Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

tearBeing a DoorMat is a conscious effort to gain approval or security. But unfortunately many of us don’t get those results when we do our best to please everyone. That’s why so many DoorMats are unhappy.  I was rarely happy in my DoorMat days because of the negative emotions I’d develop when people let me down. They ran the gamut from making me mildly sad to feeling devastated. I began to notice a pattern.

Sometimes I’d only experience a little blip if the person wasn’t important to me or it was one incident. But it was someone who mattered to me, or who I’d been very good to and I began to feel used, taken for granted or unsupported it took me down four levels of emotions, which I’ve noticed in many people pleasers:

•    1. Disappointment: Each favor you do may come with a sub-conscious hope that the person will be there for you in return. When they’re not, you feel disappointed. “Shouldn’t she appreciate me enough to want to reciprocate all the kindness I’ve given her?” “I had hoped that I could count on him the way he counts on me sometimes too.”  It’s disappointing when someone you’ve done lot for doesn’t live up to your expectations.

•    2. Disillusionment: As you get let down more and more, disappointment feeds feeling disillusioned. “Nobody is nice but me.” “Why don’t people care about me?” “What’s wrong with people? Why can’t they do the right thing.” It’s disheartening when people always let you down. You can start to distrust everyone’s motives.

•    3. Hurt: When it continues it’s painful to face the disillusionment of knowing your good deeds are unreciprocated. You suspect friends aren’t sincere, which hurts. “It’s painful to know that she isn’t there for me after I’ve been such a good friend.” “Did he ever really care about me or was I just source of favors.” “It hurts to think she’s never been a real friend.”

•    4. Helplessness: When you work hard to please and it manifests little, you can feel powerless. You might feel helpless about how to deal with finding ways to develop healthy reciprocal relationships with people. “I gave up things I wanted to do in order to help her. What do I have to do to feel supported?” “What’s the point of being nice to people if no one is nice to me? “Am I doomed to always be alone?” When you feel this way you’ve hit your low point.

I’ve learned to catch myself before I get to the higher levels. Setting boundaries on how much you do for others is the way to avoid the more painful emotions. Giving is a blessing, but not if it hurts! Pay attention to how people treat you. And limit what you do for those who don’t deserve your favors.

It’s also important to understand that no one is obligated to reciprocate what you do for them. As you become more empowered and love yourself, it’s easier to understand why it’s important to do things for people from a place of goodness, not to gain approval or hopefully get something back. It’s truly a blessing to be able to help someone. Get into the habit of only helping people because it makes you feel good. Since I left DoorMatville and became empowered, I have a lot more energy to give than I used to –an for the right reasons—for the blessing of helping someone.  I also love myself enough to not do things I don’t want to do. Be alert to those DoorMat emotions and control your people pleasing to avoid them!
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