One of the most challenging components of having lupus, interestingly enough, is setting healthy boundaries with certain family members or close people in your life. (mic drop)
Throughout your lupus journey you will likely encounter instances where people will want to infringe upon your life their opinions, reactions, advice, and projections about what you should (or shouldn't) be doing. These often-intrusive statements and actions can be more unpredictable than lupus itself! That is why setting boundaries when you have lupus is necessary to maintain your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Easier said than done, we know. Our hope is this blog at least helps you start to process what your boundaries are, and why they are important to be acknowledged for setting a healthy relationship with yourself and others.
What are boundaries? Boundaries are limits people set in order to create a healthy sense of personal space.
“Boundaries give a sense of agency over one’s physical space, body, and feelings.” - Jenn Kennedy, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Here is a fantastic acronym for the word BOUNDARY, that we find very helpful:
Be assertive – say what you mean and mean what you say.
Own what it is you set – identify what boundaries are necessary and own your decision.
Understand that there will be resistance – people are used to your family role. They are not used to boundaries, and it will take time for you and others to adjust.
Notice – pay attention to whether or not your boundaries are wavering. Are you causing confusion due to inconsistent boundaries or are you being clear and consistent?
Don’t give up – setting boundaries is new and can be challenging. Don’t give up just because someone may try to violate your boundary, keep being assertive and standing your ground.
Assimilate – keep true to your word because all you have to believe is what you tell yourself. This means you need to change your behavior to match your intentions and the changes you are making.
Remember – it’s important to remember that healthy boundaries will keep your relationships healthy. Boundaries help prevent enmeshment and are part of self-care.
You matter – your well-being is just as important as everyone else in your life. If you aren’t taking care of yourself and being your best self, how can you help anyone else? No matter how uncomfortable it is to set boundaries it’s an important piece of having healthy relationships.
*Note: original source unknown. MTL does not claim to have written this acronym and would love to give author credit. If known, please email email@example.com
Lupus and Boundaries:
Coping with an unpredictable and incurable illness like lupus is stressful. Living with lupus may induce fears about the future, especially when attempting to navigate shifts between flares and remissions and good days and bad. These fluctuations can perpetuate a sense of helplessness, making it feel like your lupus has become the maestro of your life and you are but a mere player being led by its every command.
The stress of those feelings and the “fear of the unknown” may cause intense anxiety, worry, anger, and sadness. However, setting healthy boundaries promotes a sense of autonomy, as psychologist Dr. Quinn-Cirillo goes on to state ““that you are in control as far as possible in what you want and don’t want.” They can also “keep you safe in relationships at work, home, and with partners, and that’s really important.”
“There are several ways to begin setting healthy boundaries in your lupus life. First, tune into your feelings. Ask yourself what feels right and healthy for you. Secondly, Set your limits. You can only set good boundaries if you know what your limits are. Thirdly, be direct. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Lastly, make your self-care the priority. Putting yourself first is most important in your lupus fight. Don’t be afraid to set the limits that help you be the best you beyond lupus.
Finally, remember boundaries are all about honning-in on your feelings and honoring them in your life. Setting boundaries takes a lot of bravery, practice, and patience to achieve.”
Do you have a hard time making personal decisions?
Do you really hate to let people down?
Are guilt and anxiety your primary emotions?
Are you constantly the victim of situations?
Are you usually a little bit annoyed?
Do you secretly feel that others don’t respect you?
How did those questions settle with you? Is there one or all that made you nod your head? If so, really take some time to process, ponder, and even wrestle with them.
Remember, the purpose of boundaries is to encourage you to invest more of your energy and time into things you want to do and experience. You do not have to Justify, Argue, Defend, or Explain (remember JADE) your boundaries. Also, there are many types of boundaries (physical, emotional, time centered, intellectual, financial, and sexual) and it is important to recognize all various outlets that may drain your energy and happiness if healthy limits are not set.
“As human beings we have our own thoughts, memories, and lived experiences, and sometimes that can become very blurred with someone else’s. Boundaries are healthy for helping you identify and keep that space.”
- Dr. Tara Quinn-Cirillo (featured in PsychCentral)
In addition to setting your own healthy boundaries, it’s pertinent to appreciate and acknowledge those of others, too — even if they differ from your own. For more helpful information on respecting other people's boundaries, click here.
Incorporating healthy boundaries into your life is a pertinent form of self-care, and there is no need to feel guilty about that. If you are living with a chronic illness like lupus, boundaries are no different or less important than eating a well-balanced diet, exercising, or going to a support group.
It might take some time for you to meditate and consider the non-negotiable boundaries most important to you and the best ways to incorporate them into your life, but when you do, your overall well-being will be better off for it.
Kelli (Casas) Roseta
**All resources provided by this blog are for informational purposes only, not to replace the advice of a medical professional. Kelli encourages you to always contact your medical provider with any specific questions or concerns regarding your illness. All intellectual property and content on this site and in this blog is owned by morethanlupus.com. This includes materials protected by copyright, trademark, or patent laws. Copyright, More Than Lupus 2021.