While I'm going to speak about how being a "doormat" affects you during a divorce, this information applies to just about any situation, so keep reading!
First of all, what does being a "doormat" even mean? It's when you let other people treat you badly. It means that you let others take advantage of you. It means you're not standing up to defend yourself when you're being treated unfairly.
When you're in the middle of a divorce, the professionals you hire to help you should be treating you with the respect and consideration that you deserve - whether or not you're the monied party, whether or not you're the plaintiff in the proceeding, whether or not you're a professional, a tradesperson, or a day-laborer.
If you're a "doormat," your ex is not only aware of it, but s/he will use it as a tool against you to get what s/he wants.
One of the symptoms of being a doormat is to perform acts of kindness for others, but with strings attached. You expect a certain reaction or benefit from that act of kindness, which might be attention or approval - but then you resent it when you don't get the expected result.
I remember telling a partner once that I "slice myself open and spill my guts out for you, and you don't care." Classic doormat.
It's a huge manipulation. Doormat behavior often slides easily into victim behavior - which we use to manipulate others. "If you love me, I'll do all these nice things for you."
The next symptom is resentment. We start to resent doing any kind things for others, because it doesn't get appreciated, anyway. We'll begin to think the reason that people don't like us is that people in general don't like "nice."
So what does this have to do with our divorce?
When our need to be loved and the need for the approval from others interferes with advocating for ourselves, setting limits on the ex, and getting what we deserve in our divorce proceedings, it's time to stand up, shake off the dust, and learn that it's OK to sometimes not be "nice."
That doesn't mean we should become crazy, irrational, screaming mimis! It means that we can be calm, self-confident, self-assured, and ask for what we want and need - as well as set limits when others treat us with less respect than we deserve.
The "doormat" personality usually arises from a lack of self-worth and self-love. An easy way to start building a sense of self esteem is to use this life mantra:
"I'm a bad-ass because..."
Maybe you're a bad-ass because you got the kids on the bus on time, you finished a report for your boss early, or remembered to pick up milk on the way home.
You might also be a bad-ass because you asked your attorney to explain something you didn't understand, took the time to assemble papers you need for your accountant, or told your ex that, "No, it's YOUR turn to have the kids the weekend, and they miss you."
Use the mantra every time you do something "good," no matter how small.
Another thing you can do to shake off the "doormat" mentality is to perform random acts of kindness without expecting any reward or recognition. Do anonymous nice things for others. Notice how it feels. Then tell yourself, "I'm a bad-ass for doing something truly kind!"
This is just one of the ways you can change a "doormat" mentality. Get life mantras to help you get through the tough days in one piece here:
Susan Petang is a Certified Life Coach, teaching women how to stop letting divorce overwhelm them, and start waking up happy in the morning again.