Beliefnet
Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Bed headhsot.jpgFor me, giving back is an ongoing blessing. That’s why it’s so gratifying to read all your thoughts about why you want to become more empowered. And I appreciate those of you who gave advice to others who posted comments. It’s truly a blessing to share what you learn. Now I’m preparing my BIG giving back dream.

While I’ve stopped being a people pleaser, I thrive on giving back for my blessings.

I wrote a book called How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways. It’s full of tips that specifically address how to build strong self-love. Every self-help book encourages loving yourself, but how can you do that? My book spells it out. I had just given the proposal to my agent when my mom passed away suddenly.

During that time I had a strong message from above that I was meant to give this book away to say thanks for all my blessings.

So I took it back from my agent and finished it. I’m currently editing the book and looking for someone to create the cover design I came up with and also for someone to do the layouts for the book. I’m starting to talk to potential sponsors. All of the is in my “spare time” (ha ha!) so it’s a slow go. But I’m finding people who are volunteering to help me and KNOW it will happen!

When the book is ready, first I will put it online as an e-book and give it away for free as a download.

This is a full size book. I’ve never been so excited about any of my other writing. It took me MANY years to learn how to love myself. It was trial by error since I had no resources to teach me. How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways is filled with specific ways to build self-love. If I can help people to build the kind of self-love that I have, I will feel blessed beyond measure. I was able to turn my unhappy life around and reinvent myself to have a career and life that I love. This is one way I’ll say thanks for it all!

Giving back in some way attracts more blessings. And it feels so good.

I will have more articles on the importance of giving back. I also will have interviews with famous people who’ve started foundations and other projects aimed at giving back to the communities and the world, as well as with heads of corporate ventures for giving back. I want to motivate you to find ways to give back for your own blessings. It feels wonderful to do it and you’ll manifest more blessings. For me, just knowing that my writing helps people is a HUGE blessing in itself.

If you’re not conscious of your blessings, I invite you to join my Conscious Gratitude group on Yahoo and post your blessings. It will help raise your giving consciousness! I get more ideas of what to give thanks for from others who post.

I’ve been planning to do this for years. My eventual goal is to put the book out in a hard copy that can be given out to people who don’t have access to a computer to download an e-book. And maybe I’ll sell it to raise more money. All suggestions welcome! When the book is ready, I shall announce it here. Stay tuned!

I highly recommend that you identify your blessing and then find ways to give back to others as a thanks for them. Every time you do good, good will come back to you. It might not be from the person or cause you gave to and it could take a while. You might not recognize it because it could be in a whole different of your life, which you label a coincidence. But since nothing is a coincidence, it will be there. Whenever I need something, I get support from the most amazing places.

Giving back to others makes YOU feel good.

Though people think I’m crazy to give away a book I could make money from, knowing that I help people is a bigger reward than money! You can experience that too by finding ways, however small to help someone out or get involved in a charity. You don’t have to give money you can’t afford. Time works too! Find what works for you but find it!

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Have been on agreeable autopilot for most of your life? Getting at least somewhat comfortable with expressing yourself will feel liberating. If you’re hesitant to speak your mind or turn down requests that will inconvenience you, imagine the consequences and self-chastising of holding your feelings in. When I was a DoorMat, the idea of making my own desires important and not agreeing to what other people wanted gave me the willies.  My reaction came from a place of fear.

•    What if the person stops liking me because I don’t help out?
•    How can I live with myself if I’m not “nice?”
•    What will people think of me?
•    Will people label me as selfish, or worse?
•    And the BIG one–What if I end up lonely because I don’t help?

I had no idea what would happen if I turned off agreeable autopilot and became more selective about what I agreed to. But strong insecurity kept me from trying so I didn’t try to find out for years. The most important thing to me was being liked. DoorMats don’t like to rock what they see as the security boat. Doing favors for everyone was what I was used to, even if I often felt bad about it later when I missed doing things that I wanted in order to baby sit for someone’s kid or help with chores that were undone in my own home because I had no time. Being a nice, clean, prominent welcome mat to others leads to:

•    Anger when you feel taken for granted
•    Resentment when you don’t feel appreciated for all you do
•    Bitterness when you can’t do your own stuff because your time is taken up by favors
•    Disgust with yourself for not being able to say no.

