Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Yesterday I posted an interview with Rita Cosby, an award-winning journalist who wrote the amazing book, Quiet Hero, the story her dad’s harrowing journey as a member of the Polish Resistance during WWII and how she connected to him after years of disconnection. When I read the book, one thing that struck me was an attitude about living as fully as possible. Richard Cosby went to hell and back while fighting the Nazis and then being sent to a POW camp known for cruel treatment. When he escaped he was down to skin and bones, though grateful to be alive. Many people didn’t survive.

Richard Cosby made many of his decisions, including leaving his family, because he didn’t want to waste time in a situation that didn’t make him happy. When Rita talked to the daughter of his best friend, who had passed away before Rita contacted her, she said her father was the same way. He was determined to enjoy every minute of his life. After all the horrific experiences they’d endured, life seemed to precious to waste a drop of it. That got me thinking.

Whenever you give your time to someone else to please them at your own expense, you’re wasting precious moments of your life.

I did that when I was a DoorMat. Looking back, it seems like I wasted most of my twenties by making other people’s needs more important than my own. I stayed married because I was too scared to leave. I ate in restaurants and went to movies and events that other people chose. I made all my decisions based on what others wanted. I rarely smiled, except when I got praise about how nice I was, and that lasted about 30 seconds.

When I finally left my marriage and began to actually live for me, I related to a degree to people who were freed from concentration camps. Of course I didn’t endure torture of any sort. I was in a prison of my own doing, living for everyone else but me. Just as they were freed from being starved, I felt starved for happiness and a satisfying life. I didn’t know what to do first when I got what I thought of as my freedom. I could finally do what I wanted! That led me to make some poor choices at the beginning. I just grabbed onto things that seemed like fun. I wanted to enjoy every inch of my life! Fortunately I settled down, took inventory of what I could do, and created the life I have now.

While I don’t agree with grabbing onto happiness at the expense of others, I do think it’s important to make an effort to enjoy every day of your life when possible.

There are days I don’t feel well and things go wrong, people I care about get sick, and life gets in the way of pleasure. But I continue to look for pleasant parts of what I’m doing.  There’s always a bright spot if you look. Often what we don’t like controls our thoughts. These days I do my best to not say “yes” to things I don’t want to do. I also work hard on my career, since I love what I do. I don’t want to waste a minute of my life if I can help it. I used to just let people or avoiding fear guide me along and went with whatever direction it took me.

Complacency is a big catalyst for wasting our lives. It keeps us stuck in habits that don’t allow us to go for bigger things or take risks.

Think about your life as it is. How do you feel about it? Is this where you want your life to be? If it’s not, take one small step to changing that. We only have one life. The resistance fighters who survived the war understood this. After what they lived through, they were determined to make the most of the rest of their time on this earth. While you don’t have to go to extremes, become more conscious about how much of your life is not what you want to be doing. Then take at least one baby step to where you’d like to go.

Take the self-love challenge and get my book, How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways for free at And you can post your loving acts HERE to reinforce your intention to love yourself. Read my 31 Days of Self-Love Posts HERE.

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

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus