Women Can Be Great Martyrs
For women historically, we have experienced much suffering and have had limited power. Therefore, it makes sense that helplessness and martyrdom are a natural outgrowth.
In addition, the women of generations past have been taught to sacrifice for the good of others. I remember telling my grandmother I was writing a book about women and self sacrifice. Grammy said, “but that is what we are supposed to do.”
Well, sacrificing one’s self may be the right thing to do in extreme circumstances. However, self-sacrificing for no good reason other than to fulfill one’s personal need for self sacrifice? Not very useful.
Thankfully, few of us nowadays have to make a Sophie’s Choice on a regular basis. Are you martyring away your life anyway? Ask yourself these questions:
- Are you unhappy in your current relationship? Are you doing anything about it? Or are you just feeling victimized and feeling taken advantage of?
- Do you often do things yourself even though you may have asked others to help? Just so it will get done.
- Or maybe you don’t even ask. After all, if they really “cared “about you they would “just know” you could use some help.
- Do you ever sigh loudly after taking a deep breath in for full effect? I know a “Mary” who is well known for her deep and loud sighs of victimization. She does this whenever she wants people to do something to help her, like clearing the dinner table. Mary does this instead of asking for help.
- Do you try and make people feel guilty at all? Guilt as a means of control is a very tempting option for women. After all, if you have to be nice all the time and you can’t ask for what you need, what options are left to get your needs met? Moms do this with their kids sometimes.
- Do you sometimes do too much or stay too busy? Uh oh. Doing too much for others is a one way to ticket on the train to feeling victimized.
Takeaway: Feeling victimized or sorry for yourself is absolutely okay! However, making repeated choices to stay victimized because of a deep-seated need to be a victim is not. No matter what your life circumstances or situation, there are always choices. The choices may be very limited and things could suck very badly for a while, but choices are always there. For those who find themselves victimized repeatedly, or if you are having trouble getting out of the martyrdom hole, seek the support of a therapist or a 12-step program. It could be extremely helpful.
Cherilynn Veland is a therapist living in Chicago.
She also blogs about home, work, life and love
Picture compliments of Wikipedia.