Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

This week Anonymous asked a question in the comments on my first post of this blog, Recovering from DoorMat Syndrome. The answer wasn’t simple and there are lessons in this situation that can help many of you so I’m addressing it here. Anon (who I’ll identify as “she” though I have no idea about who this person is) explained that for years she’s cared for her neighbor’s pets when they go away—several times a month. The husband travels for work and his wife usually accompanies him. Anon has compassion for the animals since if she doesn’t care for them, nobody does. But it’s taking its toll on her as it’s a bit of work and time. But Anon has her own dog to look after.

Anon works from home sometimes, like I do, and people often think that means we’re on call for their needs since we’re home.

When the wife had surgery and was on crutches, Anon was asked to look in on her. She wrote that she had the flu but felt obligated to check up on the wife. Anon had a lot of work to do and felt worse than the wife on crutches, who was able to travel with her husband on them but needed Anon to help when she was home. Anon feels obligated to keep helping and has compassion for the pets. Kind people can get a stronger sense of obligation to pick up other people’s pieces when compassion is strong. There are lessons in this:

Lesson 1: Being home DOES NOT mean available to others for favors!

Anon is concerned that if she says no, they can see she’s “home and available.” You’re entitled to take care of your own needs, including enjoying free time if you have some. Since I work at home, people think I can listen to their problems at any time or get together for lunch or keep them company when they have free time. It used to drive me crazy until I learned the truth. You have a right to be busy when you’re home, even if you’re busy reading a book.

Lesson 2: You do NOT have to give your time away just because you have some or others think you can rearrange your schedule for them.

Your time is YOUR time. YOURS! To share or use for what YOU like. I’ve had to set some strong boundaries with people who thought it was okay to call or stop by any time. Unless I say otherwise, I’m off-limits during the week from 9-6. My boss is tough about this. I’M the boss and make rules to take care of ME. It’s important to do have them with people who feel they can infringe on your time.

Lesson 3: Instead of saying no each time, let people know what restriction you have for giving time to others.

Of course you should help when you can. But in the case of Anon, she wasn’t asked for favors. Her neighbors assumed it as a given when they “asked.” Anon calls it asking. I don’t. It was basically telling her when they’d be away and thanks for helping out. Asking offers a choice. It was never Anon’s choice. It was her permanent job, on a frequent basis.

Lesson 4: DoorMats delude themselves about calling obligation favors. But it’s not a favor if was not your choice or desire to do it.

Being a DoorMat stirs obligations. Recovering from it give you choices. It’s better to avoid any favors that can become habits by always saying yes. Then people expect you too, as in Anon’s case. She got herself into a rut she feels stuck in. And you can’t blame people who take advantage if YOU let them! It’s your responsibility to set boundaries and help people break the habit of always expecting you to help out with something. You can learn the Power of Saying No!

Lesson 5: Someone else’s situation isn’t your responsibility.

The glue that keeps Anon stuck is compassion for her neighbor’s pets. Anon says that nobody will care for them if she doesn’t. Somehow I think the neighbors will have to find another solution, or the neighbors should be reported for abuse. THEIR animals aren’t her responsibility. The neighbors enjoy traveling together several times a month while Anon plays the martyr at home, for the sake of the pets. When I was a DoorMat I’d have done the same thing! Today I’d tell them they must make other arrangements, and they will. Or they can get rid of their pets since they’re gone so much.

Lesson 6: No one can take advantage of you unless you say yes!

You can turn people down and set boundaries. It’s your choice to acquiesce to a request. Think before you say yes. You can say no without saying no. The neighbors give Anon gifts for her services. She doesn’t need them. Some people think they can buy someone’s favors. But they don’t make up for what she loses. This situation makes Anon unhappy. That’s a good reason to tell them that it’s become too much for her and she can’t do it anymore. Maybe once in a while. But not several times a month for days.

There’s no need to explain too much. You don’t owe the recipient of your favors a lengthy excuse since you’re doing nothing wrong by bowing out. Explain that it’s interfering with other things you have to do or that it wears you out too much or whatever comes to mind. Don’t apologize profusely. I’d preface it with “I’ve been doing____ for years and hope that you appreciate what it took for me to do it but I can’t continue for many reasons.” You don’t have to tell the reasons. It’s your RIGHT to choose how you spend your time. Suggest they find a teen in the neighborhood that they can pay to do it. Continue to be friendly.

Lesson 7: Being a good person (neighbor, friend, co-worker etc.) does not mean sacrificing your time, pleasure, sanity, health.

