How do you describe yourself when you’re childless?

Amanda felt stuck.

She’d always wanted to be a mother.

Her mind knew that it wasn’t to be, but her heart hadn’t caught up yet.

She’d been focused on trying for years, and wanting for even longer.

And now it was all over she wasn’t sure who she was.

If she couldn’t call herself a mother, who was she?

The words she used to describe herself all made her feel worse, phrases like ‘I’m not a mother’ or ‘I’m childless’, ‘… infertile’ or some others that we won’t repeat here.

She felt like she was in a cocoon not knowing what sort of butterfly she was to be because all the colours were taken.

Amanda turned to the internet and when she saw this quote:

Joseph Campbell let go

She realised that by using those sort of words to herself she was hanging on. She didn’t know what was waiting for her BUT it had to be better than being stuck in the dark so she decided it WAS time to let go.

Focus on who you are, not who you aren’t

Amanda decided she’d feel better if she described herself as who she is instead of who she isn’t. And she knew that there were many positive words that she could use, which might feel uncomfortable at first, and would be easier with practice.

So she made a list of positive words that described who she is.

What if ‘I am childless’ became ‘I couldn’t have children’?

Amanda also realised that when she changed her language so that ‘I am’ statements became things that she couldn’t DO, they had less hold on her.

So when ‘I am childless’ became ‘I couldn’t have children’ it felt much better because it was now one of those things she’d tried to do and couldn’t, like skiing, knitting, drawing and painting.

So now Amanda had a list of who she was, and a few things she couldn’t do and she felt less stuck. It was as if her butterfly was starting to take on shape and colour, and with a bit more practice she would soon be ready to poke a hole in the cocoon.

How can you apply this?

To me this quote really sums up the work we have ahead of us to become who we’re meant to be in the world.

So if you want to follow Amanda’s lead. If you’re ready and willing to let go of the life you had planned, and embrace that which is waiting for you, here are three simple ways to start.

1. Who are you?

Make a list of at least 10 positive statements that start with ‘I am….’

So for example, mine include I am a woman, wife, good friend and coach. I am supportive, helpful and positive.

And if you come to a stop before you get to 10, use these questions instead:

  • How would you describe yourself?
  • What is your sense of self?
  • What kind of person are you?
  • How would those who love you describe you (you could always ask them)?

2. Change be to do

If negative words like childless come up, make them into a capability by changing them to something you are not able to do, rather than who you are.

For example it doesn’t feel right for me to say, ‘I am a singer’ because it’s not who I am, however saying ‘I can sing’ does, because it’s something I can do (although those standing next to me in choir may sometimes disagree …).

I’ll add here that I’ve never said ‘I am childless’ because it’s not who I am. For me ‘we weren’t able to have children’ feels right as it was all about capability. We tried and weren’t able to succeed so ‘weren’t able to’ or ‘couldn’t have’ feels so much better.

So now you have 10 fantastic words and phrases that that describe who you are, and you feel a lot more positive than you started. You do, don’t you?

3. Imagine the future

That’s a great start and I’m going to ask you to stretch a little bit further and ask yourself;

Who do you want to be?

Imagine it’s a year from now, you’re leading a life you love.

  • Who are you?
  • What are you doing, and what are you saying to yourself?

Think about that for a few minutes and write down your answers.

Asking myself this final question has really helped me to focus. I feel empowered because I have a clear vision of who I want to be in the world and this enabled me to plan what to do and the support I need in order to be that person.

4. And what will you do now?

So, you’ve imagined yourself in the future, living a life you love.

And you know I’m going to ask –

what are you going to do to make that happen?

Yes I know the cocoon is safe and comfortable, but it’s also dark and lonely and life is so much better in the light. So to paraphrase Joseph Campbell’s words ‘Are you ready to let go of the life you had planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for you?’

Are you?

Over to you

If this helped you and it’s not enough, check out the Let Go and Move On Programme and see how it can help you.

And if this technique helps you, please leave a comment below (you don’t have to use your real name).



4 thoughts on “How do you describe yourself when you’re childless?”

    • Thanks Dawn, just about all of the things I write about are useful in many other areas of our life. Do let me know how you get on.


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