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SuperBetter: Too Statements and Celebrations

There were two back-to-back ideas that popped up for me in SuperBetter that both applied (at least, for me) directly to infertility.

Too Statements

The first was an exploration of “too” statements on page 189 – 190: “I’m too sad to go to dinner with my friends,” or “I’m too overwhelmed to figure out this insurance stuff,” or “I’m too scared to explore a different path out of infertility.”  It would be an interesting exercise to go through the journal I kept before the twins and count how many times the word “too” appears in the pages.

I still make a lot of “too” statements, and I like Jane McGonigal’s advice because she isn’t telling me not to make them.  Saying or thinking “too” statements is okay as long as you say the rest of her sentence.

All you have to do is say the first part and then tack on an “and” statement, pointing out that you have every personal reason not to do X but you’re going to do it anyway.

So it would become, “I’m too sad to go to dinner with my friends, and I’m going to go anyway and try not to look at Sarah’s enormous belly.”  Or “I’m too overwhelmed to figure out this insurance stuff, and I’m going to call the company and write everything down so I can figure out what is covered.”  Or “I’m too scared to explore a different path out of infertility and I’m going to get over that fear by spending time reading about a different option and seeing if it’s right for me.”

See, you still get to feel whatever you need to feel, but it doesn’t stop you from continuing to move forward through life.  Just a small tweak in how you phrase something to yourself, but it makes a big difference.  Try it.

Celebrating Your Friends

The second was something that is a sensitive topic in this community: being happy for someone else.  It is easy to be happy for others when you feel happy for yourself, but it is also a skill to help another person celebrate their “win.”

The book assumes that someone’s ally is in a mental space to celebrate and support another person, though what isn’t covered is when you are someone else’s support system because you are both trying to attain your goals, and someone reaches their goal first.  How do you engage in the active constructive responding on page 251 when one person has good news and the other person doesn’t?

I think active constructive responding — “taking someone’s good news or success and helping them really savour and celebrate it” — is difficult for a lot of people to do.  As this site, Go Strength, states, “When people share good news, they want you to share in their joy. And this goes far beyond just a pat on the back. Conveying authentic interest, pride, and even curiosity in someone’s good news are all hallmarks of ACR.”

So how do you shriek with happiness and get excited to see ultrasound photos?  Is this impossible to do when you’re in the throes of your own crisis?

Again, McGonigal has sound advice: ask three questions.  While she doesn’t address this particular situation — your ally is still drowning while you have reached shore — she does give a concrete way you can practice ACR without having to fake joy.  Ask three questions, any three questions.  Asking question shows interest.  It gives attention.  And it gives you a chance to repeat their answer, which shows that you’re listening AND lets them hear their own good news again, which is enjoyable.

And you?  You can make a “too” statement to yourself and add the “and” statement to get through the moment.  Maybe in getting through the moment, you feel real happiness for your friend, too, even if that happiness comes with an “and.”

What do you think of McGonigal’s advice?

I’m writing about SuperBetter the app as well as SuperBetter the book because… well… I learned about them via a podcast and now I want to talk about everything I’m learning on them. If you want to talk about them, too, join along. If not, skip the posts marked SuperBetter.


1 Jill A. { 02.28.17 at 4:07 pm }

I like both pieces of advice. I don’t have a problem with being too anything, I mean, I often am, I just don’t see it as a problem. Too tired, too hurt, too indifferent. However, I still do things. Impossible things. I think we all do, here in the land of IF and babyloss. If we can do the impossible, like get up in the morning day after day, sleep at night, night after night, keep going, keep trying, keep loving, well then, the merely difficult are possible and we know it. May not do it anyway, again, no problem with that, but we know we can.

The three question advice I like a lot. It is practical. It is a way to get out of your own pain when you get ambushed by it. I tend to freeze, like a deer in the headlights. Complete stop. This is a way to hit the go button.

2 Different Shores { 03.03.17 at 7:05 am }

Great post. I’m guilty of TOO many ‘too-statements’. The number of times I say to my hub “I’m too tired to think about that”. But also in the situations that you list in your piece. God, ‘too’ could be one of my most-used words, when I think about it. It’s just too (!) easy to use a too-statement. I don’t know whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing (I’m too brain-dead at work to think about it – ha!). I agree with tacking on an and-statement, but only so long as it’s not in a “face your fear and do it anyway” kind of way – I don’t subscribe to “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. So for example I would agree 100% with calling the insurance company and getting the low-down (it’s practical and pragmatic: doing this always makes you feel better and clearer about something), but I would not agree with facing the friends and trying to avoid the big pregnant belly.
As for being happy at other people’s news, where you yourself have failed: gah, a hard one. We see this a lot on infertility messageboards and the like: “…I mean, I’m so happy for my friend who is five years older than me and conceived straight away, but I just feel so sad about my own multiple failed IVFs”. I’m sceptical. Am I only person in the world who didn’t feel a trace of happiness of any kind when I got news like that? I can’t be. So I love the idea of the three questions. It’s a brilliant bit of strategy for those bittersweet (mainly bitter) situations.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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