Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

kevinrosseel_050108_055.jpgThere’s so many messages coming in from the media telling us what we should like or want. Add to that peer pressure about how you should look, what you should do and how you should be. It’s easy to lose yourself with so many messages. When I was a DoorMat I jumped around trying to do what made others feel good. When I’d go shopping, I’d always have someone with me to tell me what to wear. I ate what others told me I’d like.

Insecure people often have no minds of their own.

After many years of doing what others told me to do, I finally tried to think for myself. What a joy that was on some levels, though it also came with a lot of negativity. People weren’t used to me making my own choices and some didn’t respond well. It was fun to go shopping by myself for a dress I needed for a special occasion. I chose one that made me feel good, not to please my friends who liked to tell me what to wear. They didn’t like my choice, since it wasn’t theirs.

And when I spoke up about what movie I wanted to see or where I wanted to eat, I got word-smacked.

After years of going along with what everyone else wanted, all of a sudden I was selfish, and other nasty names. Ouch! It got to me at first and I went back to my people pleasing ways. But eventually I accepted that I was entitled to make my own choices. That doesn’t mean I must always have my way. Far from it! But I need to feel that I at least have a say when I do something with friends. And sometimes when I don’t like where they’re going, I choose to opt out rather than do what I wouldn’t enjoy or don’t want to spend money on.

DoorMats suck it up and go along with everyone. Nice People on Top know they have choices, and a right to have an equal say in what they do.

Slowly I asserted what I wanted and friends got used to it. I got some interesting responses from new people in my life, especially guys I dated. In the past, when I had a date and he asked what I’d like to eat, I’d give the People Pleaser answer–“Whatever you’d like.” I still remember when Tom suggested we go for Mexican food. I said I wasn’t in the mood for that and made another suggestion. His mouth was agape when he said it was the first time a woman he dated actually said what she wanted and didn’t just go along with him. What was particularly delightful was that it made me more attractive to him.

Expressing what you want shows confidence.

It didn’t always get a lovely response. I have a strong memory of a good-looking guy I went to dinner with, just as my self-esteem started to rise. As we looked at the menu, he asked what I wanted. I pointed to a chicken dish. He jumped in and said he had 2 choices–a pasta primavera and a fish dish–and couldn’t decide between them. When the waiter came and I ordered chicken, he got bent out of shape. This guy was angry because I didn’t order one of the dishes he wanted so we could share and he could have some of both dishes.

He said that other women he dates are happy to order one of the dishes he wants to please him. When people are used to being catered to, they can get hostile when a woman like me doesn’t cater.

He was cute and could be fun but… He became unappealing to me fast! I didn’t enjoy my chicken as he lectured me about why it would have been nice on my part to go along with ordering what he wanted. Hello! I just ordered what I wanted. He invited me to dinner, not to share HIS dinner. As soon as dinner was over, I thanked him and said I could get home on my own. See ya!

As my self-esteem grew, my needs mattered more and more. At that point, it didn’t matter what others wanted. What made me feel good to have or do became the most important factor in my decisions. Of course I compromise when I’m out with friends. But compromise means having your needs met too, at least some of the time. And, ordering your own meal!

What makes you feel good? Do it!

You owe it to yourself to do what makes you feel good! Think about it when you’re alone and when you’re given a choice with friends. Speak up about what you’d like to eat, what movie you’d like to see, how you’d like to spend your day, etc. While you can’t always get your way completely, you shouldn’t have to settle for something you don’t like as a lifestyle.

The more you honor your needs, the better you’ll feel about you. It’s a very loving way to build self-love.

If you’re in the habit that I was of saying, “Whatever you want” when asked where you want to go or what you want to do, try to break it! It’s unfair to you. And, not caring about your own needs is unattractive. If a guy insists on only doing what I want, it’s a turn off for me as it is for many women. Nobody finds a DoorMat attractive. People may stick around cos’ it’s fun for a while to be with someone who goes along with what they want.

But it’s more satisfying to be liked for you and to also have your needs met.

Honor yourself. Love yourself. Be true to what makes you happy. I show myself love every day since I left DoorMatville. It’s a lovely feeling to know that I matter. YOU matter too! So break any habits of always agreeing to what others want and make sure you get what makes you feel good too! That’s a wonderful act of self-love.

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