4 Ways to Get Out of Martyr Mode When Doing Too Much

iStock_6223748Sm hand with plants left faceIn this wonderful post, leadership expert and outstanding blogger, Karin Hurt, discusses “How to Give So They Will Receive.” Karin outlines ways for leaders to give to their teams with methods and attitudes that make it easier for the recipient to accept the offering–leading to higher team cohesiveness and productivity.

Another aspect of giving and receiving that we don’t often address is–what is the right amount of giving?  So much of society’s program leads us in the direction of give, give, give. Giving to others has a host of benefits, I agree.  And, what happens when we give to much? Or when it’s not from our heart, but out of our programing? <<read on>>

I tend to get cranky, mostly because I have not taken care of myself.  If I do too much, I go into martyr mode, get really emotional, and am no good to anyone–especially me because I am so busy feeling sorry for myself.

What’s martyr mode*?  The dictionary defines a martyr as a person who suffers greatly, either in reality or as their own actions.  Since the people around me are not made to endure great suffering, most martyrs are there by their own doing.

One way I get myself into martyr mode is to procrastinate, then feel sorry for myself, or beat myself up, because I have to rush or work late. Or I can be angry with someone for not giving me what I want, when I have not truly asked for it–like help with a project.

These examples lead to a more modern definition of martyr, or martyr mode*: not asking for what we want or giving too much.

How do we know were in martyr mode*?

  • Reacting more strongly than the situation warrants
  • Not wanting to do something I usually enjoy, like writing, organizing a project, or cooking
  • Feeling tired or anxious, and not knowing why

Some ideas for getting out of martyr mode*:

  • Stop what we are doing. Maybe even leave for a few minutes–go to another room, or leave virtually by imagining a glass wall between us and the thing that’s making us cranky
  • Take a deep breath, then another one.
  • Think about the last time you did something for fun or that you really love. If it’s been so long you have a hard time remembering, schedule some self-care time, even just in your mind.
  • Ask ourselves, “What is my intention?” The answer does not need to be 100% self supporting–sometimes when I stop trying to fool myself and acknowledge that I am doing this for another person, I can accept that and be in a better mood. (Maybe because that gives me reason to take care of myself later?!)

Of course there’s the really healthy idea of not getting into martyr mode in the first place.  That’s enough for a whole post, but I have to mention one key attitude here: don’t over-commit. (So easy to say and so hard for some of us to do.)

Can we give too much? Are there other ways of knowing we are in martyr mode? More ideas for leaving it behind?

Please comment below, or send me an email at lisa@kaliday.com

* I call it martyr mode instead of being a martyr because we are not like this all the time.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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