Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Lessons from a Recovering Doormat


Question: How Do I Deal with Mom Guilt?

Thumbnail image for Question Mark fuschia.jpgA reader shared in a comment on a previous post that she has an elderly mother who has always used quilt to get what she wants. She sees this as an emotional hold on the family. Her mother makes her feel that she never does enough for her. This is a very common problem. Moms can be very demanding, especially if they’re used to getting what they want. And some learn how to leverage guilt like an art to manipulate their children.

You can counter guilt when you accept that no one–not even a parent or child–should get more from you than is reasonable in your own eyes.

DoorMats put everyone else first. Nice People on Top put themselves first. This doesn’t mean ignoring the needs of others or always turning requests down. It does mean making sure that you don’t help others at your own expense or feel obligated to do things that make you unhappy as my reader seems to be. You owe loved ones what you can comfortably give, and no more. Of course it’s important to be there for an emergency or for something that greatly matters to someone you love.

But not giving into excessive demands isn’t a cause for guilt, unless you allow the person to convince you it is.

Guilt is giving someone else control over your beliefs. It makes you wrong for trying to take care of you, which is NOT wrong, unless you adopt the guilt. If you adopt the guilt someone tries to put on you, you send a message to the Universe that the other person’s opinion is more important that your own. I discuss this in more detail in my post on Guilt & the Law of Attraction. If you convince yourself that you’re entitled to say no to unfair or excessive requests, you can also control your response to guilt being thrown on you unfairly.

Mothers need to learn boundaries on your time just like everyone else in your life, unless you prefer to play a martyr.

Begin to set boundaries, strong ones. When she lays on the guilt, tell her you’re sorry she feels that way but you can’t always be there for here. If you’re consistent in your stance, and truly believe you have a right to set boundaries, it will get easier. Guilt is giving the other person control over your beliefs. Taking back that control gives you back your life!

It’s your choice–decide what’s right or wrong for you to do or put that decision into another person’s hands and let them pull your strings like a marionette using guilt.

You owe you’re mother or whoever else is making you feel guilty about not giving enough time, no more than you can comfortably give. You can only do your best. I addressed handling guilt in several earlier posts Lightening Guilt Part 1 and Lightening Guilt–Part 2 You can find more specific tips for handling guilt in them. Love yourself enough to take control of not letting yourself be manipulated.

Please leave comments under my posts so we can stay connected.



  • Michael

    Thank you so much for posting this article, my mom has been playing this role so long I think she invented it. I love my mom very much, but she has plenty of money, time, and cars that she can do whatever she pleases, instead, it is always “poor me, I have no one to talk to, I get so lonely”, funny thing is I call everyday and visit three times a week. She can have more friends if she would drop the negative poor me and start looking around and saying “thank you to God for her good health, she survived breast cancer ten years ago and has since been clean. To me, that is a very big “Thank you God!”

  • Cheryl

    I have the same problem but it is my grown, married with children, daughter who tries to make me feel guilty. However, your advice is just as applicable to my situation and you have given me some new tools to use. I am a big fan of all of your books and your columns are always full of good advice. Thanks!

  • Daylle Deanna Schwartz

    You don’t know what’s behind her negative attitude Michael, but you shouldn’t have to suffer with her. You’re right she has a VERY lot to be thankful for.
    So true Cheryl. Many family members can use guilt to manipulate and it’s up to each of us to not succumb to it!

  • http://alienuk.info/blog.beliefnet.com/ blog.beliefnet.com

    Question how do i deal with mom guilt.. WTF? :)

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