I Am Not A Doormat! Are You?

Posted at 02:46am on 1st February 2009

What do you do when you’re faced with other people’s problems, you’re expected to help, and you’re almost certainly being manipulated, or taken for granted? Do you simply fail to notice the way people are treating you and fall into line? Do you have a vague suspicion that you’re being exploited but get on with the job, anyway? Or do you realise what’s happening, but bite your tongue and conform to expectation?

See if you can relate to this.

  1. You are in a relationship which in some way is abusive.
  2. You are always being put down, verbally, both in private and in public.
  3. Your needs are never recognised, nor met.
  4. Your partner lives a life which rarely includes you.
  5. You are desperate to make things right.
  6. You are convinced that much of your unhappiness (and what you perceive as your partner’s unhappiness with you) is your fault.
  7. You fall over backwards to please – and fail.
  8. You try to talk things through – and fail.
  9. You are frequently tearful – and whiney.
  10. You are certain that if only you try hard enough things will come out right.

Wrong!

If you feel that any of these ten points could be attributed to you, then it may be that you are – or are dangerously close to being – a doormat.

  • A doormat is a household item on which feet are wiped.
  • That is its purpose.
  • It has no other use.
  • It exists solely to accept the dirt which is deposited on it.
  • In doing so, it permits all other flooring around it to remain clean.
  • It does not move.
  • It is dormant.
  • It is not active in any way.
  • It is passive, receptive, and submissive.
  • It is beneath the notice of all who use it and abuse it.
  • The only time any attention is paid to it is when it is so dirty that it requires a beating.

YOU ARE NOT A DOORMAT! AND NEITHER AM I!

Over a period of fifteen years, I behaved like a doormat. Then one day, someone told me that if I continued to do so, then my expectation – my life style choice – was for people to wipe their feet on me. It was important for me to hear that. Up to that point I believed my own propaganda: the inner voice that told me I was useless. Worthless.

Towards the end of my marriage, I learned the art of being assertive without being aggressive. I discovered the skill of knowing what I wanted for myself and my children – offering it to their father – and doing it alone if he chose not to accompany us. I began to lead a separate life – not as a means of getting at my children’s father – simply because there were things I wanted to achieve. Things which, in a good marriage, would have enriched our relationship.

It took a lot of courage. Becoming more assertive is not an easy option. Used to being an appendage, I found the prospect of being a person in my own right quite terrifying. I’d married in my teens, without any real idea of who I was; what I was capable of; what my prospects were. And as I slowly learned to like myself, I found that I was greeted with affection and respect in return. Not simply by the friends I had newly acquired; but by my husband, too. Because he began to see me through the eyes of others. To see that I was a person of worth. Of greater worth, in fact, than the person he had married.

YOU NEED TO RE-EDUCATE YOUR MIND

Every time you behave as a doormat, the messages being laid down in your brain are educating you to believe that this is your prime – your only – purpose in life. But the fact is that the choices for life that are open to you are immense. It really is as simple as opening your mind up for re-education. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Use the few quiet moments between waking and rising from your bed to teach yourself to think differently.
  2. If you are a believer (or even if you're not) turn to God and ask his forgiveness for reducing the beautiful person that he has created in you to a mere foot-wiper.
  3. Turn your mind to the beauty of his creation – and see yourself as part of it. Not a ‘thing’ to be despised.
  4. Ask him to prompt you, throughout the day, to remind you of who you are – in him.
  5. If you have a chance, read from the Bible.
  6. Learn, by heart, the strategies I have set out in my article about the art of assertiveness.
  7. In this way, new pathways of thinking will be laid down in your brain. You are, literally, re-educating yourself.
  8. Practice, practice, practice. Practising is an active part of learning, which is crucial to success.
  9. That means that every time a situation arises in which other people have expectations of you, question the validity of their demands.
  10. Learn to evaluate what is reasonable.
  11. Turn negative thoughts out with positive ones.
  12. Remember we’re told to love our neighbour (that’s anyone who crosses our path – family, friends, and others) as ourselves. If you don’t love yourself you can’t truly love others. And if you don’t love yourself, then neither will others love you.

Drop me a line and let me know how you get on. All the best!

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