Anon also said that the neighbors do other annoying things but she tries to be a good neighbor despite this. Redefine good neighbor. Wave hello. Bring their trashcan to the curb if it rolls away. Loan some sugar. But being a permanent pet caretaker is above and beyond, unless you love them so much you look forward to spending time with them. Of course it’s fine to do favors when you don’t mind or want to help someone you care about.

But when you find yourself complaining about it or resenting the person, it’s time to stop!

Years ago I had a friend who traveled for work a month at a time occasionally. I offered to get her mail and water her few plants once a week. I knew how much it meant to her to know her place was in safe hands and was happy to do it. It was no big deal to walk to her place once a week. Watering took about 10 minutes. I love taking a walk and there was no schedule to contend with like caring for pets. If I was a day or 2 early or late it didn’t matter. She always brought me over the top gifts, which were unnecessary, and took me out for a nice dinner when she returned. But I just did it to give a friend peace of mind while traveling.

Anon’s neighbors aren’t her friends. They’re her burden. I advise her to take steps to end this obligation. If it’s uncomfortable, slowly back out. Make excuse
s request by request until you break their habit of asking. DoorMats jump to do favors at their own expense, which is NOT NICE. Nice people on top set boundaries.

Kindness doesn’t mean always helping out. It means doing what you can when you can. Be kind to yourself and set boundaries with others! You’ll be happy you did!

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This is post 79 in my series on the Law of Attraction in Action. You CAN use your power to attract all that you need. I do it every day! Read the posts in this series to see how.

A woman I’ll call Tara came to me years ago. She was unhappy. As we spoke, I could feel her struggling to act cheerful when she clearly didn’t feel that way. Tara was unnerved at getting older and didn’t like the work she did but couldn’t figure out what she did want to do. She lived in NYC and said she was done with it. I told her the problem wasn’t NYC but that she was unhappy inside, which reflected in everything she did.

Discontent attracts more discontent!

Tara refused to see that. She sublet her apartment and moved far away in search of happiness. Sadly, she didn’t find it and came running back to NY after 3 months, saying she missed it. Tara tried to make it work for the next year but left for another city when her unhappiness got too much for her. This became a pattern she couldn’t break. She’d move to another city, convince herself this was the solution for her unhappiness, talk about how great it was, and then return to NY even more disillusioned that she couldn’t find what she wanted.

You can run but can’t hide from your inner issues. They go with you wherever you go!

People often think that a new location will fix what’s wrong with their lives but that rarely works. When you’re not happy, fixing what’s blocking happiness is an inside job. Tara wasn’t happy with herself. Her self-loathing was evident to me, which also meant it was evident to the Universe. The more she tried to run away from her unhappiness, the more unhappy she became. She did everything she could to change her life on the outside, but could not look at herself and see where the problem originated from.

A new location doesn’t change who you are or what you feel about yourself. Nor does it erase problems. Only YOU can do that!

Each time Tara moved, she brought more than just physical baggage with her. All her issues went with her too. She’d revel in starting over in a new city for a little while. It was fun. But after she settled in, her inner unhappiness reared its head and life didn’t feel good anymore. Moving to a new city far from home can be a tough adjustment even when you feel good. But when you don’t love yourself and your inner thoughts and feelings are in turmoil, moving can lead to even more issues.

External efforts don’t heal inner wounds. And there’s little positive stuff that you can send for the Law of Attraction to work with if your inner emotions are negative.

When I was a DoorMat, I looked to others for fulfillment and happiness. I had to have a man to complete me. Being alone to do anything was out of the question. I looked for every external way to soothe the hurt I felt inside but only attracted more hurt. It took many years of unhappiness to finally accept that I had to work on me, and develop my self-esteem from the inside out. Learning to truly love myself was the answer! The more I loved me and my self-esteem grew, the bigger the vehicle I had to leave DoorMatville on.

Inner healing and love attracts peace with yourself. The best part of it is that everyone can have it and it doesn’t cost anything—except for shedding negative baggage.

I kept telling this to Tara but her strong denials made her deaf and blind to reality. She bought herself more clothes. Took a trip, but returned with the same baggage she’d always had, except that it increased since it attracted more in her journey. If you’re unhappy and looking to see what you can change in your life, look inward. Ask:

• Do I love myself?
• Can I accept me exactly the way I am right now?
• Am I WILLING to look inside and work on healing inner wounds?
• Am I WILLING to work on loving and accepting myself?

Be honest about your answers! Denial can skewer your perspective. Everyone can use more self-love. I like having as much as I can. I’ve had many posts on how to show yourself more love and will continue to post on this very important topic. Please be more conscious about doing loving things for you. Self-kindness helps to heal. Sometimes you might need therapy with a professional.

Taking steps to become a whole person who accepts him/herself as you are lightens the baggage you carry with you.

