How hard is it for you to say No? Or Thanks, but no thanks. For some people, myself included, the struggle is REAL! I was always the person who would say yes, often without thinking it through first. I still am at times .. but I have got a lot better at it.
But living with chronic pain has taught me that I can not always commit to many different things for many different reasons. It is so important that you learn to say no when you need to, and not to feel bad about that as well. Like I said … I am still working on this all myself, I probably will be for the rest of my life. But that’s ok. I HAVE got better at it and remember to do it more often now than I used to.
The most important thing that I have learnt is that by saying no or maybe upfront, reduces the need to cancel later on if needed because that makes me feel even worse and lets other people down.
When saying NO THANKS is the ONLY responsible option
There are times when you have to be smart and decline an invitation. Activities you know will exacerbate your pain for example. It’s ok to share the reason as well. These will be different for everyone depending on your illness/pain. For me there are a number of things I just can not do and others that depend on how I am that day.
There are also times when you already have plans and knowing that agreeing to do something later at day or even the next day won’t be possible due to previous plans. Same goes for if you have something important on the day following. For example, a planned wedding or family day out, a concert of your favourite band or best friends 40th Birthday. Catching up for coffee or a day out is not worth it when you have such an important event to attend.
When it’s a time to say MAYBE, with the possibility of having to cancel
So for me, things like, coffee dates, catch up with friends or family, sometimes even parties (depending on occasion and how close per head it is being catered for etc) are things I will semi commit to. Or commit, making sure the other person is fully aware that I might cancel close to last minute if needed. These people should be close and therefore understanding of your circumstances. They should be able to accept it if it happens. They don’t have to like it – I mean we certainly don’t like cancelling plans, but they accept you and they cancellation.
What about when you CAN’T say no or maybe to an invitation?
For example, a wedding or something that requires solid RSVP’s for per head costs etc. I’d also consider very close family or friends special events and milestones like Christmas lunch or my dad’s 60th etc one of these times also. Of course everyone’s important events will differ and that’s ok. Always be true to you and your passions. Make the most of what you can doing the things you LOVE.
So for events like this, I would plan ahead as much as I could by having multiple rest days beforehand. Keeping up with my pain medications. Following my physio to a tea. Then, on the day/night, i make sure I have everything I may need packed or with me. Like daily and breakthrough pain medications, heat pack if possible, folding walking stick, essential oils, my own bottle of water if need be, a cushion if able, spare comfy shoes if I have dressed up and anything else that is suitable for the event.
Then I also plan for rest days after the event. Especially if i know its going to take it’s toll on me. And alone time, i need alone time after outings that physically affect me as it mentally drains me as well. Netflix, music or simply sleep and my bed with my electric heat pad is all I need and want.
Most importantly, try and not feel too bad or guilty for putting your health first
Like many people, I hate letting people down. Most importantly I hate letting down those closest to me. But the good thing is that those are the people that understand and don’t make me feel bad about it. I am also fortunate enough that my girls don’t make me feel bad either, in fact often they reassure me that it is ok that we can’t do something we had planned to due to my pain levels.
Only 2 weeks ago we had to cancel a catch up with a home school friend – which I really really hate to do – to other people children. But it was Olivia who made me snap out of it reassure me that it was ok, we would just see them in a couple of weeks. Being that they were only 2 & 3 years old when I had my second back surgery that failed, they only know me this way. Thankfully the other parent was kind and understanding as well. I still felt terrible … but it was the right decision.
Looking after ourselves is number 1. For many of us, it is our full time job. Unfortunately this means saying no when we aren’t up to something and learning not to feel bad about that.
What are things that you can’t or don’t like to say no to? Please share with us below!