Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Communicating With Loved (and Liked) Ones, part 2

This is a continuation of my previous blog on communicating with family and friends when you have chronic pain or illness.  Towards the end of this post I have included some basics about good communication and assertiveness in general.  I end with some basic facts of life.
  1. Even when you and your partner seem to be on the same wavelength, don’t expect them to be psychic. Be clear about what you like or dislike, need, etc.
  2. Build your support system so you have different people to help with different needs.
  3. Participate in family activities as you can, but don't hold others back from what they want to do.
  4. Family members need to know that they are more to you than just a paycheck, a bill payer, a dispenser of medical care etc. They are also people with wants, feelings, and limitations of their own. Thank them out loud and/or in writing from time to time.
  5. If you are having a good day and are capable of doing more than usual, let your partner know. Also let them know when you are capable of doing less than usual. Do as much as your health permits to maintain independence.
  6. If you don't feel well and end up yelling at your partner when they haven’t done anything wrong, apologize. Don't just hope it goes away. Let your partner know you are mad at your illness and not them.
  7. Sometimes we may suffer guilt and fear of being too much of a burden, and we withdraw, leaving our partner to wonder if it was something they did. Talk about your fears and feelings of guilt. Encourage them to be open as well.
  8. Some people may be so uncomfortable with your illness or pain that they are in denial. They don't want to talk about it or hear about it because it is too distressing. They may feel overwhelmed and cut off communication.
  9. Or they may be very worried about you and not know how to express it other than nagging you or being overprotective.
  10. Try to understand their perspective, and work with them from there.
  11. If you disagree, be respectful and assertive. Tell the other person what the problem is, and how you suggest fixing it.
  12. Use "I" messages when appropriate: "I feel angry when I try to tell you about my pain and you mock me. I would appreciate if you would try to understand how I feel.”
  13. Try to keep your expectations of one another reasonable, and be willing to cut each other some slack on the things that aren’t deal breakers.

    The key to most communication is assertiveness. The best definition of assertive is DIRECT WITH

    Good communication involves:
    Making eye contact.
    Giving others the chance to have their say without interruption.
    Listening - Focus on what the other person is saying, not on what you want to say next.
    Asking questions when you don't understand or need more information.
    Repeating back to the person what you understood, to make sure you did understand correctly.
    Recognizing and communicating how you feel, as well as what you think and want and need.
    Accepting that others have a right to their opinion as much as you do to yours.

    Remember- Each of us is the center of our own universe. You can't change someone else; you can change how you interact with them. Each of us is responsible for the consequences of our actions.

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