Being treated like a doormat stinks.
People can use you, treat you like a dog, walk all over you, or not think about what you want or what is best for you for no apparent reason. The problem is that the more it occurs, the more powerless you feel to change it; the more it occurs, the smaller you become.
Here are some concrete steps you can take to stop being treated as a doormat and begin to be treated with dignity.
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1. Begin with yourself
If someone else is undervaluing you, chances are you are as well, so change must begin with you. Be brutally honest with yourself: do you believe you are deserving of dignity? Do you think you're worthy of respect and that you're good enough to fit in?
Change starts with you increasing your self-worth, which you can do in the following ways:
a. Give yourself full credit for your achievements—everything you've done and been through in your life.
b. Discover your values—those threads that run through you and form the foundation of who you are.
c. Prioritize your body, mind, and heart—no one else can keep you nourished and cared for.
2. Begin instructing others
“You teach people how to treat you,” said Dr. Phil, in one of the best quotes I've ever heard.
That is precisely correct.
Your reaction to someone's behavior teaches them what is and isn't acceptable, so if you roll over and accept whatever they offer, they get the message that it's okay for them to do so. And people will always do what works for them until they see evidence that it doesn't or that there is a better way. We're like that because we're stupid.
It is not acceptable for someone to treat you on a regular basis like a doormat. Your task, and I understand how frightening it may appear, is to change your response in order to begin sending them that message. This does not have to be a big, dramatic confrontation; it can be handled gently and respectfully. You may be terrified, but you know what must be done.
“Help them help you,” as the old adage goes.
3. Quit behaving like a bottomless pit
It's wonderful to do things for other people, unless doing things for other people is how you get validated.
People-pleasing may begin with the best of intentions, but if you're not careful, you'll find yourself doing it again and again because you want to see how pleased they are with what you've done or even hear those magic words: “Thank you.” Being a people-pleaser can lead to a bottomless pit in which others take advantage of you and your self-esteem suffers.
People-pleasing is a selfish, rather than a selfless, act.
Give it up because it's a flawed way of feeling good about yourself. What can you do to be kinder to yourself? And how would you feel if you could be generous to others without seeking validation, simply because the act of giving has value?
4. Make use of self-assurance
You're probably not used to asserting yourself if you're used to people walking all over you. You may even feel powerless, but I assure you that you have innate confidence that you can use to initiate change.
Consider something you do that raises the question of whether or not you can do it. This could be something you do at home (like cooking a meal, laughing with your partner, or decorating a room), something you do at work (like attending a meeting, writing a report, or solving a problem), or something you do socially (like chatting with a friend, ordering wine at a restaurant or meeting someone new).
Natural confidence is the ability to trust your actions with implicit faith in your abilities, so that when you're doing something, you have complete confidence in your ability to do it. Applying that same level of confidence to a new situation allows you to operate right on the edge, or just outside of your comfort zone, which will feel unsettling.
That feeling of unease is not the enemy, nor does it indicate a lack of confidence; it simply indicates that you are in a new environment. Believe in your ability to make the best decisions for yourself.
5. You're Not Alone
If you have been subjected to ill-treatment for an extended period of time, you may feel isolated in your experience; therefore, talking about it, or even asking for support or assistance, can be extremely beneficial and important. There are others who are going through the same thing you are, and you do not have to go through it alone.
Asking someone you trust to talk about what's going on is not only a great way to get some things off your chest, but it may also allow you to take a step back long enough to see a new perspective or another way out. You don't need anyone to solve your problems, so don't let that be your motivation here—the point is to connect with another human being so that you can be supported.
Consider this: if a good friend of yours was going through the same thing, wouldn't you want to know about it so you could help them?
6. Raise Your Expectations
A simple life is one thing, but burying your head in the sand and expecting things to improve magically is insane—as is expecting to be treated like a doormat. Lowering your expectations to that level comes at a high cost, and the act of lowering your expectations and accepting bad treatment can be more damaging than the bad treatment itself in the long run.
Never, ever make assumptions about what you should expect or put up with. If you're going to have expectations about how things should go, make them about what you want to see happen rather than what you don't want to happen.
7. In the Event That Everything Else Fails
If you've tried everything to make things better and stop being treated like a doormat and nothing seems to be working, it's time to go. Life is far too short to let someone else ruin your enjoyment of it and your self-esteem, and sometimes you have to make a courageous decision.
Be willing to remove yourself from the situation or relationship if necessary, and start building the life you want to live.
8. Better is Deserved of You
You don't have to “keep going,” and you don't have to accept being treated as a doormat.
You deserve better, so get started right away.
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