Confessions of a human doormat: how I escaped from being a best-seller at IKEA

I used to be a work driven, people-pleaser.

I was the human equivalent of a doormat. I existed for people to wipe their feet on, and I was brilliant at absorbing the moisture that dripped off of other people’s wet personalities.

I was a must-have item, because everyone needed an outlet for their misplaced misery, and boy, did I deliver!

Have you ever seen a doormat jump up off the floor and decide to fight the shoes that stepped on it?

Neither have I.

And that’s why I was so great at my job; I never fought back.

My mood was entirely at the mercy of work, colleagues and clients. If a good thing happened I was euphoric, and if a bad thing happened I was crippled with sadness.

I lacked self-confidence and had zero self-belief.

I would worry about making mistakes, avoid uncomfortable conversations, take on other people’s work, feel responsible for other people’s bad moods and struggle to recognise when I’d taken on too much alone.

So if you’d told me 4 years ago that I would be launching my own coaching business in Dubai, I would definitely have laughed in your face (or meekly smiled and told you that you were wrong).

What changed?

The system of thought that I centred my behaviour on.

What does that mean?

Let me explain using a little anecdote from the early years of Nadia: story of a doormat.

One particularly memorable day at my first job, a client (let’s call her Angry Lady), started shouting in my face whilst our venue was full of customers.

I remember my legs turning to jelly underneath me, and my heartbeat thumping loudly in my ears as my face quickly turned red with embarrassment.I kept apologising over and over again, not even hearing Angry Lady’s shrill voice anymore because I was so intently focused on the word sorry, and bringing a quick end to the humiliating confrontation.

The rest of the day was a blur and I went home later feeling absolutely crushed. Looking back at the confrontation, I don’t even remember actually being sorry for what had happened to Angry Lady. I was simply unable to engage with the situation from a place of resolution because I was coming at her with a wave of fear.

My internal system of thought said I was a failure, bad at my job, and possibly cursed to be unsuccessful forever.*

*I was in drama club at school.

I spent a lot of time reflecting on the emotional hangover I felt whenever work issues made me sad. And you know what? I noticed a pattern. All the events that triggered this negativity were:

So I decided to try something different, I challenged myself to shift my focus.

Instead of looking at the people and work that I couldn’t control, I zeroed in on what was constant to every scenario; my values. In each situation, good or bad, it was either the threat or validation of my values that had affected me.

Hack your personal values

As an exercise to anchor this change in cognition, I decided to treat myself to some self-coaching. You can easily do this alone, all you need is a pen, paper and a quiet space to think.

1. Write out a list of values that you live by:

Appreciation, Ambition, Duty, Drive, Excellence, Love, Loyalty, Liberty, Impact, Integrity, Knowledge, Reputation, Significance, Stability, Warmth, Wisdom Worthiness

2. Use these values to pose yourself questions about who you are:

Do I need the drive of others to be successful?

Do I need worthiness in another person’s eyes to feel love?

Do I recover my significance in the number of zeros on the end of my pay check?

Am I given liberty, or do I take it?

3. Reflect on the following:

How do your values and how you live them differ from who you are now?

Are you travelling on this path for you, or for the people around you?

These are the types of question we need to ask ourselves as we move out of what others expect from us, and towards what we want for ourselves.

You see, your values exist DESPITE your job and DESPITE the struggles you may have. They are the constant, core identifiers that dictate who you are and how you show up in the world.

So if you make one decision today, peel your ego off the doormat of other people’s expectations, and start placing yourself on a shelf instead.

Worth sharing?

Dish up some love and 👏 👏👏 !

Are you experiencing low self-esteem or want to move on from your current job but do not know how? Book a free consultation on or drop me a message.

Coaching is completely confidential and offers a safe space for people who want to own their life and make lasting positive changes.