Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

No matter what you do, it seems like there’s always someone ready to find fault. Whether it’s a colleague, parent, friend, romantic partner, neighbor or boss, it’s not unusual to experience someone who thinks you could have:

•    Done it better
•    Been smarter about your decisions
•    Worn something more appropriate
•    Worked harder

And many more things people like to pick on. Some people are perfectionists and can’t appreciate anything that’s not done exactly as they think it should be. That doesn’t even mean they’re right but they act like they know best and look for things they can correct or show you how to do better. It can be very annoying and put you on the defensive. In my DoorMat days I’d succumb to their words and apologize for not doing something “right” or let them take my already sinking self-esteem down another notch.

Since perfection is impossible, not doing something as perfectly as someone else wanted does not make me a failure, wrong or a loser. Now I know better.

The only opinion that truly matters is the one YOU form about YOU. It’s not necessary to live up to someone else’s standards. You can only do your best. I agree that if I really don’t try or my actions were done without thinking and I wish I had thought out my course better, I might take their words more seriously. Sometimes we do need a reminder not to slack off or take things for granted. But I no longer beat myself up because someone’s estimation of me falls short of my view.

Abraham Lincoln said, “I do the very best I know how – the very best I can; and mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won’t amount to anything.”

Everyone makes mistakes or has bad days and can’t do something with 100% precision and that’s okay. It’s part of being human. You can only do your best and if you feel you did, don’t let people make you feel badly. Your best is the only thing you can do. If your boss doesn’t accept your best, it’s time to look for a new job. If your mom or a friend continues to pick apart what you do, limit time with the person and set boundaries. Nicely explain their analysis is unwanted and unacceptable, and you won’t listen any more. See the person less and walk out or hang up the phone.

Never forget—you can always do your best!

When I finally changed my perspective about criticism, I also changed my response to people. In the past when someone expressed things they saw as my shortcomings or disappointment that I didn’t do something they felt should be better, I used to just wince and squirm, either saying I was sorry or not saying anything. Now I screen their comments through a filter of self-love. I look them in the eye and say that I did my best and will keep trying to do my best.

If the criticism has some validity, I ask them for specific suggestions for how I can improve in the future. If they just give me empty criticism, I end the conversation quickly. If someone regularly picks on me, I nicely tell them that I can judge myself and I’d appreciate them keeping their comments to themselves. If they have a constructive suggestion that will benefit me, fine. But if they’re just telling me why I wasn’t good enough, I will no longer listen.

Set boundaries on what people can tell you. If it hurts, it isn’t acceptable!

Let the person know in the future you will walk away or hang up the phone if they give you unasked for input. Acknowledge that they might be saying it to help you but you still don’t want it. Since you can only do your best, perfection may not be possible, since it isn’t possible for most people. Don’t get angry. Just inform. And if they don’t like the new rules of the game, it’s THEIR problem, not yours. If necessary, you might have to limit time with the person or cut him or her off completely.

You deserve to be treated with respect, and that includes not enduring hurtful comments. Be aware of who criticizes you and how it makes you feel. If you feel bad each time, stop the pattern of being a target for people’s judgments. You can nicely set the boundaries to do it. Love yourself enough to protect yourself from words that hurt!

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.

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