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Recognizing My Limitations and Sticking with Them

When I was a child, the number one way my parents could get me to do something was simply to tell me that I couldn’t do it. If restrictions are dangled in front of me, the first thing that crosses my mind is to prove that I CAN. It always has been, and I think always will be, just one of those lovely personality characteristics that you just can’t shake. However, it has cost many, many painful days to learn my limits, even more than that to learn to stick with them, and learn to listen to my body or I’d pay the price. I tend to be a bit hard-headed and I’ve finally decided that the price to pay is too steep for those times that I fail to recognize the limitations that come from living with psoriatic arthritis.

Learning my limits

As a child, I never liked being told I couldn’t do something, and I am pretty much the same now. Instead of seeing it as a limitation, I’ve always viewed the phrase, “You can’t do that,” as a personal challenge. There are many days when my body says, “You can’t do that.

Watch me.” My mind fires back. I look at it as the psoriatic arthritis equivalent of, “Hold my beer.” It is a very dangerous internal dialogue that can only end badly.

Most days, I have learned that I can do one activity, but not two. I can manage one outing a day with all three of my children, but I can never seem to manage two. This has led to some difficult choices when making plans. Learning to recognize exactly what my limitations are has helped me to plan my days much better. Recognizing my limitations also helps me to know how to read my body and say, “No, I can’t do that,” with confidence.

Sticking with my limitations

Follow through hasn’t always been my strong suit either. It takes the same lesson presented to me, several times over, for it to really stick. My mind says, “Eh, this time, things will be different.” My body responds, “Nope.” Then I find myself, stuck in bed, in pain, again. All because I didn’t learn my limitations the first time. I didn’t stick with what my body knew to be true. My mind clearly thought it knew better. I’ve learned, through a great deal of painful encounters, that when in doubt I should always let my body rule over my mind.

In addition, I hate disappointing people. I find it very difficult to stick with my limitations when I have someone I love asking me to do something. If I end up “on the fence” so to speak, about whether or not I should do something I am fairly easily swayed to go. This is fine for most people, but not for me. More times than I like to remember, I’ve regretting not sticking to my limitations living with psoriatic arthritis.

Living with the reality of the situation

Sure, I would love to look pain in the face and say, “No, I will not let you limit what I do. I will not let you have control over me.” But the reality is if I overdo it or if I don’t listen to my body, I will always pay the price and boy is it steep price to pay.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • stillstanding
    2 years ago

    It all started in November and I was diagnosed in March so this is all still new to me. I’m struggling with my limits. If I need to get something done I’ll just keep going no matter how much pain I’m in. I’m well aware that I’m going to pay for days after. But I want to avoid the flack I’ll get for not doing enough. But I got it anyway for doing too much. I’m trying to learn how to spread things out into smaller pieces and hope for the best. Missed two days of work because of it and I could just kick myself.

  • CathyD moderator
    2 years ago

    stillstanding, I’m sorry to read that you’re struggling. It really is such an adjustment and a huge learning curve. In my personal experience, in the beginning there is definitely a lot of trial and error, and overdoing it and crashing, but I have eventually learnt (mostly) to manage things in a way that’s sustainable for me. Don’t be too hard on yourself – this is a new and complex situation, it takes time to adjust. Even now after 9 years I still overdo it (both knowingly and unknowingly!) at times and get caught out.

    I noticed you said that you were trying to avoid getting flack for not doing enough, are those around you aware of what you’re dealing with?

  • stillstanding
    2 years ago

    Hi Cathy D. Thank you for the response and advice. My husband tries to understand but he really doesn’t. He is the one I try to avoid getting flack from but also gave me some flack because I did too much. I can’t sit around and watch him do all the work and just lay in bed. I’m sure you know what I mean. My latest flare had me down for 5 days! All I did that was different from my normal weekly work routine was work from the office for three days in a row where I usually only work in office on Tuesday and Thursday. Then, even though I was bed ridden all day Friday I made myself get cleaned up and visit my MIL and Sister at MILs house the next day, but I was so exhausted. I forced myself to not nap so I had more time to spend with them. I felt like I was walking in quick sand for three more days after already having 2 really bad days. I know I have to keep my weekends to doing practically nothing so I don’t miss work. But it’s almost impossible. There are chores that have to be done and the hubby works a weird third shift schedule. I sure do love being at home but I’ve been isolating myself more and more. It’s depressing. We have a weekend coming up with one activity each day and I already told my husband I can’t do both. So….baby steps I guess. :/

  • VickiN moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi stillstanding,
    I also struggle with striking this balance. When I’ve been sitting on the couch for more than 5 minutes, I often ask my husband to get anything I need (water, a Kleenex, etc.) because I know that getting up means I’ll hobble around and it’s just easier to ask him. But my goodness, the guilt! Like CathyD said, it’s all about recognizing your limitations. I also try to speak with my friends and family about how I’m feeling, trying extra hard to relate that if I cancel plans at the last minute, or flat out say no when asked, to not take it personally.
    Something that may help your family understand is the Spoon Theory. We describe a little about what it is in this article, if you haven’t heard about it!

    Baby steps for sure, and do remember to be kind and gentle with yourself. Please come here anytime you need an empathetic ear or a virtual hug. We’re all here for you.
    -Victoria, Community Moderator

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