I want my words to be life giving, to build up others. Because of our sinful nature, we can often be critical. In our ignorance we can think we are right and doing the right thing to offer our critical opinion. We need to guard our hearts against being opinionated. We can pick apart the way people do things differently than us.
Overcoming a Sensitive Spirit to Criticism
We have to become deeply assured of who we are in Christ. Being confident in our calling will keep us from being derailed by criticism. We should not be driven by praise. Therefore, don’t let compliments go to your head or criticism go to your heart.
One way to respond to critical people is to respond carefully, not rashly or instinctively.
A thoughtful answer can give a critical person a different perspective. If you wait to send that text or throw back a defensive comment, then you can think about your response. This allows you to act out of wisdom.
Often, the criticism isn’t about you. Most angry people are actually hurting. They have a past hurt or something about themselves they don’t like.
Forgive in real time, don’t wait months or years to forgive. It will steal your joy and make it hard to love others. Resist the urge to defend yourself or explain why it is not fair. If we let the Spirit help us we can get above it.
Accepting constructive criticism can help us be better. If there are not several things you have changed in the last year because of constructive criticism, then you are missing out on the opportunity for growth.
What is a Martyr Complex? 18 Signs Someone in Your Life Has One
It allows you to evade guilt and shame, bypass self-responsibility, and perhaps most importantly (and tragically), it allows you to dodge real life self-growth. Having a martyr complex essentially involves pointing the finger at other people or situations in your life and blaming them for your illnesses, disappointments, crushed dreams, and emotional turmoil.
So what is a Martyr? Do you have a Martyr in your life? And most importantly, do you tend to exhibit Martyrdom?
Firstly, What is a Martyr?
Traditionally a martyr is understood as a person who is willing to die for their country, religion or beliefs. These days, a martyr refers to a person who unnecessarily sacrifices themselves for others, while ignoring their own needs.
What is a Martyr COMPLEX?
What is a martyr complex? A martyr complex is a destructive pattern of behavior in which a person habitually seeks suffering or persecution as a way to feel “good” about themselves. We all have the capacity to be martyrs, but martyr complex sufferers adopt this as a daily role, often to the detriment of their relationships.
Having a martyr complex is a way of life as it taints every interaction a person has towards others and their role in the world. I say this because I have not only personally wrestled with a martyr complex in the past, but in the present, I also frequently speak with and mentor self-imposed martyrs.
Why Do People Develop Martyr Complexes?
Why do some people become self-imposed victims, and others become self-possessed champions? There are a number of potential reasons why, and all of them might help you to develop a more compassionate understanding of others and/or yourself:
Childhood experiences mold us significantly, and often martyr complexes develop out of adopting the twisted behavioral patterns and values of our parents. For example, if our mother/father were self-imposed victims who gave up all of their hopes and dreams for us, it is likely that we would adopt the values of being “selfless, sacrificial and kind.” As our parent’s and family members were like gods to us when we were little, we unconsciously adopt many of their traits.
Societal/cultural conditioning also contributes greatly to our tendency to develop certain complexes throughout life. For example, making a simple comparison of South American and North American tradition reveals a lot about differing cultural expectations. Latina women, for example, are traditionally expected to be motherly, nurturing, self-sacrificing homemakers. American women, on the other hand, are frequently encouraged to be active, successful, and even a little selfish, business women. Our cultural roots determine many of the thoughts and feelings we have about who we are, and who we “should” be.
Self-esteem and the subsequent development of our core beliefs is also a major contributor to developing a martyr complex. The worse we feel about ourselves, the more we tend to try covering this up by making believe that we are “kind, loving, compassionate and caring.” Being a self-imposed martyr also removes the need for us to take responsibility of our lives by scapegoating other people as the cause of our failures and disappointments.
The Martyr Complex Checklist
1. The person has a martyr as their hero, e.g. Joan of Arc, Francis of Assisi, Gandhi, Jesus, or perhaps a parent or grandparent who abandoned all of their hopes and dreams in “service” of the family.
2. They were born into a culture/country/family that has very strict gender roles, religious creeds, or expectations.
3. They display signs of low self-esteem, e.g. inability to receive love or affection, negative body image, excessive judgmentalism, moodiness, etc.
4. They were abused as a child emotionally, psychologically or physically (e.g. by a parent, sibling, family member, church member, teacher, etc.).
5. They have stayed in an abusive relationship or friendship, even despite their ailing health and well-being.
6. They refuse to accept responsibility for the decisions and choices that have caused them pain or suffering.
7. They portray themselves as righteous, self-sacrificing, the “nice guy/girl,” the saint, the caretaker, or the hero.
8. They blame the selfishness and inhumanity of other people for their repression and oppression.
9. They seek to reassure themselves of their innocence and greatness.
10. They exaggerate their level of suffering, hardship and mistreatment.
11. They have a cynical, paranoid or even suspicious perception of other people’s intentions.
12. They have an obsessive need to be right.
13. They have a hard time saying “no” and setting personal boundaries.
14. They assume that other people can read their mind.
15. They emotionally manipulate or coerce people into doing what they want by portraying themselves as the noble sufferer.
16. They don’t take initiative to solve their problems or try to actively remedy them.
17. When the Martyr’s problems are solved, they find more “problems” to complain about.
18. They actively seek appreciation, recognition, and attention for their efforts by creating drama.
1. Jessica is in a relationship with Paul who is an alcoholic. Her friends have constantly advised her to leave the relationship for her health, but Jessica keeps insisting that she will “change” Paul and help him to be a better person – despite his reluctance to improve himself.
