How familiar does this sound?
- “I’m always having to bail the kids out.”
- “Here’s $20 – just don’t tell anyone I gave it to you.”
- “It’s always the same. I step in to help but no one ever takes my advice.”
From time to time we all feel this way when we help out in families.
But if you are helping others more than you are helping yourself, see yourself as responsible for the financial situations of everyone around you or feel resentful of feeling like the ‘Bank of Mum’, then your relationship with money may need a tune up.
Meet the Martyr
In money coaching there are 8 Money Types one of which is the Martyr. It seems appropriate to focus on her this week, as we approach Mother’s Day (except in the UK, where, I know, it was in March) because the Martyr is the mother of all money types – and it is much more commonly seen in women.
The martyr is compassionate and steps into the role of caretaker for the rest of the family – especially the kids. She may be paying all the bills for adult children or spending extravagantly on the youngsters. The extended family is included too – helping parents and siblings with loans or gifts – and friends are sometimes included in her mothering instinct. The business-martyr hates charging what she’s worth and often does work for free of fails to follow up an unpaid invoice because “Ah, well. They need my help.”
I did say this was a perfect Money Type for Mother’s Day, didn’t I? It’s a challenge to acknowledge it, if this is your type because, as you see family all around you this weekend, the messages are all about giving and generosity and family. The sense of a role as mother and protector is very strong in us all. Showing restraint or being frugal feels really uncomfortable.
Generous with strings attached
But ‘Mum the Martyr’ is a victim to her own generosity and she goes out of her way, and beyond her own budget to support the family. Long suffering as she is, she resents her role and can be passive-aggressive and a perfectionist. She holds high standards and can be critical and judgmental even though she is usually taking care of others more than of herself. And the gifts and money come with strings attached as she works to control the lives of the family she is so generously supporting.
She is unconsciously attached to their martyrdom though. While she feels disappointed that she is constantly seen as a ‘free bank,’ the idea of saying “No” doesn’t appeal at all.
“My time is coming” she tells herself. “Soon, all my sacrifice will pay off.”
It takes one to know one
I was a big martyr about money in my past. I was always stepping in to help out the kids and making sacrifices to give others everything I felt I hadn’t had in my childhood. As a result, I know only too well how this sort of strings-attached generosity can get in the way of life.
If this sounds like you too, then it is tome to let go of the past and heal the wounds that are driving you to feel you need to rescue everyone else. It is all about seeing our worth – recognizing for ourselves that we have value to others, even if we aren’t giving money and gifts and material things. Here are a couple of simple tools to use to get you started.
- Daily affirmations Look at yourself in the mirror every day and say to yourself, “I am great. I am worth it. I have value to give to others in who I am.”
- See the positive This is tricky when you are in the habit of seeing the negative, but take time every day to see the positive in your life. Life is good – you don’t need to shower people with gifts to prove it.
- Ask for help Another challenge for a martyr but give it a go. No one will think any less of you if you ask for directions or need help getting a lid off a jar and, especially not if you seek help for your relationship with money.
You may feel like a martyr but it doesn’t need to be a way of life. Contact me if you’d like to discuss this further.