Be a Right Kind of Martyr

Gandhi was a martyr. Dr. Martin Luther King was a martyr. Malcom X was a martyr. St. Joan of Arc was a martyr. These were exemplary figures who died for their convictions. They were trying to make the world a better place so others wouldn’t have to experience suffering and mistreatment.In one context, martyrdom can and should be celebrated for those who suffered or were killed for a belief or a cause, religious or otherwise.

This kind of martyrdom takes courage, discipline, and lots of strength. It is completely selfless; others benefitted because of their sacrifices. People who serve their fellow man in this manner should be genuinely revered and admired. But there are certain specific differences that diffrentiates the 

1. Ego

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Leadership at the Speed of Change

Unfortunately there is another kind of martyrdom that is toxic and egocentric. Martyrdom in this context, can be defined as a display of feigned or exaggerated suffering to obtain sympathy or admiration. A martyr in this sense puts on a façade. He or she appears to be looking out for the well-being of others when in actuality, he or she is merely devising a scheme to receive attention.

So why do people engage in this unauthentic martyrdom? I admit I have done it in the past on more than one occasion. In most of those situations I was attempting to get attention from another person. Many people use this attention as a means to make them happier and feel more fulfilled. But this kind of martyrdom is counter-intuitive because instead of gaining more happiness for yourself, you are merely feeding the ego and making it stronger. So what you believe will bring you more contentment is only feeding your ego. And when the ego gets what it wants you, the authentic you, doesn’t.

2. The Act

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Perhaps this kind of action begins at a young age and transitions into adulthood. As a child in order to get the attention from your parents you might have faked like you were hurt. I’m not suggesting every child has done this, but it is a pretty common practice among children. If I act like I’m hurt or in state of suffering then mommy and daddy will come to the rescue.

Even as a child this kind of behavior can be destructive. Parents often begin to notice when their children are truly suffering or if they are just on an attention pursuit. And so often children are allowed to get away with it because it is accepted as normal behavior.As you get older your child-like instincts generally shift to more appropriate, adult-like behavior.

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Clarity Comes from Action

This is a natural transition that most of us experience even though traces of that child-like instinct has a tendency to linger if you are not aware.As you age pseudo acts of martyrdom are often met with resentment and annoyance from other adults, unless you happen to be surrounded by enablers. Just as an alcoholic can be enabled by family, friends, and other acquaintances, a counterfeit martyr can also.

3. Emotions

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Gain Your Emotional Intelligence

It takes a keen awareness and an ability to observe oneself when the thoughts and emotions arise. Are you seeking to obtain attention through your efforts or are you purely struggling because you want to help others? Is it doing something good for others, especially when you exert yourself, or do you need something extra? Do you hold unrealistic expectation for other people, and when they don’t live up to them, do you feel hurt or deprived?

Real sacrifice and commitment to someone else or a cause doesn’t require admiration or recognition of other people. The journey itself is sufficient to sustain a feeling of accomplishment and prosperity. (Warrior Vs Worry – Or Mentality)

This article is no way an affront to all you wannabe martyrs out there. I was one. I still notice the ego playing out its victimizing thoughts in my mind. Being a real martyr is nothing anyone sets out to do. It just happens. Your intention can go into living the best life possible for yourself and your fellow man or it can be helplessly and aimlessly poured into the victimizing attitude your mind creates for you. If you want to be happy and successful, stop trying to be a martyr.

ByMike Oppland

Mike Oppland is a professional basketball player, basketball coach, life coach, teacher, and writer. He currently lives and works in Luxembourg. Mike is co-founder and co-director of xpertcoaching.com along with his twin brother Dan. He loves spending time with his family, friends, girlfriend Vera, and their dog Donald.

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