Imagine living your whole life never realizing that you’ve let people walk all over you, and you’ve given so much of yourself that you no longer recognize anything about the person you’ve become.
When I realized I had been letting people wipe their feet on me, I was understandably upset. I always thought of myself as strong and independent. I thought I stood up for myself and didn’t take shit from anyone. I thought I was the type of person that people didn’t mess with because I don’t suffer fools.
I couldn’t have been more wrong about anything.
If you see yourself in me and everybody uses and abuses you, isn’t it time to change? I changed when I realized that people didn’t always have my best interest in mind. They only thought of themselves.
It sounds harsh, but if you want to get anywhere in life, you have to look out for number one.
Doormat, meet door…
My parents taught me how to look out for myself from a very young age. They knew the world wouldn’t always be kind, and they did their best to prepare me for the eventual shit sandwich that adult life serves up.
My parents did a wonderful job.
It wasn’t until later that I started thinking more about others’ wants and needs. I often sacrificed myself to make everyone around me happy. And, many people were like hungry sharks. When they saw blood in the water, they devoured me.
I can’t remember one boss during my corporate life that wasn’t self-serving. It didn’t matter that I was working 18-hour days to finish unrealistic projects they promised would get done quickly. And not one of them failed to take all the credit for my hard work when the time came to pat someone on the back for a job well done.
I won’t name names, because that’s not what this story is about. Part of my new outlook on life is to stop caring about what happened in the past. I knew I had to quit ruminating on the bad things in my earlier life before I could make progress toward my future.
How to get off the floor and look out for yourself
I’ve changed my life in so many ways. Before, I let people do what they wanted to me. The more it happened, the smaller I felt. My confidence suffered, and I was unhappy.
Now, I have confidence to spare. I still do nice things for people, but I look out for myself first.
But, let’s not make this about me anymore.
How do you make the change?
- Start with yourself! There is a passage in the bible that I find interesting (Yes, I know it’s full of fables, but there are some universal morality lessons that are worthwhile). It says to remove the rafter in your own eye before you attempt to pull the sliver from your brother’s eye. If people are walking all over you, there is a 100% chance you are doing it as well! Change the way you think and act before you try to change some else’s behavior.
- If you want people to treat you differently, show them how to treat you. They may not realize they are doing anything wrong. They may become defensive, so be kind and empathetic. Tell them exactly how you feel valued and hold them accountable for everything.
- Stop being a people-pleaser. If you get validation from pleasing others, you may never get what you need in life. Start with yourself by thinking of yourself first. Sound selfish? Maybe. But it doesn’t mean you have to always do everything for yourself first. Make sure you think of yourself first and weigh the options before you commit to doing anything.
- Build your confidence. You are likely not used to telling people what you want or how you feel, so show confidence and assert yourself! You won’t suddenly get confidence if you never had it before. You have to build it up over time. Practice.
- Raise your expectations! You’ve been settling for the shitty end of the stick for too long. It’s time you expected more from your friends and family. It’s time to stop letting your boss treat you like a trashcan. Stop letting your significant other have their way all the time! Don’t do it because it’s easier than hearing them nag you to tears. Expect better!
Stop! What? Stop? Yes, all you have to do when you feel weak and tempted to lie down in front of the door is stop. Why make it hard? Put your foot down! Sure, you may piss off a few people, but they will get over it. The people who are thinking about you and your needs will understand and help you in any way they can.
I want your favorite word to become “NO!” Why is everyone so afraid to say no? Just do it!
“Hey, Jason. I know you are busy, but can you write a 6000-word article on thumbtacks by tomorrow morning?”
“No, Gladys, I won’t.”
“Honey, I know you already washed them, and I know you worked 12 hours, but the glasses have streaks. Can you wash them again?”
“No babe. They are clean. If you don’t like streaks, YOU can wash them again.”
Stop being a doormat and start doing everything with confidence.
Thanks for sticking with me on this one. I’m not super comfortable giving advice, but this is something that has been weighing on my mind for some time. I saw what being a people-pleaser did to me, and I see so many other people complaining on social media about the same things I overcame.
I wish I could say I was perfect 100% of the time when it comes to giving too much, but I still treat my wife like a princess and shallow my pride sometimes. I still coddle my daughter and let her get her way ocasionally.
I don’t have a boss anymore, and except for the times I have clients to please, I pretty much set my own course.
It’s a process, so don’t expect to change things overnight unless you want to lose everyone you love in your life. Take it slow and start setting rules. But, remember — eventually you have to put your foot down!
If you don’t want to be a doormat, you have to pick yourself up, shake yourself off, and take control of your life.