The Messiah Complex

Although helping others is generally considered a positive thing, it can harm you if you do it for the wrong reasons. Learn about the messiah complex here.
The Messiah Complex

Last update: 04 April, 2019

Helping others is considered a great thing. If you’re altruistic, you love improving other people’s lives. Society tries to reward these kinds of people. Nevertheless, is it always a good idea to help others? According to the messiah complex, it isn’t.

The messiah complex is when a person feels the constant need to help. This mindset leads the individual to act in extreme ways, some of which might even be harmful.

In this article, we’re going to delve deeper into this complex so you can understand it better. This way, you’ll be able to avoid situations where something as positive as lending a hand can harm you.

What is the messiah complex?

A person with the messiah complex feels the constant impulse to save others. They have a strong urge to seek out people who need help and assist them. These people often sacrifice their own needs, desires, and dreams for the sake of others.

The problem is that this can lead to toxic relationships. Generally, people with the messiah complex tend to form codependent relationships, which are very harmful.

The messiah complex can make people feel like they have to solve everyone's problems.

In codependent relationships, one of the partners needs the other constantly. Thus, they feel they can’t live without their partner. This means that the messiah’s behavior is reinforced by their partner’s dependence. After a time, however, this dynamic will exhaust them.

None of the partners in codependent relationships based on the messiah complex end up happy. The love addict’s self-esteem will generally suffer as time goes on, while the savior will feel overwhelmed and blame their partner.

We should stress that this dynamic can also manifest between friends, family members, colleagues, etc. However, it’s more common in the context of romantic relationships.

How to avoid it

Below, we share some tips that will help you avoid getting into codependent relationships. If you think you suffer from the messiah complex, applying these tips could help you out.

  • Remember that you’re only responsible for yourself. Each person has to control their own life, emotions, and actions. That’s why you’re not obligated to save anyone if it doesn’t make you happy.
  • Learn how to say “no.” Many people have a hard time saying “no” to their loved ones. Nevertheless, not doing so could lead to codependence and resentment. That’s why you have to resort to techniques such as assertiveness because they can help improve your relationships.
  • Establish limits. You should decide how far you want to go when it comes to helping others. Is there something you really don’t enjoy doing? At what point does helping others become a burden for you?
  • Put your own happiness first. Most people grow up with the notion that worrying about their own well-being before others’ is selfish. However, if something is going to make you unhappy, there’s no point in doing it. If you really want to help, try to find a way to do it that won’t harm you.
A woman looking at a landscape.

If you want to free yourself from the messiah complex, all you have to do is remember that you’re only responsible for your own happiness and well-being.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.