Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Recovering from DoorMat Syndrome

I’m a recovering DoorMat. For years I let people walk all over me and take advantage of my People Pleasing nature. Those who know me today can’t believe that my self-esteem was in the toilet for many years. Now I’m a woman who travels the world makes her dreams come true. I’m the author of 8 popular books, with several more in the pipeline. I also publish 2 e-newsletters and do workshops and counseling to help men and women learn to empower themselves. While I’m not considered a young chickie and my body isn’t thin, I am VERY happy being me! That’s a far cry from the girl I used to be—feeling worthless, fat, and ugly for a majority of life—all because I wasn’t perfectly thin. Picture a tall girl with a few extra pounds, always smiling and saying yes to all requests because she desperately needed to be liked. That was moi!

When I was a guest on Oprah, she asked the audience which was more important—being liked or being respected? Almost everyone chose liked. One person after another described how much they do for others and affirmed that being liked was worth being inconvenienced by catering to others, spending money on gifts, giving loans that aren’t repaid, and more—to make people like them! Even guys admitted to making an effort to please. Oprah seemed amazed by the response. I wasn’t, because I used to be like them. Many of us were raised to give and give to be accepted.

I learned the importance of being liked early. Teachers gave Good Girls more. Acquiescence was extolled as a chick virtue. Since cute, smaller girls were most popular, being tall for my age made me feel big, which translated into seeing myself as fat, which I wasn’t. But at ten years old, not being small made me FEEL fat. Cellulite and frizzy hair defined my self-image and low self-esteem carried well into adulthood. Since being solo was torture, catering to other people’s needs, often at my own expense, insured having friends. Self-loathing made me do almost anything to buy company and immersed me deeper into DoorMat Syndrome. I remember how it hurt to be let down, over and over, by someone I’d been good to. Yet I took the beating and kept on ticking—and giving!

My forehead no longer says welcome
and I’m filled with self-love!

I am happy, sane, and conscious of taking care of me. That gives me a lot more energy to help others, unconditionally, without trying to buy anything but the pleasure of being a good person. I could still revert to my old DoorMat ways by succumbing to messages in the media and around me


but I don’t intend to go there! I’ve seen enough people who are thin, young and in a relationship who are far from happy. I wake up smiling every day since I found the love, joy, and satisfaction of self-acceptance. While many of you may disagree, I consider myself a very hot, sexy and special chick. And it’s what I think that matters!

This blog will explore many reasons, situations, stereotypes and ways of thinking that may hold you back from being more empowered. It will include tips for building confidence, getting taken more seriously at work and play, learning to say “no” in effective ways, increasing self-love and MUCH MORE. I’ll discuss things in the news, on TV and in the behavior of celebrities and every day people that illustrate or reinforce low self-esteem or healthy self-empowerment.

Some posts will have observations from real life that exemplify what many of us were taught and continue to live by that inhibit development of the strongest self-empowerment possible. There will be interviews with and guest articles by people I respect. We’re influenced by what we hear, read and see. I want to help alter perceptions of what’s important for a good self-image and find ways to feel more empowered and happy in your own skin. As a recovering DoorMat, I’ve been to both sides of the self-esteem dial:

* From being the People Pleasing go-to girl–thinking I was fat and ugly since I wasn’t as thin as the media dictated, and felt generally worthless beyond my ability to suck up to others because of it.

* To being a self-empowered chick who loves herself—despite not being as thin or young as today’s standards dictate to women. I no longer try to be—or lament not being—the flavor of the week extolled in the media.

I can attest that loving yourself in your own imperfect skin rocks!

I’m writing this for both sexes. Low self-empowerment isn’t just a girl thing. Men may not express insecurities the way some women do—but they have them too! I’m proud to say that half the subscribers to my Self-Empowerment Quarterly newsletter (subscribe by sending your name, city/state to are guys. My How to Please a Woman book is in its second edition because it did so well. So while people warn that men don’t care and I shouldn’t write for them, I continue to.

Some posts will address issues related to just men or women, but everyone can learn from them. Reading what I say to the opposite sex gives you insight into how they think and why they do things that might seem silly or downright annoying. Men actually write to say they learned a lot from reading my book All Men Are Jerks until Proven Otherwise (it’s NOT male bashing—I LOVE men!). Most pick it up as a joke; then write to say how informative they found it and shocked at what women needed to be told.

People don’t believe that with all the self-empowerment books, classes, and experts on TV that encourage building a good self-image, low self-esteem is rampant.

You know what they say about leading a horse to water but not being able to make him drink. Everyone wants to lose weight, get in better shape, make more money, look younger, be happier, yada, yada. And feel more self-empowered. But they often wish and wait in frustration. It would be nice to have wish fairies! Heck, I’d be abundant with wishes. But life isn’t a fairy tale and wishes only come true if you’re pro-active about achieving them.

Many folks are closet insecure people. You may play the role of being on top of your life well. But a good job, money, a trophy wife or wealthy husband, fame, houses, cars, etc. don’t make you feel good if you can’t feel good without them. Are you in denial about how truly happy you are? The media emphasizes qualities to strive for. On TV there are folks having fat sucked from their guts, girls getting boob jobs for their sixteenth birthday and fat people marching for prizes. Beauty and youth are extolled as virtues. Many “must haves” are unnatural/unhealthy. In a society of Botox, stomach stapli
ng, breast enlargements, and other appearance enhancing procedures, it’s hard to feel normal when you’re normal.
Standards that we’re told to chase for self-approval are unnatural!

We’ve stopped appreciating who we are in the pursuit of who we can be.

