Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

A reader who I’ll call Lisa wrote that she has to go to an event for a friend who is friendly with her ex-boyfriend, so he’ll be there too. This guy took advantage of Lisa when they were involved. She reverted to her people pleasing was to keep him happy. Then he dumped her suddenly. Lisa was devastated by it. She’s been able to move on to a degree, not dwelling on that relationship, but she still has some feeling for him—a mixture of longing and anger at how he treated her—which can trigger a lot of negative emotions.

Lisa wants to feel empowered when she sees him and let him know she’s okay and over him, but she doesn’t feel that yet. She’s scared when she sees him she’ll turn to mush and get emotional. Many of us, women and men, go through this at least once. Seeing someone you once loved and may still have feelings for, knowing it ended badly, can make you feel out of control when seeing your old love. It can also happen if you see a friend or anyone who was once meaningful but the connection ended badly, especially if you got hurt.

You can come across as empowered and together and make the impression you’d like if you consciously pay attention to all aspect of your behavior in the person’s presence. It begins by keeping your emotions in check. Here’s my advice for any of those kinds of situations:

•    Decide you want to feel in control of yourself. Make a conscious choice to seem empowered when you see the person, even if the thought makes you scared or angry inside.

•    Take some long deep breaths before facing the person. That slows you down so your stress can get calmer. It helps you relax and gives you time to get composed.

•    Force a smile, even if you want to cry. Smiling makes you feel better, even if it’s faked. And it gives the impression that you’re feeling good and confident. A smile can cover all the negative emotions you feel. It also sends a message that you consider the person trivial in your life.

•    Don’t tell the person off in any way. It just makes them feel important and makes you look sad. People know what they did and most can figure out how it hurt you without you having to tell them.

•    Make good eye contact for whatever time you’re facing the person. Eye contact projects confidence. It can also make the person feel uncomfortable without you saying a word.  Let him or her break the eye contact first. Then enjoy walking away feeling empowered!

•    Say and do as little as possible. Don’t make obligatory comments like, “Nice to see you.” You don’t have to converse with the person at all. If you’re face to face, smile, make eye contact and that’s it. Let him or her wonder what you’re up to. If asked how you’re doing, smile and say, “Great!”

Bumping into an ex-friend or romantic partner can be awkward. But when you make the effort to come across as confident and in control, even if it’s faked, you’ll feel in the driver’s seat. That’s empowering!

Take the 31 Days of 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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