How many items are on your To Do list? How many events are you supposed to attend? Personally, I’m supposed to be at a holiday party at this very moment. I wanted to go. I really did. But it was just too much and there are other things I want to do this weekend, so I had to choose either the party or something else. I chose the something else.
We all have to choose. There’s only so much we can do before our bodies rebel and we know it. Unfortunately, not everyone else knows it. So I suggest you give them a choice.
Tell them to choose either this or that.
Your family wants you to go to 2 parties next weekend. Tell them you’ll gladly go to one and they can choose which one.
Or they want to decorate the tree and go present shopping and take a walk through the snowy woods. Tell them you’d love to do any one of those, and they can choose which one.
Every time there’s a list of things you’re expected to do, tell others they can choose. Of course, you might have to rule out a few options altogether. Keep it manageable. But tell them to choose.
This does a few things. First, it means that you won’t be overwhelmed by trying to do too much.
Also, it shows your loved ones that you truly want to participate. Maybe you can’t do as much as they can, but it shows that your desire is there, and that when you miss out on something, it’s not by choice.
Third, it makes your limitations clear. It shows everyone what you can and can’t do. Since we so often hide how we really feel, this is a good way to let your limitations be seen.
And finally, and so importantly, it gives your loved ones a feeling of control. You probably already know how out of control you feel by the unpredictability and difficulty of your chronic illness(es), but it’s easy to forget that our loved ones feel the same way. They want to make us feel better and, lacking that, they just want to have a little bit of control in a chaotic situation. So give them that. It will help ease a bit of their frustration if they know you’ll be doing what’s most important to them.
Finally, give yourself the same rule: either/or. Make a list of the many things you want to do and tell yourself that you’ll do either one or another, but not all of them. Be realistic. Then feel good about whatever it is that you do. Because that’s an accomplishment to be proud of.