The Kenwood Press
: 04/01/2014

The cycle of suffering

Donna Colfer

Alice (fictitious name) has a heart of gold and is an expert in her field as a business consultant. Growing up as a young girl and the oldest of four children, her father died early, leaving her mother without financial support. Alice could feel her mother’s pain when there wasn’t enough money for food or clothes for all the kids. All she wanted was to make it better for her mom. So she made herself available by working in her neighborhood babysitting, ironing, and cleaning. Every day after school she worked and gave her mom her earnings. Sometimes she wasn’t paid because of someone else’s hardship, which was disappointing, but Alice let it go. She became accustomed to working hard and making sure others were taken care of while sacrificing her own needs.

Eventually, she became competent at everything she did, carrying this work ethic into her business as an adult. Alice had developed patterns of multi-tasking (though most women display this natural ability, she brought new meaning to it). Working long hours and saying ‘yes’ too often led to constant fatigue as she ran the proverbial treadmill. In her compassionate, caretaking way, Alice gave her services away far too often to clients who had a difficult time paying, just as she had when a young girl. This led to not earning enough money to pay her own bills at the end of the month (which is why she needed my help).

Financially speaking, these patterns and behaviors are those of the “Martyr.” It was clear to me she hadn’t created an emotional container for receiving. She knew how to give to and rescue others (her mom and family) but not herself. This pattern was amplified in her business, causing her to under-earn.

The energy of the Martyr creates a cycle of suffering; although it may begin with a compassionate heart, it can end with anger and resentment. Often there are strings attached to giving that aren’t balanced with an ability to receive. Juggling several “balls in the air,” working to the point of constant fatigue to prove themselves worthy, and setting high personal standards and expectations that extend to others prepares them only for disappointment, long suffering, and eventually resentment. The Martyr will often say to himself or herself, “I’m so tired…when is it going to be my turn?”

To address the challenges this archetype has around money, first understand and heal the need to be taken care of. You deserve to “give” yourself a break by asking for help, in a way that doesn’t have to cost money; i.e., family members, friends, neighbors, or trading services with clients.

Self-care (giving to yourself) is important when relieving constant fatigue. Take outdoor walks, exercise/stretch, try yoga, eat healthfully, meditate/pray, simplify. Balancing your work activities with your personal life is a necessity, not a luxury. If you don’t have a personal life…get one! Set clear boundaries, know when to say “no,” and learn to delegate. That means letting go of attachment and insistence that things must be done “the right way.” Instead of focusing on what’s not working, turn that negative thought around immediately by seeing the grace and beauty in what IS working in the moment. Pay attention to how you give away your time, energy, and resources by creating boundaries in a beautiful way.

When someone gives you a compliment or positive feedback, first take it in fully, then simply say “thank you.” This will help you to expand your emotional container for receiving. Taking care of yourself in this way will naturally bring you into alignment with your own value and self-worth. Then watch your net worth grow!