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)

advice · Changes

Accepting Changes…and Changing What We Can

“God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me”. ~ Author Unknown

The wheels of change spin around and around and I have discovered, through the wisdom of my age, an age which I have no control over, that it is a pointless task to try and fight change.

Change is here to stay, whether we like it, or not.

But why would we want to fight change?

Glad you asked! 😉

Change offers us a smorgasbord of new experiences, different perspectives, a fresh new approach, new friends, different seasons, growth and wisdom.

So why are we at times reluctant to accept change? What are we so afraid of?

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” ~Anatole France

It is oh so easy to become so complacent with our circumstances as they currently are that we resist any occurrence of even the slightest change. There are times when resistance can bring stagnation, further leading to boredom with our life’s circumstances.

Subtle changes are prone to creep up on us when we least expect them.

Have you ever felt excitement at watching an old movie, or television show, a favourite ten years ago, only to be disappointed by the rerun? (But I used to love watching it!)

Or sat down at the table to enjoy a plate of your favourite food, the one you always asked your mum to cook for you when you were a teenager, but the taste just isn’t the same? (If mum had cooked it her way, it would have tasted better!)

How about that old jumper, your favourite for the last two winters. You drag it out from the back of the cupboard, in anticipation of the soft woolly fabric against your skin. But it’s gone hard, and worse still, it doesn’t fit right. (Who shrunk my favourite jumper?)

We can make excuses all we like. Or alternately, accept that change is taking place!

“There is no reason why the same man should like the same books at eighteen and forty-eight”. ~  Ezra Pound

I’ll admit it; I can be accused myself of being as guilty as the next, when it comes to resisting change. It’s not easy to change. It’s not easy when you are  forced to reassess a situation. It’s easier to take a look at what used to be, and continue with the old ways of doing things.

“Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him”. ~Dwight D. Eisenhower

Here in Australia, during the middle of summer, schools shut down for a month of summer holidays. It is the ideal time to take a break from work if you are able to, and to also take a step back from your life and reassess where you are heading.

The break away from the usual brings clarity of mind.

Questions arise ~

Am I happy with the circumstances of my life?

Do I wish to continue heading in the same direction I have been for the last year?

Are there circumstances, situations or people who I wish to continue along with me, as I prepare my journey into this next year?

Is there anything that I feel has outstayed its welcome in my life and it’s time to part company with it?

Can I change all of the things I wish to change?

Must I accept that some things in my life are here to stay, for a while longer at least?

“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it”. ~ Mary Engelbreit

They are your decisions to make. No other person can, or should, try to influence your decisions. It’s your life; your choices.

And just as surely, if people around you are also living through a process of change, you must accept the changes they have chosen for their lives.

The human mind is a powerful instrument. We should all endeavour to use this instrument to its best advantage.

“The birds are moulting.  If only man could moult also – his mind once a year its errors, his heart once a year its useless passions”. ~James Allen

As that metaphoric wheel of life continues to turn, we begin to realise that good can become bad just as easily as bad can become good. My aim for this year is to put in place the changes to bring about the good.

And if things aren’t turning out the way I had hoped for?

Why, I’ll make some more changes, of course! 😉

“After you’ve done a thing the same way for two years, look it over carefully.  After five years, look at it with suspicion.  And after ten years, throw it away and start all over”. ~ Alfred Edward Perlman, New York Times, 3 July 1958

(Photo from Google Images)

advice · challenges · Changes · freedom · gratitude · happiness · inspiration · vision

Sense and Sensibility ~ Part 1

After my husband and I first met, it didn’t take us too long to realise one striking difference between the way we each looked at life ~ which was…

His head ruled his heart,

while,

My heart ruled my head.

Over time, and convinced of the (false) belief that I would please those close to me, and most of all my husband, I made the effort to kiss my airy-fairy ways goodbye, lock away my gut-instincts, hunches and intuition and throw away the key.

“Reason” became my middle name. Everything simply had to be well thought through, the pro’s and con’s weighed up and carefully balanced, in fact, every action I took must have a reason for it, before being given the honour of materialising.

My newly found practicality, along with my down to earth attitude and conservative manner would bring beams of pride to all of those people who I held in high regard. Yes, it would…

Surely it would…It would, wouldn’t it?

Well, of course it did!

With my newly developed maturity and common sense, a certain standard was expected of me. And I aimed to please.

But every now and then, rarely actually, but just occasionally, I would make contact with kindred spirit, a dreamer of the highest standard, a gut-reactor who thought nothing of throwing caution to the wind. I would scramble around to find that discarded key, unlock my soul, and off I would go, reverting back to my flippant ways of times gone by.

It was during these so-called “moments of madness” that I would feel free and alive again, finding the strength again to move mountains and swim across the oceans. And all because my intuition told me so.

After much tut-tutting from those-who-knew-what-was-best-for-me, (and plenty of pouting on my part), I would make my return to the Land of Common Sense, unlocking the gates of wisdom with my reliable Key of Reason.

Did I manage to retain the stamp of approval, kindly bestowed on me by those who I held in high regard? Yes, I did. Everyone approved.

Everyone…except for me.

For many years I continued with this masquerade, pleasing the multitudes, whilst never pleasing myself. Saying yes, when I secretly held back the urge to say no.

