Doormat Living

Q. What are the characteristics of being a “doormat?”

A. Let’s Talk! Being a doormat involves feelings of being walked on. Moreover, this form of codependency means a person fails to set boundaries and has difficulty saying “no.

In many cultures and families, saying “no” seems impolite and not kind. But when saying “yes” most of the time – when you really want to say “no” — gives way to dysfunctional living.

I never thought I would be teaching small children to say “no” to family members, friends, classmates, etc., but as an elementary counselor, I did teach them to refuse when they were asked to do something wrong or unsafe. This message is just as important for adults. We live in such a not-safe world.

When you say “yes” and don’t say “no” — and you wish you hadn’t agreed — that’s a clue you are doormat-ing. There’s also a sinking feeling, an uh-oh feeling in the pit of your stomach.

I love finding Scriptures that speak into my life and can you believe there are even some verses in Isaiah 51 and 52 that urge us not to let others walk on us? Let us know your thoughts on doormat living.

For Deeper Reflection

Isaiah 51: 7b, 22, 23; Isaiah 52:2

Do not fear the reproach of man,
Nor be dismayed at their revilings.

Thus says your Lord, the Lord, even your God
Who contends for His people,
“Behold, I have taken out of your hand the cup of reeling,
The chalice of My anger;
You will never drink it again.
“I will put it into the hand of your tormentors,
Who have said to you, ‘Lie down that we may walk over you.’
You have even made your back like the ground
And like the street for those who walk over it.”

Shake yourself from the dust, rise up,
O captive Jerusalem;
Loose yourself from the chains around your neck,
O captive daughter of Zion.


Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.
You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com 

Let’s Talk

Reframing and Changing Channels — Part 2

Q. Thanks for your last column on the general process of reframing. Could you give some actual examples, even for small children?

A. Let’s Talk! Yes! Whenever we suffer losses, changes, disappointments, fear, anger, and a host of other thoughts/feelings — reframing is a process whereby we can park those thoughts/feelings and get some insights to set our hearts free from the grip of that stronghold.

It REALLY matters what you are thinking, so it is a good thing to examine what’s going on in your head and heart. At the base of every behavior is a belief system in play, so it makes sense to look at your thinking/feelings. Great clues here!

This process can be easily taught to small children or adults. One may use paper to make the left- and right-hand columns or not use paper at all. The insights (in the right-hand column) also can come from various levels of truth-seeking: from what seems like truth for the situation or actually getting a download from Scripture or even hearing from God. It’s transformational.

This week I’d love to give you a reframing example I have used with small children, not even using paper because they didn’t know how to write yet. It’s a reframing chart of the imagination. During my years as an elementary school counselor, the first week of school was always a challenge. One of the most common challenges was responding well to students who were sure they weren’t going to make it home on the school bus! So, I used their left hand/arm to help them identify their fears. I didn’t tell them, “Do not to feel that way.”

Instead, I listed their fears audibly from what they told me (i.e., “I’m so scared I won’t get home, etc.”). Then I would list on their right hands/arms what was true (i.e., “The truth is, there will be three men on your bus, they have walkie-talkies and telephones, you will have a name tag on, etc.”). Then I stressed to the children to keep their thoughts on the right-hand side and camp there whenever they got scared again. Throughout the day I would see these students, and they would lift their right hand victoriously and smile wide that freedom had come. Yay!!!!!!!!

Next week I will share an example of a spiritual model in bringing truth into the right-hand column of your reframing chart.

For Deeper Reflection

Isaiah 61: 1-3 “. . . He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners. . . to comfort all who mourn . . . giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. . . .”

Ephesians 4:23 “. . . and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind. . . .”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com.