5 Tips for Communicating with Family and Friends Who Just Don’t Understand

One of the most common statements I hear from people with chronic illnesses regarding their friends and family members is, “They just don’tDictionary Series - Marketing: communication understand.” This is particularly true for people with autoimmune disorders (such as, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, Lupus, Celiac, etc) and other modern invisible illnesses (like food allergies and ADHD). I am amazed at how many times I have heard someone cluelessly minimize the impact of one of these conditions.

If you are dealing with a chronic condition, I am sure that you have uttered the words, “They just don’t get it” at some point in your life. I know I have on several occasions.

This lack of understanding can be very frustrating for you because whenever anyone speaks to another person they want to feel like they have been heard and understood.

Unfortunately, it is particularly hard for people to wrap their minds around chronic conditions unless they experience them first-hand. Unlike visible disabilities, such as breaking your leg,  people around you have little or no reference point in regards to what might be going on inside of your body. This lack of awareness often leads to miscommunication and misunderstandings.

Communication breakdowns can lead to feelings of anger, anxiety, resentment, animosity, hopelessness, isolation, despair, and depression. All of these emotions negatively impact your relationships and overall quality of life. The stress brought on by conflict can also weaken your ability to manage your symptoms effectively.

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