By Helen Adrienne

Are you recognizing the need to make some changes in the process of adapting to the unwanted reality of the fertility challenge?  And are you sick of all of the articles which predict failure to maintain your promise to yourself? 

Even more exasperating for you might be the articles that promise “all you have to do is…”? 

At the risk of falling into that category, I’d like to tell you about something called the Ulysses Contract.

In the epic poem Ulysses, the hero understood the danger in being lured by the songs of the sirens.  For sure, the boat would be wrecked on the rocks unless he could prevent himself from losing his resolve rather than give the order to keep on rowing past the seduction.  He had his men lash him to the mast and put beeswax in his ears to maintain his commitment to keep the ship on the safe path to its destination.

The Ulysses Contract is a way to build a wall around an addiction—literal or figurative.  What would that look like when it comes to changing behaviors that interfere with a commitment to getting yourself in the most receptive place to facilitate a conception?  And what makes the Ulysses Contract any different from other ways of committing to New Year’s resolutions?

First, a little brain science.  Neuroimaging can see different parts of the brain when it’s in a battle with itself.  Now thoughts are stronger than later thoughts.  Now and later thoughts are never “at the table” at the same time, therefore compromise is not possible.  The now (in charge) part never gets confronted.  But, time can level the playing field if the later part (delayed gratification) can trick the now part. 

Two facts work in our favor:

  1. Enter the power of disgust.  The long term goal can become immediate if it’s framed so that you must avoid the “siren song of sameness.”  Therefore, you can curtail what now wants, if you establish that doing so would mean that you would, for instance, donate money to the Ku Klux Klan or make some other offensive promise.
  2. But, you can solidify what later wants by teaming up with a partner who knows of your bargain.  In this way, you hold yourself accountable to your promise.

It would be up to you to determine what needs to change and what promise would replace whatever it is that you are doing so that the status quo can lose its status.  When you consider what is at stake, it seems as if the Ulysses Contract with yourself is worth a try. 

Helen Adrienne, LCSW, BCD

Helen is a frequent supporter and contributor to INCIID and INCIID consumers. Please revist her website.

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