Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Lessons from a Recovering Doormat


Remove Your Excuse Blinders

Many people live with blinders on to shut out any realities they don’t want to acknowledge. When you feel insecure, seeing people and situations for what they really are might force you to take action you don’t want to take. It might seem too scary if you don’t know what will happen, especially if you’re afraid of losing the person.

People pleasers accept lame excuses form people they think they need in their lives and regurgitate them to friends who try to enlighten them. When I was a DoorMat I defended people to friends, my therapist, etc., knowing how weak it sounded. I couldn’t face what my excuses tried to hide—that I used them to to be able to tolerate inexcusable behavior. It seemed less painful to come up with reasons for why people did me wrong, let me down, used and hurt me than to face the truth—that they weren’t my friends and didn’t care about my well-being and happiness. But deep down I knew the truth and part of me felt stupid for making excuses for inexcusable behavior. And it makes you feel low about yourself.

The need to be liked is strong. When I as on Oprah, every person in the audience acknowledged they’d rather be liked than respected and were willing to go out of their way to make sure people did like them. That need drives us to wear blinders or dark glasses that don’t let the light of truth in. But while excuses sugarcoat the truth, they don’t change it. If you’re afraid to challenge excuse-makers, decipher what scares you.

•    “Even if my boss is mean, I can’t quit until my resume is perfect,” can mean, “I’m scared to look for another job.”
•    “I can’t get divorced until my kids are grown,” can mean, “A single man wouldn’t want me with two kids.”
•    “I can’t say ‘no.’ My friend counts on me,” can mean, “I need to feel needed.”
•    “She doesn’t mean to take advantage.” can mean, “I can’t risk losing her.”

Do any sound familiar? I accepted absurdly feeble excuses in my DoorMat days, rather than risk being alone. But I WAS alone, since I had no one to count on! Daylle was the go-to girl for favors, but people got scarce when I needed one. I’d have an “ouch moment” from the excuses, then convince myself it was true. Eventually the cost got too high and I accepted that while nobody is perfect, bits of good don’t validate bad behavior! Remember:

•    Promises without follow up get you nothing.
•    Compliments after being  lied to or being letyou down don’t make you feel good about yourself.
•    Not having anyone to count on when everyone can count on you is unbalanced.
•    Courtesy and respect can still be given by a busy person

Do you let one good facet of a person offset bad behavior?
•    She doesn’t keep her word but is fun to party with.
•    He sponges off you but is affectionate.
•    She has a good heart but has too much going on to keep her word.
•    It hurts when he loses his temper but he makes up for it after.

Excusing with buts – “I want better treatment or a respectful boss or support from friends, BUT…” – keeps you stuck. Stop settling for sweet crumbs thrown your way! Become aware of how often you excuse unacceptable behavior. Create an excuse list whenever you get one, with the date. This intensifies awareness of Swiss cheese excuses. The holes become more apparent on paper.
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