Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Favor vs. Obligation

Today is Day 16 of my 31 Days of Self-Love posts to celebrate Self-Love Month with suggestions for jumpstarting your own self-love.

We often confuse doing someone a favor with feeling an obligation to do something for someone. DoorMats see doing favors as an obligation, which is so not what favor means. When I was a DoorMat, any time I got a request I felt obligated to fulfill it, often at my own expense. My need to please everyone made everything my duty. I didn’t recognize I had a choice to say yes or no. Fear of angering someone negated my having one.


I finally learned that not feeling obligated to help everyone said, “I love me!”. A good friend asked if I could do her a favor and fill in for her at a charity event. She watched as I mulled over how I would do it as I had something else I had to take care of. My stress was visible as I juggled time in my head about how to fit it in. She stopped me in my tracks, or I should say in my thoughts, and said if it was going to make me crazy to do her this favor she could ask someone else. I shouldn’t feel obligated if I was too busy.

That was the first time I recognized I had a choice about whether I could, or should, do a favor if it inconvenienced me greatly.

There were no hard feelings or arguing. She made me say no to the favor. It actually felt great to realize I had choices like everyone else. I didn’t always have to do things for others just to make up for what I saw as my shortcomings. My friend said I do too much for others and need to start picking and choosing the favors I did. It was an eye-opening moment that helped me begin to say no to things I didn’t want to do or didn’t have time for.


The big lesson: Doing a favor is your CHOICE. People ask if you can do it because they know you might not be able to.

I made every favor into an obligation but didn’t have to. And I learned the difference between favors and obligations. A favor is something you choose to do, or not do. An obligation is something you’ve committed to and must honor that commitment. Paying your rent is an obligation. Loaning money is a favor. Honoring your commitment to do something is an obligation. Watching someone’s kids is a favor. When you understand the difference, you can give yourself permission to turn down favors that you can’t or don’t want to do.

Your obligation should be to take care of yourself, first and foremost. That means only agreeing to do favors that don’t put you out or stress you out. Next time you’re asked to do something, tell the person you’ll get back to her and then think about whether you feel obligated for real to do it or if you’d just do it to please the person. Choose to only do favors that work for your schedule and overall well-being. Remember, your first obligation is to make yourself happy, which means not doing favors that aren’t in your best interest. That’s says, “I love me!”


Take the 31 Days of Self-Love Challenge–a pledge to do something loving for yourself for the next 31 days–and get my book, How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways for free at Read my 31 Days of Self-Love Posts from 2011 HERE.

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