I didn’t just dip my toe into the occasional doormat situation; I was a serial doormat addict who seethed with anger on the inside while smiling sweetly on the outside. I was almost proud to be a doormat, because it made me feel like a nice girl.
So why is the doormat syndrome so common, particularly with women?
One issue is that we often fail to place sufficient value on ourselves or on our talents. In addition, we are often unclear of our basic human needs or the fact that it is perfectly acceptable to let people take responsibility for their own problems.
A recent UK survey (The Priory Group) showed that women often feel the need to please others more strongly than they please themselves. The research went on to say that, as women, we can be “self-critical“, prepared to accept that the fault in a dispute is always ours; deeply concerned by what others feel about us, lest we rock the boat; reluctant to express our own views, just in case someone else might disagree… if we think it will keepthem happy”.
So what is the price of being a doormat and what can we do to prevent catching this infectious disease?
In reality, the costs of being a doormat can be high and can ultimately result in a loss of self respect and personal integrity, and failing to look after your own emotional wellbeing.
In addition, every time we fail to speak up for ourselves or we put our own needs behind those of other people, we send out a message that says, “I am unimportant. My feelings do not matter. What other people want is far more important than what I want.”
Making a decision to stop being a doormat does come with a few challenges.
The most common reaction is being on an uncomfortable feeling that sneaks up on you after you begin to stand up for yourself. At this point, many people give in to those uncomfortable feelings and return to their more familiar way of living. But don’t fear feeling uncomfortable, because it signals positive changes. We all want a peaceful life but please don’t fool yourself that being treated like a doormat is a way to reduce stress and anxiety.
Take the challenge
So if you are up for the challenge, try some of these tips, which will start sending out the much-improved message of, “I am valuable and I care about myself and my own needs. I am important.”
Value yourself more. If you believe that you deserve to be treated badly, you will be. Write a list of all your talents and start to recognise how valuable you really are.
Give up the need to be liked. If people don’t like you, that is their problem. Wayne Dyer said, “It is none of my business what you think of me”.
Stop trying to please everyone. I t is perfectly OK to do things for others but not at the cost of your own self-esteem. If you start feeling resentful towards someone, that’s a sure sign that you have overstepped your own boundaries.
Notice when you hold back from speaking up and swallow your words. Then start to practise stating how you really feel. Start small first and set yourself a target of doing this at least twice a week. Praise yourself every time you do it, and remember – feeling uncomfortable is a good thing.
Accept that people may not like it at first and may get angry with you. This isn’t your fault. Remind yourself that their reaction does not make you a bad person. Stick to your guns.
Despite how scary it may feel, you do have the right to be treated with respect and you do have the ability within you to assert yourself. With a little practice, it will be a – farewell doormat, hello empowerment!
Lisa Phillips is a business and life coach based in Sydney. She features regularly on TV and radio, and is the author of two books. Her mission is to make you feel great about yourself. She is also a dynamic trainer and speaker. For more information go to www.amazingcoaching.com.au or www.howtoempoweryourstaff.com.au