Preventing Others From Taking Advantage of Our Spoons

Jodi Enders avatar

by Jodi Enders |

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Kindness is not a pass for people to take advantage of us or treat us poorly. We can be compassionate and still say no to being treated inadequately. Those of us with myasthenia gravis (MG) are not responsible for other people’s reactions or their inability to adjust to our boundaries and needs.

It is entirely unjust for people to accept our spoons without expressing thanks or providing any act of service in return.

For those unfamiliar with what “spoons” means in this context, here is a quick explanation. Many with chronic illnesses suffer from a lack of energy and strength. We get an imaginary amount of spoons, or energy, to use each day before our energy runs dry.

Not everyone fits this representation exactly, but the general idea remains. Most people with chronic illnesses have to plan their days wisely.

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We have the right to be frustrated when people who benefit from the spoons we offer take them for granted. One example is not recognizing and appreciating when we’ve picked up around the house, even if it may have been so exhausting that it took us the entire day.

Sometimes this can be a complicated process, because those without the disease may not notice when a task took an effort deserving of gratitude and reciprocation. Therefore, those we are in relationships with must constantly make a conscientious effort to listen and direct questions so they catch a glimpse of what it’s like to live with MG.

It’s never good to be in a situation in which others persuade us to stray from our values and desires. Healthy relationships do not entail trying to change the other person to make one more comfortable. We can change our thinking and what we are willing to tolerate as often as we need to.

We must be able to say no to anything that isn’t a full-throated yes, and walk away from anyone who doesn’t accept that we advocate for ourselves. Finding that confidence may seem daunting, but in moments when we doubt our ability to stand up for what we deserve, we must think about how empowered and liberated we will feel after we do so.

There are many reasons why we might accept being taken advantage of. We might not feel empowered to break cycles or confident to stand up for ourselves. We might be unable to imagine a situation getting better on its own. We might tell ourselves that our needs are being met, even if they’re not. And we might accept inappropriate behavior to numb and avoid our emotions.

It is a disservice to ourselves to allow those who bring distress, suffering, and disrespect into our lives to linger there. We always deserve respect, regardless of what someone else might try to make us believe. What may feel like defeat now will one day become satisfaction when we reflect on all that we have accomplished.

We can determine what we deserve. It is more beneficial to adjust to the absence of selfish people than to be constantly drained by their greed. The love and effort we are willing to give will one day be thoroughly appreciated by someone seeking it and ready to provide it equally.


Myasthenia Gravis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.


Scott McCormack avatar

Scott McCormack

Enjoyed the post about ‘spoons’. My wife is very appreciative of anything physical I do around the house although she often gets frustrated with my exhaustion afterward; wishing I hadn’t risked my health. She is often right but I feel guilty not being able to hold my end up around here like before the MG set in.


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