What is a martyr?
A martyr complex is when someone deliberately seeks out suffering or persecution for their own selfish, psychological need. They have a deep desire to take ownership of others’ suffering in order to make their life more meaningful. Have you ever had a friend who consistently goes above and beyond the ‘norm’ for you? But then they expect a shower of affection for all of their ‘sacrifices’? They are probably a martyr!
The main thing to note is that martyr’s will suffer NEEDLESSLY by choice most of the time. They are the type of people who would rather continue to suffer from the problem, rather than fixing it, because to fix it would deny them the fulfillment they feel from the suffering in the first place. They tend to be very complex people, who thrive on validation and approval from the people around them.
“Don’t let your struggle become your identity.”
10 SIGNS THAT SOMEONE HAS MARTYR SYNDROME:
1. They show signs of very low self esteem or have the inability to accept or receive real, unconditional love. They may be prone to extreme moodiness, be extremely judgemental or have a really negative self image.
2. They grew up in an abusive home. Either mentally, physically or emotionally. Possibly by a parent, sibling or teacher.
3. They may complain often that their acts of kindness go unnoticed. Or they don’t receive the acknowledgement they are looking for, so they start to go even more out of their way to get the validation they need.
4. It is common for someone with martyr syndrome to always give for the purpose of receive, but strangely enough never ever believe that they are taking. They feel as though if they have done something for you, ‘the least you could do is involve them in your life’
5. Keep an eye out for the constant need to be showered with sympathy. If they are called out on their incessant need to be recognised as noble and selfless, especially if someone attempts to say that their intentions are not honest, then they become very angry or upset. Even to the point where they resort to underhanded tactics such as ‘you don’t know how hard my life has been’ as a way of coping mechanism.
6. They struggle with personal or social boundaries, and they cannot say NO.
7. Once their problems are all solved, they seek out new problems to continue the never ending cycle of martyrdom.
8. If they are actively helping someone out, or in the process of ‘fixing’ someone else, they will deny all help offered to them. They do this as they believe on some level if they accept help they will not receive full gratification for this.
9. They may refuse to accept responsibility for the pain or suffering that they have endued in their life. It would never be their fault nor would they have contributed or played any part in whatever has happened to them.
10. They have an overly obsessed need to always be right!
How to deal with a martyr:
1. Listen to their issues ONLY ONCE. Do not fall prey to someone else using you for their own need to be self-sacrificing.
2. Don’t get sucked in by their victim mentality. Self pity is dis-empowering and isn’t healthy for spiritual growth.
3. Do not tolerate any form of emotional blackmail or abuse. Such as ultimatums, withholding your guilt, if they try to change you in any way in exchange for love or time etc.
Written by Abbey Stirling