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The Martyrdom Feature


Martyrdom is the self-image of the "born loser", the "quitter", the "pushover", the "doormat". A person with this Feature sees himself as a weakling and a failure. He has a "defeatist" attitude. Rarely does he try very hard at success. Such a person is usually an underachiever, never living up to his potential because he gives up too easily. In fact, winning feels uncomfortable to him it just doesn't seem right that he should succeed in his attempts, especially if it means that others will lose. Such a one may indeed sabotage himself in order that the other person win. On the verge of success, he may back out because of his fear of inability to handle the success. He does not want to appear to be ahead of his fellow. People with this Feature have to contend with an inherent sense of discouragement and futility. They lack self-respect, and yield readily to circumstances and to other people. They see other people as more correct than themselves, so they give in to the needs of others. When the going gets tough, they cave in and surrender. When they come to an obstacle or difficulty, they do not put forth much effort of energy to overcome it.

The underlying fear that drives Martyrdom is the fear of worthlessness. The person with this Feature will go to great lengths to prove himself worthy of the respect of others, because he has so little of it for himself. He will often do things that others would find demeaning, and by so doing he actually loses respect, but this is the typically deceptive power of the Feature at work. Martyrs want to earn the thanks of others for their subservient tasks, but usually what they get is contempt. The way to overcome this fear is to contemplate and apply the Positive Pole of Impatience, which is +Audacity. The Martyr should become bold enough to assert himself against the will of others, stop hesitating so much, and see himself as strong.

The Positive Pole is called "+Selflessness." In this Pole the person has weak ego strength. He is unable to impose himself on others, unable to assert his own will, because he has very little will of his own. He looks to others, stronger individuals, for his will. He is always giving in to their will. If others make requests of him, he usually acquiesces. Because of this tendency, other people often take advantage of the Martyr, and assign him tasks that others would refuse. This personal powerlessness can lead to asceticism and self-denial, as the desires of others are fulfilled but the Martyr's own desires are not.

One of the alternative names for the Negative Pole is "mortification". In extreme cases, the Martyr may experience actual death in martyrdom, but this is rare. Sometimes it might appear that Martyrs have a kind of "death wish" considering the careless things they do. They seem not to care whether they live or die. They may be morbid, looking forward to their own death. They may think about it or talk about it often. Since they have little respect for themselves, they may not be very concerned with their own physical well-being, and so they take risks with their life and health, treating the body badly. Some may do foolish and dangerous stunts to prove their worth. To get others to try to stop their suicidal actions would prove they are of some worth, would it not? People in this Pole will punish themselves for their mistakes and weaknesses.

The Negative Pole is called "-Victimization." This name declares the fact that the Martyr in this Pole typically sees himself as a victim of circumstances. He also has a strong tendency to perceive the actions of others toward him as persecution, even if those others do not intend it. Such a person in the extreme case sees himself as helplessly inadequate, even to the point of incapacitation, unable to surmount the obstacles in the path to success. He sees himself as buffeted on every side by forces beyond his control, to which he capitulates without a struggle. By this means, he can blame others for his problems, or when things go wrong. The Martyr in this Pole may get into relationships that are defeating, one after the other, where the partner takes advantage of him. This gives the Martyr a sense of worth, that others should win with his loss. The Martyr "has no fight in him".

Martyrdom is the Complementary opposite of Impatience. Therefore the Martyr is very patient and long-suffering, tolerant of others. This is the primary advantage of Martyrdom, if it can be said that there is any advantage in a Feature. The Martyr does not rush into things: in fact he is often slow to action. He is not easily angered, at least not outwardly. Rather, he turns his anger inward on himself, and punishes himself for his supposed shortcomings and failings. Rather than persecuting others like an Impatient one, he persecutes himself.

Martyrdom is the counterpart of the Warrior Role. People with this Feature see themselves as Warriors. Both Role and Feature are able to take a lot of punishment. Both can be pretty severe on themselves, the Warrior in a positive way and the Martyr in a negative way. Since the Martyr has the image but not the substance of a Warrior, he would do well to be careful not to let self-discipline, which is in a Warrior's nature, turn into self-persecution.

 Next page | Impatience



Phil Wittmeyer is a longtime Michael student and scholar of the teachings.  He can be reached at: wittmeyer@hotmail.com


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