Who knew I was living a lie, a life ruled by other people’s standards? No one. ‘Coz I always found a way to enjoy life, look on the positive side of every situation, skilfully navigating my way around the obstacles.

I didn’t just fool the people in my life; I was also fooling myself, by being something that I wasn’t.

Then something changed. That “something” changed absolutely everything. Hot on the tail of being “Ms Fix-It”, “The Whipping Post” and “Communal Door Mat”, I walked away, never to return. I turned my back on it all.

I came home, but not just home to my house, I came home to me.

My instincts had been screaming out to me, telling me that the place I went to every morning to work, where we (my husband and I) each operated our separate businesses from, was not the place where I should be spending my days.

While I had my own business and my husband an entirely different business, which we had worked at from the same premises for a number of years, the two businesses constantly overlapped. He made decisions and choices for my business and I always managed to get dragged, (screaming and kicking, I will add!) into his.

Packing up my bare essentials and moving my business home was a blessing to me. Throwing caution to the wind worked well for me. No amount of coercing changed my mind. With my heart back where it belonged, in its rightful place as The Guide to My Life, I have come of age.

Did I upset anyone by taking such a strong stance for my life? You betcha I did!

Was I ever swayed back into pleasing everyone but me? Never.

Did I care? Honestly ~ No.

Over the last three years my life has evolved into what I want it to be. New lessons have appeared in the most unexpected of places.

And all of these unexpected places have been cleverly disguised as The Simple Things in Life.

(Photo credit ~ alwayschallengeunhappiness.blogspot.com)

advice · basics · freedom · inspiration

Freely Writing a Plan of Action

Personal freedom is something I hold very dear to my heart, possibly due…no; make that probably, due to the lack thereof I have occasionally experienced throughout my life.

But then, isn’t that the way life is? Upon experiencing what it is you don’t want, what do want becomes blatantly obvious!

At my very own “Freedom Space” this month, over at The Calm Space I share my thoughts on taking appropriate actions in your life’s journey.

So why not head on over there now and say hi to the wonderful Káren Wallace while you’re there? Feel free to explore some of the other amazing articles in Káren’s online magazine. You can come back over here, to thank me for steering you in her direction, later. 😉

Oh, and don’t forget to breathe! Deep breaths…

I know, it sounds crazy, but someone just reminded me to keep the blood circulating by taking some big, deep breaths of cleansing air, and you know what? I feel much better for it!

Whatever it takes, to keep you in a tranquil, calm space. 🙂

advice · challenges · freedom · knowledge

“Which Part of the Word “NO” Don’t You Understand?”

Dependable. Reliable. Trustworthy.

Unruffled. Problem Solver. Innovative.

I’m sure It would be an accurate assumption if I were to proclaim that everyone appreciates having a person in their lives, who possesses the above qualities.

When you miss the last bus home ~ they pick you up.

Your car runs out of petrol ~ they offer their car keys.

You’re flat broke and can’t pay your bills ~ they find money to lend to you.

You know the person I’m talking about. Right along the scale of extremes, ranging from something as simple as buying you a carton of milk, right through to providing you with a roof over your head when you lose your home, they’re there for you.

As a confidant, no one can surpass them. Your secrets are as safe as if they were locked in a vault.

This person thinks nothing of offering you their shoulder to cry on, only to find themselves drowning in your rivers of tears.

No, you say, they won’t drown, they’re invincible, solid as a rock, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound…

But are they? How long can they tolerate being your whipping-post?

Just imagine this; what if one day, assuming as you do, that your back-drop will be there, patiently awaiting your latest life’s little drama, poised at the ready, waiting to run to you as you click your fingers. But they’re not available. What if they are busy, have commitments elsewhere, have an appointment. Worse still…

What if they say no?!

What would you do then? Think they were joking? Laugh it off? Try to persuade them that your life is more important than theirs? Your time is more valuable?

And they still say no.

What’s going on? This isn’t going according to the script. They must be on the wrong page. You explain to them the importance of your dilemma. Say please. Explain some more. Plead with them. Assume they will change their mind and get over their moment of insanity.

No, they further explain…it can’t be done.

Okay, you think to yourself, I understand. They’re having a bad day/don’t feel well/ran out of milk themselves. They’ll get over it. Right now. I need them to jump. According to my plan, this is where they ask me how high.

Hmm…here’s a thought, just out of the blue, thrown in from left-wing, just a random thought at that…What if they don’t have a problem? What if you are their only problem?

What part of NO don’t you understand? Is it the “N” you are can’t get your head around, or is it the “O”?

It’s time to look reality right in the face. You are responsible for yourself. No one else is. If someone offers an act of kindness, appreciate it, thank them, don’t take them for granted, value them.

That special someone in your life, the one with the heart of gold, is allowed to have a life of their own. They are entitled to make plans, showing no consideration to the likelihood of your impending latest life’s drama.

It’s well worthwhile to keep this simple thought in mind. When making a request to someone, the likely outcome can go two ways ~ they may say yes, or they may actually say no.

You asked the question, be prepared for either answer. With a dignified acceptance of the answer being no, your friend is more likely to say yes the next time, especially so if you thank them for their time, their assistance and their friendship.

You wouldn’t want that heart of gold to tarnish,  now would you?