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MOTM Nov 2010
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm sure there are many of you who have come in contact with martyrs. They can be so annoying. My mother is a tried and true martyr. Omg, she makes me want to put my head through a window.

But my most previous relationship was with a man who couldn't climb down off his cross long to look at himself in a mirror.

Have you discovered these people too? I've been doing some reading and thought I'd share.

Here is a description of the Martyr Complex:

The Martyr Complex

One of the most destructive behaviors in any relationship is the existence of someone with a martyr complex. As the definition from Wikipedia explains, a “person who has a ‘martyr complex’ desires the feeling of being a martyr for its own sake, seeking out suffering or persecution because it feeds a psychological need.” The characteristics of such persons include

They have the need to be a victim and complain always and relentlessly.
They take little initiative in trying to fixing any complaint.
If any problem is solved, but in a different way than what they proposed, the problem still exists, as far as they are concerned.
If any problem is solved according to their solution, they will find another problem to complain about.
If any problem is solved, it is because they complained about it.
They complain about problems that do not concern them in the least.
They do not appreciate any good things being done.
They lie and twist facts to prove their point.
They selectively forget, ignore or avoid any facts that may conflict with their point.
They resort to name-calling when everything else fails.


Here is a type on handling them as co-workers:

Confront the Martyr. The office martyr is a well-known character in most offices; this is the person that can't seem to resist mentioning how late he stayed last night, or commenting on how much work she has. Call their bluff.

Most of the time, the Martyr is passive-aggressive, so they'll never openly complain that someone else isn't working as much as they are. If you decide to take this on, however, you'll need to be a bit aggressive.
If they make a crack about taking a half day, or going home 'early,' ask them, 'What's your point?' Often, when a passive-aggressive comment is brought into the light, the speaker will back down.
 

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MOTM Nov 2010
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
And here is some more info and helpful tips if you or a loved one is working the martyrdom:

Does the following scenario sound familiar? Your spouse asks you if you'd mind staying with the kids while he plays golf with a friend on Saturday. You had been looking forward to having several hours to go shopping by yourself that day, but without even hesitating, you reply "Sure, that's fine. I can go shopping another day. Go ahead and make your plans."

Then, on Saturday while your spouse is gone, you find yourself fuming and upset that you didn't try to work out a compromise so that you could have some time for your needs, too. Once again, you kick yourself for always putting your needs last and then resenting it. You feel unappreciated, unimportant, and taken for granted. When your husband comes home, your bad mood lasts for hours.

If that scenario doesn't ring a bell, how about this one? Some friends are coming over for dinner on Friday night. You know your spouse has a hectic schedule that day, so you offer to come home early from work and take over the food preparation. She turns down your offer, stating that everything's under control and she'll handle the cooking.

When you get home at your regular time, you find your wife stressed out and stewing silently. You offer to help, but she mutters between clenched teeth, "No, I've done this much by myself, so I might as well finish. If I want something done right, I have to do it myself. It always works out this way--everybody else just breezes in when it's time to eat and I do all the work."

The two examples given above illustrate a group of behaviors known collectively as the Martyr Syndrome. Individuals with Martyr Syndrome routinely sacrifice their needs and wants for those of others. But then they complain, feel taken advantage of, and remind everyone of how much they have sacrificed.

They have a strong desire to be praised and needed, and what others offer in those two areas is seldom enough. Their need for sympathy and recognition of their sacrifice is unhealthy and alienates others.

A typical Martyr Syndrome remark is, "After all I've done for you, this is the thanks I get." Or "I've never asked for anything for myself. I've always put your needs first."

Another one is, "You take the best piece of toast. It doesn't matter to me if I have the burnt piece." The implication is, of course, that the other person's needs are important, and the martyr's needs are not.

On the surface, the self-sacrificing martyr sounds sincere when he or she encourages you to go ahead with your plans and not to worry about anything. But if you fall for this, you'll regret it later when the martyr's real feelings emerge with the resulting anger, resentment, bitterness, and negativity. It's what I call "crazy-making behavior" because it's so convoluted and aggravating for those dealing with the martyr.

If you are the martyr, work to become more self-aware. Pay close attention to when you engage in this destructive behavior. Beginning to recognize and see your own behavior in a new light is the first step toward change. You won't always be able to head off the martyr role completely, but you can begin to nip it in the bud faster with practice and determination.

