Someone who will self-sacrifice for the good of a mission? Or for the people around them? Even if those people are ungrateful or taking advantage of them? Give and give and give until they’re worn thin and exhausted. Sure. Free human resource and energy. It’s like samples day at Costco.
It really is a virtue to give. To support others. To invest in potential goodness and forgive mistakes. It’s a mark of a good person when they can contribute to the common good, or the good of those around them, and not take it personally when they don’t get back. That can wade through the difficulty of working with people who are in a tough way and still be kind and respectful.
A good person can sit quietly through emotional processing and backlash, whether it’s theirs or not, and still stand up and smile after. Right?
And in that case, if a good person is someone who can do all that, then a martyr is just a REALLY good person. Someone so committed to doing good that they would give themselves. Wow. Next level goodness.
And then the martyr is worn out.
And they run out of resources.
And they deplete their energy.
They wash up on the shores of codependency and parasitic relationships with nothing left to give. Except good people still try. So they give their last drops until they’re a shell of a human.
That’s a good person. Right?
Only I cannot agree.
Because there is something that the martyr doesn’t have.
They don’t have integrity, with others AND themselves.
They don’t have realistic awareness about their beneficiaries.
They don’t have sustainability in their good-will mission.
And they can’t keep going, because without a sense for codependency or leaching, without an awareness for when their investment isn’t going to good use, they waste all of their energy and resource on a mission or a person that doesn’t benefit.
Maybe because they can’t accept the kindness.
Maybe because they take but don’t apply.
Maybe because they get off on it.
Or maybe because they are in a tight spot and this Martyr doesn’t have enough to actually make a difference. That the entire life and soul of a person isn’t enough to save them or help them grow. That they simply aren’t at a developmental level to use the gift well.
So, a head nod to the ones in the charity position, gleaning everything they can off the well intentioned:
I get it. I feel you. I understand your pain. There’s something you want that can’t be bought and seemingly endless forgiveness and love doesn’t quench. You’re hurting. Something feels off. The world feels hard. You’re trying and it’s not sticking.
And that kind soul keeps giving; you want to be able to give like them as well. It feels so good to receive, even if things don’t get better on the whole. You want to be around amazing people, to be one of them, that can show up for others, day in and day out.
But you’re not doing yourself any favors. And you’re sucking someone dry to death in the process. You’ve got a leak in your vessel somewhere and all of that goodness is wasting.
Shore up your leaks.
Clean up your act.
Get keen. Get attentive. Get curious.
You will be a better equipped to give and receive if you do.
You may even save the life of someone trying desperately to help you, with their last drops.
Consider the power you wield.
What does love look like from your position?
And a gentle invitation to the Good Doing Martyrs:
I hear you. I see you. I witness the depth of your capacity to give. I witness in awe at how you scrape bottom for even more and hand it away with a hopeful smile. I cherish your heart. Your vast unfaltering heart.
And I see you suffering. I see you moving through a world intent on serving with no boundaries and no safety.
You want to give more? You want to do more?
What can you give and do if you are dead? What is left to sacrifice on the alter of potential goodness if you give every drop? What if sacrificing yourself isn’t enough?
And yet with that same self, provisioned and rested, holding clear boundaries and keen awareness, you could serve for ages. You could provide love and care until the day you die. You could consistently show up.
But to do so you might need to draw a line.
A line where forgiveness is granted but further generosity is no longer available. Where you notice when the efforts you make produce no progress and your work will be more effective elsewhere.
A line that demonstrates integrity with your mission to be an emissary of love, and integrity with yourself as the vessel.
A line that means you don’t have to be the Martyr.
What if by saying no to those that continue to suck you dry,
You were 3x more capable of giving to the ones that improve?
What if the next level of your mission, your business, and your life work, was hiding behind the door you labeled “bad people do this”, and that actually, it’s that capacity to draw a line that makes a good person great?
What if you are more than this,
But in order to find that,
You must admit,
That you can’t
And what if that was ok?
I see the world filled with people giving a lot.
And with people receiving those gifts.
And I can’t help but wonder what it would be like if we were all truly aware of where our gifts could serve best. And I can’t help but wonder what it would be like if we were honest with ourselves when we receive.
I wonder what a world would be like,
With no martyrs,
And no leaches,
Only good people.