HomeBlogBoundariesThe Martyrs Mirror. Breaking the barrier of invisibility.

The Martyrs Mirror. Breaking the barrier of invisibility.


The Martyr’s Mirror is something many of us can relate to. A martyr’s deep need is usually value and recognition from others, but they rarely ever get it. Instead, they often feel depleted and invisible, leading them to feel like they need to do more and sacrifice even more time, energy, and effort to feel like they are ‘enough’.

If you are reading this, then you have probably already figured out that doing more doesn’t work. It just leaves you more drained than you were before, and still, no one seems to appreciate all of your effort. So why is that and how do you break the barrier of invisibility?

In this article, I’ll share some insights I’ve had along my own journey, as well as my journey working with other women who have had this same struggle. You aren’t alone in this, and we see you.

The Martyr's Mirror

The Martyr’s Mirror & Why Doing More Doesn’t Work

Whether it is at home or at work, you’ve probably gotten to the point where you are exhausted, fed up, and frustrated from constantly trying to give more and do more. Yet, the return of your effort is next to nothing, am I right?

It’s not you— not exactly. Human nature and our brains work against us with this strategy. You see, every time we interact with others and are around them, their brains form an internal picture of who we are and what to expect from us. If we consistently work harder than everyone else or always volunteer to help, then others’ brains will begin to expect that from us. Once that happens, the behavior becomes generalized, so any extra effort goes unnoticed by the person.

One of the more recent discoveries in neuroscience is that the brain learns and adjusts its frame of view only when its expected outcome deviates. Think of flashcards and Q and A style study aids; they are most effective when you think you know the answer and are surprised when you are wrong. You are more likely to commit it to memory then.

This concept impacts us with others’ behaviors as well. So if we continue to give and give, and their brains already accept that behavior as normal, it isn’t usually brought into their awareness to notice. Now, if you suddenly say no, that will shock them into noticing and typically brings up some resistance from them because you are forcing their brains to reconfigure. Cool, right?!

Steps to Break the Invisibility Barrier

So, how do you break this cycle and get beyond the invisibility barrier?

Step 1: Be the Person You Want to Be
Only do what you feel like doing. This creates fair and realistic expectations for you and programs your own boundaries into a person’s mind as they interact with you.

Step 2: Do With, Not Do For
If you must volunteer to help, teach them how to do it or provide resources. Act as their guide, not their servant.

Step 3: Remember Your Plate Size
When taking on a task, remember you have a Dessert Plate, not a Thanksgiving Platter. If you have room afterward, you can refill your plate.

Step 4: Work Through Self-Appreciation
Work through whatever keeps you from giving yourself the value and appreciation you need. Your relationships are a direct reflection of yourself and what you allow within your life.

Step 5: Honor Your Own Value
Start honoring your own value, worth, and needs. Hold those boundaries and keep communicating. Keep your relationship investments equal and balanced.

Step 6: Know When to Walk Away
Know when to walk away and understand what is within your realm of responsibility. Not my monkeys, not my circus. Let them figure out their own problems. If they need support and you are willing to assist, refer back to Steps 2 and 3.

The Martyr’s Mirror shows us that we need to change our approach to gain the value and recognition we deserve. If you are ready to kick those habits to the curb and start honoring the Goddess that you are, I welcome you to schedule a call with me to explore how my 6-month coaching program can support you in changing your life!

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