Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Lessons from a Recovering Doormat


Stop Playing Defense with People

When I began to say “no” to people or changed my habits in my DoorMat days, I found myself having defend what I did. People were used to me one way—always agreeable—and some didn’t like the new more empowered Daylle. I often found myself defending what I did or having to make excuses for not doing favors. Looking back, I know I did nothing that needed defending. I had a right to put myself first and live my way, just like you do. But when you want everyone to like you, the need to defend yourself is great.

When you let go of your people pleasing ways, there will be people who try to guilt you back by making accusations of your being selfish, or worse. That’s just a ploy to manipulate you back to more pleasing ways. I learned the hard way that pleasing yourself is most important. In my DoorMat days I’d be defending or apologizing for being too sick to give someone a lift. It was okay for people to say “no” to me and leave me without support. But if I tried to put me first, I was all kinds of nasty names.

Then there are the people who question your lifestyle or choices. When you do something risky or out of the norm, people will question it. I defended my decision to go to Europe on my own with a backpack. “I don’t think it’s safe.” Why don’t you go with a tour group?” “You’re not a kid and shouldn’t be traveling that way.” I explained over and over why I was doing it MY way but got pummeled with doubting comments. I was stronger then and chose to just say I’d do it my way. Period. I didn’t defend my choices, which felt really good!

People will sometimes put you on the spot for something. It’s your choice how to handle it. Get defensive and you give them power over you. Make light of their comments, however annoying they are or stinging they sound. Once you start defending things that you don’t see anything wrong with, you add a negative spin to them. If you believe in yourself and what you’re doing, don’t make excuses or try to explain to people who have no right to challenge your decisions. In sports, the defense is important but the offense gets the points. That’s why it’s so important to switch to playing offense. That’s what get you more!

Often those people either want to push you back into DoorMatville by making you feel bad about putting you first, or, they’re jealous of you. It’s hard to stand up for yourself and say “no” to people you care about. If the person who makes the comments can’t do it, you may push their envy buttons. Or you may be about to do something they’d love to do but don’t have the nerve to. So they put you down and try to crush your efforts because they may feel like their desires will never be realized.

Thank people for their concern but say that you’re fine with your decision and would rather not discuss it. Take the offense. Ask why it bothers them so much or why they think turning down a request is selfish. Put the person on the defensive. As long as you know you’re doing nothing wrong, remind yourself of that and refuse to get into a debate about what you’ve chosen to do. Go into offensive mode and score. That’s empowerment!
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