The last one is especially detrimental because it keeps your self-esteem low. And it’s hard to love yourself when you’re disgusted with how you handle situations. It took me many years to turn my DoorMat over so I wasn’t radiating welcome to what I eventually saw as DoorMat predators. You may have to pull at the corners and slowly–using teeny baby steps–begin to pull it up.

Each time you set a boundary, pat yourself on the back to appreciate a step, no matter how small.

My first happened when I’d been excited to go hear a talk and a friend asked me to come over to help her rearrange her living room. She rambled on about how she wanted a new look and needed my input, and my strength to move the furniture with her. I told her how much I’d been looking forward to the talk and she’d have to find someone else. She actually got annoyed with me and called me the B word used on women! Blessedly, I thought this time instead of automatically agreeing to cancel my plans.

It was hard but I forced myself to not agree and enjoyed the talk without letting guilt ruin it. Afterward it hit me. She didn’t care a hoot about my needs! Yet I was always her go-to girl for everything.

That woke me up to how unfair many of the requests I’d get were. Enjoying the evening thoroughly made me feel so good that the guilt I’d normally feel was overshadowed by my pleasure and my small inkling that it wasn’t wrong to not help when I already had plans. It felt so good to not agree to something I didn’t want to do that a few weeks later I said I couldn’t do another request that would have made me unhappy to do. The joy I felt in making me important led to more frequent times for turning off agreeable autopilot. Turning over your mat doesn’t mean never helping others. You should help those you love when you can.

The operative words are “when you can,” not as a sacrifice. Tomorrow I’ll have more specific tips for saying “no.”

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BookCover-JustConflict.jpgDoorMats have a tough time resolving conflicts. Often we do what we can to avoid them to the point of generating serious negative emotions from not addressing what bothers us. If we reach the breaking point, our handling of the conflict can be emotional and ineffective. I’m delighted to have Rev. Dr. Mark Robinson as my guest today. He’s a psychotherapist and the Executive Director of the Center for Creative Conflict Resolution in St. Louis.  He is also the author of JUST CONFLICT: Transformation through Resolution. He has some great tips for handling conflicts in ways that will bring you the most satisfaction and self-empowerment.

How to Resolve Any Conflict
By Dr. Mark Robinson

We all resolve conflicts every day. Many of our conflicts are so small we hardly notice them. Some are ones we address all the time and are very skilled at resolving. But there are some conflicts which arise over and over in our most significant relationships which never seem to be adequately worked through.

??Because they keep coming up–and because they are in relationships which are important to us–we do everything we can think of to try to resolve them. When we can’t we often decide that they are irresolvable. “Since I have tried everything,” we reason, “and it still isn’t fixed, there must be nothing I can do about it.” ??

HeadShot2-MarkLeeRobinson.jpgIn thirty years of working with people in high conflict relationships I have found that there is one simple shift that opens up a vast array of possibilities for addressing and resolving conflict. This shift is to let go of trying to change the other and to focus instead on changes we can make in ourselves. When we are centered in our own experience, clear about what we need, doing what we can do to generate the qualities we need, without any expectation or demand that the other change, we discover we are immensely powerful and creative. ??

Nevertheless, while this shift in perspective is simple and creative, it is not easy. By looking at the reasons this shift is hard to make we can find hints for creative change. ??

We don’t know we are trying to change others. We know we can’t change others. Even if we get them to change their behavior in the short run, they can always change back. But just because we can’t control them doesn’t mean we don’t try. If you are trying to address a conflict with someone and they are resisting you, you are trying to change them. ??

The problem is not in wanting others to change; of course we want that. The problem is in trying to get them to change. Even trying to get the other to understand me is trying to change them unless the other wants to know what is going on with me. ??

We don’t know why we should change. We see the other as responsible for the problem so it is the other who should change. We aren’t to blame. But when we think of responsibility only as whose fault it is we generate a fight. A fight is when we try to make each other lose. ??

If the only way I know to win is to get you to change, all you have to do to make me lose is do what you are already doing. What could be easier? The reason for me to change is not because I am bad or wrong the way I am, but because I am not getting what I need the way things are. We change because we care about ourselves. ??

We don’t know how to use our emotions constructively. With these persistent conflicts our emotions can overwhelm us. We can feel flooded by them and they sometimes inspire choices which get us the opposite of what we need. We think of these as “negative” emotions. But emotions are data and energy. They are information about what we need and the energy to act to create what we need.

