Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Letting mistakes bring you down is a big happiness buster. When you make them a motivation to go forward, they bring more satisfaction to your world instead of making you feel like a loser for not doing things perfectly. Cut yourself slack and smile! This article originally appeared in Volume 2, Issue 4 of my free Self-Empowerment Quarterly newsletter. If you’d like to subscribe send your name, and city/state to

Making Your Mistakes Count
Brandi Chastain plays soccer. In 1999 she accidentally scored a goal in the wrong net. The other team got the point. This wasn’t just any old game. It was the quarterfinals for the Women’s World Cup. Did Brandi sulk and ask to get taken out of the game? No! Did she let it rattle her confidence? No! She let it motivate her to recover and persevere to tie the game, which the U.S. team won.

Lots of people saw Brandi’s mistake. It was a big deal. She could have let embarrassment deflate her and play on her nerves for other games. Because she didn’t, Brandi isn’t remembered for her blunder. Nine days later in the final game, she scored the goal that won the Cup. Brandi proved that mistakes don’t hurt you! You hurt you when you respond to them in ways that negatively affect what you do later.

Brandi says, “It’s what your do after the mistakes that counts.” You can deal with one and move on, or dwell on embarrassment and let it make you feel incompetent. Mistakes can teach you what you have to do differently, if you keep them in perspective and not let them make you question your competency or feel inadequate. You choose whether to let a goof hurt you or to cut yourself slack and get back on track. Become more conscious of your reaction to mistakes.

* Don’t insult yourself. If you keep referring to yourself as an idiot or stupid, you’ll eventually believe it. Don’t use words that you wouldn’t use on your best friend if she made a mistake. How often do you tell a friend, “You’re an idiot and should be punished?” Yet we call ourselves names and punish ourselves. Allow a kinder perception of what you did. You goofed, not screwed up. You’re silly, not an idiot or loser. Pay attention to your self-perception and choose a kinder outlook.

* Don’t blow what you did out of proportion. It’s common to magnify faults and drag out misery by rehashing what you did in your mind. It’s a mistake, not a sin! Don’t make it more than it is. If people say it’s no big deal, accept that it’s no big deal. It’s done—you can only do what’s necessary to be fix it, without making it a catastrophe.

* No more “should haves”! Saying “I should have…” makes you feel wrong. It does you no good to look back and think about how you wish you could change what you can’t change. Your mistake is over. Look ahead!

* Let it go quickly. Every day you hold onto guilt or blame or horror of a past action is another day you’re punished unnecessarily. That damages your spirit. Don’t hold yourself to a higher standard than your friends. You don’t punish them, so why punish you? List all your feelings – anger, inconvenience, embarrassment, etc. – read it aloud, and then burn it. That helps let it go.

* Forgive YOU. You can’t do this while beating yourself up. Forgive you for being human and imperfect. Until you forgive, you can’t let it go. Be loving to you!

* Learn to laugh at yourself. Don’t put yourself down but laugh when you goof up. Say oops if you forget something. Allow yourself to feel the humor instead of gritting teeth and feeling stupid. If you trip and fall with people watching, ask how many points you get. Learn to find humor in mistakes to lighten them.

* Remember that most people are supportive. Others don’t judge us nearly as harshly as we judge ourselves. They don’t want you to feel bad and aren’t gleeful if you do something wrong. Most mistakes aren’t important to others. And those who don’t feel bad for you won’t feel good for you when you succeed so who cares about them!

* Be open to reassurance from others. When people try to say nice things after you goof, do you scoff them off or minimize their kind words? Don’t! Everyone goofs and knows how lousy it feels so they want to make you feel better. Allow them to.

* Do affirmations to reassure yourself. ”I’m a winner.” “I’m not my mistakes and can do things well.” Saying affirmations helps heal bruised confidence and facilitates moving on. They also drown out negative thoughts since it’s hard to think both at once.

* Look for lessons and be more conscious / careful in the future. What can you do differently? If you didn’t prepare enough for a presentation, prepare more. If you goofed because you’re tired, try to rest more. And if it was an accident that you broke something or tripped, accept that accidents happen and you can only do your best.

Cut yourself slack if you fail your perfection standards! When you focus on imperfections, they become bigger than they are and distract you from good qualities. You can balance what you don’t have with your strengths.

Michael Jordan said, “I’ve missed over 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot…and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Don’t let mistakes take you out. Conquer them instead! Keep what you did in perspective. Ask yourself if it will matter ten, or even one year from now. The faster you let it go, the less damage to your confidence. Never forget that everyone makes mistakes – that’s being human. It’s how you let them affect you – or not – that counts. Make sure that your main perception is how terrific and talented you are!

