Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Today is Day 7 of my 31 Days of Self-Love posts to celebrate Self-Love Month with suggestions for jump-starting your own self-love and joining The Self-Love Movement™.

A great way to show yourself love is to get comfortable saying those four little words: “I can’t do it.” Too often we feel uncomfortable turning people down when they ask us to do something. When I was a DoorMat I was the queen of favors.  I couldn’t imagine saying “no” to anyone. But what I really was doing was saying “no” to me. I’d cancel plans to help friends or do something that I had an aversion to doing because I wanted everyone to like me.

It’s “funny” how when you’re immersed in people pleasing that pleasing everyone leaves YOU out, which is not loving! I didn’t see it back in my DoorMat days. Nor did I recognize that the only one I wasn’t concerned about liking me was me! Often in our intentions to please everyone, we leave ourselves out. I learned the hard way that putting your efforts into taking care of everyone else but you can leave you with many negative emotions, all of which negate self-love, including:

•    Feeling a lot of disappointment when people don’t make any effort to please you in return
•    Frustration about never having help when you need it, despite all the help you give others
•    Resentment about feeling taken for granted or used.
•    Anger at the people who take without reciprocation
•    Anger at yourself for allowing people to take advantage of you

I went through a range of these emotions, wondering what the solution was. With all the security I thought pleasing others would bring me, I felt very insecure, and unhappy. One day I was complaining about this to a relative and she asked what I thought would happen if I stopped saying “yes” to everyone. I said I was afraid of losing them. She practically shook me while she asked what I’d be losing. Friends who only wanted my favors? Who made me feel bad? Who really weren’t my friends? It opened my eyes in a way that I’d never seen my actions before.

Then I asked how I could turn people down? She pointed out that nobody forced me to do all favors. It was my choice. Since just saying “no” felt too harsh, I went home and practiced saying “I can’t do it” in the mirror. Eventually it felt a bit natural to me. But before I said it to someone, I had to do something very important. Since it was my choice, I gave myself permission to not do every favor asked of me. The next day, a friend asked me to drive her to work. She always counted on me for rides and I heard the surprise in her voice when I said, “I can’t do it” and she asked, “Why not.”

Normally I’d have felt obligated to make a long excuse. This time I just said, “I’m busy.” The surprise became mine when she accepted that with no argument. There was something very empowering about not justifying why I couldn’t drive her and it showed in my voice. Giving myself permission was one of the most loving things I’d done for me as I continued to just help people selectively. It allowed more time for me and what I wanted to do.

Saying “Yes” to everyone’s needs but your own can make you a DoorMat as it allows people to control your actions. Giving yourself permission to turn people down gives your control over what you do and for whom. Every time you say “I can’t do it” when asked for a favor, you also say “I can” for yourself and your needs. It’s easier than just saying “no.” People are less likely to push when you say you can’t do it, assuming you have a good reason. It also says you deserve to not be everyone’s Doormat. Give yourself permission to say, “I can’t do it” when you don’t want to to say “yes.” That says, “I love me!”

Join The Self-Love Movement™! Take the 31 Days of Self-Love Commitment and get my book, How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways for free at Read my 2012 31 Days of Self-Love Posts HERE.

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