Posts By: Brendan
We all know people who have some obvious overly introverted side to their personality that prevents them from reaching out and sharing their soul with others. They are our work colleagues, our neighbours, our parents, our siblings, our friends, our team-mates and they may even be us.
They might be nice, capable people who never give you a bad vibe, but you know you wouldn’t give them a job managing others because they just don’t inspire that kind of trust.
In the privacy of their own minds they probably know this about themselves. Maybe they think of themselves as shy, or awkward, or quiet, or boring, or lacking in confidence.
Time marches on and eventually this person feels restless and wants some variety in their life, so they apply for a job that stretches them more than they have been used to.
This is when the birds come home to roost. The interviewer sees the same old person, shy, quiet or boring, un-personable and hard to get a good chat flowing with. They are not doing it on purpose, they wish they were different, in their own mind they are trying very hard. But the interviewer can only judge what they see in front of them and offers the job to someone else.
Why do they choose to remain the same all these years? Why don’t they change?
With all the psychology we now know about how to change, with all the books, all the coaches, all the therapists, all the people who have gone before, all the help that is within easy reach of most people – why the hell do they obstinately maintain the same personality all their lives when they know it is not serving them?
Why do you?
If you can answer this question to yourself with honesty so raw that it hurts your heart to even think about it – you will have in your hands the keys to a fulfilling life. It is our personality, not external circumstances, that create the problems we face in life – problems we have the opportunity to solve. But solving them requires changing ourselves, which is the one thing humans seem hell bent on not doing!
If the outcome of your adventure is guaranteed, then it’s no adventure at all.
If the risk of failure isn’t real, then there’s no motivation to pay attention
If the solution to your problem is certain then you need no effort to solve it.
With no effort comes no growth, with no growth comes no change, with no change comes … no change.
Can you solve your fertility problem by doing what you’ve always done, or does something need to change?
You are working away in your life, getting things done, pulling your own weight, doing what you must do.
Great – but what if the way you are living is working against the thing you want most?
This is the most common situation of all. We are too busy and too settled into ‘being busy’ to take time out to contemplate the notion that we may be drifting further away every day from the one thing we want most.
Sure – we are getting some of what we want, we are making ends meet, paying the bills and earning a weekend glass of wine – but these are the day to day things – what about the big things? Like having children!
Let’s say having children is the thing you want most in life right now – but alas you have sperm or egg quality issues that are preventing conception. That’s a tough one, and it’s not a problem you can solve by putting your head down and working away as normal hoping it will get better on its own, because it won’t. Something’s gotta give!
Most men in this situation deal with it by asking their doc if there is anything that can be done for them – and when the doc says ‘no’ – they simply accept it. The same guys are also most likely to believe that IVF is the only thing worth doing next.
To guys like this, the idea that they might have to stop smoking or drinking beer seems like a big ask. Some will try it, but if it doesn’t work (and it usually doesn’t) they go straight back to the beer and fags again – coz – why wouldn’t they, it didn’t work.
Most women in this situation google stuff, talk to their mother or friends and eventually also talk to the doc, maybe follow a course of drugs, maybe give up wine and maybe take a supplement – just in case.
BUT the hard fact is this – Most couples who run into fertility issues stack the decks against themselves by never clearly deciding to go ALL OUT to fix the problem no matter what it takes.
Doing this changes the game.
Our inability to make a clear decision is rooted deep in our psychology and there are three main reasons for it.
One reason can’t make clear decisions is because we don’t know what’s possible…the solution to this is to choose to believe it is possible even though you don’t know how, then set out to find a way.
The second main reason we can’t make clear decisions is because we don’t really believe in ourselves. This is due to our upbringing and life experiences. The solution to this is deceptively simple – you must summon self-belief to your aid and proceed as though you totally believe in yourself. Eventually, with enough persistence, you will.
The third main reason we can’t bring ourselves to make clear decisions is the worst reason of all – we are too comfortable with the way we are and don’t want to change.
We might be able to bring ourselves to give up smoking and drinking for a time to see if it works…but when it doesn’t – we revert, meaning we don’t really change. Why? Because we never really committed to change in the first place.
All of us go through this for different aspects of our lives, it’s normal, the thing is – you don’t want to resist change if it is preventing you from getting the thing in life you want more than anything else – like kids!
There is another way to phrase this: If you can’t bring yourself to really change then it’s fair to say that you value the way you currently are MORE than you value that thing you are telling yourself you want most!
That’s worth thinking about.
I was speaking on the phone to a prospective couple recently, and although the guy asked me a fair question, I knew it was coming from a hostile place.
