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The definition of martyrdom is someone who sacrifices their own needs, desires, and perhaps even life itself for the sake of their beliefs or principles.
A martyr has often been seen as a person of kindness and compassion because society has created a belief system that anyone who suffers and gives up what they want for someone else is a “hero.” Is this belief true? Or is it conditioning?
Perhaps you can relate to a time in your life when you may have taken on this role? Or perhaps you know people who have a predisposition to martyrdom? Perhaps they are suffering or unhappy in their marriages, yet are staying for the kids, for religious beliefs, or out of obligation (a principle that marriage is a non-breakable commitment)?
A martyr will often feel trapped, as if they have no choice but to give up their own life and make their partner’s needs more important than their own. Somehow, in their conditioning, they believe that this is what love is—sacrifice. Perhaps they grew up watching this, or perhaps they believe it’s their karma—a debt to be paid for the mistakes they have made. Deep down, they’re aware that they’re not happy and that they have dreams and desires that they’ve buried within themselves for the sake of principle—but, their relationship becomes more of a prison sentence than a life of happiness.
When we truly love someone we want them to be happy—not because we make them happy, but because they know how to make themselves happy and live their life pursuing their own personal dreams, expanding and evolving as an independent person. Sometimes that requires setting them free, such as when a couple isn’t aligned anymore, or if one person outgrows the other.
When someone is fulfilling a role and playing the part without making themselves a priority, they’re giving up their freedom—it’s a performance. How can we truly love someone when they are only showing us what they want us to see and not who they really are?
Martyrdom in love can form a deep codependency from both partners because neither person is truly “seeing” each other. True love feels free—it is not an attachment or a bond born out of obligations or belief systems. True love will never make us sacrifice—it only encourages us to become more of who we truly are.
From a spiritual perspective, we can only recognise something in another because it already exists within us. Consider where in your past or your current relationships you have had a tendency to play the role of a martyr?
Here are three ways to heal from martyrdom and live the life we truly want:
1. Block out all the noise and expectations of others and society, and get really honest with yourself. Ask yourself what you really want; “Am I playing a role for the sake of making someone else happy and giving up my own needs and desires?”
We can try and lie to ourselves, but our soul will always know the truth—we just feel it. It is a knowing—not something we “think” about.
2. Go within and examine your belief systems. What rigid belief systems are you holding on to? What have you been told in your childhood or through societal conditioning that makes you value yourself so little?
Often martyrs suffer from low self-worth and have been conditioned to put others first. Most have had this belief system instilled into them.
Make it your new personal goal to put yourself first—not in a coldhearted and manipulative way, but to truly honour yourself as worthy of the life you want.
3. Be prepared for loss and for a change out of your comfort zone. Not everyone is going to honour your choices because they are used to you sacrificing yourself for them. What you gain will far outweigh what you lose, because you are aligning with your soul. Most people cannot see beyond what they will lose and the uncomfortableness of the “unknown.” This leap is needed to eradicate any attachment to the old version of you.
We came here to experience the wonder and magic of all that life has to offer. Life is a playground. The world is our canvas.
Don’t let others create your life for you. Set yourself free.
Only you can align with the music in your soul.