Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Many people like to consider themselves helpful, and that can be a good thing. It feels good to help others when you can. But sometimes people mistake trying to control what someone else does as guidance, which it’s not. It’s important to watch out for those types and not let them push their ways on you if it’s not what you want. And it’s also important not to be one of them. Sometimes we call them know-it-alls. But when these know-it-alls push their beliefs and know-how onto you as the only way to think or do something, you need to stop them.

Too often controlling people come across under the guise of “I’m just trying to help you.” When I was a DoorMat, some of those types would pick me apart, telling me what was wrong with my looks, how I did things, etc. It hurt, not helped. I couldn’t even listen to what they said except to hear criticism. It’s important to stop them in their tracks so you don’t become hostage to their ways as they try to treat you like their puppet by saying things like:

•    “You’d look much better if you’d_______ and I’ll help you do it.” That’s basically saying there’s something wrong with how you look now, and the person it determined to renovate you. It can hurt your self-esteem and change your appearance in a way you don’t like because you feel pressured.

•    “You have to do that this way instead.” That’s more of a demand but if you complain, you’ll probably hear, “but I was just trying to help you.” But it’s not being helpful, it’s insisting on their way

•    “I’ve done this many times and know best so just follow my lead.” Again, the person isn’t trying to give you a choice. They’re not asking, they’re telling you what to do.

The best way to guide is through your own example. I can’t force anyone to love her/himself but when people see that I was able to do it and how happy it makes me, they’re motivated to try. Guidance is also letting someone know what worked for you and offering to show them, IF they’d like you to. But if someone insists you do it their way, that’s trying to control you, which you shouldn’t tolerate, or do to someone else.

Beware of controlling people. They’re everywhere I’ve learned. And they love to find the people pleasers who’ll allow themselves to be controlled. As I said, I used to bristle from controlling people but I didn’t know how to stop them or go against them. No more!  If you’re with someone who takes helping to a controlling level, speak up!

•    “I appreciate your wanting to help me but I’m fine doing it my way. Please respect that.”
•    “That may work for you but I prefer to do what’s worked for me.”
•    “I’d appreciate your taking no for an answer. I don’t want to argue.”
•    “I’m smart enough to figure it out for myself.’

And so on. Be friendly and polite but also firm about them not butting into your life. You can be a nice person who doesn’t allow people to tell you what to do or not do. It’s very empowering to disconnect their control buttons!

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