Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Lessons from a Recovering Doormat


Why Self-Absorption Isn’t Loving or Empowering

Me-MeThere’s a fine line between self-love/wanting to be an empowered person and self-absorption. It’s easy to get lost in new-found self-awareness and overcompensate with too much self-indulgence or act like no one else matters, which is unhealthy for friendship, whether romantic or friendship. You need to be #1 in your life but not Mr./Ms. One & Only. Self-absorption can be a transitional period. Healthy self- love balances concern for your needs and for others.

As I you feel better about you and decide to put yourself first in your own life, you may want to make up for everything you’ve missed. That can include trying to make sure that nobody would get in the way of getting what you want and letting everyone know your desires. That doesn’t make you pleasant to be around. Going from one extreme to another isn’t healthy for keeping supportive people in your world.

Avoid any thoughts that the world owes you for painful experiences or things you’ve been deprived of. I had a lovely client, who was kind and giving. Lindsay was a DoorMat for years. After working with her for a while, she finally began taking care of herself, which is good. But her expectations of what she should get from others was excessive. When she wanted something she didn’t just ask. She put friends on the spot. After catering to everyone she was ready to be catered to. Lindsay would proudly tell me about how she asserted herself. Her requests were more like demands.

Lindsay is kind to her friends so she didn’t understand that it was unfair to expect so much and that they didn’t owe her for what she did for them. If someone said “no” to her she took it poorly and told people off. I explained that friends owed her nothing because gave a lot–that was HER choice to do so—and that it was unrealistic to expect people to make up for what she didn’t get during her DoorMat years.

Once you get on the train out of DoorMatville you owe it to yourself to do the best you can but no one else owes you. The other side of being a DoorMat is NOT self-absorption. It’s being a person who sets boundaries on what you give and tempers what you think others should do for you. Make yourself #1 in your life but make those you care about important too.

Recovering DoorMats can become overly demanding or rigid, or selfish in unhealthy ways as they learn to take care of themselves. True healing and self- love includes helping those we care about. Do what you can for yourself but try harder to be the kind of friend you want for yourself in whatever ways are comfortable.
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