#125: How to Say No–Don’t Be a Doormat

If you feel like others ask too much of you, take advantage of you, or just don’t respond in ways that you expect, today’s episode “Don’t be a doormat” will help you learn how to say “no.”

This is episode 125. Welcome to the Mindset for Life Podcast. This podcast is for you, if you love, serve, teach and lead others. You want things to keep getting better. You want encouragement. And just one little idea today to get stronger in your life, your relationships or your work. I help people take control of their current situation, and have power to do what they need to do in the future as well. Welcome to the Mindset for Life podcast.

This is your host, Dr. Bethanie Hansen. And I’m on this journey with you every step of the way.

Thanks for being with me here today. I’m excited to be with you on the Mindset for Life podcast. I love podcasting, because we’re talking about some ideas. And all of these ideas can fuel your life satisfaction and happiness.

Happiness, of course, is not something we can feel 100% of the time. It also depends on how you define your own personal happiness. But it’s something most of us think we’re pursuing in life, right? It’s that state of being in a positive emotional space, being more successful than we have been in the past, continuing to grow, connect with other people. And all of those things.

The topic today is addressing a statement one of my coach clients said to me, and perhaps you’ve thought this in your own life at a time or another. And it is this statement: “I don’t want to be a doormat.”

When my client said this, to me, there was a whole story behind it, which I’m not going to share, because that’s the privacy my clients get from me. But that statement, “I don’t want to be a doormat,” what does that mean to you?

Have you ever thought something like that? Well, when I think about that statement, I’m noticing a couple of things. First of all, when a person feels like a doormat, it means other people are expecting a lot or getting a lot from that person. Without Limits. It could also be a bit of disrespect or lack of appreciation that the person is getting. And it could be something about boundaries.

So if a person is feeling like a doormat, they’re saying yes to a lot of things, and not really happy about that. Not satisfied with that.

If you’re saying yes to a lot of things, and you wish you were not saying yes to a lot of things, or you wish you got a better payback when you say yes, like the appreciation and respect that you expect from other people, it’s really helpful to be thinking about what you want to do in terms of getting what you want in situations in the circumstances, in the way you think and feel about yourself and in your relationships. So today, we’re going to talk about how not to be a doormat.

If you’ve thought this ever, this episode is going to be for you, it’s going to be very helpful to you in thinking differently about situations and in deciding what you’re going to do next.

So the first thing I want to just approach is the “Gain” section of the framework I’ve been using with my coach clients. Gain is all about getting the skills and knowledge you lack. Now, if you feel like you just don’t know how to navigate situations where you feel like a doormat, you don’t know why it’s happening to you, and you want something to change, it’s possible that there are some skills and knowledge to be gained. That you can use in the future when these situations come back to you.

Probably, it’s something that’s repeated in your life or your work or both, if you’re experiencing it, and it’s so painful, right? When somebody feels like a doormat, we feel like we’re being used. We feel like we’re just not giving value because we’re not being noticed. And yet we’re working really hard to give that value, and to give things to people in our lives and our relationships and our work.

It’s just super painful to feel on the deficit and other things, especially when you’re putting so much into it. So the first thing would be to gain the knowledge and skills that are missing to help you navigate that.

Learn to say NO.

One of the skills that I would like to share with you today that I think would be especially helpful is to be able to say no to things. Can you believe that you might start saying no to things that you used to say yes to?

That’s really hard to do, right? I can tell you in my own life that I used to be a person that volunteered for everything. I wanted to do everything because I wanted to connect with people so much. I’m an extrovert. I love to be with people. So I would volunteer for everything to get really involved.

But what happens when we volunteer for everything? When we get involved in just about every thing that comes along, we are purposely exhausting ourselves. We don’t have the time and energy to do that, we don’t have the ability to follow through as completely as we want to. Then we try to do even more to make up for that.

So the skill of being able to say no is something that has to be mastered for a person who’s doing what I was doing.

