Being Helpful vs Being a Doormat



Today I realized that a lot of what stresses me out is other people’s issues, not mine. Just this morning I was upset that my 19 year old didn’t have a ride to work. Why? He could have discussed his problem the night before with me or his father and all would be well. Later this morning, a vender I work with made a mistake and just looked at me as if it were up to me to come up with a solution.

My knee jerk reaction is to fix things for everyone asap. In my work other people’s issues ARE my business! So where does the line get drawn? Now I can see I need to be clearer about what is mine to fix and what belongs to others.

Thank God the part of me that is sane got through! Even though it made me anxious, I let my son figure out his transportation dilemma. I also put the problem back into the vendor’s hands where it belonged.

Both my son and the vendor acted surprised that I didn’t take responsibility for their actions. My son griped but found a ride easily enough. The vender was silent for a heart beat or two and then just said “Wow.”

I still feel a bit nervous, I admit, but also invigorated and oddly empowered! Wow, indeed!

Photo courtesy hownowdesign via Flickr

2 comments


  • Hoooooo boy, this is such a timely and important topic, Dr A.

    Personally, I blame motherhood for this personality flaw.

    As Mums, we learn early on that when things happen to our kids (no matter what – poopy diapers, dirty faces, scraped knees, no clean socks, missed the school bus) – our “job” is to snap to attention and make it all better.

    As for your vendor, with whom you don’t have a long and loving relationship, I have found that in similar circumstances, just staring can work wonders. Just stare at the problem person until they feel squirmy enough to offer their solution to the problem – instead of immediately griping “Oh, for Pete’s sake….” and rolling up our sleeves to get involved. Tough habit to form, but as you say, invigorating and empowering.

    Maybe – like a muscle – it’s a habit that will get stronger the more we practice not being a doormat?

    2012/07/18
  • [...] July: Being Helpful vs Being a Doormat [...]

    2012/12/30

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