What is the difference between acting out of “unconditional love” and being a “doormat”?

This might be the most frequently asked question in my 26 years of working in women’s ministry! In one way or other, women have been expressing their confusion with regard to boundaries and unconditional love. It’s like, how can they coexist? We get the sense that we “should” have boundaries but have a tough time reconciling the “I deserve to be treated with respect because I am a daughter of God” with the message of “unconditional love” and “putting others first”.

A few initial thoughts on unconditional love, boundaries, and how they work together.

  • Identifying and maintaining effective boundaries is the most loving things you can do

  • No one should treat others or allow themselves to be treated like a “doormat”.
  • Doormats are used, people aren’t
  • Unconditional love is accepting the idea that we are all doing the best we can with what we have been given right now.
  • Unconditional love always begins with loving ourselves unconditionally! (love your neighbor as yourself)
  • How can we love ourselves AND allow others to use us?
  • The most loving thing we can do is let others know where they stand with us. To be authentic and let others know who we are, who we aren’t, what we will accept, and what we will not accept.
  • Without proper boundaries, people don’t know the “real” us. Without boundaries, we give when we’d rather not, we step in when it’s not our place, and we take responsibility for things that aren’t ours to be responsible for.
  • We cannot love unconditionally without effective boundaries because without boundaries we hide our authentic self. Without authenticity, there is no love.

As women, we are naturally inclined toward serving those we love. That’s not the problem though. It’s when we serve to the exclusion of ourselves that it becomes a problem. The great thing about boundaries is that setting and keeping them actually enables us to love ourselves and others unconditionally AND to say “no” with God’s blessing! The truth is, boundaries don’t establish our dignity. It’s actually the other way around! Our dignity helps us establish our boundaries!

So, instead of asking, “How can we use boundaries to establish our dignity”, we can ask, “How can we set effective boundaries that honor and protect our inherent dignity?”

So- How can we honor our inherent dignity WHILE loving others unconditionally?

The answer has two parts:

  1. Realize and accept your dignity as a child of God – Women who allow themselves to be used as “doormats” lack this understanding.
  2. Love yourself unconditionally first AND set effective boundaries to protect this dignity! – Unconditional love starts at home – with ourselves. Accepting that we are precious daughters of God can empower us to love and respect ourselves enough to set effective boundaries. And the cool thing is that boundaries help others to see the dignity of our authentic self as they discover who we are, who we are not, what we will accept and what we will not accept. They will see us as daughters of the King because we have claimed it and are defending it with our boundaries!

For more on why boundaries are important and how to identify, set and maintain them check out “Boundaries (When to Say Yes- When to Say No – To Take Control of Your Life)”

Does any of this resonate with you? Would you like to discover or reconnect with your inherent dignity and live a more authentic life through exercising clear and effective boundaries? Love yourself enough to do it!!

Here are three questions to consider…

  • What can we do to realize and live in our dignity as a child of God?
  • In what ways can we love ourselves unconditionally right now?
  • How could exercising effective boundaries change your life right now?

I invite you to email me[email protected] – and share your answers!

I can’t wait to hear from you!

Love and blessings,