WEGO Health Award!

The Art of Saying No

First of all, I owe an apology for being so behind on my posts!  I am just now recovering from a couple of rough months of health challenges but thankfully starting to feel back to normal.  During this time of trials and tribulations that every Crohnie goes through, I was reminded of "the art of saying no."  Yes, friends, saying "no" is one of the hardest words for us multi-tasking, overachievers who are worry-warts and people-pleasers.  Anyone else in this club with me?  If so, read on!

-- Saying "No" to friends, colleagues, book club members, neighbors, and the person who won't stop asking you to help out at the next PTO meeting

Note I didn't include family in this list, because in my world family and God come first.  It's the rest of the world that has to take two giant steps back when I'm flaring or dealing with other health struggles.  We all know in those bad days of IBD struggles, it's near impossible to get out of bed, shower, eat - do the basics take care of ourselves, much less respond to the thousandth email that has made your inbox look like a tidal wave of 'must-do's'.

Flaring humbles me that the world goes on without me.
Friends remind me that while they miss me, they understand.
True friends pick right back up where things left off, as if time had never passed.
If the supper club, book club, PTO, mom's yoga class, or other group doesn't understand everyone needs a break sometime, maybe it's time to re-evaluate their place in your life.  Or for us over-achievers, maybe it's time to create a NEW group of more like-minded individuals.

"there are often many things we feel we should do that, in fact, we don't really have to do. Getting to the point where we can tell the difference is a major milestone in the simplification process.” 
Elaine St. James, Living the Simple Life: A Guide to Scaling Down and Enjoying More

-- Saying "No" at the gym  

I almost cried in toning class my first time back after missing weeks of workouts due to my latest flare.  Exercising has become a source of stress relief and assurance that I'm helping to mitigate the bone loss from steroid use and IBD deficiencies.  Despite that, my efforts are often baby steps forward, giant steps back.  Last week, I unknowingly walked into class with the hardest instructor, who I call GI Jane, and struggled through the entire session.  I found myself collapsing during planks, having to decrease my weights, and tending to throbbing knees during lunges.  I felt so self-conscious, like everyone knew the girl in the back was a failure.  The instructor kept yelling for us to keep going, which I took as a personal attack since everyone else seemed ok.

I said 'NO' to the last fifteen seconds of plank, burying my face in my hands and certain I was the only one who failed.

I said 'NO' to jumping jacks on sore knees and created my own modification.

At first I felt so sad.  Then I said 'NO' to my tears.  I said 'NO' to feeling self-conscious.  Instead, I chose self-love.  I imagined if everyone in the class, especially the instructor, knew what my body had just been through I would be held up with love, not judgment or competition.

Having an invisible illness means we appear normal, yet can be in so much pain on the inside.  I long to shout to the world that even if I look ok, I am so far from ok it's ridiculous!

Listen to your body and it's limits.  Be patient with your limitations.  Love yourself and praise your body for what it CAN do, rather than scold for what it can't do.

-- Saying "No' at work

Does anyone else have a job that requires some significant physical demands at some points, or perhaps daily?  How do you manage with IBD  - please reach out and share through an email or the comments section, because I struggle with this one.  I am in a season at work that involves a lot of weekends, nights, and physical work.  Last weekend before heading to an event, I started crying while telling my husband how afraid I was of stretching myself too much with exertion.  After all, I'd just spent the better part of 8 weeks resting every moment of the day possible.  Hours of manual labor seemed daunting.  

He reminded me of my strengths in setting boundaries and helped me talk through different scenarios.  After all, with some people you don't necessarily want to discuss IBD, am I right?  Like that coworker you aren't really close with - why share if you don't want to?  He helped me talk through some generic "boundary settings," like "I'm sorry, I am not able to do "x" or lift "y". I have some health problems, and while I'm happy to help with "a" and "b", I'm just not able to do "x" and "y".  

Period.  No additional explanation or apologies.  If they ask, just say "I'd rather not discuss the specifics, but thanks for your concern!"  Only your manager or HR staff lead needs to know the specifics.  

Check out my post on job considerations with tips on the ADA for  more!


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