2. Antonio is constantly staying overtime at work without being asked to. When one of his colleagues is promoted to the position of regional assistant manager within the company, he guilt trips his boss by pointing out how “hard he works and how much he sacrifices” without getting anything in return.
3. Melissa is trying her best at university, and yet her mother is frequently asking her for help within the house. When Melissa explains that she “has a lot to do” because of her university study, her mother starts complaining how selfish and unthoughtful she is, and how she “has given up everything to get Melissa where she is.”
4. Jake and Flynn own a restaurant. When Jake suggests that Flynn “take a break,” Flynn responds by saying, “Without me, this place will fall apart. I have no choice but to stay here.”
5. Valentina and Rodrigo have been married for 20 years. When Rodrigo suggests that Valentina start painting again, Valentina says, “How can I? I have to continue taking care of my children; I have too much to do,” even though both of their children are self-sufficient teenagers.
Dealing with a Martyr Complex
We’ll explore how to deal with people in your life that have a martyr complex in a future article. To finish up, I just want to provide a few quick, basic pieces of advice for helping yourself if you struggle with a martyr complex.
Firstly be honest with yourself. Honesty requires the courage and desire to truly live an empowered life.
God is always with us. Our hardest times are those times we need Him most. Learning to lean on Him during these storms is life changing. The hardest times in my life have actually been a blessing because they have radically changed my relationship with God. I now know I cannot make it through life without Him.
We are not built to be strong enough or good enough to do this life on our own. We are all created with a God size hole in our soul. There is only one Love, one Truth that can fill that yearning. He is the only way we can truly feel peace and joy. No amount of money, success, or fame can compare. All things of this world leave us feeling empty because we were designed to have a relationship with our creator.
I love my family and friends, but Jesus comes first. He is the only one who understands all of me. He knows my darkest secrets and deepest fears and He loves me because of the broken imperfect person I am.
In the Storm
God With Us
He’s with you through the pain. He comforts you in the waiting. When you’re anxious about your future, He gives you courage. As you climb the mountain, He keeps you safe in His arms. In every moment, we have God With Us. 🙏✝️❤️
Click the link to watch it now! 🔽
Any type of stress, anxiety, anger, or conflict makes my pulling worse. It is a self-soothing behavior that helps me calm down and often dissociate from my feelings. Over the past few years, I have been working to use helpful strategies that help me relax without pulling my hair (which only leaves me feeling worse in the end).
As a high stress person, I have suffered with anxiety for most of my life. It still plagues me at times, but I have learned strategies to calm my mind and body. Taking a quick break from the situation, praying, practicing deep breathing, and trying to find a more positive outlook are some simple tools that have helped me.
If I catch myself being negative or getting stressed out, I try to take a step back and look at the situation objectively. In the past, I would catastrophize my situation. Now, I can identify those feelings and look for the truth.
- Are my concerns based on truth?
- Can I do anything about this?
- Is there a more positive outlook I can strive for?
- If the worst case senario does play out, is it really that bad?
Beyond my stress and anxiety is anger that can cause relationship problems. The following article presents 3 ways to create conflict (and therein, 3 ways to avoid it). I know I am guilty of these and am making it a priority to avoid them. Reducing conflicts in our relationships, greatly increases our overall well-being.
Three Sure Ways to Create Conflict
By Rick Warren
“Any fool can start arguments; the honorable thing is to stay out of them” (Proverbs 20:3 TEV).
Wise people are peacemakers, not troublemakers. Wise people don’t carry a chip on their shoulder. They’re not always looking for a fight, and they don’t intentionally antagonize other people.
The fact is, if you’re around anybody for any length of time, you’ll figure out what that person does that irritates you, and you file that information in the back of your mind as a tool to use when you get in an argument. It becomes a personal “weapon of mass destruction”! When you get in an argument, and that person says something that hurts, offends, or slights you in any way, then you pull out the big gun. You push the hot button. And it works every time!
You know what the Bible calls that? Foolishness! You’re not getting any closer to the resolution. You’re not helping the relationship. In fact, you’re hurting it. It is not wise.
Proverbs 20:3 says, “Any fool can start arguments; the honorable thing is to stay out of them” (TEV).
We all use tools, tricks of the trade, and skills in relationships that are actually counter productive. They’re hurtful, they’re harmful, and they don’t get you what you want out of relationships. In fact, they get you the exact opposite behavior. But when we lack wisdom, we use them anyway.
There are many of these tools, but here are just a few:
1. Comparing. Never compare your wife, your husband, your kids, your boss, or anybody else, because everybody’s unique. Comparing antagonizes anger.
2. Condemning. When you start laying on the guilt in a relationship, all you’re going to do is get the exact opposite of what you expect. It doesn’t work. It’s foolish.
3. Contradicting. William James, the famous psychologist said, “Wisdom is the art of knowing what to overlook.” There’s some stuff you just need to overlook.
The Bible says in Proverbs 14:29, “A wise man controls his temper. He knows that anger causes mistakes” (TLB). Have you ever said or done anything stupid out of anger? Yes? Because when you get angry, your intelligence goes out the window. When you get angry, you say and do foolish things that are actually self-defeating.
Did you ever think about the fact that there is only one letter difference between “anger” and “danger”? When you get angry, you are in dangerous territory. You are about to hurt others — and yourself — with your own anger.