What is the martyr complex and how to recognize it?

A martyr is a person who prefers to lose his life or suffer suffering, injustice or deprivation for defending his ideals. From this first definition arises what is known as the martyr complex: a set of thought and behavior patterns that can cause serious limitations to those who support them.

Some people seem to be always in pain. When talking to them, they incessantly relate the misfortunes that befall them and the sacrifices they make for others.

Their life seems to be wrapped up in injustice and ingratitude on the part of those around them and complaining is a habitual attitude in them . This tendency can create great difficulties when establishing social relationships, but it also causes personal suffering.

Characteristics of the martyr complex

It is likely that in your environment there is someone who shows the martyr complex  or, perhaps, you yourself frequently fall into these attitudes. However, to help you identify what it consists of, we show you the main characteristics.

Sacrifices for others

The person with a martyr complex is always willing to help others. And even prioritizes the needs of others over their own. You give excessively, even when the other person has not asked, and accumulate excessive tasks and obligations.

However, this does not happen as an act of kindness or generosity. But as an attempt to gain recognition and admiration from the environment. These people give for others to consider valuable and necessary.

Accept harmful situations and relationshipsmartyr complex

Anyone can be involved in unfair situations or in harmful relationships . However, the moment he detects it, he takes steps to improve the situation or abandon it.

People with a martyr complex remain in these spaces and tolerate circumstances that cause them suffering. In addition, they tend to establish unbalanced relationships in which they offer more than they receive.

Dissatisfaction and constant complaint

Despite everything they do for others, the person feels unappreciated and unrecognized . You may have the feeling that “nothing is enough,” since you are not really helping out of love but out of need to be accepted. In addition, he often constantly expresses his dissatisfaction with all these situations, emphasizing his efforts and the ingratitude of others.

Where does this behavior come from?

If you are wondering where these behaviors come from, you have to consider that they have a great sociocultural component. Many religions have espoused the idea of ​​sacrifice as something positive and desirable that makes you more worthy or deserving.

This same idea has been maintained, especially with regard to women at the family level; thus, a devoted wife and mother was recognized and admired for her work, while an independent woman was branded selfish.

These conceptions can have a deep impact especially on people with low self-esteem. If the individual does not have a good image of himself, does not feel worthy or valuable, he can resort to sacrifice as a way to deserve that affection and obtain the attention and empathy of others.

How to react to these types of people?

If there is a person in your environment with the above characteristics, there are certain considerations that you must take into account when interacting with her:

  • Identify emotional manipulation so as not to fall into it . This person may offer to help you, then ask you for something in return, make you feel guilty, or berate you for your ingratitude. Be cautious and stay alert.
  • Set limits. If that person’s words or actions upset you, make it clear what you expect and what you are and are not willing to tolerate. Likewise, do not hesitate to restrict the time you spend with that person if you feel that being with them hurts you. Self-care is paramount.
  • The behavior of an individual with a martyr complex can be irritating and cause rejection. However, try to be understanding because you do not know the personal trajectory that this way of being has generated. Focus on protecting yourself but do not seek to harm the other.

How to stop this type of behavior?martyr complex

If you identify yourself with the martyr complex, you may want to transform those patterns of thought and behavior that ultimately cause you personal discomfort and social problems. To do this, you can put some of the following guidelines into practice:

  • Work on your self-esteem and your self-concept. Coming to see yourself as a worthy and worthy person will lessen the need for external recognition and allow you to act more freely and less conditioned to seek outside approval or attention.
  • Practice assertiveness . Expressing what you feel and need can help prevent resentments and negative emotions from building up and is a more valuable resource than emotional manipulation.
  • Seek professional support to identify the origin of the martyr complex. And acquire tools that allow you to get out of that trend.

Ceasing to be a martyr brings relief

Complaining, victimhood, and attempted manipulation deteriorate social relationships and can generate rejection in other people. But, in addition, they also limit the individual himself and place him in a position of constant dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

Modifying the way of seeing the world and of dealing with it requires personal work that can have an impact on a notable change in the quality of life. Therefore, it is worth the effort.

Jeffrey Wilson

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