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Is Martyrdom Fueling Your Overeating?

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Do you overeat when you are stressed or tired or overwhelmed? Do you flop down exhausted at the end of the day feeling like there is never enough time for you? Despite your best intentions, do you never seem to get to that exercise plan, that journal that you want to write in, or that fun project you really want to start?

Do you ever feel like no one really understands how much is expected of you?

Are you feeling resentful that there is never enough time to get to you?

If you find yourself answering yes to any of these questions, it’s time to consider whether martyrdom is having a negative impact on your eating, your weight, your health and your life.

What do I mean by martyrdom? I’m talking about sacrificing yourself—literally—for whatever cause it is that you choose to be a martyr for.

Martyrdom is not the same as caring for others. Healthy caring assumes that you are just as human and needy as everyone else. When you distribute your care, you get an equal share (it’s like dividing up a pizza—everyone gets a piece).

The martyr approach doesn’t work that way. The martyr assumes that caring for others takes priority or somehow cancels out her own needs. She assumes that in order to be “good” at caring for others (or other responsibilities), she must sacrifice her own agenda. The martyr believes that “personal stuff” happens after you’ve taken care of everything else. The martyr often says, “I can’t (meditate, go to the gym, ever see my friends, fill-in-the-blank) because Junior’s soccer schedule is so busy or I’ve got that committee work to do or I have to make dinner. Here’s the litmus test: if Junior has an unscheduled extra practice or the committee calls another meeting, the martyr will move mountains and give up on sleep to make that happen. Meanwhile, her own needs ust don’t get the same priority.

The trade off for choosing martyrdom is feeling exhausted and deprived and unfed, overlooked, and uncared for. Resentment usually follows. Let’s see a show of hands. When you feel exhausted, deprived, unfed, overlooked and uncared for (with a hefty dash of resentment), who finds those chocolate chip cookies a lot harder to resist?

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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