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Healthy Self-Esteem: Midway Between Diva & Doormat

Lala in black and whiteWe all have self-esteem issues as part of the human condition.  We each have insecurities, vulnerabilities and self-doubts.  If not managed consciously, they can manifest in maladaptive character patterns that can hinder our personal and professional success.

The Diva:

  • Manages insecurity by projecting those qualities onto others (i.e. “It’s all your fault”)
  • Operates with an inflated sense of self and takes more than gives in relationships
  • Violates the boundaries of others through self-serving and entitled behaviors
  • Often aggressive and manipulative

The Doormat:

  • Assumes responsibility for the shortcomings of self and others and over apologizes to maintain the relationship (i.e. “I’m so sorry, it’s all my fault.”)
  • Over-functions in relationships to seek love and approval
  • Lacks self-respect and allows boundaries to easily be compromised by others
  • Passive and easily manipulated

Healthy self-esteem is midway between Diva & Doormat and:  

  • Reflects awareness of one’s strengths as well as areas of needed growth and development
  • Feels deserving of mutually beneficial, reciprocal and balanced relationships
  • Demonstrates respect for self and others through appropriate boundaries
  • Uses assertive communication that is honest, direct, and clear

The Diva might also be categorized as a “narcissist” and the Doormat as a “codependent”.  The Diva is not likely to have the insight or desire to change, but if you are veering close to Doormat, check out Codependent No More by Melody Beattie to stop this self-sabatoging pattern of behavior.  Also, The Human Magnet Syndrome by Ross Rosenberg explains how narcissists and codependents are often unconsciously attracted to one another and offers practical solutions for seeking healthy relationships.

Personally, I find myself temporarily veering towards either end of the Diva/Doormat spectrum whenever I’m taken over by my ego.  I might tend towards Diva when I’m feeling defensive and slip towards doormat when I am feeling unworthy.  I find meditation and mindfulness practices to be grounding and useful in establishing detachment from things that don’t really matter (money, body image, possessions, etc.) and connection with the present moment and the deeper self within (spirit, soul or authentic self.)

In my work with my clients, I help them understand that self-esteem issues are a normal part of life.  I coach them to develop the self-awareness to recognize when they are moving towards Diva or Doormat and the skills to get back on track for healthy self-esteem. For all of us, managing self-esteem is a skill we must practice and develop on our psycho-spritual-relational journey towards consciousness.

What do you do to keep your self-esteem in a healthy place?

Image:  Thomas Hawk via Compfight

Healthy Self-Esteem: Midway Between Diva & Doormat

Joyce Marter, LCPC

Joyce Marter, LCPC is the Founder of Urban Balance and public speaker. You may find her at her personal website here, or you may follow her on Twitter.

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APA Reference
Marter, J. (2013). Healthy Self-Esteem: Midway Between Diva & Doormat. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 6, 2020, from


Last updated: 27 Jul 2013
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