Britney has looks, tons of money, enough talent by her fans standards to make more money, and two healthy kids. Seems like she has most of what she said she wanted. But she can’t buy respect, from others or from herself. And she’s doing everything she can to prevent herself from earning it. When the public begins to regard K Fed as the better parent for the Britney pups, you know she’d better start swimming upstream fast!

Too many young, hot stars jump into adulthood in the limelight of adulation and tons of money. The press and their fans put them on pedestals. People kiss their butts. They believe they’re all that. And their worlds revolve around what they wear, who they sleep with, and dodging the paparazzi who chase their superior derrieres. But arrogance doesn’t lead to self-respect. Nor does being inflated by media attention.

Britney may act all self-important, but her lack of self-respect is obvious. We tend to treat others the way we view ourselves under the layers of façade and attitude used for self-protection. When you love yourself, you’re much more likely to be loving to others. People with sincerely good self-esteem have much less or no need to demean others or do nasties. When you respect yourself, you’re much more likely to respect others.

Britney’s behavior shows her true self-image. She disrespected her appearance when she shaved her head. Her lack of self-respect endangers her kids. It doesn’t take much to know you don’t drive with a child on your lap, for any reason, or be so lax you almost drop one. Now she may lose custody of them. Brit pushes people who care away. She hires and fires based on mood. People with self-respect work things out, not cut everyone off. While no one is perfect, this has become Brit’s pattern.

The OK! magazine interview illustrated Brit’s lack of self-respect. The magazine went the distance to accommodate Brit by arranging the photo shoot, paying her a huge fee, and getting expensive designer clothing for her to wear. Did Brit show appreciation? Nahhh! Her actions—wiping greasy hands on a designer dress while her dog pooped on a Zac Posen gown valued at $6,700—reflected a lack of self-respect and self-love. She got grease and dog poop on her reputation. Does she think she’s much better than us? Not at all. She poses like that but her actions give the true picture. By disrespecting folks who try to help her, and the props like designer clothing, she expresses how little she respects herself. You can’t buy self-respect. It must be developed within.

People who love themselves don’t sabotage their careers or do blatantly stupid things that they know will cause a negative media frenzy. Young celeb types like Britney and Lindsay don’t learn to love themselves for who they are inside or look beyond getting love and attention from fans, and press attention. Their actions show what a superficial level of happiness they have—basing self-image on the accoutrements of being a celebrity. Money, expensive possessions and career success don’t translate to happiness. It begins inside and radiates out. The material stuff is just extras!

I’ve been happy even when I didn’t have much money, because I love me, not what I have. My compassion for Brit is deep. She had too much attention, too early in life to develop good self-esteem. Fame tainted her outlook. Everything focused on her image. I’m sure she’s a nice girl who truly wants to be a good mom and be happy. But she doesn’t know how. Nor can she doesn’t trust herself, so she doesn’t trust people who want to help her. That makes it hard to grow into a happy woman.

Meanwhile, many girls and young women look to Brit, et al, as examples of being cool. But they’re not cool. Britney is stone cold self-disrespectful. The grass on the other side may seem greener but some of these young stars in the public eye are hurting inside. Those who look to them as role models set themselves up to also have low self-esteem by valuing the external. Feel compassion for these young women who don’t know how to behave and self-destruct because of it. Envying their money and fame is also envying their dysfunctions and unhappiness. Happy in your own skin is much more fun!

I’m a recovering DoorMat. For years I let people walk all over me and take advantage of my People Pleasing nature. Those who know me today can’t believe that my self-esteem was in the toilet for many years. Now I’m a woman who travels the world makes her dreams come true. I’m the author of 8 popular books, with several more in the pipeline. I also publish 2 e-newsletters and do workshops and counseling to help men and women learn to empower themselves. While I’m not considered a young chickie and my body isn’t thin, I am VERY happy being me! That’s a far cry from the girl I used to be—feeling worthless, fat, and ugly for a majority of life—all because I wasn’t perfectly thin. Picture a tall girl with a few extra pounds, always smiling and saying yes to all requests because she desperately needed to be liked. That was moi!

When I was a guest on Oprah, she asked the audience which was more important—being liked or being respected? Almost everyone chose liked. One person after another described how much they do for others and affirmed that being liked was worth being inconvenienced by catering to others, spending money on gifts, giving loans that aren’t repaid, and more—to make people like them! Even guys admitted to making an effort to please. Oprah seemed amazed by the response. I wasn’t, because I used to be like them. Many of us were raised to give and give to be accepted.

