Living with fibromyalgia can mean having limited energy, time, and bandwidth. You may find yourself needing to say "no" more often than you did before you developed fibro. Do you have a tough time being direct with others about how you feel? It's not unusual to feel awkward or self-centered when turning down a request or an invitation. You may feel at the mercy of the other person's need.
Using "I" statements can help put you back in the driver's seat of the situation. An "I" statement directly communicates your feelings and sets a clear boundary, allowing you to focus on treating your fibromyalgia and managing fibro-related symptoms like pain, fatigue, or depression.
I don't feel like going.
I'd rather do something else instead.
I can't do it this week.
Whenever I attend that event, it takes me days to recover.
At first, you may feel vulnerable about using direct "I" statements when saying no. Your true feelings are exposed, and you may be judged for using fibromyalgia as an excuse. "I" statements can also be freeing! You don't need to pretend or tell a white lie. It's ok to communicate directly about what you need.
Using an "I" statement is a way of taking responsibility for your feelings. You are not blaming or accusing the other person. You are being honest about your needs and making sure they are recognized.
Members of MyFibroTeam shared some of their experiences with communicating directly:
"I work full-time through the end of the month and then I’m taking time off to set some boundaries in life. My time on my wellness leave hopefully will be fruitful as I can’t continue to work at a job that doesn’t have a set structure. I have to create the structure."
"My health coach is suggesting that I make a list of all of the things that I want to do. Then prioritize them in order. My list is huge. Explains why I am overwhelmed. I have put my projects in seasonal time slots."
"Mother’s 80th birthday party went off without a hitch. I cooked for two days, I haven’t expended such an effort in a long time. I just pretended all was fine."
Have you used "I" statements to set boundaries? How did it feel?
Share your stories about direct communication in the comments below or on MyFibroTeam.