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  • ... self-sacrifice which denies common sense isn't virtue; it's spiritual dissipation!

  • This word 'sacrifice' is the greatest telltale we have regarding misplaced lives. For it can be no sacrifice to give yourself for the thing that is your true work, be it child or picture or poem.

  • ... she had developed a passionate longing for making other people comfortable at her own expense. The secret satisfactions of her heart had been when she succeeded in getting other people into armchairs, without their knowing she was doing it, and with nothing left for herself but something small and spiky in a corner.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "The Angel of the Darker Drink," Innocence and Experience ()
  • To subdue one's self to one's own ends might be dangerous, but to subdue one's self to other people's ends was dust and ashes.

  • ... it was Sarah's fate that an excess of virtue should have wrought all the evil of a positive vice. From the days of her infancy, when she had displayed in the cradle a power of self-denial at which her pastor had marveled, she had continued to sacrifice her inclinations in a manner which had rendered unendurable the lives around her. Her parents had succumbed to it; her husband had died of it; her children had resigned themselves to it or rebelled against it according to the quality of their moral fiber. All her life she had labored to make people happy, and the result of this exalted determination was a cowed and resentful family.

  • ... a self-made martyr is a poor thing.

  • Sacrificers ... are not the ones to pity. The ones to pity are those that they sacrifice. Oh, the sacrificers, they get it both ways. A person knows themselves that they're able to do without.

  • Taking somebody's sacrifices is like taking counterfeit money. You're only the poorer.

  • How I regret now that my perpetual emotional dependence on the man I love has killed all my other talents — my energy too: and I had such a lot of that once.

    • Sophia Tolstoy,
    • 1890, in O.A. Golinenko et al., eds., The Diaries of Sophia Tolstoy ()
  • I never had time to do anything for myself. I've always had to subordinate my energy and time to the demands of my husband and children at any given moment. And now old age has crept up on me and I have used up all my mental and physical strength on my family ...

    • Sophia Tolstoy,
    • 1897, in O.A. Golinenko et al., eds., The Diaries of Sophia Tolstoy ()
  • Self-sacrifice is a boomerang; it comes back as self-pity.

  • Martyrdom is often the result of excessive gullibility.

  • ... I'm part of an old piety that suffers in silence and calls it virtue. And is the very devil to live with.

  • The capacity to sacrifice, like any skill, always needs some fine tuning. It is one thing to sacrifice briefly one's sleep to comfort a child with a bad dream; it is quite another for a mother to sacrifice her whole career for a child. It is one thing for a father to sacrifice his desire to go fishing today because he needs to go to work to feed the family; it is quite another to work for forty years at a job he hates. ... often such massive sacrifice, if not a result of cowardice, comes from an inability to discriminate beween giving that is necessary and life-giving and giving that brings death to the Martyr and hence to those around him or her.

  • She was the archetypal selfless mother: living only for her children, sheltering them from the consequences of their actions — and in the end doing them irreparable harm.

    • Marcia Muller,
    • "Benny's Space," in Sara Paretsky, ed., A Woman's Eye ()
  • She was a spasmodic selfless torrent like the fizz from her own cider bottles.

  • I never know why self-sacrifice is noble. Why is it better to sacrifice oneself than someone else?

  • ... he fell too ready victim to circumstances: he helped to build the altar for his own sacrifice.

  • ... martyrs are always uncomfortable people to live with.

  • There is such wonderful balm in self-imposed sacrifice.

  • It cost the mother a pang to inflict the punishment, and leave the darling alone in her trouble; but Elsie was not one to weakly yield to inclination when it came in conflict with duty. Hers was not a selfish love; she would bear any present pain to secure the future welfare of her children.

  • ... 'sacrifice' was often a cloak for many actions that did not always stem from the highest motives.

  • ... self-sacrifice is one of a woman's seven deadly sins (along with self-abuse, self-loathing, self-deception, self-pity, self-serving, and self-immolation).

  • Blessed is the match consumed / in kindling flame.

    • Hannah Senesh,
    • "Blessed Is the Match" (1944), Hannah Senesh: Her Life & Diary ()