I learned how to empathize with guys going through infertility issues, and why it’s so important to them.
I was recently asked to participate in a panel with 22 of the world’s top Infertility experts. My mission would be to speak to guys about how to turn self-doubt into self-confidence, and how to have the emotionally challenging conversation with their women.
I’ve worked with guys in all kinds of personally and professionally challenging situations, and one thing I’ve learned is that every guy deals with self-doubt at some point and at some level… so it seemed like a natural fit.
I’ve never experienced this myself (because I’m not looking to produce babies – for reasons I’ll get into), so I needed to do some homework.
As with anything I would prepare for, I began the process of empathizing with the audience. What is going on in the lives of guys looking to become fathers? Here’s the process I went through: Guys who are going through this, I hope you’ll let me know if I’m close to the mark.
1. The Word “Infertility” Has Baggage
Initially I had serious emotional baggage about the stigma of being associated in any way with the word “infertility.” That word by itself is a real downer. I definitely don’t want to be in the same room with that word. The concept behind it is worse. 35-40% of infertility is due to problems with the man’s side of the equation. If I judge myself as a man by my virility… then I would start to have crises of identity and self-worth. It would be isolating and degrading. It would make me question myself as a man in my power.
My calling in life is to help men get up off the mat when they’re down, to help men find their compass when their lost, and to help men run for the goal when they’re exhausted… sometimes metaphorically. If this is the challenge facing good men, then this shouldn’t be a problem, I tell myself.
If you’re a guy and you’re reading this, you yourself might be in a challenging emotional and relational situation with fertility, and you’re asking yourself questions like, “Is something wrong with me?” “I know this is emotional, how do I deal with what I’m feeling or not feeling?” “Who can I trust to talk about this with?”
When dealing with questions of deep down self-doubt, I find it’s best to take a step back. You were born intrinsically good… you don’t have to do anything or meet any conditions in order to be good… that’s why we call it unconditional love.
The first step to self-confidence is convincing yourself that you meet all the prerequisites already.
I talk a lot about the 5 steps toward living the life you love in my EmpowerMentorship Institute… and of course I go through them in the interview.
2. The Moral and Ethical Dilemmas
Then I start to have some moral stuff going on about why people think kids are necessary to feel whole. I don’t have kids and I have some personal ethical issues with the whole concept of this fertility stuff.
Like there’s the fact that in the U.S. 397,122 children are living without permanent families in the foster care system (Source: AFCARS Report, No. 20).
And then, “if the planet is already overtaxed by 6.5 billion people, one must weigh the well-being of the individual against that of all of Earth’s inhabitants” (Source: International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences).
I don’t really know how to get past these for myself, but I think it has something to do with wanting to have a clear purpose, to feel that deep sense of love and care, and to somehow give a relationship more depth. All I know is that when you deeply want kids and you can’t produce them – it must feel like the whole point of life is just miserable survival.
THAT feeling, I can understand and empathize with.
3. Purpose is EVERYTHING
If your purpose is to be a father (or mother (or author, or pilot, or artist, etc.) – there’s nothing in the world that’s more important than your life’s purpose. Not money, not time, not sleep… nothing.
THAT, I understand.
I work with guys all the time who are working to clarify their purpose, make plans to achieve it, and then learn the tactics to communicate their plan to the world.
So that’s what I focused on.
Because the point isn’t having a baby, it’s being a father.
I often tell guys that your purpose is not something you put on your To Do list… it’s something that you put on your To Be list. What is it you want to be? The answer to that question should anchor every single To Do list you’ve ever created.
So for the interview, I talked about how to transform Self-Doubt into Self-Confidence. I talked about how to understand your emotions and how to communicate with your partner during an emotional time. And I talked about how to build a group of guys you can trust to support you and understand you.
Those three skills are fundamental for success for any man, in any serious pursuit of purpose.
Listen to the Telesummit and let me know how you guys think I did. I welcome all friendly criticism below.
Photo by: Oleh Slobodeniuk