I know quite a few people who claim they don’t like martyrs. I think what they mean is they don’t like how they feel when another person tries to set their own self-interest aside, and defer to what they want. It can be pretty frustrating to figure out where to get lunch with friends like this. Even though I am an Aries, that doesn’t mean I never want other people to have their hearts’ desire, too!
I can tell you exactly why self-sacrifice makes me uncomfortable: it is most often a way not of giving to others but of keeping the attention firmly focussed on the person sacrificing. The flip side of it is always, always some kind of submission from the other person. This internal, psychic gesture is one I was explicitly trained how to make from a very, very early age. “How can you be happy when you are still not sorry for what you did to me?” How, indeed. (If these words don’t resonate with you, then you are clearly A) not of Irish Catholic descent or B) un-acquainted with any bona-fide narcissists.) In order for another person to be happy, I have to be sad. This is how self-sacrifice is born. As simple as that.
Self-sacrifice is a game of fun-house mirror distortions – and the quality of heart that suffers the worst distortion is compassion. Compassion gets so confused with “giving ’til it hurts.” If giving hurts you, how can it help another person? (Ummmm, I know this thought isn’t original, nonetheless, it is my own discovery.) Isn’t it better to be honest? Admit you’ve given all you can? Or confess that you want the focus back on you for a while – and why shouldn’t you want that like every other beautiful thing in this world?