He essentially asked me why I wasn’t world famous if my programs were so successful.
It’s a fair question – but it’s also a question coming from a worldview that I believe is skewed. Essentially it is a view that suggests – “if you are good you should be famous”!
From that logic they must believe that “to be famous you must be good (at whatever you do)”.
It’s pretty simple to deconstruct this thinking and show why it is flawed – deeply flawed, however I do empathise with the sentiment of the question, whatever about the logic.
I know that most people who contact me interested in the program but unsure of committing to it have doubts. (This ultimately is the reason for the phone calls!)
It’s a significant investment and I know that it would be easier for them if they could see a queue of clients out the door and down the street, or see my program up in lights on the tv.
Social proof is a real thing – alas I have issues with the principle of it – I believe it is unfair to ask my clients to publicly broadcast their participation is a deeply personal and private program such as Return To Fertility, when most don’t even tell their best friends about their struggle. So unless my mind changes on this I choose not to do it.
My position on it is that I can only ever work with a limited number of clients, and if I work flat out for the rest of my life – although I would feel a deep sense of accomplishment, gratitude and success, (tinged no doubt with some frustration and sadness for the few for whom the program was not enough to get them over the line), I would still not make a dent in the global problem of infertility. I’d never be famous no matter how good I was.
Fame is a mass media creation, it’s not the result of contribution necessarily! It is something I actively do not seek as I believe it would detract from my work.
The reality is that every client gets broad, deep personalised support from me, and that programs are complicated because they revolve around the lives of real people with real problems. My program adapts to you!
There is a significant part of me that wants to do whatever I can to reach as many infertile couples as possible and help them over the line. I also would love to be able to bring down the cost to make it more reachable for people in general, (currently the overall cost is comparable to a foreign holiday for a family, or a round of IVF), and so it is a dream of mine to streamline the program so that I could do this, but alas this will take time, if it is even possible to streamline such a complicated program.
I am working towards it all the time though, but I have a hard time believing that I’ll ever become the George Clooney of Natural Fertility – if for no other reason that he’s just not anywhere near as good looking as me!
In the end I refused the couple entry to the program. This is something I have to do from time to time and though I hate doing it, it’s for the best all round. Most of the time it is the woman who is driving the search for a solution to the infertility problem. This is often true even if the guy is the one with the issue.
There is a male/female psychology at play here that can be very frustrating to witness, but 9 time out of 10 if the guy is not on board with the program he may still join due to the pressure of his wife – but it usually either fails or we have a very hard time working together.
I wish I had a better way to solve this problem but alas I continue to search for answers to this. For now, it is best for everyone that couples are firmly on the same page and share the same desire to have children and the same willingness to surrender to a program that will most likely get them over the line if they do their part fully.
Commitment, self-belief and willingness to change are the key elements in your success – my fame or lack thereof – has zero bearing on your outcome, and your outcome is all I care about, end of story!
It’s becoming a pretty regular occurrence nowadays to read articles proclaiming that vitamin supplements are useless. It’s usually some newspaper or magazine, some ‘official’ website, some outspoken doctor, or some myth-busting blogger talking about the latest published science paper that back up the argument that we are all wasting our time taking supplements.
Sometimes it seems to me that ‘science’ is not in touch with reality because I know from experience that I simply could not get the results I get without employing copious amounts of supplement support for my clients. What gives?
The premise of most of the anti-vitamin articles is that the writer is trying to protect the public from false information by alerting them to the fact that much of the advice to take supplements is wrong.
Fair enough, but there is another reality overlain on the story which is that these arguments are increasingly nested inside a huge morass of conflicting socio-political opinions that mostly have nothing to do with vitamins or supplements or science!
This, of course, is the way the world is. C’est Lá Vie!
The ‘morass’ I speak of has spawned what appears to be – on one side – a backward superstitious fact-hating truth-denying stubborn exclusive group of individuals collectively thought of as the alt-right, – and on the other side – a supposed forward-thinking science-loving myth-busting inclusive group of individuals collectively thought of as the alt-left.
I stress the words “…what appears to be…”, because that’s all it is, a narrative, a story line that is quite easily punctured to reveal that this divide is not real. It is not REAL!
Real people, with real concerns, living (or at least trying to live) real lives, are not even close to being that easy to categorise. Only the extremes are. Only extreme ALT’s are obviously categorizable into left and right, and this of course is what they want! Everybody else spans the spectrum depending on the issues and the context. At least they do in the privacy of their minds – if not openly.
The official line is that vitamins are a waste of money.
The narrative supporting this is that anyone who ‘believes vitamins are any good’ are denying hard science and must therefore be either thick, ignorant, or wilfully Alt-right and in denial. Wow!
