Let’s consider “martyrs”. We’ve all known them, and perhaps some of us have one or two of them in our life right now.
Why the quotes? Because “martyrs” aren’t the real deal and remembering this can prevent a lot of upheaval, heartache and even guilt.
You know the type: the put upon person who goes “out of the way” to “give" of themselves and then expects “tributes” and “loyalty” in return. Often, there is a posture to this practice—a seeming “meekness” with shoulders rounded, head slightly down looking up a bit sadly and then the tell tale sigh ……. “No—you go ahead, I’ll stay here.” It’s OK, really.” “No—I want you to be happy.” There is nothing giving about this type of behavior.
We’ve all been in these moments—when we’ve followed their lead, called their bluff or taken “martyrs” at their word. Not a good outcome, was it? Some “martyrs” are very good at throwing guilt our way, or stomping around like Rumpelstiltskin, or dissolving into tears or even sobs. And there we are—blindsided by what just happened.
There are two important things to remember about “martyrs”:
Like the rest of us, “martyrs” are just looking to get their needs met. Clearly, their execution of getting them met is working at cross-purposes. They may not know any other way, or feel that this is the only way, or are hiding in this pattern because it makes their behavior more “acceptable”. Who’s to say? As is the case across the board, it’s not the behavior that matters, it’s what driving the behavior that needs attention.
So what can You do when you’re faced with this kind of “martyrdom”?
Take what is probably a much needed breath or two or three.
Consider the need that needs to be met—but isn’t.
(Re)collect Your Self.
Dare to take the heat when you don’t take the bait.
This is another ongoing practice that you can return to over and over — there will always be “martyrs” in our lives to teach us this valuable lesson.
And the other thing to remember about “martyrs”? True Martyrs don’t sign up for the gig ...
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