Are You Suffering From Martyr Complex?

Are You Suffering From Martyr Complex?


Are you struggling with sacrificing your own needs and wants in order to do things for others?


3 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Hello, my name is Desiree’, and I am a recovering martyr. What does that mean? It means that the hill I chose to die on was the one where I continued to “serve” from an empty cup. In a world where it feels like you must always be on your p’s and q’s and be everything to everyone, it’s pretty challenging to have boundaries right? Wrong.

Let’s use your most well-known service person, saint, or , for example. In case you couldn’t think of someone, I’ll provide you with an example. Let’s use Captain . Captain America is arguably one of the best superheroes in Marvel. I mean come on, have you seen End Game? Do you think he would have lasted as long during his fight with Thanos if he hadn’t taken time to train, eat, or study? What would have happened if when it was time for everyone to band together to try and stop Thanos from doing his little snappy-snap, Cap was occupied up the street helping everyone that called out to him? What if  decided he was busy that day because he was “needed” over in a board meeting? 

Related: Can Food Sensitivity Trigger Depression and Anxiety?

Each of us is a superhero in our own way, but not all of us know when it’s time to go from Captain America back to Steve Rogers. 

So here’s what a Martyr Complex looks like:

  • You begrudgingly continue to do things for people despite not feeling appreciated by them
  • You regularly take on particular problems and responsibilities that are not your own when you do not HAVE to
  • You have people in your life that always say that you could be doing more and make you feel bad about yourself if you do not “show up” for them
  • You feel drained by your relationships
  • You are used to one-sided relationships and taking care of people

How it affects you:

  • It makes you feel like you can’t speak up for yourself
  • It makes you feel like you cannot tend to your own needs
  • It makes you feel trapped or stuck

How to kick the martyr habit

  • Speaking up for yourself
  • Implementing boundaries
  • Developing
  • Seeking professional assistance

Related: How to Help an Employee With Anxiety

What do superheroes have to do with anything? Martyrs feel obligated to say yes. They begrudgingly put on the cape that no longer blows in the wind. This is a hard habit to break and the solutions here are easier said than done; I know. If it were that easy, we’d all be living our best lives. But for those of us that aren’t quite, there are things we can do to continually get us one step closer to that place. Click here if you want to join me for a deep dive into how to address some of these issues, kick those habits, and increase productivity. 

You have everything it takes to live the life that you envision. Let’s dive in and do the work!

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