Being treated like a doormat sucks.
It can happen for no apparent rhyme or reason; people using you, treating you like a dogsbody, walking all over you or not thinking about what you want or what’s best for you. The trouble is, the more it happens, the more you feel like you can’t change it; the more it happens the smaller you get.
Here are some practical ways that you can stop being treated like a doormat, and start being treated with respect.
1. Start With You
If someone else is devaluing you there’s a good chance that you’re doing the same thing, so change has to start with you. Be radically honest with yourself—do you feel like you deserve to be treated with respect? Do you feel worthy of respect and do you feel good enough to fit in?
Change starts with you dialing up your self-worth; something that can be started in the following ways:
a. Really give yourself credit for your achievements—all those things you’ve done and gone through in your life.
b. Get to know your values—those things that are woven through you and are the cornerstones for who you are.
c. Prioritise the nourishment of your body, mind, and heart—nobody else can keep you nourished and caring for yourself.
2. Start Teaching Others
One of the best things I heard from TV’s Dr Phil was “You teach people how to treat you“.
Your response to someone’s behaviour teaches them what is and isn’t acceptable, so if you roll over and take whatever they give, the message is that it’s okay for them to do that. And people will always do what works for them until they have evidence that it doesn’t work, or that there’s a better way. We’re kinda dumb like that.
If someone is regularly treating you like a doormat, their behaviour is not okay. Your task, and I get how scary this might seem, is to change your response to start giving them that message. This doesn’t have to be a big, dramatic showdown; it can be done gently and with the same respect that you want. You might be scared, but you know what you need to do.
As the famous line goes, help them help you.
3. Stop Being a Bottomless Pit
It’s great to do things for other people, unless the act of doing things for other people is how you get validation, of course.
Being a people-pleaser might begin with the best intentions, but if you’re not careul, you keep on doing so because you want to see how pleased they are with what you’ve done or even to hear those magic words: “Thank you”. Being a people-pleaser can turn you into a bottomless pit—that not only sees others take advantage of you, but seriously damages your self-esteem.
People-pleasing is not a selfless act; it’s a selfish one.
It’s a flawed way to feel good about yourself, so stop it. How can you be more generous with yourself? And how would it be if you could be generous for others, not because of any validation but because there’s value in the very act of giving?
4. Apply Confidence
If you’re used to people walking all over you, it’s likely that you’re not used to asserting yourself. You might even feel like you’re powerless, but I guarantee you that you have natural confidence that you can apply to start effecting change.
Think of something you do, where the question of whether you can do it or never arises. This might be doing something you do at home (like cooking a meal, laughing with your partner or decorating a room), it might be something at work (like taking part in a meeting, writing a report or seeing a way through a problem) or it might be something you do socially (like chatting with a friend, ordering wine at a restaurant or meeting someone new).
Natural confidence is being able to trust your behaviour with implicit faith in your abilities, so when you’re doing something, there’s no doubt about your ability to do it—you have full confidence. Applying that same sense of confidence to a new situation is what allows you to operate right at the edge or just out of your comfort zone, and this will feel uncomfortable.
That feeling of discomfort isn’t the enemy and it doesn’t mean you don’t have confidence, it just means you’re someplace new. Trust yourself to do what’s best.
5. You’re Not Alone
If your ill-treatment has been happening for some time you might be feeling isolated in your experience, so it can be extraordinarily useful and important to talk about it, or even to ask for some support or help. Other people are going through what you’re going through, and you don’t have to do this alone.
Asking someone you trust to talk about what’s happening is not only a great way to offload a little, it just might allow you to step back enough to see a fresh perspective or another way through. You don’t need anyone to fix things for you, so don’t let that be your motivation here—the point is to connect with another human being so that you’re supported through this.
Think about this way: if a good friend of yours was going through the same thing, wouldn’t you want to hear about it and support them in attaining something better?
6. Raise Your Expectations
An easy life is one thing, but sticking your head in the sand and hoping things will fix themselves is crazy—as is setting your expectations so low that you expect to be treated like a doormat. There’s a massive cost to lowering your expectations to that kind of level, and the act of lowering your expectations and accepting bad treatment can be more damaging in the long run that the bad treatment itself.
Don’t ever make assumptions about what you should put up with or what you should expect. If you’re going to have any expectations about how things should go, base them on what you’d love to see happen, not what you wish wasn’t happening.
7. If All Else Fails
If you’ve truly done all you can to change things and to stop being treated like a doormat and nothing seems to work, then get the hell out. Life is way too short to have your experience of it and your self-esteem damaged by someone else, and sometimes you need to make a brave choice.
If you need to, be willing to remove yourself from the situation or relationship and start building the kind of life you’d love to live.
You Deserve Better
You don’t need to “keep on keeping on”, and you don’t need to put up with being treated like a doormat.
You deserve better, so make a start.