When you catch yourself starting to give a response that puts you in the role of a martyr, stop yourself and say, "That's not what I want to say. Let me start over again. Can we try to find a way that allows you to still see your friend and play golf and also lets me have some time to check out the sales at the mall? Let's be creative and come up with a win-win solution."

If you don't realize what you've done until some hours or days later, then let your spouse know that you need to talk. You could say something like, "I really thought I'd be okay with you going to play golf all day Saturday, but the more I think about it, the more resentful that I'm feeling. So I wanted to give you an update of where I am with things. Can we brainstorm about possible solutions?"

If your spouse is the self-sacrificing martyr in your household, things get trickier because you can't make someone else change. You can gently point out the behavior and how confusing it is to be told that everything's okay, only to find out later that your spouse is really angry and resentful.

One technique that works for some spouses is to bring up the subject again later, asking if the partner has had any second thoughts about anything since the original discussion. This, accompanied by a statement of how important it is to be sure the needs of both spouses are met, can sometimes help the partner to be more direct and open in stating needs and wants.

Of course, the assistance of a marriage counselor can be invaluable in helping spouses change their unhelpful patterns of communication and behavior. The goal is for the marriage to be as satisfying as possible to both partners and for communication and expression of feelings to be direct and clear. There's no place for repeated Martyr Syndrome behavior in a healthy marriage.
Okay. I hope this helps. I worked very hard on it. But I don't expect anything at all. No, no, no.... :crazy::tongue:
 

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Iron Fist
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There's no winning with these people.. [especially with us Ps] :sad:
 
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I'm wondering how my stepmother manages to carry her cross, it's that heavy. She's this dull, slow-witted doormat who you can't win with. If you help her in any way, she'll get annoyed and act as if noone appreciates her, and this is the same no matter how much or how little help is given, and if you don't help she turns into an even bigger martyr, acting as if she has to do everything. Her previous husband was a childish loser who never did anything (she did everything in the house and was the only one who worked) and at first I thought of him as some degenerate who had no respect for her, but after living with my stepmother for a while, I'm beginning to think that she just wore him down so much mentally that he just didn't try. I think it is a mix of relationships with people who were just bad for her, her Catholic upbringing and her ISFJ personality which has made her into such a martyr.
 

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I'm sure there are many of you who have come in contact with martyrs. They can be so annoying. My mother is a tried and true martyr. Omg, she makes me want to put my head through a window.

But my most previous relationship was with a man who couldn't climb down off his cross long to look at himself in a mirror.

Have you discovered these people too? I've been doing some reading and thought I'd share.

Here is a description of the Martyr Complex:





Here is a type on handling them as co-workers:
I am a martyr myself, and am trying my damndest to overcome it.
 

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MOTM Nov 2010
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I am a martyr myself, and am trying my damndest to overcome it.
Did you read the second post? There are some tips.

I think a lot of us can have traits. But if you are well aware of them and want to work on those traits it can make you less prone to having the full on complex.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'm wondering how my stepmother manages to carry her cross, it's that heavy. She's this dull, slow-witted doormat who you can't win with. If you help her in any way, she'll get annoyed and act as if noone appreciates her, and this is the same no matter how much or how little help is given, and if you don't help she turns into an even bigger martyr, acting as if she has to do everything. Her previous husband was a childish loser who never did anything (she did everything in the house and was the only one who worked) and at first I thought of him as some degenerate who had no respect for her, but after living with my stepmother for a while, I'm beginning to think that she just wore him down so much mentally that he just didn't try. I think it is a mix of relationships with people who were just bad for her, her Catholic upbringing and her ISFJ personality which has made her into such a martyr.
Interesting Skycloud. My mother is the biggest martyr on the planet. She was also raised Catholic and went to Catholic school all her life. So did my martyr ex. It may have something to do with the way they received all their information growing up.
 

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Did you read the second post? There are some tips.

I think a lot of us can have traits. But if you are well aware of them and want to work on those traits it can make you less prone to having the full on complex.
Well, I'm about 10 times better than I used to be and keep gettting better everyday.
 

