Beliefnet
Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Have you ever been called a saint after doing a HUGE favor for someone. It feels good to be recognized for what you do, as well you should! But often striving for sainthood comes at the expense of your own happiness, time and pleasure. Helping others is NOT your obligation. It’s a choice you make.

It’s important to give the boot to going above and beyond when it’s not good for you!

I’m a good person. I try to help people when I can and feel super good when I give back for all my blessings. BUT, and it’s a BIG BUT, I refuse to be Saint Daylle anymore. Saint Daylle was always there for people. She filled in for canceled babysitters (while canceling her own plans to do so), was late for appointments in order to give someone a lift in the opposite direction of where she was going, spent less on herself to fund others, etc. Most of the time I had little energy left for ME. Saint Daylle was also Ms. DoorMat.

Being a saint about helping others can leave you wounded and unhappy.

I know people like that. They brag about all they do for others, as they deal with their own unhappiness. This post was triggered by a woman who told me she offered to stay with a friend’s elderly mother, while her elderly husband was in the hospital. It was that or the woman would be put in a facilituy until he came home. Being a kind soul, Louisa (not her real name) offered to go to her small town for a week and keep the mom company. It turned out to be a tough time that lasted 3 weeks. From there, Louisa went to her sister’s for a week to help with babysitting. She is drained.

Helping others, except for supporting family and close friends’ circumstances that are critical, should not leave you in need of healing.

Louisa missed her regular exercise and routines. She felt like her friend hijacked her time by putting her on the spot to stay longer. She stayed at the expense of her well being. Helping others is a blessing. Sacrificing your own well being to improve someone else’s well being isn’t one. It’s trying to live like a saint, instead of a human being who needs to limit what isn’t good for them. Louisa had been okay with just the one week. But her friends took advantage.

It’s important to turn requests down when it’s something you dread or feel will make you unhappy.

People can spot saints and ask them for favors often. At first you might feel good accommodating them. But too much accommodating leads to anger, frustration, resentment, and in general, an unhappy feeling. This can really take its toll on your health too! Louisa didn’t feel well after and had to get her mojo back. We all need boundaries on how much to help others vs. how much we help ourselves.

Helping others should be just as much as you can comfortably give, not a sacrifice.

When I was a DoorMat, I was afraid people would disappear if I stopped being nice. I thought I was soooooo nice, Ms. Saint. But I was really Ms. Wimp, Ms. Victim. I complained to everyone that people I catered to didn’t reciprocate my kindness. So, I wasn’t really nice. I was an oxymoron—calling myself nice, yet whining to anyone who’d listen about how people weren’t nice to me. I never considered that I should be nice to me.

There’s nothing nice about being unhappy, no matter how many are happy as a result of your sacrifice.

Real saints don’t live human lives on earth. And I do believe that we’re meant to be loving and kind to ourselves first. Focus on your own bliss! I do try to help others when I can in better ways than I could as a saint. But I know the limits for which I can stretch and bend and give up time I need for me. When you take care of yourself first you become happier and stronger. The happier and stronger you become, the better the quality of what you can give to others.

The more you give yourself, the more you have to give on a healthy level.

DoorMat saints are unhappy. Self-empowered nice people who set boundaries on what they do for others are happy. Giving with limits gives you power over your life. Sainthood doesn’t. People may praise you for being a saint if they get what they need from you. But it’s not nice if it leaves you wanting. Does giving and giving and giving make you happy or frustrated? Satisfied or drained? Grateful or resentful?

If you feel any negative emotions from giving, it’s time to reevaluate what you do.

I must confess. I get a giddy feeling at times when I tell someone I can’t do something that I don’t want to do. I love having free time because I said no. Plus, after so many years of always going along with what others wanted from me, feeling in control of my life is awesome! That control is reinforced with the boundaries I set. You must protect your time, because it’s very valuable! Kick out any situations that drain you, unless it’s special circumstances for a family member or loyal friend.

When you let go of feeling obligated to be a saint for everyone and become an angel for yourself, life improves on a beautiful level!

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