Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

one-way signI’ve never liked one-way streets. When I’m trying to get somewhere, especially in an area I’m not familiar with, it’s frustrating to try to navigate streets that aren’t going in the direction I want to go in.. Anything going just one way can hinder you. That includes people. When I was a DoorMat, my give and take tended to go in one direction—I’d give and people took from me. It didn’t feel good. DoorMats often allow that to happen to please people they’re scared of alienating.

People come to me for counseling often complaining about feeling like they give a lot but don’t receive much. People pleasing tends to work like that. It happens with friends and at work too. For example, Jimmy came to me upset about Mike, a guy at work. He said he always pitched in to help co-workers who needed it.

But lately Mike was stuck creatively and kept asking him to brainstorm ideas for projects. Jimmy came up with some great ones. But at a big meeting with the whole staff, he put out Jimmy’s ideas as his own and glowed from the praise, never acknowledging JImmy’s part in it. Yet Jimmy didn’t say a word. Jimmy wanted his colleagues to like him and was scared he wouldn’t be seen as a team player if he spoke up. So he stewed in silence. Yet Mike never gave him any ideas when he asked for help.

And Taylor complained that her neighbor always put her on the spot to have her kids come over while she went out. Yet when Taylor needed someone to watch her kids, the neighbor had excuses not to. Taylor didn’t mind watching her kids but didn’t like the one-way street she was on with always being the one to baby sit and no reciprocation. These kinds of situations keep you living in DoorMatville!

When you find yourself on a one-way street with someone and you’re going the wrong way, it’s time to put on the brakes and begin to set boundaries and speak up. Usually there’s an underlying fear that stops you. Give it some thought. It’s important to identify what drives you to stay silent or to stay on the one-way street. You owe it to yourself to get off of it when a car continues driving the wrong way on a one-way street, it often will get into an accident. Going in he wrong direction with giving and taking can lead you o feel injured. The anger alone can hurt you.

The nest time Mike hit Jimmy up for ideas, Jimmy told him that he wanted credit if they were used. And Taylor told her neighbor that she needed to be able to count on her too.When you speak up for yourself, you become empowereed and enjoy being on a two-way street.

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