Don't Be A Holiday Martyr

Oooooh, I can feel it coming. It is holiday season, and I can overschedule and overextend myself really quickly. When I overschedule, I am left feeling a bit grumpy and a whole lot of wiped out heading into the New Year.

I want the decorations to look perfect, the food to be memorable, and times with friends to be enjoyable. I can almost hear Dean Martin playing in the background…

Then I snap back to reality and realize I am the ONLY person in my house that expects all that. My boys are 19 and 21, and don’t get me wrong, I think they would notice if I didn’t have a tree up, but that’s about it.

What they would notice is me being stressed and disheveled and, dare I say, the martyr Mother?!? A ‘martyr Mother’ is defined as a parent who has a martyr complex with an exaggerated sense of obligation to suffer and sacrifice for others, especially her kids. Ouch. That stings.

As Moms we all do what we have to do for our kids. Sometimes that is a little out of guilt, but other times it is because it is all we know to do.

It took me until my youngest was a junior in high school to realize I was doing it. I landed somewhere between being a people pleaser and a martyr. I truly did not see it when my kids were young. I was too busy being busy. I wanted them to have all the things I didn’t have.

Martyr complex is very similar to victim mentality. It tends to be more common in survivors of abuse or trauma. For instance, I grew up with an alcoholic parent.

So how can we overcome martyr tendencies? Start by noticing. Ask yourself, ‘How am I feeling about this?’ If you have these tendencies, chances are it is challenging to express your needs or emotions. Journaling is a great tool to untangle how you truly feel about a situation.

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Learn how to communicate your needs in a non-passive aggressive way. Express your emotions of frustration and resentment in a non-angry tone. You will be heard more effectively when you are calm, and it can help prevent those negative emotions from building up.

Setting boundaries and, of course, self-care is essential, even during the holidays.

So maybe the halls won’t be all decked out. I seriously doubt I will have any mistletoe, but what I will have is my kiddos, my Buster, two cats, and a whole lot of love.

I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

Valerie Thompson
Author: Valerie Thompson

Valerie Thompson is a health coach, yoga instructor, meditator, breath instructor, and mom of two grown boys. She helps women explore how to take care of themselves by balancing hormones, while juggling their career and family.

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Don’t Be A Holiday Martyr

by Valerie Thompson time to read: 3 min