I learned the importance of being liked early. Teachers gave Good Girls more. Acquiescence was extolled as a chick virtue. Since cute, smaller girls were most popular, being tall for my age made me feel big, which translated into seeing myself as fat, which I wasn’t. But at ten years old, not being small made me FEEL fat. Cellulite and frizzy hair defined my self-image and low self-esteem carried well into adulthood. Since being solo was torture, catering to other people’s needs, often at my own expense, insured having friends. Self-loathing made me do almost anything to buy company and immersed me deeper into DoorMat Syndrome. I remember how it hurt to be let down, over and over, by someone I’d been good to. Yet I took the beating and kept on ticking—and giving!

My forehead no longer says welcome
and I’m filled with self-love!

I am happy, sane, and conscious of taking care of me. That gives me a lot more energy to help others, unconditionally, without trying to buy anything but the pleasure of being a good person. I could still revert to my old DoorMat ways by succumbing to messages in the media and around me


but I don’t intend to go there! I’ve seen enough people who are thin, young and in a relationship who are far from happy. I wake up smiling every day since I found the love, joy, and satisfaction of self-acceptance. While many of you may disagree, I consider myself a very hot, sexy and special chick. And it’s what I think that matters!

This blog will explore many reasons, situations, stereotypes and ways of thinking that may hold you back from being more empowered. It will include tips for building confidence, getting taken more seriously at work and play, learning to say “no” in effective ways, increasing self-love and MUCH MORE. I’ll discuss things in the news, on TV and in the behavior of celebrities and every day people that illustrate or reinforce low self-esteem or healthy self-empowerment.

Some posts will have observations from real life that exemplify what many of us were taught and continue to live by that inhibit development of the strongest self-empowerment possible. There will be interviews with and guest articles by people I respect. We’re influenced by what we hear, read and see. I want to help alter perceptions of what’s important for a good self-image and find ways to feel more empowered and happy in your own skin. As a recovering DoorMat, I’ve been to both sides of the self-esteem dial:

* From being the People Pleasing go-to girl–thinking I was fat and ugly since I wasn’t as thin as the media dictated, and felt generally worthless beyond my ability to suck up to others because of it.

* To being a self-empowered chick who loves herself—despite not being as thin or young as today’s standards dictate to women. I no longer try to be—or lament not being—the flavor of the week extolled in the media.

I can attest that loving yourself in your own imperfect skin rocks!

I’m writing this for both sexes. Low self-empowerment isn’t just a girl thing. Men may not express insecurities the way some women do—but they have them too! I’m proud to say that half the subscribers to my Self-Empowerment Quarterly newsletter (subscribe by sending your name, city/state to are guys. My How to Please a Woman book is in its second edition because it did so well. So while people warn that men don’t care and I shouldn’t write for them, I continue to.

Some posts will address issues related to just men or women, but everyone can learn from them. Reading what I say to the opposite sex gives you insight into how they think and why they do things that might seem silly or downright annoying. Men actually write to say they learned a lot from reading my book All Men Are Jerks until Proven Otherwise (it’s NOT male bashing—I LOVE men!). Most pick it up as a joke; then write to say how informative they found it and shocked at what women needed to be told.

People don’t believe that with all the self-empowerment books, classes, and experts on TV that encourage building a good self-image, low self-esteem is rampant.

You know what they say about leading a horse to water but not being able to make him drink. Everyone wants to lose weight, get in better shape, make more money, look younger, be happier, yada, yada. And feel more self-empowered. But they often wish and wait in frustration. It would be nice to have wish fairies! Heck, I’d be abundant with wishes. But life isn’t a fairy tale and wishes only come true if you’re pro-active about achieving them.

Many folks are closet insecure people. You may play the role of being on top of your life well. But a good job, money, a trophy wife or wealthy husband, fame, houses, cars, etc. don’t make you feel good if you can’t feel good without them. Are you in denial about how truly happy you are? The media emphasizes qualities to strive for. On TV there are folks having fat sucked from their guts, girls getting boob jobs for their sixteenth birthday and fat people marching for prizes. Beauty and youth are extolled as virtues. Many “must haves” are unnatural/unhealthy. In a society of Botox, stomach stapli
ng, breast enlargements, and other appearance enhancing procedures, it’s hard to feel normal when you’re normal.
Standards that we’re told to chase for self-approval are unnatural!

We’ve stopped appreciating who we are in the pursuit of who we can be.

That makes it hard to be happy NOW. Been there, done that! I used to live in yearning. Now that I love myself, life is perpetual joy. Self-acceptance and love bring much more joy than chasing what the media says you need and should be. Please stick around and subscribe to my blog. It will have practical insight into an old problem that hasn’t gone away. You CAN find your way if you CHOOSE to! If this former tubby DoorMat now sexy, powerful chick could improve her self-image without losing weight or being completed by a man, anyone CAN!