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The Seven Deadly Doormat Sins

Getting Walked All Over? Buck Up and Read This

Do you apologize to furniture when you bump into it? Give in during negotiations, even when it's just about which movie to see? Have you ever confronted someone who was bugging you?

If you answered yes, yes and no, you could be suffering from one or all of the Seven Deadly Doormat Sins. Although this hasn't hit the talk-show circuit yet, it's in your best interest to be aware of this self-sabotaging phenomenon.

These are behaviours that add up to appalling consequences, such as being "volunteered" to bake six dozen cupcakes for tomorrow, never getting the bathroom first or having to see the latest Hollywood remake over and over.

The Seven Deadly Doormat Sins (SDDS) are anxiety, denial, doubt, mediocrity, resentment, self-helplessness and silence. Whether performed on their own or in a heinous combination, SDDS can stop us from reaching our full potential, awakening the powerful person within, or simply getting to the office on time.

Because self-diagnosis can be difficult, here are a few tips to help you identify SDDS-inspired behaviour. And learn not to do it again.

Anxiety: While true anxiety should be diagnosed by a professional, SDDS anxiety reveals itself when mispronouncing a word can ruin your day, wondering what other people think stops you from doing anything, and planning for the future causes you to hyperventilate. If you experience any of these symptoms, find yourself a powerful role model. The next time you start breathing heavily or are fixated on other people's opinions, ask yourself: "What would Castro/Madonna/Liberace do?"

Denial: Are you happy as long as everyone else is? When you heard Spock say, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one," in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, did you take it to heart? SDDS denial stems from fearing rejection. It's okay to say "no" or have a different opinion. In fact, it makes you more interesting, especially when it comes to choosing a restaurant or movie.

Doubt: SDDS sufferers spend more time questioning their choices than making them, feel there is only one right answer and believe advice doesn't work for them, unless someone else thinks it does. See anything familiar? To dig yourself out of SDDS doubt, realize any choice you make doesn't have to be forever. And know there are many answers; if there were only one answer, we'd still be living in caves. With 8-track tape players.

Mediocrity: Do you feel ups and downs only when you're in an elevator? Have people stopped asking you "What's new?" because you always give the same response? SDDS mediocrity is all about a fear of change. So start with making small ones, like wearing new earrings or a watch, before tackling bigger changes such as a new hobby or serving new finger foods at your next gathering.

Resentment: This comes into play when you feel you have failed when others succeed and no one seems to appreciate how fantastic you really are. The bums. If this is what's holding you back from living the life of your dreams, get a grip. Stop comparing yourself to others and see how far you've progressed instead. Try to do things without expectations so you can appreciate the journey, not just the destination.

Self-helplessness: Are you too busy reading self-help books to do anything else? Is your mantra, "What would Dr. Phil do?" SDDS self-helplessness sufferers have been spending so much time looking for and receiving advice, they get stuck when it comes to using it. And then they look for another guide or program to help them get out. Stop the cycle and talk to real people--whom you haven't paid--to help you with your concerns.

Silence: Those afflicted with SDDS silence prefer to suffer quietly. They believe that people should know what they want just by the way they blink. The next time you find yourself keeping quiet, simply say what's on your mind. Of course, it's been so long that others may faint at the sound of your voice but do it anyway. Loved ones may have been afraid to ask you direct questions with all the weird blinking you've been doing.

The Seven Deadly Doormat Sins have the power to stop you from being the fabulous person you are--but only if you let them. With any luck, Oprah will be discussing this soon so we can all stop these behaviours and lead lives without worry, guilt or doing anything wrong. Hey, it's good to have goals.

Bonnie Staring is a comedic triple threat (writer, performer, coupon user) and appears in Stuck, the new W Network series. She and her husband have five houseplants.

Reprinted from the Toronto Star, May 15, 2008.

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