Knowing about chief features/defenses is some of the most crucial knowledge for soul development.

To summarize, the seven defenses are:

· Self-deprecation: Fear of not being good enough

· Arrogance: Fear of being exposed

· Greed: Fear of not having

· Self-Destruction: Fear that life is not worth living

· Martyr: Fear of being a victim

· Impatience: Fear of missing out

· Stubbornness: Fear of change

We have all these defenses, though one is usually the strongest. They come out when we are under stress and are characterized by fear-based, habitual thoughts and justifications.

Features stem from fragmented parts of ourselves, which we learned to protect from childhood with these different defenses. Today we will focus on the martyr feature.


The martyr energy is a certain kind of self pity. Martyr differs from self-depreciation, which sees itself as less than others. For a martyr, it feels perfectly worthy, sometimes even entitled. Yet for some reason, things never go “right” for the martyr. They always get the short end of the stick.

Martyrs needs something unfair to justify being a victim. They claim they're continually set up. Often melodramatic, the martyr energy may suffer silently or complain. Thus, when in martyr feature, we alienate others. Understandably, martyrs tend to be unpopular, except sometimes to other martyrs who share similar complaints /grievances.


One time a client told me in detail how she went to a play with a group who were all couples, except her. Finding a relationship was very important to her. And it so “happened” that the group all sat together -- except there was no room for her.

So she had to sit in a separate section. She stewed through the whole play, trying to hide her tears as she fixed herself on being victimized again, sitting all by her lonely self. You might say she was literally beside herself. Fortunately, by connecting with her soul later in the session, it brought some relativity into her situation.

This story may sound a little over the top. But when we are in that vulnerable place and don’t feel good about ourselves, martyr -- - or some other feature -- can easily hold sway over our thoughts and actions.


Like any of the features, martyr is not real. It’s not our soul. Rather, it’s a defense masking a lost part of ourselves. The martyr at some level wants equality and even selflessness - wonderful soulful aspects. Unfortunately, the martyr acts from certain fears and misconceptions.

So here’s a way to turn it around: First, like any feature, just observe it. Simply observing martyr will diminish it. Notice thoughts and behaviors that fit martyrdom. Take cues from the above story. Listen for words like, “He/she never ever listens to me… or recognizes all I do for him/her…” Or notice when you attract attention with your suffering and engage in passive-aggressive behavior.

When those signals light up, breathe deeply for a moment. Know that this is not your soul and there are more compassionate and enlightened resources available. We suggest our soul-centering exercise ( to familiarize yourself with your soul awareness.


Like all the defenses, martyr has a particular feeling/tone. So what to do about this fear pattern that arises from stress?

First identify any martyr patterns in yourself. If it is your chief feature, it may be a strongly recurring pattern. (As a note, like a fish in water, we can’t sometimes identify our own features. Just ask a friend; he/she’ll probably know it right away.) Or you may have just occasional bouts of martyr.

For dealing with others’ martyr behavior, remember the primary principle of healing: you can only heal yourself. So be compassionate toward others when they are unconsciously acting like a suffering victim. Also if the martyr belief pattern is there, it will attract real (and imagined) situations of victimization.

At the same time, don’t support a person’s feature. Like an addict, our defenses can be automatic, habitual responses that take intentional action to stop. So be firm and compassionate with others, remembering that we all have blind spots.

As a further note: Knowledge about features is powerful; so be watchful that the ego doesn’t use it to judge and characterize people.

Remember that you can’t be in a soulful state and experiencing being a martyr. Your soul presence neutralizes martyrdom. All of the above helps to transform martyr into a higher state, merging that fragmented energy with the unity of your soul. It will help you -- and make the world a better place, too.

For more information on Martyr and chief defenses see our new book "The Heart & Soul of EFT and Beyond," and more extensively the "Awaken to Your True Purpose" program (

Author's Bio: 

A pioneer in energy-healing, Phillip Mountrose's most recent book co-written with his wife Jane is "The Heart & Soul of EFT and Beyond..." They offer high-quality holistic healing and spiritual counselor home-study certification, as well as their popular free e-newsletter "The Soul News." See