times. in the past he would accuse me of being negative when I was trying to be realistic and I felt like optimism was just false hope. there must be a fine line, and I’m not sure what it is. whatever you need to do to get you through.
    of course it’s always easier to blame someone if they were being negative (isn’t that the beauty of “the secret”?).



  6. stephanie on May 19, 2008 at 10:14 am

    Fantastic post! I’ve struggled with the same thoughts on positive v. negative thinking. This is one of the discussions M and I have frequently when cycling. I can never decide if it’s best to be “happy sunshine-rainbow” or prepare for reality. I usually opt for reality, you know, because it’s real. Thanks for your thoughts on The Secret, it really pissed me off when my acupuncturist told me it was the answer to everything. I’m so glad I don’t see him anymore.



  7. Gigi on August 6, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Thank you for echoing what I really felt about that book! I could not get through the entire thing!