I am often struck by how many women are pleasers or doormats. Pleasers are afraid of conflict, so they try to avoid it at all costs. Pleasers don't stand up for themselves, what they need or want, in order to keep the harmony. It often comes at a high price. Doormats lay down and allow people to walk on them. I don't recommend either.
As women, we are raised and socialized to reflect the feminine archetype: nurturing, kind, comforting, and compassionate. While all of these qualities are very valuable, I see women get hurt all the time in business and in personal relationships by not speaking up enough. It's almost like some of our greatest strengths can cause us great harm if they aren't balanced with assertiveness, honesty, self-respect, and the ability to say our own truth when we need to.
A respectful relationship with a partner requires that you BOTH respect and listen deeply to the other person's feelings, viewpoint and expressed needs. Keeping the peace and withholding your own needs can make you sad, depressed, angry, hurt, lonely, overeat, overuse alcohol, and hold resentment. It can grow to feel like you are in the wrong relationship. The relationship may be peaceful, but you might feel dead inside. I rarely run into either men or women who are glad they picked this route to happiness.
In your relationship with your child or children, you also need to be an active parent and not use a doormat style of parenting. You are not your child's friend. You are the parent. You need to be loving, but also have reasonable and consistent limits. You must be brave enough to speak up and take action, whether your child has a learning disability, a bad attitude, is sinking academically, not making developmental passages, or is possibly drinking or using drugs. Peace at all costs is a poor plan for parenting your child successfully and into launching towards adulthood.
The workplace is another area of your life where you need limits and boundaries as well as a good work ethic. You are not volunteering at work. You need to have your time respected. You need to not be codependent with being yelled at, taken advantage of, or mistreated in the workplace as well. You need to think of yourself as a professional, act for the job you ultimately want, and command respect.
How can you avoid becoming a pleaser or doormat?
1. Don't automatically say yes to everything you are asked to do by others.
2. Realize there is power in being able to say no. It makes your yes more meaningful.
3.Consider your own needs as well as those of others.
4. Remember that you are responsible for teaching other people how you want to be treated.
5. Have limits. There are some behaviors that you NEVER have to accept from other people, including: screaming, yelling, physical threats or violence, verbal abuse, swearing, bullying, intimidation, etc.
6. Don't dish out or accept disrespectful behavior. Mutual respect is the keystone of all healthy relationships.
7. Speak up.
8. Be direct.
9. Don't hang out and stay in relationships that dishonor you or in which you are being treated badly. Get professional counseling.
10. Set your boundaries and enforce them consistently and calmly.
There is value to being a nurturer and caring deeply about others. For people who learned growing up to be pleasers, such as people who grew up in an alcoholic home, it's critically important to grow strong enough to balance your compassion for others with your concern for yourself. You matter, too.
Just because you want to be loved or cared for by others, it's not fair to you to make everyone else's needs or keeping the peace a higher value than your own self-respect. Don't be a doormat; you deserve better, but you need to act as if you do.
While we're at it, let's update the feminine archetype as well, to a woman who is loving and kind but not a martyr or self-sacrificial. The feminine ideal needs to be both gentle and strong, loving but also having limits.