That makes it hard to be happy NOW. Been there, done that! I used to live in yearning. Now that I love myself, life is perpetual joy. Self-acceptance and love bring much more joy than chasing what the media says you need and should be. Please stick around and subscribe to my blog. It will have practical insight into an old problem that hasn’t gone away. You CAN find your way if you CHOOSE to! If this former tubby DoorMat now sexy, powerful chick could improve her self-image without losing weight or being completed by a man, anyone CAN!


    I am in awe of your brilliance! i just read blog & you got it going on!! i am aiming to also beon that ride in my near future like this month starting

  • Daylle Deanna Schwartz

    Thanks for your very kind words! I hope that you enjoy the ride because it’s an awesome experience.

  • Anonymous

    i am not sure i am co-dependant.I had a relationship in the past with a bipolar and after five years of rollercoastering in turbulence, i dumped her before I got mad.The next relationship( two months after) I had is the one thay lasts to this day and is normal and healthy.Does that mean I am co-dependant?Is there something like a co-dependant phase?I know I need approval and want to be liked, but doesnt evryone?

  • Daylle Deanna Schwartz

    Co-dependency doesn’t mean staying in a relationship with someone who’s bad for you or we’d all be that! Sounds like you’re blessed to have a good relationship now. Yes, everyone need approval andn to be liked. But if you’re asking,it bothers you. You might feel your behavior or needs might be a little too much. I highly recommend to everyone to do what I did, work on making yourself a stronger individual. Do more things on your own. And find ways to be self-loving. All of that really helped me to be a whole person.Good luck!

  • Anonymous

    Last Sunday, I watched a group of kids and their parents walk all over my four-year-old. It hit me between the eyes then that I'm a doormat and I'm teaching him the same thing. Needless to say, it's been a tough week. So, thanks for having so much information out there. I am going to be running into the same group of people tonight, and this really helps me feel that I can hold my head high and get through it.

  • Daylle Deanna Schwartz

    Children learn by our example. You can encourage them all you want about having confidence and not letting people take advantage but if you live otherwise, that's their role model.The good new is you can start today to change your own behavior and teach your children to be strong, with good self-esteem. Go for it!

  • Anonymous

    What a great blog–it's water to this dehydrated woman. I'm actually the beauty queen who's talented and everyone wants to be or is jealous of, but still ends up taking people's abuse anyway (doormat syndrome doesn't discriminate). I think my breaking point came last night when I was in serious need of encouragement from my best friend but what I got was more criticism and then she wanted to release her own woes on my soggy shoulders. Before the conversation had ended I was apologizing for unloading on her (since she's obviously emotionally drained) and assuring her I would work harder to be a better friend. What is wrong with me? I am SICK!!! and tired of it. It's ridiculous for me to act this way. I'm talented and beautiful and I deserve better. I'm taking control and I'm going to create a better life for myself. I'm grateful to have found a place I can come for the encouragement I need to make these positive changes for myself. Thanks.

  • Daylle Deanna Schwartz

    Thanks for using that great analogy! I hope that you learn lots of stuff from my blog an get VERY hydrated. It doesn't matter how you look or what you have. DoorMat come in all flavors. The good news is you can empower yourself to take control of your life and happiness. Welcome to your watering hole! :)

  • Anonymous

    For years I have fed the neighbour's pets at their request when they go away, which is several times a month. Otherwise they usually leave the animals to fend for themselves. Last night I came home after a long hard day, having stopped off at my and was walking my own dog, which is really old and needs a lot of care when they asked me once again to look after the pets this weekend. He is a pilot and away often and she doesn't work, goes with him whenever she can. He also asked me to look in on her as I work from home once a week and she is on critches after surgery(although this didn't stop her from going on a jaunt with him 2 weeks ago, yep, leaving me once again to feed them). This morning I woke up with the flu, "need" to look in on her and be nice yet I have so much work to do and feel worse than she does. The problem is if I say no, they can see I am home and available and also I feel bad about the pets if they are not looked after. Yes, I am a doormat in other areas of life too but I feel this is one area that I need to conquer first. They give me gifts as a "reward" which are nice but unwanted. They are also the neighbours from hell in other ways but I try to be a good neighbour despite this. Any ideas?

  • Daylle Deanna Schwartz

    My next post will address it so I can go into more details. I won't reprint your post but will just give a synopsis and address this type of situation. It will be called Kindness vs. DoorMat, or something like that.

  • Anonymous

    Daylle, please accept my gratitude for your generosity in publishing the article on Kindness vs Doormat. This was in response to my plea for help, dealing with the rut I'm in, looking after the neighbour's pets. I had been feeling very resentful which, as you correctly point out, is not part of being nice. Your advice put many things in perpective for me. I live in New Zealand, way down in the South Pacific, which shows problems are the same the whole world over. And yes, I am a "she"! You are very wise and insightful, Daylle. I followed the link to how to say no and found the tips very useful. Easter is coming and I have told the dear neighbours I am not available, even though we will be home all weekend. This is bound to cause tension but I am prepared for this now. AND looking forward to calling my free time my own. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Daylle Deanna Schwartz

    I'm delighted to know it was helpful. You can break their habits of expecting you to be on call. You might check out my Nice Girls Can Finish First book for more detailed advice.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Ray Collins

    If you don’t believe in magic, I think you are mistaken. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had my doubts, too. But then I found I was having money problems, and a good friend of mine referred me to him. I owned a shooing plaza, and I was a little behind on bills. I had already sold half of my stocks and couldn’t afford to lose any more. Otherwise, my business would be residing in the great pasture in the sky, if ya’ know what I’m saying. I was in some real trouble. I needed money and fast. After okodu cast a money spell on me, I was living easy. I no longer have to worry about my shopping plaza, and I also am increasing my stocks quantity quickly. I couldn’t have done it without you doctor

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