How To Not Be Overbearing Towards Someone With Asthma

"You sound bad, I think you should use your inhaler."

Has a loved one, friend, or possibly a coworker said these words to you before? You know it is coming from a place of love and concern, but being told what to do, especially when it comes to your chronic illness, does not feel great.

Overbearing loved ones

When we love someone, we often think we know what is best for them. This can be the case with parents and children, boyfriends and girlfriends, friends, coworkers, grandparents, and spouses. Yes, parents often do know what is best for their children, but when children grow into adults, this dynamic can and will likely change. Adults, for the most part, know their bodies best.

This applies to living with a chronic illness like asthma. As an adult, you probably know your asthma best. Your doctor and medical team will also likely know your asthma very well. As a child, your parents also probably understood your asthma best.

When we fear for someone, we want to do whatever we can to take care of them and make sure they are okay. When we see someone having an asthma attack or flare-up, it might be intuitive for some of us to tell them they should get help or take their medication. While this might be the best thing to do, it is not our decision or our place to tell them what to do. Most of the time, we need to trust that the person we love knows their body best, and can make informed decisions for themselves.

Learning to understand my partner's intuition

I have been dating my partner for three and a half years now. As I got to know him and fall in love with him, I also learned about his asthma. I learned that getting sick with a common cold could be one of his biggest asthma triggers, and he could not really be around cats and horses without having a full-blown asthma attack.

The first time I saw him have a bad flare-up, and nearly full-blown asthma attack was in an airport, away from home, and about 6 months into our relationship. His inhaler was expired and doing essentially nothing to help him. I was scared for him and felt like I wasn't being helpful. I probably said a lot of phrases that started like "Maybe you should..." and "It's probably best for you to..."

He was struggling to speak, so I called his mom. She would know what's best, right? He had lived with asthma since birth, so she must have the most insight into what he should do. She, also worried and feeling helpless like me, said we should go to the hospital right away.

I realized that his mom and I, although we were coming from a place of love and concern, were inserting our opinions into this situation. We didn't know his asthma best, he did of course. By telling my partner that he should do this and that, we were invalidating his intuition and his ability to make decisions as a grown adult.

The situation was resolved by my partner making the decision to alert the airport's medics that he needed medical attention. The best thing I could do is not tell him what to do, but let him know that I was there to support him and just stay by his side no matter what.

Takeaway: your loved one likely knows what is best

If your loved one has asthma, one of the best things you can do is to ask questions to better understand their asthma. Rather than making assumptions about their asthma, let them know you are there to support them and help if needed. It can be difficult to hold back our opinions, but sometimes just trusting our loved ones' intuition is the best thing to do.

Do you have overbearing loved ones? What do you do when someone tries to insert their opinion about your asthma?

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