Here’s something to ponder though…most of the narrators of this line of thinking have lost all pretence of objectivity (one of the hallmarks of good scientific thinking). They have taken sides because it suits their personal belief system. Pure and simple!
What’s worrying is that we all do this at some time – it’s a human failing you might say. It wasn’t a failing in our distant past, it’s a failing now because we are exposed to SO MUCH information. In fact, you could argue that it is because we are exposed to so much information that this failing must come to the surface. We pick sides because that makes emotional sense to us, and anyway there is just too much data to pick through.
But let’s back up for a bit of objectivity. We have to make ourselves ‘back up’ because we are invested in the topic, so we are compelled to introduce some objectivity. We don’t want to, but if we hold truth as the highest value then we must force ourselves to. It is possible to hold a strong opinion on something and yet take a genuinely objective view on it to see if you can learn something new. Who knew?
It’s the unwillingness to be objective that is the problem, not the point of view one has before going into the subject.
So – let’s be objective.
First there are too many papers to tease out, so we have to content ourselves with doing what we can. This means we won’t get it perfect, but this is life, and it is ok.
Most science papers examine a very narrow topic and the researchers try to control the variables as much as possible.
Most public facing articles that report on the science paper (be they blogs, news, or periodicals) are commercial entities that use their writings to make money. They cannot tease out the boring details of a paper because it would mean losing their readership, so they summarise and present opinion to the readers rather than letting them make up their own minds. This is how mass media works!
So, in general you can’t get good analysis from mass media. Not even from something like 60 Minutes or Readers Digest! You are always going to get opinion, more than facts and detailed analysis.
(It’s the same with this blog!)
The reality is that sensationalist headlines make sweeping generalisations based on very narrow lines of research. Even the authors of the research papers are often forced to come out and say “Hey…wait a minute…that’s not what we said”.
The issue could be boiled down to one pertinent fact – research findings cannot be extrapolated to any given individual, so mostly it is true to say that headlines don’t apply to you – specifically to you!
Everyone’s best bet is to engage an individualised mindset and use that as a template to find their way through the huge subject of health, and forget about all the headlines, stop worrying about random articles that pop up and confuse or worry them.
Science will work in your favour, but not if you have a mindset jammed to one side or the other.
Personalised investigation will get you great results but not if you allow yourself to be easily thrown off course by random opinions.
Be prepared to weigh up facts within your personal context but most of all know that faith in yourself will take you further than anything. It is this above all that allows you to get results because you WILL come across conflicting information, you will be thrown by headlines and opinions, you will face uncertainty and overwhelm when you set your sights on a big and worthy goal, but you WILL prevail if you can allow yourself to be objective and open minded.
I hope we can all agree that it is totally ok for any given person to choose not to become a parent if that’s what they really want. Many people may harbor suspicions that such a person will grow to regret their decision, but that’s not anybody else’s judgment to make. Some people genuinely do not want kids. And let’s also be honest here, there are some people who, for the sake of the kids, should never become parents!
But in the context of a couple struggling to overcome infertility – I hate saying this, but generally speaking – men are far more likely than women to throw a spanner in the works by not facing up to the issues.
To an observer it often SEEMS as if men are more likely to be the ones shirking responsibility, but I believe there are factors involved that can explain a lot of this, and it’s worth unpacking these, because in my experience it’s usually not about shirking responsibility, rather it’s about miscommunication and misunderstanding.
Let’s put a stake in the ground first though – It’s not ok for one party to shirk responsibility for baby making when the other party can get hurt by it, and likewise it is not ok for one party to pressure the other into having a baby when that other party is not ready or does not want it. But we must overlay this latter situation with the understanding that marriage and long-term relationships are de-facto expressions of intent to raise a family unless otherwise agreed. In other words, if you wait till you get hitched before announcing you don’t want kids – that’s too damn late and horrendously disrespectful to your partner.
So – if you are married and struggling to have kids, and the issue (or part of the issue) is YOU – then please don’t drag it out in the hope that it will all just go away. Either face up to fixing the problem or face up to the fact that you don’t want to. It’s better to be honest either way.
If you are not ready for kids – you have to say it out straight. Maybe to yourself first, but mainly to your partner because their hopes and dreams may rest with you.
Communication is the key to this. Take a short amount of time and sit with the question – ask yourself if you are ready to go and have kids or not. It’s totally normal for guys to feel ‘not ready’ when their woman is all set to go, it doesn’t mean they don’t want kids, it just means they haven’t thought it out fully yet.
