It happens all the time—and you’re probably not even aware of it.
Or you are aware of it, but you’ve just accepted it as a way of life.
Your boss just assumes you’re going to work late, even though you already made plans. Your ex texts you, saying how sad he is, although you asked him to quit contacting you. Your adult daughter hangs up on you when she gets a call from a friend.
At this point in your life, after your divorce and as you work to move on, you may have just shrugged it off, accepting the fact that people are going to walk all over you, treat you like a doormat, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
But the time for being a doormat ends now.
So, if you’re tired of being treated like a doormat, there are ways to stand up for yourself and show the people in your life how to treat you with the respect you deserve.
But first, we gotta talk about some ugly truths. They’re hard to read, but we need to know them.
Ugly Truth #1: Many of us were conditioned to be “nice” and to not make a scene.
Many times in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood when we were taught to play nice, to be well-behaved, and to not make a big deal out of something, society was conditioning us to be okay with not having our voice heard. We were being conditioned, little by little, to accept the fact that people could walk all over us and take advantage of us. And we were being conditioned to think it was socially unacceptable or “bad” to voice our opinion that something was wrong, or if we didn’t like something.
And that being “nice” and being the “good girl” meant that we had our voices taken from us.
It’s infuriating, isn’t it?
Ugly Truth #2: Many of us were not raised to establish strong boundaries.
A result of being raised to be “nice” and not make a scene meant that plenty of people—whether it was your ex, your family, your kids, your friends, your coworkers—probably asked too much of you, intruded in personal business, or took advantage of you. And since we weren’t ever given the tools to say, “no,” or “I’m not comfortable with that decision,” you may not have learned how to establish strong boundaries for yourself. It was like the concept never even existed.
Healthy boundaries is a critical skill to establishing your confidence—but many of us were never taught that we had a right to boundaries and to say “no.”
Ugly Truth #3: We were taught by society that our needs didn’t matter.
Many of us have felt this insidious pressure to be the perfect partner. Even as early as elementary school, I remember teachers saying, “Well, you’re certainly a headstrong little girl, aren’t you? None of the boys will like you if you’re so stubborn and loud.”
This probably happened to you as well—whenever you voiced that something wasn’t fair, or if you got angry that you didn’t get what you wanted. But that constant failure to acknowledge the things you wanted, even when you were little, conditioned you to think that what you wanted—even what you needed—was never a priority. Which is why so many of us have a hard time advocating for ourselves. And then we blame ourselves for not knowing how to do it.
And it usually takes some life-shattering event like a divorce to wake us up.
But think of that divorce as a blessing in disguise, because now you’re presented with an opportunity to find your voice and reverse course on the disrespect.
I want you to take everything you’ve been taught about “not making a scene” and “being nice so that people don’t think you’re a witch” and throw it in the trash. Because your newest challenge is here.
Take the “Not a Doormat” Challenge.
The next time you sense that someone is about to walk all over you, do the following:
>> Ask yourself: Is doing this thing something I’m comfortable with? Is it something that inconveniences me?
>> Ask yourself: What’s in it for me?
>> If there’s nothing in it for you, don’t do it.
>> Remind yourself that your needs matter, too.
>> Communicate your boundaries.
>> Communicate your expectations moving forward.
As a heads-up, the people who treat you like a doormat may push back a little when you stand up for yourself. They may call you selfish or whine and say, “What’s wrong with you? Why are you acting like this?” When this reaction happens, remember that this negativity has nothing to do with you. This reaction is the manifestation of the fact that they cannot handle your new strength.
People who are worthy of your time and attention will adjust to you finding your voice. And if they cannot or will not, you don’t need them in your life. It’s as simple as that. And as you navigate the next chapter in your life, always remember:
You deserve better. You deserve to have your voice heard. You deserve to have your needs communicated. Your voice matters. You matter. And don’t let anybody try to convince you otherwise.
So, today, what steps will you take to find your voice and communicate that you will no longer be treated like a doormat?