Dealing with others: your optimism
As awkward as you may find it to engage others in your healing process, those around you may be just as out of practice at being embraced. It may be difficult for them to figure out how best to demonstrate their care and concern toward you. In fact, their inherent compassion may not be conveyed in the way they intend or in the fashion that you would prefer. It’s challenging to reconcile the new aspects of your relationship, so it’s important to consider the reasons why this adjustment period is difficult. Here's reason #1 (taken from my book, Despite Lupus) that we, as Lupites, might find it hard to see eye to eye with those around us:
1) Your optimism may be misinterpreted
To begin with, you may feel that your friends and family don’t willingly share your optimistic attitude. You interpret their hesitancy to back your “full steam ahead” attitude as skepticism. Don’t they think you can kick this thing? Are they doubtful of your ability, your strength and your willingness to fight for what you want? You detect their concerned reluctance and immediately get defensive. Why can’t they see that you’re attempting to rise above, rather than wallow in the pain? You refuse to be like so many others stricken with illness: the complainers and the hypochondriacs. You will not become one of those people, but your loved ones’ apprehensions are making it more difficult for you to do so. They keep haranguing you to slow down, call the doctor, or let the laundry go. What they don’t understand is that their suggestions sound more like criticism than encouragement. Their admonishments take on a condescending tone, making you fully aware of the lack of trust they have in you. Every time they say, “Don’t overdo,” it feels like a slap in the face, a direct attack on your ability to manage your own life and health. Instead of empowering you to make a good, healthful decision, their implications squash any sense of empowerment or support you might have hoped to glean from them.
"To assume that people have within themselves the capacity to decide what is best for them is a vote of confidence."
Thus, you need to teach them to express their concern without infuriating you even more. You must show them how it feels when they attempt to “help” because they may not know the damage they are causing. Explain the negative effect their words have on you and suggest ways they can express their concern that are more encouraging to you. Remember, their advice to take it easy is justified; you’re simply asking them to finesse the delivery of their message so that you’re not too offended to listen.