It’s often related to finances and a feeling of not being in a strong position. But think about this for a moment: You have spent your life getting to where you are, do you really think another few months will make the difference? Also realise that women can’t wait around indefinitely – they are compelled to pursue their dream, the urge inside them is primal and can’t be reasoned with.
Don’t kick the can down the road – talk to yourself – see what you really want, then talk straight to your partner, if it results in an argument – good – that’s progress.
Avoid the issue if you want – but a far greater force will come home to roost if you do – it is inevitable.
When the experts fail you, when the amateur onlookers run out of advice, when those who care most about you can offer no more than a helpless shrug and a hug – what do you do?
Who do you turn to when nobody seems to have an answer to the biggest problem in your life?
This is the unspoken question being asked by so many couples struggling in vain with fertility issues – but it’s the wrong question, or at least it’s in the wrong order.
The very first question you must ask yourself is this –
“Is solving my infertility problem the most important priority in my life right now?”
If the answer is no, then at least you have acknowledged the truth – you are putting more emphasis on something else. That’s your right and your call – no matter what others might say about it.
If the answer is Yes – then even though the odds are against you – you have a fighting chance!
The second question you must answer is this – “Do I BELIEVE the problem can be solved?
If the answer is No – then it’s time to go home and call it a day, or at least take time out and seek some clarity.
If the answer is Yes – then it’s game on.
(If you are not sure what the answer is there is an easy way to find out – if you are doing anything at all to solve the problem, or to understand it better, or talking to people about your options – then, whether you realise it or not you do harbour some sense of belief that you can solve it. You simply wouldn’t be here if you had no belief at all or if you believed there was no chance of succeeding!)
So, if you are ‘here’ at all, searching, looking, trying, and hoping despite the overwhelming sense of uncertainty and confusion or that sinking feeling in your gut that it’s all about to go horribly wrong for you – then from my heart I honour your commitment.
Now is the time to go back to the first question – Who do you turn to when nobody seems to have the solutions you seek? The answer of course is Yourself.
You turn inward and use the power of your own self-belief to draw out from you the courage and creativity to continue despite the sometimes-terrifying sense of unknown that lies before you.
This could be the fight of your life, it could be the moment that defines you to yourself, it could be the time when you face the sum of all your fears and bring out the warrior in you that you always knew existed.
When you make clear decisions with intent and belief, it changes your perception and allows you to see solutions where you otherwise saw nothing.
When you move into the unknown with faith and courage – providence moves in your favour.
Solutions created by others who have gone before you will all of a sudden become available to you, ideas you would never have connected become entwined in a beautiful dance creating a path for you that would never have opened up had you not summoned the world to your aid by believing in yourself with conviction.
It’s all there to play for.
Or – you could choose to just rely on the experts and hope they find the answers for you! That might work the odd time.
Either way – it’s your call!
Some of the most common conversations newbie parents have are about what the kids are up to. Often the best parts of being a parent are the moments you get to observe your child doing stuff without realising they are being observed. Just carrying on in their natural state, busying themselves with something they are intrigued by. It can be fascinating or funny and even bring you to tears of pride and happiness.
We often watch and talk about our kids as if they are visiting aliens, a different species that have come to stay with us. People can do this with pets too – observe their habits and patterns and from that describe their unique quirks and personality.
If we employed the same technique with ourselves, we’d solve so many of our problems.
Observation and noticing what we do, what we say, how we feel in certain situations, how we react, how we are when busy, what quirks we have – all of this stuff is useful to know. How we interpret it of course is a different ball of wax, but just noticing it can be incredibly useful to our lives.
Obviously if you have no problems, no challenges ahead of you, no mountains to climb or dragons to slay in your life then this skill of self-observation is of no use to you. (But I would add that if that is what you believe then you are really screwed!)
The path to fulfilment is one where you solve your problems effectively and without crushing others along the way. The first step in this is to recognise that you do have problems – you must name them in order to have any hope of finding a solution.
Next you must harbour some semblance of self-belief that you can solve them, otherwise you won’t even bother trying.
The next step is probably the hardest – it’s the point where you have to swallow your pride (or box up your ego for a moment) and admit to yourself that the problems you have are a direct reflection of YOU. In other words it is your own flaws or quirks that are creating the problem – it is not external to you – and from this humble realisation you must then take the next obvious step and claim total responsibility for your predicament, or more accurately, claim total responsibility for getting yourself out of your predicament.
Once you’ve gotten this far you have broken the back of the beast – now you can get to the easy part – Observing yourself as if you were a complete stranger in order to learn what you are really like, as we do with our children – as you will do with your children in the future if you can summon the courage to face your problem.
