When we suffer from a chronic illness such as fibromyalgia, we are more vulnerable. What people say, and the things they do or don’t do, can have life-altering effects on us.
I believe we need to learn to set boundaries. We need to decide what we will and won’t accept, and what to do to keep ourselves from being unnecessarily hurt — even by well-meaning people.
What are boundaries and how do they work? Picture a fence around your home. The inside of the fence keeps good things in, and the fence is a barrier to keep bad things out. Your personal boundaries (your fence) can keep out things like guilt from saying no. Having boundaries keeps you in a healthier place mentally and emotionally. We might have difficulty establishing them if they weren’t instilled in us growing up.
When we’re afraid of conflict or losing an important relationship, it can keep us from setting boundaries. That opens the door for people to harm us. Not only do we allow others to violate our boundaries, but we might be sabotaging our own by doing things such as:
- Spending time with other people until we are exhausted;
- Not being upfront about our physical and emotional limits;
- Giving more of ourselves in a relationship without having our own needs met;
- Not making our opinions, desires, or emotions a priority.
When we are not well, having someone pop by to visit can be exhausting. Acting cheerful when we are feeling our worst is not only overwhelming, it is dishonest. It’s so important to make ourselves and our health a priority. Don’t dismiss your boundaries by agreeing to attend a function or following through with plans when you know you need to be in bed with a heating pad and pain meds. We need to let go of our fear of disappointing others.
It takes time to establish boundaries and help those in your circle of influence to accept them. I think the best place to start is from a place of respect for yourself and others. Let people know you appreciate their invitations, but stay true to your boundaries. One book that has helped me enormously is “Boundaries” by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. I highly recommend it.
Have you been successful in creating boundaries around your fibro? Has it been a challenge? Let me know in the comments below.
Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.