Decide what really matters to you.

So that skill starts with deciding what really does matter most to you.

What does matter in your life?

What does matter in your work?

Now, if it’s the workplace, I could sit down and look at my role, right? Is it my role to do certain things? In my role, what is the basic core requirement of the work I’m supposed to be doing? In a lot of professional roles, you can actually make that up, I mean, job crafting.

You can decide how you’re going to carry out your role, what the timeline is, who you’ll work with, and how to engage in a lot of things.

Now teachers know this, right? Because even though you have lessons to deliver and topics to teach your students, you get to decide the how, what the pacing is, to some degree. And in what way you’re going to engage those students. You also get to decide a lot about how you run your classes, your courses, whatever pacing you’re going to have, there’s so much about that you get to decide.

If you’re a manager, you also get to decide what the pacing is, have your team conversations, or your one on one conversations. Or if you have any conversations like that, whether you have team meetings, what kind how often how they’re run, how they’re focused, you might think some of these things are a given, like everybody does it the same way.

But that’s just not true. You get to make all of those decisions. But the core of your job description includes certain required elements. I know in my own job, there are a few non negotiables. If I do those core items that are essential to my work, then I get to decide outside of those core things what else I will do, how I will do it and all of those things.

But if I don’t do those basic core things, then I’m in real trouble. And I have problems. And saying yes to other things will actually prevent me from doing the core elements of the job.

So that’s the first thing that I would suggest is to learn, or decide what is the most important thing in your work. And if it’s at home, in your personal life, where you’re feeling like a doormat. There are probably people you’ve had relationships with for a long time. Maybe these people have certain expectations of you, or certain assumptions of you. If you’re going to start saying no in these areas, you want to decide what your core value is.

Decide what your core values are.

What matters most to you? For example, if you have adult children living with you, you might want to stop doing as much for them and gradually give them the space to do all those things for themselves. If that’s the case, then the value driving that is this desire to help your children be independent adults. And that would be the thing that could come into your mind every time you’re thinking, “I need to say no right now, because I care so much about their future. And it’s hard to say no, but I’m gonna do it.”

That happened to me just the other day when my adult son living with me asked me if he could borrow my car. He does have his own car. He did not want to drive his own car for a couple of different reasons I won’t get into right now. Just asked me, was I going to go anywhere today? Could he borrow my car? I chose to say no to that. Even though sometimes I have said yes for different reasons. And I said no, I’m not going to be able to loan you my car today.

I don’t need to explain that. I don’t need to have 10 reasons that I’m going to tell that person about that. They’ll argue with me. I can just say no. And in my mind, I’m thinking, “Because I want you to be more independent.”

So I have to remind myself and then deliver it with love and care and concern and move forward. I don’t have to have reasons or excuses or anything that I say, “No, not today.” That’s enough.

Look for evidence that you’re on track.

Now, in saying no to people, gaining this skill, we want to find some resonance like what feels right to us. At first, it’s not going to feel right to say no, because we’ve been saying yes so many times. And often that is what invites others to expect so much from us that we feel like a doormat.

So we need to find that space where, because it’s in the job description or not, or because it’s one of our values or it’s not our value Are you to go down that path, we’re going to be able to notice that it’s gonna feel right to us on some level. And grab on to that feeling until pretty soon it feels more natural, feels more comfortable. And you’re going to feel better and better navigating the “yeses” and “noes” in your life and in your work.

Stop trying to please others.

Second thing is to stop trying to please others, including your boss, including your spouse, including your child, whoever it is, in your life, you’re trying to please by saying yes so much. And yet you’re getting no satisfaction out of that. And it really isn’t pleasing them. Stop doing that.

It feels good to try to please others. But when we are people pleasing, we’re generally expecting something back. We’re not pleasing other people, if they’re unhappy with what we end up doing. And a lot of times, our boss, our spouse or child, they’re not going to be pleased by what we’re doing, even though we’re saying yes, we’re trying to do what they want. There’s no, there’s no appreciation there.

