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Stop Being A Doormat | 3 Ways To Change The Situation.

Stop Being A Doormat | 3 Ways To Change The Situation.


Congratulations, you have earned a Big Brown Star!

people Silhouettes against an ocean sunset

Wait …Brown Star? Don’t you mean Silver Star or Gold Star?

No, I have the color correct.  I mean the big fat Hersey Kiss star you usually find decorating the inside of a pair of overly used undies.   This type of star is usually handed out by a highly respected family member or group.  Their opinion, colors an unfortunate individual with a hard to wipe off, sticky brown hue that is almost impossible to overcome.

I said …”Pardon?”

I have found myself placed in this position many times over the years.  Often, I am not even sure how I have earned the illustrious gift.  However, it is mine to bear none the less. I am not the only one that is weighed down with this annoying problem. Being attuned to this unsavory level of respect, I find myself repeatedly speaking with other individuals that are struggling to get out from under this type of labeling.

One fellow in particular pops into my head.  He recently told me a story about marrying into his wife’s family.  He adored his beautiful wife and revered his new in-laws.  But, for whatever reason his new mother-in-law did not seen to return his affections.  After years of trying to compete with the better and-“more desirable” brother-in-law (his words not mine), our hero’s story ends with his wife barely speaking to her mother, and the picture of their wedding day being unceremoniously nailed to an overhead floor joist in the basement with a rusting 4 inch spike.  The kicker was, his do-good brother-in-law’s wedding picture had been meticulously matted, frame and placed center stage, upon his mother-in-law’s fireplace mantel.  (Wow)

What can our brown star earning hero do to overcome this kind of harsh coloring of his character?  In my opinion, there are three ways to tackle this kind of problem.

  1. Demand Better
  2. Ignore It & Stay aloof.
  3. Be Confident

Demand Better!

Matthew River Falls at sunset

We have all heard the saying, ‘You teach people how to treat you.’  According to this principle you show people how much abuse you are willing to accept based on what you have already accept from them.  (Great!)

In the above scenario our guy needs to establish some new ground rules.  Next he should communicate clearly to her what he is willing to accept, moving into the future. Then he should consciously reward any behavior or actions he likes and finds acceptable.  By doing so he will begin to re-train his mother-in-law on how to treat him.   The key here is to stay in control of your emotions. Going off half-cocked will not win you any brownie points. (full pun intended)

DO NOT try issuing the new rules of engagement when you are angry.  Enter the conversation with a vision of the bigger picture.  You have a problem, but you also have a way to fix it moving forward.

If the ‘Demand Better’ advice immediately has you wringing your hand together; or worse yet, has you swaying nauseously towards a trash receptacle, than plan B may be more your style.

Ignore it!

Walking path in Reifel bird sanctuary

My dad used to have a wonderful saying.  “Will it matter in ten years?”  This is a fantastic question to ask yourself, especially if confrontation is not your cup of tea.

Think for a moment if your current “Dipped-in-Poo” situation is going to affect anything in the next ten years.  If it is, you are going to have to move back to the ‘Demand Better’ section.

If not, sometimes the best reaction is no reaction at all.  This technique is often use in child rearing.  Most of us have seen a mother deliberately ignoring a full blown tantrum from her child.  Eventually the mini storm passes and the child has worn themselves out from exertion. The reason it works is because staying disengaged or aloof, removes the reward of getting your goat or seeing you riled up.

In the above situation, if our guy was to explode (or have a tantrum) over the placement of his picture in his mother-in-law’s household, he would show himself as the arrogant ass she already sees him as. Plus she would have in her possession a fantastic example of how volatile he can become over the littlest things. (Earning him yet another brown star!)

Be Confident

Mountains of Achievement

Most likely, your opinionated brown star issuer is only remembering the negative events or information about you. As a cure to this problem, you need to be proud and confident about your own personal achievements.

If you are like me, somewhere along the line, you were told it was impolite to brag about yourself; even talking about your skills and abilities was an obnoxious thing to do.  But is it really?   Your individualized experiences are something you should be incredibly proud to talk about. The key is to deliver it with a hint of humility.

Do you remember last winter when I came out in a blizzard to help you change that flat tire, while ‘better-Bob’ over there watched from your picture window, while petting your seven cats?

 Yeah, me too. There is one skill I would be willing to teach my brother-in-law that may help him in the future, don’t you think?”

It’s ok to remind your brown star presenter that there have been many times that you have done it better than the other guy.

So if you find yourself generously bejeweled in little brown stars from a well-regarded family member or group, remember you are not alone out there. Nor, do you have to except your new door mat existence.   Remind yourself that you deserve better treatment, spotlight a few of your key talents or simply ignore it, because in reality…. will this situation really matter in ten years?

Big Smiles  Natalie

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