Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

On Friday I wrote a post about Hot & Cold People and got some negative comments about it. I want to address some of the points to clarify my message: If someone is often moody–hot & cold, on and then off, giving you erratic behavior that bothers you, it can be healthy to pull back your contact with that person.

Reader A talked about how he or she has bipolar disorder and continues to struggle to stabilize his or her moods. I do feel for anyone who has to go through that. Reader A says that a loving person offers support, and doesn’t abandon them because of their issues. Reader B wrote 2 comments. The first indicated that I was encouraging you to look for what’s wrong with people. That wasn’t what I said at all! He or she then said in a second comment that I was not empowering my readers by encouraging them to snub people.

There is a BIG, HUGE, GIGANTIC difference between not being supportive/snubbing people and decreasing contact with people whose mood swings create negative emotions for you.

I have a lot of compassion for Reader A’s struggle with bipolar disorder. I’ve had friends who had that and did my best to support them. But I don’t have to be there for everyone. And most of the people I refer to aren’t in that category. MANY people are moody because of insecurity, jealousy, unhappiness, not feeling thin enough, etc., which they could learn to control if they got help. No one should feel obligated to hang in with every person who has issues. Have compassion for them but evaluate how much you can deal with. Disconnecting from or limiting contact with people who upset you or create negative emotions in you is healthy.

DoorMats tolerate everyone. An empowered person must figure out when to let go for their own well-being.

It doesn’t matter if people disagree. My neighbor that I avoid isn’t my friend. She lives in my building. Period. Reader B said I should talk to her and make suggestions. First, we don’t owe every person who crosses our paths our support!! DoorMats try to. I won’t do that anymore. It’s not my job to fix her. I also know others who’ve tried talking to her and she can get evil to them while saying she’s fine the way she is. By evil I mean harassing them or leaving garbage outside their door.

I tolerated the friend I finally let go of for 16 years. She embarrassed me several times by yelling at me irrationally in a restaurant and did unforgivable things whenever she felt insecure, like leaving my birthday party with the guy who came with me. I forgave things other friends thought I was crazy to do and talked to her about it many times. The final straw was actually something she did when my mom died suddenly. Talking about it for over 16 years did nothing to motivate her to seek help for the issues that triggered her moods.

There is a BIG difference between someone who you know is making an effort to help him/herself and someone who refuses to do anything to help themselves.

The latter group are the ones to limit time with, or stop seeing, if their behavior hurts you emotionally. When people, like the friend I let go of, won’t acknowledge having a problem and don’t try to get the help needed, it’s not up to me to be her target practice. Empowerment is taking care of your mental health by setting boundaries on who you interact with. If hot & cold people don’t bother you much, then keep going with them. It upsets me, and I choose not to deal with a lot of it.

Emotional seesaws aren’t good for anyone. It is YOUR choice to ride it with the moody person.

I’m still friendly and courteous to my neighbor when we’re in the elevator and if she does say hello I respond in kind. But I avoid her when possible. If someone upsets you regularly, you don’t owe them more time than you feel is right for your own mental health. I don’t advocate dumping everyone who has problems. It is good to try to have patience with those close to you who are working on their problems. My friend said she didn’t have problem and wouldn’t try to get help. My neighbor likes the way she is.

If someone is making an effort, do try to support them. But you don’t owe everyone with problems your support.

You can give it if you CHOOSE to. But it’s important to protect your own mental health, This topic reminds me of the old saying that you can’t save the whole world, but you can help a little piece of it. Choose to support the people you care about, who matter to you, and who are making an effort to help themselves. People’s mood swings can take their toll on you by putting you on edge and creating stress when they go negative. It’s hard to trust someone who goes hot & cold. If it’s someone unimportant, like my neighbor, politely avoid them. And if a friend is draining you, spend less time. Put your energy into those who matter most. And the one who should matter the most is YOU!

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