Are you a Money Martyr?

By Vanessa Pearson

December 2015
With the holidays here, what better time to discuss the next Money Archetype:

The Martyr. (Bet you know one.)

Am I One?

Money Martyrs live to serve others despite the suffering it may cause them. Be it monetary, emotional or both. Somewhere in life, Martyrs learned that serving others brings not only satisfaction but a quiet pride. It feels good. The more success they have, the more they believe their aid is necessary because not only do they feel good doing it, they are the only ones who do it ‘RIGHT’. It becomes their pattern. It feels natural. Perhaps they were relied on heavily in childhood. Maybe as the oldest child they were expected to care for their siblings or even an adult. Whatever the circumstances, as adults their behavior manifests itself in a need to care for others whether their services are necessary or not. In fact, they become so busy with their care-taking that Martyrs neglect their own needs. Often in denial of needing any help at all.

Haven’t you met or heard from friends or family members who tell you how constantly ‘busy’ or ‘tired’ they are from solving problems for family or friends? But offer to help and you will generally be turned down. After all, it’s a hassle to explain how to do it and you couldn’t possibly do it ‘right’. Martyrs are perfectionist with high expectations of themselves and others, so they’re bound to be let down when others don’t meet their standards. And this is the cycle. It allows them to secretly feel superior over and over again. In this self-fulfilling cycle they form an unconscious attachment to their own ‘suffering’ caused by ignoring their own needs. They become silently resentful of their self-sacrifice and the only relief is to be in control and to control others.

“The only gift I have to give, is the ability to receive. If giving is a gift, and it surely is, then my gift to you is to allow you to give to me.” – Jarod Kintz

Can I stop being a Martyr?know yourself - lettepress type

First: What drives the Martyr’s behavior?

The cycle, the pattern, drives it. Constantly relied on, the Martyr’s own needs are forgotten or neglected. They’ve grown used to this. It feels natural. They have justified the lack of support or care from others by forming perfectionist standards that allow them to rationalize their behavior and confirm once again that they are simply more capable than most. Sadly for the Martyr, it becomes unnatural for them to ‘receive’ help. It feels awkward when attention is focused on them or when they are asked what they need or want. They feel shame in asking for help. Especially when they are so capable for others, how could they need any help at all?

To stop the martyr cycle, they must own up to their wounded self. They must recognize their own neglect. They need to recognize their motivations in rescuing others. Is it an unconscious desire to help themselves? Is it a familiar pattern, a knee-jerk reaction that helps them to be in control? Is it simply the need to feel superior? Once Martyrs can identify their hidden wounds, learn to heal and let go, then they will be opened to receiving from others. Maybe they will realize that it is okay, even normal, to let someone else take charge occasionally, that they are not always obligated to do so. Recovering Martyrs need to set boundaries and lower their perfectionist expectations. When they learn to open wholeheartedly and receive what they compulsively give, then they will be the wise and compassionate archetype that they’re meant to be.

So during the upcoming holidays, stop for a minute and think about what motivates you when you are shopping and planning for family or business events. Are you martyring yourself for others? Have you lovingly set boundaries on what you can and can’t do? Can you accept help and receive it comfortably? If you can, it is a great and life affirming gift.

Until next time, peace and joy to you and yours.


“The only gift I have to give, is the ability to receive. If giving is a gift, and it surely is, then my gift to you is to allow you to give to me.” – Jarod Kintz