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Tap Into the Power of Directness: Use "I"

Posted on August 15, 2019

Living with breast cancer can mean having limited energy, time, and bandwidth. You may find yourself needing to say "no" more often than you did before you were diagnosed with breast cancer. 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 breast cancer and managing cancer-related symptoms like fatigue or hot flashes.
For instance:

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 breast cancer 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 MyBCTeam shared some of their experiences with communicating directly:

"I tried to explain that I need a solid place that I can call my own."

"Don't give up if something's bothering you."

"I applaud you for standing up and being counted."

Have you used "I" statements to set boundaries? How did it feel?
Share your stories about direct communication in the comments below or on MyBCTeam.

A MyBCTeam Member said:

I learned the hard way, it was hard to say no, now I can say no.

posted about 2 months ago

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