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My ENTP roommate can exhibit these traits occasionally. It was very annoying. She'd offer to make something for me to eat, which I gladly accept as an act of kindness. She'll do my laundry when it's mine and I don't ever ask her to. Later she'll complain to her mom about how she takes care of her brother and me, making us food, washing our clothes, etc. when it was out of her own volition. She doesn't do this so much anymore, but it was annoying when she did. I don't make her do any of these things. I hardly even ask most of the time. So, yeah.

She's much better about it now that she has a life.
 

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You call it Martyrdom, I call it Whimsical Fuckery. ;D

My dad is like that. E.g. He'll take on this grandeur project (painting the house) and insist on doing it alone. When he's actually working on said project, he'll complain and say things like, "Why am I the only person who does all the damn work around here?"
One of my ex friends was a lot like this. She would take on projects, I would offer to help along with some of our mutual friends, she'd say "Oh no, I've got it. Don't worry!" then pout around because she was the only one doing it. When asked if she was okay, she'd first start with saying "You should know why I'm mad!!!" and even take it a step farther as to berate us for being so "unreliable" and "selfish".
Oh, and if something wasn't her idea, she wouldn't hear a word of it. Then later she'd "revise" the idea and try to take it as her own. When called out, she'd become extremely defensive. After a few years of putting up with it, I realized she'd always be like this and never change. Yes, she was Catholic.
Many times, I thought maybe it was a desperate attempt for attention and appreciation since her childhood wasn't so rosy. =\
 

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Sounds like my ESFP mom.
 
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I can be somewhat like that. I that at their worst. enneagram type 4's act like they have martyr complex. They want to be seen as different and they hang on to their emotional baggage. (Though, I presume that many 4's get past this and some may have never had this problem.) I feel like my struggles have made me who I am today and sometimes have trouble identifying with anything aside from my hardships. But I do not resort to name calling and insisting on doing everything myself while making a huge fuss about no one coming to help me. That's my mom. :crazy:

My mom insists on doing everything herself because she has certain standards (eg. the finished product has to look a certain way and the task has to be done within a certain time constraint.) If I offer to help her clean the basement, she doesn't have time. But once she starts cleaning, she'll make sure I know how much agony she is in trying to do it all herself. I grew up thinking that almost everything I did would never be up to her standards and in order to make her happy, I had to let her do things herself. But she will really pour on the guilt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
My mom insists on doing everything herself because she has certain standards (eg. the finished product has to look a certain way and the task has to be done within a certain time constraint.) If I offer to help her clean the basement, she doesn't have time. But once she starts cleaning, she'll make sure I know how much agony she is in trying to do it all herself. I grew up thinking that almost everything I did would never be up to her standards and in order to make her happy, I had to let her do things herself. But she will really pour on the guilt.
If that's your mom, we must be sisters. :laughing:
 
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My mom does it sometimes, but I never thought of it as anything abnormal. "I'm the only one who does any work around here," is actually a pretty common thing for her to say. It generally makes me feel guilty enough to do whatever she wants. When I was feeling overwhelmed to the point of tears one time, not knowing how I was going to get everything done when my friend wanted me to temporarily move in with him to help him because of his injured knees, and I had to move all of my belongings in a single day, I started crying, and my mom said, "Don't you dare whine after all I'm doing for you, helping you shampoo the carpet on mother's day," even though shampooing the carpet was something she wanted to get done, not something she was really doing for me at all. Somehow, she managed to make me feel bad about it, but deep down, I was silently enraged, as usual when she uses the "w" word to shame me for my feelings.

This martyr topic reminds me of something that can be worse than manipulative uses of personal sacrifice. I find that it is even more destructive when people secretly resent you for burdening them, but don't say anything about it until it is too late to make it better, like what happened with my closest friend. Relationships fall apart when people don't understand and express their needs.
 

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This is probably the reason why I'm the blacksheep of the family.

My mom goes into martyr mode at times.. I think she gets it from her mom, who often played the role of Mother Teresa (nothing's wrong about being a saint), but to the point of letting others run over you and take advantage of you? No thanks.

I think that's why I'm such a bitch compared to both of them. Whenever my mom tries to make me feel guilty, I don't play into it, because I see right through it. Instead, I tell her, "Mom. Look, tell me what you want? I can see through your games that you want me to feel bad, but I really don't. I'd feel better if you could just articulate what EXACTLY it is you mean so I can help."
 
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