Emotions arise because there are important qualities missing from our lives. When we act to create those qualities for ourselves, we not only create what we need, we create what everyone needs. This is not a zero sum game. Everyone can win. ??

We don’t know what would be a better choice. While it is simple (though not easy) to shift from trying to change others to changing ourselves, knowing what to do can be quite complex. Most of the conflicts we are trying to address are complicated.

??I may have a conflict with my son over the tidiness of his bedroom. I want him to learn that if he wants to be able to find his things and have them be safe he will have to take care of them. And I don’t want to live in a pigsty. Part of me wants to allow him to experience the consequences of his own choices and part of me is worried about vermin. When I can clearly hear from each of these internal perspectives and know what each is trying to create for me, I can then know how to act towards my son in a manner that supports his ability to care for himself, his property, and his relationships with others.

??By letting go of the goal of changing the other and simply working to transform ourselves all conflicts can be resolved.
——————–
Rev. Dr. Mark Lee Robinson has been on the forefront of conflict resolution, social justice, and gender equality for over thirty years. He is a psychotherapist and the Executive Director of the Center for Creative Conflict Resolution in St. Louis.  He is also the author of JUST
CONFLICT: Transformation through Resolution
(Epigraph 2009). For more information about Dr. Robinson, and to learn more about his Center for Creative Conflict Resolution, visit the website at www.creativeconflictresolution.org and www.justconflict.com

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eyes.JPGI never stop being astounded by what clients tell me they hear from others and adopt as their truth about themselves. Just because someone says, “You’ll never amount to anything,” especially years ago, doesn’t mean it’s true, unless you make it so. Many beliefs that we hold onto go back to early childhood. People say things–usually critical judgments–and we adopt it as our truth. No matter how many times relatives told me I was pretty, my beliefs about me stemmed from the one person who said I was too big to be good enough.

Criticism sticks to us like glue while praise is often scoffed as someone just saying it to be nice.

When I was a Doormat, I inhaled negative beliefs. The more I believed, the more I heard and adopted them as who I was. I’ll never forget when I was a young teen, a man exclaimed over my “sparkling green eyes.” My usual response–negating his words–kicked in. But he wasn’t having it and asked his wife for a mirror. He put it in my face and told me to really look. At that moment I saw them. For a short time after I was aware that my eyes were pretty. But a few body bashing comments later, my eyes became invisible when I looked in the mirror.

My self-esteem finally blossomed by when I began to see myself through a loving set of eyes that finally acknowledged all my good qualities. But that was a LONG time coming after seeing myself as fat and ugly for so many years. That’s why it’s SOOO important to recognize what I call your details–all the good qualities you possess but may not acknowledge in your focus on what’s wrong with you.

Seeing yourself through the eyes of things said by others makes it hard to have the SELF-approval needed for good self-esteem.

Losing a few pounds, making more money, getting at least a few packs on your abs, won’t create long lasting self-approval. External factors impress others but don’t touch your soul. Self-love, which requires YOUR own approval, stimulates true self-esteem. Since self-esteem is based on what you think of yourself, how can you develop the real deal if you’re conditioned to see yourself through the eyes of others? It’s a hard habit to break, but you can!

It took me years of slowly appreciating what was right with me instead of dwelling on what was wrong.

Start by writing down your good details–all the things–large and small–that are good about you. Ask friends for suggestions if you’re stuck. Pay attention to them and focus on seeing you through the eyes of someone who at least wants to love him/herself. You may not have a shred of self-love yet. That’s okay. I started from zero and worked my way to 1,000%! Try to be more objective when you see yourself in the mirror or evaluate your worth. Being a good, caring, kind person is admirable, especially when you can learn how to set boundaries.

Setting those boundaries is part of building self-love.

Today I’m older and weigh more than I did when I was fat and ugly. But my perception of me is a hot, sexy, curvy, beautiful woman with gorgeous green eyes that twinkle from happiness. It began with that man pointing out my eyes in the mirror but took decades for it to sink in. I had no tools or role model. You have me! I’ll give you many ways to motivate yourself to be loving to yourself as you step out of DoorMatville. Begin building your worth in your own head and eventually you’ll wake up as I did and realize you’ve fallen in love with yourself!

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