Living with HIV 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 as being HIV-positive. 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 HIV and managing HIV-related symptoms like fatigue or depression.
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 HIV 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 myHIVteam shared some of their experiences with communicating directly:
"Decided that I can't change my situation in life so after I wake up from this nap I'm going to try and be more positive."
"Be happy because you deserve to be. If someone tries to avoid you, they motivate you and keep you moving. You choose to become who you are."
"Morning everyone, accepting the change in weather today. Hold to your boundaries without apology. YOU ARE LOVED."
Have you used "I" statements to set boundaries? How did it feel?
Share your stories about direct communication in the comments below or on myHIVteam.