Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Years ago I was teaching a workshop on building self-esteem and a woman kept interrupting me to ask about how to help her husband build his. I explained that since that’s an inside job, he’d have to do it himself. She could give him the material from the class, encourage him to do the work, but ultimately that was all she could do for him. That wasn’t good enough for her. She said he didn’t make any effort and needed to know how she could do it for him. No matter what I said, she couldn’t understand that when it comes to matters of self, you can’t fix anyone except for yourself.

This woman even complained to the head of the program where I gave my lecture that I refused to help her. I couldn’t get through to her that you can’t fix other people! Self-esteem comes from inside you. No one can give it to you. No one can take it from you. You can support, encourage and praise someone you care about. But, you can’t fix the other person. You can only fix yourself.

Too many people get themselves into trouble trying to change someone. We often get involved with people who become like projects, especially in relationships. I encounter person after person who expresses being in love with someone who has problems, always with a belief they can help that person get their act together. Some people thrive on trying to fix others, often to avoid working on themselves. Men feel manly taking care of a needy woman. Women think they can mold a guy they like into the man they want.

It can feel good to feel needed. People pleasers set themselves up to be needed, including trying to fix people. You might see it as a challenge but there are much better ways to challenge yourself. If you find yourself trying to fix someone, step back and consider taking my 31 Days of Self-Love Challenge. Instead of trying to fix someone, work on loving yourself and set a good example for the person you want to fix. I suggested that to the women who came to my class but she was determined to push her husband to like himself. It’s better to love yourself and let people see how good it makes you feel.

Fix yourself and let other people, even those you love, take care of fixing, or not fixing, themselves. You are only responsible for YOU! Avoid aggravation by accepting that and love yourself enough to work on improving yourself.

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 2012 HERE.

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