“If you make yourself into a doormat, people will wipe their feet on you” – Belizean Proverb
I always wanted to help people, but over the years I realized that if one is “too nice” people might start treating you like a doormat. I was the one giving the advice to my friends, helping in all ways possible, available for anyone, anytime. But, once I ended up in an awkward situation myself and needed help and a crying shoulder I realized that there were very few people I could count on. It hurt seeing that some of my “best friends” weren’t available when I needed them the most.
It was hard to ask for help. I did not want to be a burden with my problems (as they were going through their own), but that would have cost me of an opportunity to “test” who my real friends are since I never gave them a chance to do something back for me!
I enjoy helping people to change, improve, be happier and more successful, yet I realized that people often would not appreciate my advice and even find it annoying. Because their ego was coming in the picture, they were getting it as a feedback that they were not good enough, they needed to be fixed or that I was “pretending” to be smarter or persuading them to accept my “way” of thinking, eating, living…
Five years ago, when I started writing articles about nutrition advice and blogging, I really enjoyed inspiring and advising thousands of people and started getting a very heartwarming feedback from the readers. I realised at that point that all those years I was giving advice to people who often did not ask for it, or wanted it, and that was making me and them frustrated at the same time. But, this time I was advising people who were actually searching and needing advice on the topics I was writing about and they could really appreciate it.
Since I was writing so much and having a large community of followers to advice to, my “urge” for giving advice to my friends and family members reduced and that’s when the shift started happening! Once I actually stopped giving advice, people would ask me (themselves) what is the secret of me being so happy, radiant, vibrant… and because they themselves asked about it, they were ready to listen what I had to say. And they would mostly follow the advice as well, too!
I learned the hard way over the years that unwanted help and unasked advice are like an uninvited guest at the door! People would often not reject it, due to being kind, but they will not appreciate it or follow it either, because they never wanted it at the first place.
Today, I have a small group of amazing friends who are there for me whenever I need them and themselves offer their help and support, even without me asking. They share my joy, happiness, worries and tears and they help me immensely. I am grateful to have these kind of people in my life and I cherish them in my heart as the most precious treasure.
I got rid of all “parasitic relationships” and enjoy having a few but true and unconditionally loving relationships. I give the advice only if I am asked for it and I offer help in the way that the other person has to ask me and approach me first.
It is a very well known principle of a human behaviour that people do not appreciate anything if they did not earn it or worked for it in order to truly get it. Being available all the time to the other person, giving too much without them even asking for it or not asking them back for help or a favour, is not actually helping people, it is spoiling them in the way that they will start loosing the respect and admiration for us, start treating us like a doormat and taking us for granted!
How to Have a Healthy Relationship in 7 Simple Steps
1. Ask for Help
Asking the help from the people you care for will help them feeling better about themselves and show if they really care for you as well! Asking for help is not the sign of weakness, but rather a form of creating a deeper bond with people, because we are giving them an opportunity to take care of us.
2. Make Self-Care a Priority
If you don’t take good care of yourself how can you take care of others? Make sure you prioritise self-care, time for yourself, relaxation and activities you enjoy. Only if you are happy, energetic, healthy, vibrant and radiant person, you can show up for others in the best way.
3. Never Give Away Unasked Advice or Help
People won’t appreciate the advice or help they did not ask for or wanted. Instead of “offering” yourself every time as a helping hand, leave the space for another person to approach you and ask you for your help or advice.
“If you need my help/advice with ______, you can ask me.”
4. Get Rid of Toxic Relationships
Once you start asking for help you will get to realise who are the people you can count on and who are those who are just taking from you (your time, money, emotional support…) but are never there when you need them. Distance yourself from this kind of people, or at least be aware that whatever you do for them, you are doing it without any expectations attached.
Make sure to invest more of your time and love into those people who proved to be your helping hand when you needed them and cherish those relationships in your life.
5 …Once You Start Saying NO to Other People
Once you start saying NO to other people (to whom you were “always” available) in order to prioritise the self-care and working on your personal or professional goals, those same people will not understand it and they will start behaving as you are betraying them. Have in mind that people who really care for you will want to support you to become the best version of yourself and encourage you to take care of yourself.
6. Do Not Devalue Your Help
It is very common that people with a good heart find it difficult to receive thanks for their actions and rely something like:
“Oh, it was nothing…”
“Oh, it was just a small thing…”
By saying these words you are devaluing your time, effort and emotional support you invested in helping others. And if you are devaluing it, others will start seeing it that way too. I’m not saying you should boast every time you help someone, but when you receive thanks for your kind act, you can say something like:
“You deserved it!” or
“It was my pleasure!”
7. Be Aware of Your Expectations
When we are giving the charity, we do not expect anything in return, as we have no expectations attached to it.
But, when we are investing in any kind of relationship we are expecting and assuming that the other person will appreciate it and return it back (if not immediately, some time when we will be needing it), and if that does not happen, we can feel disappointed.
Be aware of your expectations: if you decide to help someone without expecting anything back, just because it will make you feel good about yourself, make sure not to give more than you can “forget” and afford. If you are having certain expectations attached to it, than state those expectations to the other person or be careful to whom you are giving so much of your time, money and emotions, at least until you get to know that person better.
You can still help or decide to maintain the relationship with people you are aware that they will not return your favour back to you in any way, but make sure that while helping these people you do not neglect relationships with people who deeply care for you and who proved to be a safe place for you to fall when you when you needed them!