Living with endometriosis can mean having limited energy, time, and bandwidth. You may find yourself needing to say "no" more often than you did before you developed endo. Do you have a tough time being direct with others about how you feel? It's not unusual to feel awkward or self-centered when turning down a request or an invitation. You may feel at the mercy of the other person's need.
Using "I" statements can help put you back in the driver's seat of the situation. An "I" statement directly communicates your feelings and sets a clear boundary, allowing you to focus on treating your endometriosis and managing endo-related symptoms like fatigue or pelvic pain.
I don't feel like going.
I'd rather do something else instead.
I can't do it this week.
Whenever I attend that event, it takes me days to recover.
At first, you may feel vulnerable about using direct "I" statements when saying no. Your true feelings are exposed, and you may be judged for using endometriosis as an excuse. "I" statements can also be freeing! You don't need to pretend or tell a white lie. It's ok to communicate directly about what you need.
Using an "I" statement is a way of taking responsibility for your feelings. You are not blaming or accusing the other person. You are being honest about your needs and making sure they are recognized.
Members of MyEndometriosisTeam shared some of their experiences with communicating directly:
"Been a rough run but been through worse so I'm soldiering on. I'm learning my new limits and setting boundaries and taking one day at a time."
"Last night my boyfriend said to me, "My mom said you were in rough shape earlier. You were in a lot of pain." I was just happy to hear someone actually noticed and was concerned."
"Missing brunch with the family because of body pain. When my sister informed my mom in my earshot, my mom made sarcastic remarks instead of some type of compassion or understanding. I've explained my health conditions a lot and she sees the pain on my face on a near-daily basis. Her response almost hurts as much as my endo and fibro pain."
Have you used "I" statements to set boundaries? How did it feel?
Share your stories about direct communication in the comments below or on MyEndometriosisTeam.