Negative baggage attracts negative circumstances, no matter what you do on the outside or where you move to. If you want to be happy, make an effort to face the feelings you may try to stifle or run away from. As you do, you’ll get closer to a place that makes you happy no matter where you are. Then the Law of Attraction can support your happiness!

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I had a rough few days over the weekend, running around a lot in the rain, then rushing home to finish up a deadline. My allergies were kicking in so my nose and head were a little stuffed. It was an unusual rainy pattern here in NYC that just hung out over us and made me more tired. I woke up on Saturday with a headache from the dampness and chill of 40 degrees. As I watched the rain coming down hard, the last thing I wanted to do was go out.

I’d made plans for that evening to get together with someone who lives out of the city. The day before he said the rain wouldn’t keep him from coming in. I agreed that we’d get together. “Rain won’t stop us!” we affirmed. But in the morning I didn’t feel that way. I’d been a bit ragged lately and the thought of going downtown in the cold rain made me unhappy. But I like to be happy! And what would make me happy is to stay home.

DoorMats keep plans no matter how much it hurts them!

While I don’t like cancelling on someone, sometimes it’s gotta be done. Making the decision to cancel lifted my spirits. Hooray! I can stay home! Be warm and dry. Years ago if I did that—which I probably wouldn’t have unless I was very ill—I’d have been plagued with guilt, which would have ruined my joy in staying home. Good girls believe they shouldn’t back out of a commitment. Period! While I do try to honor plans, I now also honor my needs. That’s one of the most important lessons I learned on the way out of DoorMatville.

Self first! Some people see that attitude as selfish but it’s NOT. It’s your right!

Leaving DoorMatville helped me to stop seeing most things as obligations. While I don’t cancel plans lightly or do it if I know the other person is counting on me to go or will be very disappointed, I’ve accepted that it is okay when you really need to. On Saturday I did. I haven’t seen my friend in a while and was looking forward to our going out. So I did want to go. But, the weather and how I felt was a big enough deterrent to cancel.

Occasionally canceling plans that you will make you unhappy to keep is okay.

If you find yourself wanting to cancel on someone often, ask yourself why you bother to make plans with him or her. It’s better to avoid canceling by not making plans in the first place. If you do make them, don’t cancel lightly. I was really feeling under the weather—literally—and believed it would hurt me to go running around in the rain tonight. That was a good reason to me. My health is a major priority now that I love myself. And, I try not to make plans in the first place with someone I’d want to cancel on easily.

But taking care of self is the most important priority to make.

This doesn’t mean making yourself happy at someone else’s expense. I gave my friend plenty of notice by calling in the morning and you know what? It turned out he was wishing he could cancel too, since the gale force winds and rain made him not want to schlep into the city. So it actually worked out fine. But if I was accompanying someone to an event they wouldn’t go to alone, I wouldn’t leave them unable to go. The same would also apply to having expensive tickets to a show. But, when my health is the issue and the plans weren’t major, it seemed more right to cancel.

I had a lovely evening at home Saturday! Knowing that I did that for myself added another level of satisfaction. I honor plans I make 99% of the time. You should too. I hate people who cancel often since it inconveniences me if I held time for nothing or have to find someone else to go somewhere with me at the last minute. But if someone does it rarely, I understand more. But when necessary, always remember that your well being should come first.

If your reason for bailing is legit, apologize and keep guilt out of it. Enjoy being able to do what’s best for you.

I remember the first time I actually allowed myself to cancel plans after a lifetime of living in a state of obligation. I was exhausted from an intense week and not sleeping well. I was meeting a friend for dinner. In the past, nothing would have mattered except that I had to show up. HAD TO! DoorMats have to have to! As I dreaded the thought of going out, I remembered I didn’t live in DoorMatville anymore. So I called and asked for a rain check, explaining I didn’t feel well. I wasn’t hit by lightening or cursed forever. Nor did I lose the friend. Instead, she said she understood and we rescheduled. I got to go to bed early so I felt better the next day.

I still remember getting into bed with my book and a cup of tea and smiling ear to ear with the joy of knowing it was okay to can plans I wasn’t up for.

The glow I had that first time was profound. No more obligations! Yes, I do want to honor plans I make when I can. But not at the expense of my health. Taking control of your time is a lovely gift for you. Don’t cancel lightly but cancel if it’s for your highest good. It’s okay! ?

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This is post 78 in my series on the Law of Attraction in Action. You CAN use your power to attract all that you need. I do it every day! Read the posts in this series to see how.

I hear the word attitude used in a variety of ways. I define it as your view of life, or yourself, or something specific, that reflects in the way you carry yourself and behave. You may think you’re coming across in one way but your attitude can betray your deeper feelings. It can send the right or wrong message to people, and to the Universe.