There’s no prize at the end, and we’re noticing, “Wait a minute. I thought I was gonna get more respect. I thought I was going to get better pay. I thought I was going to have more time with this person.”

Whatever it is, we’re not going to get that thing. Because actually, it’s not a bartering system when we say yes to things. We’re assuming something else is coming back, but the reality is, nothing else is going to come back.

So if you would say yes, anyway, if you never ever get recognized or appreciated or valued for it, go ahead and say yes.

But if you’re expecting those things, then it’s time to actually consider saying no, and having courage to say no without explaining.

After gaining a new skill, grow it.

Now, the last thing I just want to say about this is we’ve stayed in the “Gain” section of my framework with you today, just talking about saying no as a path to not feeling like a doormat. But there are other things that we can do to not feel like a doormat anymore, if we’re in that space. The second part of my framework is the “Grow” section.

So if there are things we have to do all the time that are those very things making us feel like we’re a doormat to other people, like we have to do all this stuff or be all of this, we can grow the inner thoughts to value those things we are doing.

It’s your job to like you.

I heard a great coach once say that it’s not my job to like you, it’s your job to like you. At the time, I thought, well, that is kind of weird, isn’t it? Like, we should like each other. But no, actually, she was right. We have to like ourselves enough. We have to respect ourselves enough. And when we’re doing those things, we’re actually teaching other people how to treat us. How to think about us how to see us.

If we wait for someone else to give us the love, respect, appreciation or anything like that, and we kind of have this emptiness inside waiting for that to feed us. We’re totally dependent on someone or something outside of us for the feelings of happiness and satisfaction we crave.

The truth is that we can decide to like ourselves, we can decide to enjoy the many things we’re doing for other people. Instead of seeing them controlling us and feeling like a doormat, we have absolute choice in what we do. And we also have the absolute choice in what we think about it.

Now whether or not you believe in this concept, I do firmly, that the thoughts we think create our reality. The more we think about why we’re doing things for others, how we’re doing them, what our motivation is, and the more we consciously choose to give it as a gift with no strings attached, the more we’re going to enjoy the things we’re doing. And the less we’re going to feel like that doormat.

Go forward, and intentionally do good works with a loving heart.

And lastly, the last section of my framework is the “Go.” So if you’re going to start doing something intentionally and putting something inspirational out into the world, and really investing in your direction, whether it’s a relationship you’re in, or the work you do outside of the home or inside the home, if you work from home, or maybe it’s even a hobby, whatever it is that you’re building in your life, consider how you might be able to do that with a heart filled with love, and a spirit of inspiring through the creation of what you’re doing.

This is the section of life where we’re giving back to others and we can do this at any age. We can be young or old. We can be working from home or out in the career field or we could be a stay at home parent.

Whatever it is we’re doing, when we’re seeking to give freely, then we’re able to do those things that we want to do with a spirit of love behind it.

So I hope you’ll think about this today when you ever consider someone is being a doormat or you yourself are feeling like a doormat to other people. And take that one step to turn it around, because you do have the power to do it.

And you definitely deserve to like yourself, enjoy what you’re doing and enjoy your life.

So thanks again for being with me. I’m wishing you all the best on this very difficult transition from seeing things this way into seeing things as a choice. Something where you do have a lot of power.

Best wishes this coming week in being the best version of you.

This season’s theme song is “Training Day,” by Infraction. Used with Permission.

Like what you read here? In this podcast, I’m sharing some core principles I’ve learned in coaching that have completely changed my life. These ideas restore personal power and bring the confidence to grow in our unique traits, strengths, and attributes, and go forward to create good in the world. Right here, you have the gems to take one small step. And with a personal coach, you can make it a lasting part of your life. You can change how you see things and feel your true purpose every day.