August 16, 2012

50 Lashings, please!

Photo by Bill Gracey

Punishment of others and ourselves can be a full time hobby.

When we feel wronged, what do most people do?

One or two things.

They strike back venomously; they feel self-righteous and a sense of power coming from diminishing the offender. Or, they suck it up, privately hating the person or even wishing them pain.

Does either of these stances ever make us feel better? Maybe for a moment, but then we start to feel bad for one reason or another, which brings me back to emotional punishment.

We punish ourselves when we do it to someone else. We also kick and beat ourselves, not only for how we allow someone to treat us, but we do it when we make a mistake, fail big time, or put ourselves into circumstances that create ongoing suffering.

Sounds like a party, right?

Some are so used to living this way that they don’t know that the heaviness, pain or sadness they carry isn’t normal.

When we feel hurt, wronged or we don’t get our way, it may lead to us blaming the other party. If we don’t stop and ask ourselves how we allowed someone to trample right over our feelings, then we are doing ourselves no favors.

Expecting someone to have ESP or wake-up and smell the blueberry muffins ain’t gonna happen by pouting, yelling, freaking out or anything resembling a punishment.

I love when we feel insecure and instead of speaking up, we act like we’re two and punish the other person.

It doesn’t work. Does it?

Coercing someone to see what you believe is their wrongdoing isn’t satisfying and usually builds resentment from the offending party.

Not to mention once again, punishing others is punishing yourself.

And most of us are not purposely trying to hurt someone; many times we are just trying to deal with our own crap, and the side effect may be harm to another. It’s a vicious cycle.

Sucking it up and pretending nothing is wrong is not the answer.

Really, does sucking it up ever feel good? Hell no!

Photo by Toban Black

What about other forms of punishment?

My personal favorite is to punish myself by committing to “the right thing to do,” not right for me, but for some invisible entity, society or for people I love. And when I commit to a situation that goes against my gut, heart and soul…I’m then engaged in long term suffering and punishment created by “me.”

Self-sacrificing means you are the one sacrificing your wants, needs and desires for some reason you believe is the only way to eventually get where you want to go. Except, you never get there. You get stuck in the martyr/victim role and never release the chains that bind you to a crazy ideal.

Someday never comes, its just yesterday over and over. And one day it’s all over and when that comes, will you be satisfied with the punishing limitations you lived?

What about punishment you give to yourself when you screw up or fail? What does that look and sound like?

You may have served well during the Spanish Inquisition or some other dark time in history. You may be both the Inquisitor and the Victim. We know how to punish ourselves best. We wouldn’t treat anyone as bad as those voices in our heads can be….for sure.

Punishment operates in a slanted altruistic place because it never feels good. I’m not saying be a selfish, self-absorbed jerk. No, that helps no one either, because then you are wallowing in your own juices.

So, what about all this self-inflicted emotional torture chamber type of punishment?

What is the point?

Is there a reward that’s ever worth the time lost to beating yourself up?

Or, what about the years and years of resentment that can build toward someone very close to you because of their perceived actions?

There is an escape route from this painful war zone.

Photo by Annbananne

1. Take control of you.

Stop giving away your power to others. This is not easy, but when you start saying “no” to things, which make your gut clench up, it’s a start.

When you feel dread about something, get clear on “why.” Where does it come from inside of you? Is it a past event? When you see why something makes you suffer, then you can change it…it’s not easy, but it’s the way to well-being and happiness.

2. You create boundaries.

Remember, with children you teach them what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior; we do the same things with adults. We don’t offend; we speak clearly, succinctly and from our power place of vulnerability (true strength). It may take people time to respect your boundaries, but when you stick to em’, either it’ll change or they’ll be gone.

3. If you are doing the right thing, it’s a daily punishment creating suffering and it’s keeping you from happiness.

There’s no greater cost at all, which you can control. Stop. Just stop; tell the people it affects how you are living in a purgatory of your own creation. Communicate what you really need and see what happens. You may start over with new people to support you or others may surprise you.  Communication is the pot o’ gold!

4. When you make a mistake, please realize you are human.

Not a super hero. If someone besides you punishes you for a mistake then you need to evaluate the importance of the situation, because it’s at a cost to your emotional health.

5. Don’t suck it up.

This is surely the way to ill physical health. Communicate, even if you’re hyperventilating with that frog in your throat. The more you do it, the easier it gets.

There are quite a few things you can do to stop the dungeon of emotional horrors. These suggestions are just a start on the road to living your life on your own terms.


Editor: Brianna Bemel


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