Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Lessons from a Recovering Doormat


Hot & Cold People Part 2

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!

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



  • Michelle

    Daylle, thank you for clarifying your intent in your first blog about “hot and cold” people. Because the initial blog was brief, it made it sound like you were speaking of any “hot and cold” people. It was also not made clear that your friend was a “long term” friend and that you had tried to communicate with her so it sounded like you slid out the back door slowly as not to be noticed.
    All that aside, I think the more important issues have been discussed in this last blog. You can’t fault me for being sensitive to the fact that many many mentally ill people are snubbed and locked out of others lives. I agree, many do not “try” to be their best, but many also dont have the means or the energy. They are too busy fighting their illness.
    I also agree that relationship boundaries and self preservation boundaries are extremely important. We do have to protect our own emotions. We also have to train ourselves to identify those emotions and own them as our own. It is not someone else who casts those emotions on us. I would not expect anyone to stay in an abusinve situation or relationship but many people don’t even try. Many people take on the victim role and blame others actions for their own emotional insecurities.
    We just have to try to love each other the best we can and try to understand what the best boundaries are for us in any situation….

  • Daylle Deanna Schwartz

    I’m glad that you see where I was coming from Michelle. It’s hard to say everything in these short posts. We do need to love each other and try to do our best. But boundaries are important.

  • Paula V. Groza

    Hot and cold people have been an issue for me forever and have consumed my time and emotions, many tears and wasted days for me to figure out what I’ve done wrong to upset them. Even though there are many people with real issues, the vast majority of them are simply rude and self-absorbed. My mistake was believing that since I would never ignore someone (with intention) or be cold and unresponsive, I would be treated the same. This is not the case: I often find myself in the position of asking something and being answered to: DON’T STRESS ME RIGHT NOW or LEAVE ME ALONE or even worse, short and non-clarifying messages or NO REPLY at all. I’ve gone through many stages evaluating MY behavior: from “do I always pick the wrong moments???” to “what have I done to upset this person? Maybe I said something wrong” I think this is what Daylle was talking about in her first post. Being a recovering doormat, I got the message and didn’t know why everyone took it so personally. Of course she wasn’t talking about people with medical issues or the ones that need support!!! She was talking about the ones who always expect you to be friendly and responsive and are full of moods and weird reactions: the ones you have to walk on tiptoes around, like when you see them you don’t know if they’re coming to hug you or walk right by you without saying hello. It’s a huge problem of our society. I’ve been blocked so many times by such abnormal behavior. In case of Daylle’s weird neighbor, what can you do? When she ignores you (for whatever reasons) go to her and ask her if she needs a hug??? I do agree that love solves most of the problems, however in this case ONLY SELF-LOVE WILL SAVE YOUR TIME & ENERGY that need not be wasted on people who don’t want/can’t share common sense interaction.

  • http://www.doorway-to-self-esteem.com/positive-self-esteem.html May

    I agree with Daylle that it is important for us to know what is good for us, and when enough is enough.
    People with high self esteem often have quite a good idea of what works for them and know how to manage their own emotions. They do this by welcoming people and things into their lives that are good for them, and dealing well with people and things that are harmful to their wellbeing. Sometimes this means trying to talk things through. Sometimes it means realising that no change is possible and saying goodbye.
    You can’t avoid difficult people or situations, but you can choose how you respond to them. It took me a long time and many years of suffering to realise that I don’t have to work for people who are cruel, immoral or who disregard others feelings. I can choose. I don’t have to ‘make it work’.
    From then on I considered not only the job and the salary, but also the type of person I’d be working with. What a difference it made to my everyday happiness! Best realization of my life! I made myself captain of my own career happiness by taking this approach.
    Recognizing when someone or something is harmful to you is good self preservation. You can choose to invest energy into trying to change the other person, but that change is up to them, not you.
    When willing, anyone can change, so I always like to try and sort things out.But I’ve learnt the hard way that some people, even people who have called themselves ‘friends’ sometimes don’t care about how I feel, and whether their behaviour is hurtful, reasonable or warranted. They just want to do what they want to do.
    Where this has been the case, and where my efforts to work things out haven’t been welcome, I’ve chosen to invest my energy elsewhere, in people who can and do respond and who want to ‘share’, not just ‘take’. This has been very good for my self esteem.
    As buddhists say, pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.
    The choice is yours.

  • Daylle Deanna Schwartz

    So true May! I actually have a post on suffering–or not–coming up later in the month.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment LovingMe

    I truly appreciate the comments and encouragement in dealing with hot & cold people. I have struggled in the past to deal with my sister in-law and her on/off behavior and had much sadness and confusion around it. Until I was bawled out and embarrassed by her in front of my mother, father in-law, husband and children for her untrue accussations I did my best to “get along” with her. The final straw was laid when her daughters displayed the same type of behavior towards my daughter (their cousin) and since, I have chosed to stay away from her. Odd thing now is that she tries her best to put herself in front of me at family gatherings as if to push my buttons or to get a rise out of me. I choose to occupy myself in another room or with other family members which seems the healthiest way to handle such situations. I did not know for years that she was on medication for depression and always thought I had done something really wrong to her. With knowledge about her illness coming to light through other family members I have been set free. It wasn’t all me but the dynamics of the illness that manifested itself into that ugly situation. My sister in-law has never apologized for that embarrasing situation and probably never will so I choose to take care of myself by distancing myself from her whenever I get that “uneasy”feeling around her for my health’s sake. Let Go and Let God as well as Detaching with Love are mottos I choose to use when I am around her.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Daylle Deanna Schwartz

    Good for you! It will give you a lot more peace than sinking into her drama.

  • Feathered

    I completely agree with you and related to your article instantly; it’s a shame some misunderstood the point you were making. The key I think is in the attitude. People with mental health issues which can render them seemingly a bit hot and cold sometimes in terms of reliability and mood (I include myself here) generally don’t have a callous attitude. We have empathy, compassion and we know when we are letting people down and feel awful for it, because we know how it feels to hurt emotionally. We’re willing to communicate authentically with you in our good moments no matter how severe or mild our condition may be. The type of person you are talking about, from my understanding (and instant recognition of!) is someone who lacks the self awareness to have good social skills and empathy for others. For them, the only centre to the universe is themselves. They are not usually mentally ill in the conventional sense (for the reasons outlined above) or if they are their self-centred personality makes them unlikely to get help for it/a diagnosis. And this is the distinction – they are self-centred to the point that they are making others’ lives miserable.

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