Monday, April 1, 2013

The Confidence for "No"

I'm so programmed to be agreeable, to say "yes" and go with the flow. That is the polite, lady-like thing to do, right? Over the years I've come to realize that I wasted a great deal of time and energy doing things that distracted and detracted from the path I was on. I figured out that saying "no" was an important thing to learn to do. If only it was that simple.
The stakes have never been higher and implementation has never been harder ever since chronic pain became part of my life. I must pace myself in order to optimize my ability to function. I have to say no to some invitations. I have to bow out from time to time. Heck, I even have to say no to myself when I get overly confident on a not-so-bad day. The thing is, it's still hard every single time I have to do it. 

Take yesterday, for example. my husband and I had accepted an invitation to go to his cousin's house for Easter lunch. Neither of us had been to her house before but we knew her husband was a smoker. We knew  it was going to be a very big group that included young children so it was going to be loud. And we knew that it would be an hour there and back on a bright sunny day. 

A migraine took hold early in the day and I loaded up on my rescue meds in hopes that I could pull it together and go. BUT, as it got closer and the meds had only helped a little, the last thing I wanted to do was be in a loud (possibly smokey) place trying to force my foggy migraine brain to carry on conversations with a bunch of people. The pain was exhausting enough, I just didn't have the energy to really invest in trying to be a "normal" person. The consequences to attending would have been high.

In my brain I knew the right thing to do was to stay home and let my husband go alone. Thankfully, he knew it as well and encouraged me to stay. Telling me things like,"everyone would understand". Still, I beat myself up about it. It made me mad that I couldn't make my body cooperate, that I had to bow out of yet another activity. It feels like I've had to do that more in the last year and a half than in years past but I know that's only because now we live close to family and friends. Before I wasn't bowing out of plans because we didn't have plans with anyone but each other. 

I didn't go and that was the exact right decision. I know it's true. So why was it such a hard decision to make? Why did I have to beat myself up about it? And most importantly, how do I gain confidence and strength for the necessary "noes" in my life?  


  1. Sometimes we have to learn how to forgive ourselves too. I think in doing that, it has helped me learn that it's okay to say "no". Still not good at it, but I'm really just a work in progress :)

  2. I think many of us chronic pain individuals struggle with saying "no" to invitations and feeling guilty about it. Every invitation I get always initiates thoughts of, "what IF my headache gets worse". For me, it is an on-going struggle of feeling guilty at times and then saying to myself, "Nobody knows my body but myself and I am going to do what is right for myself and that is all that matters". Being home is my comfort area and even though up until this very day, I still have friends and/or family that do not get the whole chronic headache issues I suffer with and continue to give me these lectures about "how getting out will help me feel better...yada, yada yada...", I will turn down the invitation.