“Martyrdom” & The Spectrum of Anxious Attachment
Updated: Mar 6
Have you ever been on the receiving end of a guilt trip?
Have you ever attempted to give someone a guilt trip?
What do you think the emotional communication is, in those moments?
How does it feel to be guilted?
How does it feel when someone bends to your will, under the weight of your guilt?
Truly, there is a power exchange, when these things occur.
More specifically, this video is about how painful it can be for anxious open hearts to persistently feel the only way to assert their power is in a self-sacrificing, "martyred" state.
And this is often an unconscious response to a lifetime of conditioning that tells us that to draw a line with someone (i.e. assert a boundary), is "selfish," and so, the only way not to be "selfish" is to be completely selfLESS (i.e. without boundaries; always saying "yes" even if it depletes us).
But then we wind up abandoning ourselves (feeling victimized) to the point where we begin to feel depressed and anxious, because of all the repressed anger and resentment that is too "selfish" gets turned in on the self. (Otherwise, if we turn it outwards, it threatens our attachment relationships.)
And now, an inner critic has formed, which beats us up on the inside, in response to all the psychological and emotional bullying received on the outside. It becomes a double trouble.
But even if we really have found ourselves in situations where we were truly helpless, there is an emotional power that we learn to wield subsequently, which is a form of martyrdom.
And as you know, that can be a VERY powerful force to be reckoned with. Most obviously demonstrated through things like guilt trips, or exaggerated forms of suffering and shame.
And if we have had a taste of that kind of power, it can keep us in perpetual cycles of suffering. Because we have learned that to be any other way, is to risk losing what power we feel we have GAINED, in the suffering.
And so, ironically, it is a relinquishing of one kind of power (one born of martyrdom and suffering) which actually grants you access to a new kind of power (one that is sourced from a place of spiritual abundance and a personal agency and resiliency).
This is a tough topic to tackle without slipping into judgement--of the self, or of the other-- but an important one to understand.
To learn more, checkout this 8-minute video!
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In love and abundance,
Briana MacWilliam ATR-BC, LCAT
Licensed and Board Certified Creative Arts Therapist
Author, Educator and Reiki Practitioner