Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

rainbow2Who are you striving to be? Following in the footsteps of a family member or creating your own footprints. I encounter too many unhappy people who are trying to be what they think they’re “supposed to be” and feel negative emotions about not being into it. Parents sometimes try to push their kids into their professions. I meet law students whose parents are lawyers and think they should follow suit to please them.  Or parents expect their kids to carry on the family business for them. Meanwhile the kids stifle their creative impulses or their own career desires to follow the “supposed to be” pattern.

This pattern is also reflected in feelings of obligation to be a good husband, wife or parent. I recently had a client, Phil, who was trying to figure out how to begin to follow his passions after being married for twenty-five years. He went into his father’s business, which bored him, to be a good provider for his wife and family. With his kids finishing school Phil got the divorce he’d longed for years before when he knew his marriage wasn’t right or him. His wife put him down when he shared his dreams with her. He wanted to live beyond the “supposed to be” mentality and pursue his passions before he got too old to.

I helped Phil set goals for himself and work on easing the guilt people dumped on him for stepping outside the box. He slowly started a business he’d dreamed of having by living in an inexpensive room in someone’s house and living on a tight budget. After a few months, Phil called to say how happy he was. He was finally being true to himself. He still had a long way to go to make real money but he was doing what he was meant to do.

When I was a DoorMat, I followed the “supposed to be” mentality to please everyone.  I became a teacher, which I never wanted to be, because I was told it was best for a women and I married a teacher so it seemed logical. Everyone was happy with who I was—everyone but me! As I began to love myself I knew I had to find out who I really was. I felt like I had no identity beyond what I was “supposed to be.” I left DoorMatville, and my marriage, determined to be my own person. It took time an courage to reinvent myself into the woman I am today but it was worth it!

If you don’t feel as happy as you’d like to be, ask yourself if you’re the person you want to be or who you’re “supposed to be.” Who are you trying to please? Happiness comes when you answer yourself! Be true to YOU and find ways o follow your passions, no matter what your day job is.  Being a music business consultant I encounter many lawyers, doctors, corporate execs, nurses, teachers, etc. who play music in clubs at night or spend free time writing the book they dreamed of. Love yourself enough to not short change yourself by giving up your passions and dreams. Life is meant to be lived with joy. Find a way to create some in your life.
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