Selflessness vs. Doormat

In my business class (and English) we have weeks topics that we have to write mini essays on. This week’s topic is ‘People act in their own best interests.’ We are supposed to write what this statement means to us and respond to three other student’s postings. Normally, I don’t really put a lot of thought into what the other students write because we all pretty much write similar things. Today, though, a girl write something that has me wondering how many other people think the same way. Cuz what she wrote is so not something I agree with.

What she wrote is, “People must look out for themselves and what is best for them first in order to be the best person they can.  The reason I say that is because if someone is more concerned with pleasing others before themselves then its clear they don’t care too much about themselves.  These are the doormats of society.”

That statement completely appalls me. Since when is putting the needs of others before your own being a doormat? Since when is being a nice person being a doormat? Since when is caring about others not caring about yourself? Good grief. I wrote a comment on her posting and, while I don’t think she’ll write back (most people don’t), I do hope she reads it and considers changing a couple of points of the way she thinks. This is what I wrote:

“I don’t entirely agree with your statement that people who are concerned with pleasing others before themselves don’t care much about themselves. There are some really great people out there who put the needs of others before themselves and care very much about themselves. Mother Teresa is a good example of this. Gandhi is another. Jesus Christ, the Buddha, John the Baptist and the hundreds of people who helped save Jews during the Holocaust are other examples. Wanting others to be happy and/or taken care of is not a sign of weakness and is not the act of a doormat. A doormat is a person who lets others walk all over them regardless of what their own desires are, altruistic or not.”

Part of me wanted to write more, but I think I’m satisfied with my response. I didn’t want to offend or insult her in any way, but I wanted her to see that there is a difference between making a conscious effort to make other people happy and being a person who lets other people use them because they don’t have the will to stand up for themselves.

Her posting, though, really makes me wonder. Is this a widespread thought process? Is it a common understanding that kind and giving people are weak? This is so not the case. People who give and help others are certainly not weak. Love of others is not weakness.

Think of the toddler who gives his or her favorite toy to a sibling who is crying. Or the child who gives the bigger half of a cookie to their friend. Or the teenager who gives up a seat to an elderly person. Or the mother who carries her baby full-term when she knows she has a child with special needs. Are these people weak? Are these people doormats? Are they people who do not care about themselves? No! These are people who understand and embrace love for others. They care about themselves, but they also care about the needs of others.

To me, a doormat is a person who is walked over and talked into giving or helping others regardless of whether they want to or not. They let people treat them like crap and still do what others ask/want because they just want people to like them or they feel bullied into it. Some people who are considered doormats resent what they are doing for others because they don’t have the backbone to say no and others knowingly let people use them because they don’t want the conflict and yet others do whatever other people ask of them because they just want people to like them. Sure, these people may be super kind already, but they are not the same as the people who are kind out of a sincere desire to see others happy.

I still can’t believe that people think putting others before yourself is being a doormat. This is so not the case. Sure, a selfless person and a doormat share certain indicators, but it is their disposition and desires that set them apart. A person who sincerely desires the happiness of others over their own is not a doormat. They possess confidence and self-assurance that their actions are in line with what they want and believe. They are a strong individual who understands the concept of “Love your neighbor as yourself”, the second greatest commandment given to us by God. How can following the commandments of God be anything else?

3 Replies to “Selflessness vs. Doormat”

  1. Niall

    I can see why you reacted so strongly to her writings
    I don’t see you as doormat, just for the record
    I feel there is a balance some middle ground, I mean sometimes you too will indeed have to put yourself first, but not in a way to hurt others,
    You can’t serve everyone else all of the time and ignore yourself all of the time
    Balance, 🙂

  2. Pingback: I, Doormat | Random Universe

  3. Beverly Bundy

    Her essay is exactly what is wrong in our society today. People think more of themselves and their wants and needs and don’t think much about others. It is what the Savoir said would happen in the last days. It’s sad becasue thinking about and helping others is what will save our world, and what the Savoir taught.

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