Monday, May 10, 2010

A Mother’s Martyrdom…. Is this you ?

We celebrate Mother‟s Day soon, a time of appreciation for the role of your Mother, or perhaps you! It is an interesting celebration and one that raises many questions of the Mothers of the world and their selfless contribution to the children they have chosen to raise. Mums have this role, but they are not alone, for many people also give selflessly to those around them, e.g. family, friends, colleagues or charities.

Are you a Martyr? I was a magnificent martyr, a pattern of behaviour I am finally breaking. I believed that I needed to do/be certain things to be enough. I believed I must put my children, husband, family and friends before my own needs, that I must have the perfect house, children and job. I was terrified of the judgement and loneliness, so I mirrored myself on hardworking people and perfected their roles until I was too busy to be happy. As my happiness slid away, so did my willingness to do things for others. I felt tired and unappreciated and began to begrudge everything. I had become a martyr!
Most of us associate a Martyr as being someone who dies/suffers for a cause, but many martyrs are just ordinary people. How many people do things because they feel obliged, guilty, indebted, or forced to do it, are fearful of the consequences if they change or believe no one else will do it. Maybe they look good if they are doing so much for others. Maybe be you‟re staying in a job because you believe they won‟t cope without you. So you may be realising you are a full blown martyr like I was or you may have noticed parts of your life that are martyr-like. It‟s clear this is not good, but how do we break the pattern and change it?
If you have recognised any martyrdom in you, you are already changing it. As you become aware, you release the power of this old patterning and a willingness to let go develops. Now you are in a powerful position to make big, positive changes! Work out how this behaviour is creating a reward, making you feel „good‟. It‟s time to be honest and objective, perhaps someone close can help. This is not to judge you, but to help you let go of the old you. Is it a belief that this is what it takes to be a good parent, partner, child, employee or sibling? Does it make you feel superior/noble/righteous or do you receive sympathy for what you are doing? “Poor Karina, I don‟t know how she does it all!” Do you believe that you must struggle to be successful/happy/rich? Somewhere in your life you have associated a „gain‟ with doing something you didn‟t want to do and it has spiralled into your current circumstances.
Once you know what and why, the real job begins. Do you need that reward through martyrdom or could you gain it in some other way? I believe we need to be living each moment as passionately as we can. I‟m not suggesting you don‟t wash the dishes anymore, as this will bring its own form of misery when you can‟t make a clean cup of tea. Imagine a slight change of attitude and a new way of doing things bringing you a whole new happier life…..I made it happen so can you! A life that is driven by what you really want to do, rather than „have to‟, one full of time for you to do what you love! I took total responsibility for my life, for how I was feeling and what I was doing and stopped blaming others. No one could take the blame for my choices, so therefore if I wasn‟t happy, the buck stopped with me. I stopped whinging and blaming and started analysing why. Once I understood why I was doing things, I got to work on finding out new ways of thinking and choosing. E.g. I always complained I never had any time: 5 kids, a big house, a business to run and what do you expect! Enough! I looked at why I was doing everything myself. I felt important having all the responsibility and could take credit for the results. I was reluctant to put the effort and time into teaching my family to take responsibility for them-selves and their stuff. I gained sympathy and I felt more like those around me. How ridiculous, all of it! I was punishing myself using my beliefs about my roles and trying to overcompensate for being a working Mum!
I got creative and sought advice and ideas from others, books and the internet, trying each till we had success. So successful that last weekend there were 8 loads of washing to wash, dry, fold and put away and I didn‟t do any. My body crashed. I am sitting here writing this article on Wednesday after rescheduling today‟s clients and spending almost a whole day in bed. Martyrdom is tiring and I have been working too hard. My body needed rest, and whilst I hate to inconvenience others I had to stop and listen to its needs. I am creating a plan to delegate more so that I can manage some free time! Goodbye Martyrdom, welcome loving myself enough to care about me too!
Try it, you can do it too, look outside the square, believe any-thing is possible and then make changes. You deserve it, whether you‟re a Mum or not, you deserve to love your life too. A friend said to me on the weekend that she looks at the tasks in her life and many are expected, but the benefits of seeing the smile on her child‟s face after winning his game makes those trips to & from training so worthwhile. She chooses to do because she enjoys it, and that‟s the opposite of martyr-dom…..give it a try in your life!
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