When I first started studying Zen and the Tao, I interpreted many of the quotes I read as “let things be just as they are.” For a while that led to me acting as a doormat, letting other people do as they wished, even treating me poorly. I did that consciously, so even though I was acting like a wimp I didn’t feel like a wimp; I was just trying to practice what I was learning.
After a while I realized that was a wrong approach. Because I wasn’t demanding excellence at work, some employees weren’t performing up to their capabilities. Other people in my personal life were “using” me because they knew they could get away with it.
One day I realized that being mindful and compassionate didn’t mean I had to be a doormat for people to wipe their feet on. On that day I decided to respond to those people with compassion and as little ego as possible, but by also holding my ground and standing up for my own beliefs. I demanded excellence at work, and learned to say “no” and manage my time in and out of work.
Some time later I came across the quote in this image, which describes how to “receive and respond” to situations, especially situations where people are trying to take advantage of your kind nature.