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Staying Present With Our Pain Through Infertility

Who doesn’t like feeling good? Whether it’s tasty food, a great concert or even just……

Who doesn’t like feeling good? Whether it’s tasty food, a great concert or even just an unexpected hug, as human beings, we are wired to choose things that make us feel whole and valued. On the other hand, when something is painful, we often have a knee jerk reaction of retreating or pushing it away.

When infertility hits us, it can feel incredibly stressful. We may feel shame that our bodies aren’t working the way we think they are supposed to work. The heaviness of failed treatments can cause us to shut down. We find it harder to be around others who have what we want. Often jealousy and anger rear their ugly heads. We disconnect from life and those around us. It’s actually a reflex, a contraction or our body’s way of protecting itself.

But what would happen if we could stay in that pain for a moment instead of pushing it away? What if experiencing these emotions could fully free us from them?

Imagine for a second, that you are wearing a pair of glasses that make everything just a little bit darker. The grey tint of the lens colours everything you see around you. Now take the glasses off. Suddenly, you see the world in all its various shades.

I would suggest that, like those glasses, resisting the pain cuts us off from the outside world and changes our experience. Mindful attention can help us reconnect, restore, and get back in touch. We need to recognize our negative feelings and emotions, without judgment, anticipation or guilt. Through this practice, we can unveil the layers of our experience and be left with the bare facts of the moment-to-moment experience.

It’s really as easy as trying to stay with the feeling. Stay with it, label it and then gently let it go.

Sounds too simple right?

Sometimes it can be hard to stay with a feeling that is causing us so much discomfort. The infertility experience is one that causes much discomfort and can distort flexible thinking. Our heightened emotions stop our ability to think clearly.

This labeling technique is actually based on hard neuroscience research that has showed the impact mindfulness has on the brain. It directly affects the amygdala, that part of our brain that reacts to fear, the fight or flight response. When we tune into the negative emotions and give them a name, the activity in the amygdala is lessened and gives us room for a healthier response.

It makes perfect sense to me. By labeling our negative feelings, we are naturally calming our emotional center of the brain so it becomes less reactive. Glasses off!

When we become less emotionally reactive, we create a space to respond to the stress that we are experiencing in a more rational way. We can be more open and receptive to the world; we can be more flexible with our thinking and coping with the ups and downs of the fertility journey.

The next time you tune into a negative feeling, try these steps:

  1. Be aware of your natural instinct to push it away or ignore it. And for a moment just try to stay with it. 
  2. Stay with that feeling, and try to find the best label.
  3. Label it. Angry, scared, lonely, jealous, depleted, fearful …

Amira is a fertility counsellor in Toronto, Ontario. She works with individuals and couples who are struggling with infertility. Amira facilitates the Mind-Body Fertility Group  at Mt. Sinai Hospital.

She is also a mother of three miracles.

For more information,
visit www.healinginfertility. ca
and find her on

Twitter and Instagram.

Amira Posner

Amira Posner is Clinical Social Worker with a Bachelor and Masters Degrees in Social Work from the University of Manitoba. In addition to working with individuals, couples and families providing therapy in a secure and safe setting, she is a member of the Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW) and Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW). Amira is also a certified hypnotherapist.

Amira Posner

July 7, 2023 • 3 minutes

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