The Martyr complex, although a much less dramatic expression than in historical times, is still at use today in people we love, and sometimes even ourselves.
There is a commonality between the martyr complex and the victim complex, although they are slightly different. The martyr feels victimized and also strives to find other ways to further victimize themselves. A person with a victim complex, on the other hand, just feels victimized but doesn’t choose more ways to suffer.
Signs of the Martyr Complex
The word Martyr once had a meaning far from what it means today. A martyr was known as someone who would sacrifice themselves for their country, religion, or other beliefs.
Now, a complex has arisen which brings a new meaning to the word. There are signs of this toxic mindset, if your family, your friends, or even you are suffering from this problem. To understand and to get help with this, let’s learn those signs.
1. They always say yes
While this might not seem like a negative thing to do, it can be. To always say yes instead of no can mean you’re over-sacrificing yourself for others.
The thought process is this, “I’m saying yes so they know that I put them ahead of me, sacrificing what I really want, and this makes me look honorable”. They make sure you know this too.
2. Never at fault
I’ve had a victim complex from time to time, and I still do. But to have a martyr complex is to never take fault in anything. It seems that every bad thing that happened to you was the fault of someone else, when in reality, you may have brought quite a bit of that on yourself.
3. Stay in bad relationships
Because of the self-sacrificing nature of this disorder, the martyr will stay in some of the worst relationships. It’s because they don’t think they deserve to be in a healthy union with another person. They also use this position to further their woes and negative behavior. The relationship actually serves their position.
4. They are paranoid
These types of people tend to be paranoid of others. As far as family or friends go, they believe the worst of them, always thinking an ulterior motive is at hand. This paranoia will only grow stronger as the negative feelings of self-sacrifice persist. Even the little discrepancies are considered diabolical betrayals to them.
5. Create drama
A person who has a self-sacrificing nature such as this will also create quite a bit of drama. The drama created will revolve around some wrongdoing by certain people. Instead of dealing with the problem privately, they will tell as many people as possible to make others know the martyr is the “real” victim.
How to Deal with This Toxic Complex?
Whether the martyr complex lies within us or someone we love, it needs to be eradicated or at least maintained. There are a few ways to deal with this complex without sacrificing your sanity.
One way to deal with this self-sacrificing attitude is to learn how to properly communicate your feelings. Over time, if this is you, you’ve developed some unhealthy ways of expressing your emotions.
So, instead of using toxic words to get points across or relay feelings, you must avoid things such as passive-aggressive actions, and don’t let negative feelings build up. When negative feelings do arise, express these feelings more constructively. Maybe talk about bad emotions and then talk about your plans to get over them.
2. Always set boundaries
Practice saying no to some of the things people want you to do. This will help you gradually break that sacrificial crutch you lean on. You see, saying yes was always your excuse as the martyr.
If you say no, then this facade disappears, thus you are learning not to play that mindset. A complex can really be broken with a simple no instead of yes all the time.
3. Taking responsibility
You could be the martyr or someone else, it doesn’t matter. The point is, everyone should take their share of responsibility in life. Being in a victim complex relieves you of taking any responsibility whatsoever.
Some people think that if they’ve been constantly hurt and abused, how could they possibly be to blame? This is the mindset that has to be broken – it’s not about blame. Truth is, no matter how bad things were, you still have to take responsibility for the parts you play now. Few people live a saintly life.
4. Look within
If you are the one who plays the victim, then it’s time to stop looking at everyone else and look within. Change starts with you, no matter what’s happening on the outside, you must react, respond, and communicate healthily. The only way to do this is to embark upon inner work.
Meditation is good for those who suffer from this complex because it stills the mind and brings the focus away from the turmoil of the toxic self. It cleanses and renews the way we see the world around us. If our family or friends have victim complexes, we can help them with this as well.
Adopting a Healthy Self
There are so many ways we get sidetracked and damaged in this world. We develop illnesses, disorders, and toxic beliefs like the martyr complex. But we cannot hide from who we really are, neither can we deny the actions of the ones we love.
So, it’s time again for a change, yes change, that sometimes difficult step that we all have to make. And with this change, we can stop the martyr complex and develop a mindset of love, tolerance, and peace.
Let’s try a new way.
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