Over-Giving Breeds Resentment

Working late…after everyone else has gone home?

Putting in extra time for your nonprofit employer…even when you aren’t being paid?

Undercharging customers for your work?

“They need my help,” you say.

But what you are really thinking is, “I’ll be the hero by giving more of my time and talent than everyone else. And they will love me for it.”

Here’s the honest-to-God truth: They won’t love you for it.

Oh, in the beginning, you may be treated like the indispensable employee, consultant or whatever your role. Appreciation will roll off the boss’s tongue like sweet, sweet honey, filling you with warmth and enthusiasm. Your sacrifices and hard work are justified.

“See, I told you they love me,” you’ll think smugly.

And so you ignore signs that your personal relationships are struggling, that your family is resentful of your job, and that your body is beginning to collapse under the stress of overwork. You ignore all these indicators because the boss has come to depend on you. You are indispensable.

Your workload grows though your paycheck remains the same, yet there are fewer and fewer accolades drifting your way.

Resentment takes root in your body.  Just a little at first…as you watch coworkers leave the office at a reasonable hour to enjoy fun activities like yoga classes, drinks at the brewery, or bike rides in the woods. The feeling of being underappreciated swells.

You complain because the boss is to blame for all your challenges. You complain because you aren’t being paid enough to work as much as you do. You complain because you are stressed to the max and can’t sleep.

Eventually, the pocket of resentment in your body becomes undeniable. It bubbles out in inappropriate ways: road rage, endless conversations with friends about the injustices you’re suffering, and the desire to punish coworkers who didn’t jump on board with your workaholic mentality and are instead out enjoying their lives.

Ah, my dear Martyr.

Time to lay down that cross. The love you receive for over-giving is superficial and fleeting. Because when you give too much money, time, or effort, you’ll become resentful. And here’s the real kicker: those you “over-give” to will resent you in return.

If you’re over-giving in a personal relationship, such as taking too much financial responsibility for a spouse or partner, you’ll burn out. And it won’t be pretty.

Interrupt the cycle now.

Conduct a Martyr archetype assessment (preferably with humor).

Write down every way you give too much in the hopes that you’ll be loved in return for over-giving.

Then choose two or three of your over-giving behaviors, and write down the opposite of that behavior.

Check out the following example.

Martyr behavior: Work extra hours for my employer (without pay).

Opposite behavior (the Warrior approach): Acknowledge my worth and realize that my over-giving doesn’t serve me.

Write down steps to change behavior, then implement:

Talk with your boss about the number of unpaid hours you work to manage your responsibilities and,

  • Request an adjustment to workload or additional salary, whichever you desire.
  • Use your newfound free time to rest, relax, and enjoy life. Or, if you negotiated for additional paid hours, be sure to use some of your funds for self-care, such as a monthly massage. I suggest this because Martyrs have a strong tendency to ignore their needs until they are literally bedridden.

Know this: Warriors are much more highly regarded than Martyrs. Who would you rather be?

Take care of yourself…it’s okay. You’ll love you for it.


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