You could call it naming and shaming the quirks within yourself – but it’s only worthy of shame if you don’t do this – if you go ahead and do this you become a hero and your life changes.
Do you know what problem you want solved?
My vinyl album ‘Dire Straits’ had a scratch at the end of it’s best song Sultans Of Swing.
I must have played it a thousand times, every time hearing that scratch at the end. Even when I heard it on the radio, I anticipated the scratch – so much so that when it didn’t come something in my brain would get jarred. It was like my brain actually missed the scratch and wanted it to be there.
Fast forward to now and I can tell you with perfect clarity that this phenomena is related to brain neural circuits which are explained by the cliched phrase -neurons that fire together wire together!
Our personal, physical, mental and emotional patterns are similarly encoded in our brains. Whatever we do regularly in our lives gets ‘wired in’, and this is why it’s so difficult to break habits.
Or to put that another way – this is why it is so difficult to change.
The net effect of this is that most of us limp along with problems that have become net-negatives in our lives without stopping to fix them. It doesn’t matter is they are physical, mental, financial, relationship or otherwise.
We’d rather limp along than fix the limp because fixing the limp requires us to do things differently and we are not prepared to do that because we would have to unwire and then re-wire our brain patterns.
THAT’S HOW POWERFUL brain wiring is. It’s so bad we actively look for the scratch we are familiar with rather than enjoy the song scratch free.
Just imagine how many other things in our lives we are holding steady, unchanging, even though we are not getting where we want to go or becoming who we want to be – even if that’s ‘being pregnant’?
I used to be badly stuck in my life. The more I pushed to get where I wanted to be the more I knew I was stuck. I couldn’t’ seem to get away from where I was going – let alone arrive where I wanted to go.
A mentor helped me by posing questions where all I had to do was answer them straight.
By ‘straight’ I mean no dodging, no hiding, no excusing, no explaining away, no justifying anything – just answering openly and honestly.
Imagine for a moment you walk into your front room where your three are fighting, and there is a broken lamp on the floor.
(I know if you are reading this you are most likely struggling with infertility – but imagining the future you want is a huge part of the solution – so go with me for a moment!)
You ask what happened, you get all kinds of responses, he did this, she said that, I had then and then he took it, I was just sitting there and he did that to me, she pushed me, he called me a blab bla bla.
This is how kids answer when faced with questions that could get them into trouble. They deflect, blame, minimise their involvement and act all innocent. (This kind of caper can be adorably funny at times – I guess so long as the lamp is not an antique, and you are in a good mood!)
One way to tackle this is to take an engineer’s mindset, starting at the most proximal event that preceded the catastrophe, and ask something like – “what was the last thing to touch the lamp before it fell?”
Her foot! The pillow! The cat!
Then follow that with “who touched the pillow last before it hit the lamp?”
Me! Her! Him!
The problem with this pedantic method of working the story backwards is that the ones who are to blame get nervous as the evidence mounts, and the ones who are innocent also get nervous because pedantic facts don’t convey intent and thus appear (at least to a child) to be an unjust form of investigation. The mounting nervousness causes them to back into a corner where they mount even stronger defences – and the most effective defence is often to abandon all notions of truth and go straight for the parent’s heart – in other words burst into tears – or worse into anger!
Sometimes comedians are the best people to reflect this back to us!
This is the blueprint we grow up with as kids, and whether we are prepared to admit it or not, it is a pattern that remains inside us as adults. It has no choice; it is wired into our survival system. It’s our default, and the less developed our nervous and emotional systems are (and I’d add the more our blood sugar is unstable) the more likely we are to revert to type when faced with tough situations as an adult. The plain truth is that most of us are just better at covering it up than we were as kids, but it is still our dominant urge.
This is why straight questions and straight answers – mediated by a mentor who will not allow us to dodge them – can be such a great tool in getting ourselves unstuck.
The questions I was asked were
MENTOR “Are you where you want to be in your life?”
MENTOR “Then there is a belief somewhere in your mind that is stopping you”
MENTOR “Your job is not to work harder until you get where you want to be, your job is to find out what belief is stopping you from letting yourself get there”
ME “Letting myself?”
ME “Wow…OK!”…”So how do I find out what that belief is”
MENTOR “That’s a fair question but it’s like asking how a watch works…you will need to set about figuring this out…you will need to draw in a lot of different resources to help you”
ME “Jeeze, ok…let’s go!”
MENTOR “That’s the spirit!”
Leave yourself no room to wiggle, ask yourself good questions, answer with zero fluff, and you will have taken the biggest step. You can be your own mentor!