Your attitude helps to create the emotions needed to get the Law of Attraction to work for you the way you want it to. Or, it thwarts your desires.

I’ve seen attitudes that mask deeper feelings. An air of superiority can cover insecurity. Being overbearing in trying to make decisions for everyone can come from fear of not feeling in control. You may say you love everyone but your attitude can say differently if you ridicule people or put up walls when certain types of people interact with you. It’s especially important to be cognizant of your whole attitude when you want something specific.

Your attitude can set expectations, even if you want the opposite of it.

People who’ve been burned in a relationship say they want to meet someone good for them but, if their attitude towards men or women in general is negative—“Men can’t be trusted!” or “Women always use me for my money”—your message to the Universe is that you’re not ready for a relationship. I believe that attitude is a big reason that people don’t attract the kind of romantic partner they say they want.

An attitude based on past experience keeps you from manifesting the best you can in the present.

Your attitude can change from work to play. You may be happy in your personal life but believe you’re undervalued at work and it shows in your attitude, which can be defensive with those around you. If your attitude reflects feeling undervalued, that’s what you’ll attract! If you have a more friendly, open, positive attitude, more comes to you. You never know what’s going on beneath the surface of someone’s attitude, just as people can’t read your inner thoughts.

And the Universe picks up on your most blatant attitude.

A few years ago I had a client I’ll call Jay. He walked in to see me with a cocky attitude. He was good looking, in great shape and made good money. Jay bragged that with the odds of women to men in NYC he could get any woman he wanted. He was 37, had a really good game with women and his attitude screamed arrogant. His attitude toward women made me want to smack him. Each was a conquest that would fall for his lines and moves. As he got comfortable with me, Jay let his guard down and his insecurity came out.

His attitude masked fear that if he stopped acting like a player, he wouldn’t get women.

I asked if he’d ever been in love. “Not really” he said. While Jay had been with MANY dozens of women, the relationships had all been as shallow as his attitude. He admitted he did want to get into a meaningful relationship and didn’t know why he couldn’t attract a loving woman. He’d been with models, supersexed chicks, and other hotties. But not one had been sincerely affectionate or loving. Yes, he had fun. He thought he was happy. But as he saw friends in close relationships, he realized that everything he attracted was superficial.

While it can be helpful to fake confidence until it’s real, it should be on a positive, healthy level, not with phony intentions.

Jay couldn’t attract a real, positive, caring woman because his attitude reflected women as goals to conquer, not to love and be loved by. He thought he was happy with the women who looked gorgeous wearing tons of makeup, designer clothing and their own attitudes of being hot. As his walls fell during our sessions, we worked on how to change his attitude about women and his role with them. It took him some time but he’s now happily married with a baby on the way.

Earl Nightingale said, “A great attitude does much more than turn on the lights in our worlds; it seems to magically connect us to all sorts of serendipitous opportunities that were somehow absent before the change.”

Years ago a friend from a small town moved to NYC. He questioned me when I went up to Harlem by myself or walked home late at night. His attitude about NYC was that it’s easy to get mugged. I told him that wasn’t true but he walked around with an attitude that people were out to get him. He walked cautiously on the lookout for trouble. He wasn’t friendly in public. I wasn’t surprised that it took only 2 weeks in NY for him to be preyed on by a group of young punks.

I’ve walked home at 1AM from downtown alone yet this strong guy was jumped at 5:30 in the evening in a busy, normally safe neighborhood!

I walk in friendliness since I expect to be safe. My friend’s attitude reflected his nervousness. Fortunately he got away from the guys before they took his wallet. For him it was proof that NYC is a dangerous place. For me it showed how his attitude of walking around viewing everyone as a potential mugger got him mugged! I’ve lived here my whole life and never once had even a close call. I have a loving attitude about all people and feel safe no matter where I am. Of course I’m more alert late at night, but I don’t walk in fear like he did.

Do your best to match your attitude to the intentions you want to manifest.

Pay attention to your attitude in different life situations, and to life in general. What beliefs are reflected in it at work, with friends and family and about yourself? Determine if it’s consistent with what you want to attract or counterproductive for attracting what you want. Do you approach situations in a defensive way or with an openness to great possibilities attitude? Do you reflect preconceived notions based on past experiences? Or is your attitude one of “All is well and good things are coming?”

Change your attitude and attract more good!

When I felt like I wasn’t worthy of much my attitude reflected that and I didn’t get much. Now I know I deserve all the gifts that the Universe has to offer and my attitude is open to it all, with joy and gratitude. Do an attitude check and help yourself attract a lot more!

See all the Law of Attraction in Action Series..

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

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