advice · Changes · daughter

Saying Goodbye to “The Doormat Syndrome”

Over the last couple of weeks I have had some extremely interesting conversations with my eldest daughter.

That statement could sound misleading, as if we don’t usually have interesting conversations, but we do! Constantly!

The difference with recent conversations is how simple they have been, and spontaneous, and significant.

A regular topic of conversation between us, which began around the middle of last year, has been “change”.

Changes we both wish to make in our lives, with each of us having different purposes for the desired changes, and discussing what actions we would take to bring these changes about.

Some of the changes we have made have been joint ventures, most have been independent of each other.

And I have learned something  ~ Old habits are hard to break.

With being, um, significantly older than my daughter (naturally!) I have become a bit, shall we say, set in my ways?

My daughter may use other more descriptive words, e.g. boring, predictable, even stupid!

Yes, stupid. It may sound harsh, but true. Thank goodness I have my daughter to point out my shortcomings to me!

I’m a creature of habit in many ways. There are regular tasks I carry out and many responses I make to situations, which I’ll admit to making on “auto-pilot”. I am so stuck in my ways and have acted and responded to things in such a habitual way, over so many years, that I don’t even realise I am doing it!

It’s the little things I’ve been stuck in a rut over.

  • Changing my own plans to fit in with other people.
  • Eating food that I would prefer not to, because that’s what everyone else wants to eat.
  • Doing all of the household chores myself, because no one else has the time.

Why does this happen?

I make myself available, I’m predictable. People know they can rely on me.

Why do I allow this to happen?

I like to see the people I care about being happy. And it also prevents arguments and confrontations.

Are there any winners here?

Everyone, except me.

Oh sure, there are many times when I willingly do things for others. My problem has been that I’ve taken helping others to the extreme, I say “yes” to everything, without giving it a second thought.

It becomes a problem when you are taken for granted. I believe a common term for what I am talking about is, “being treated as if you were a doormat”.

When the realisation of the err of your ways strikes, and you start to change your standard response from always being “yes” to sometimes being “no” it can be a shock to those close to you.

Is it possible to change this situation?

The good news is that when those close to you realise that you really mean it when you say “no” to their trivial and selfish requests, they learn to accept the changes.

A new kind of respect takes over and your own self-worth improves.

The doormat syndrome is transformed into a win-win situation; you are respected more by others, plus you feel a strong dose of self-respect developing within yourself.

Here I was, patting myself on the back for the constant focus I had been putting upon the changes I wished to make. Like all new habits, they do require attention until they become second nature.

I was seeing results. The changes I wished to see were actually occurring.

It wasn’t until my daughter pointed out some of the minor “old habits” I had been unknowingly clinging hold of, that reality took hold.

Anyone can change.

If it is possible for me to enforce the changes I want to see in my life, then anyone can do it. I can highly recommend having someone who you trust keeping a watch out for those old stick-in-the-mud ways which are so hard to break. Someone who can say to you, “that’s the old you, you can say no”, just as my daughter has been doing for me.

(Photo from Google Images)

4 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye to “The Doormat Syndrome”

  1. Good for you Joanne, change is hard but it’ll be nice not to be a door mat.
    By the way, I highly recommend getting a cleaner to come in once a fortnight to help with the chores. I don’t do it now- it’s just me, but it’s worth every penny.


    1. Josie, what a great idea! I used to have cleaners when my children were much younger. They moved away from the area and I didn’t replace them. I had an ironing lady way back then as well. Thank you for the reminder and for dropping by. 🙂


    1. Yes, it’s hard to say no, Robin, but I do follow the no with an explanation as to why I have said it. They are all getting their collective heads around the changes, slowly but surely.


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