I was working on my blog in a beautiful Nepali cafe on the second floor, overlooking busy tourist street of the mountain town of Pokhara.
Two men were walking past the cafe. One had a huge belly and was smoking.
Straight away a thought came into my mind “he won’t live long”. The second thought was “this man really hates himself”.
Why self-punishment is common
In the third world countries children are begotten usually not out of love, but out of necessity. The more children you have, the more helpers you will have around the farm and so on.
In the Western world some children are unloved because the pregnancy wasn’t planned, a mother had to give up her career to raise the child or a child didn’t meet the expectations of parents in some way.
Sometimes children don’t get much attention because parents are too busy.
Both, the lack of attention and being not loved, cause children to start thinking they’re not worthy of existence. This leads to the behavior geared towards self-punishment.
Our parents’ attitudes can affect us for the rest of our lives, because as children we think of parents as of gods; we think they’re able to do everything and that they’re the strongest and the most intelligent beings.
It’s no surprise that if these god-like beings don’t pay attention to us, or, even worse, show that they don’t love us, we start thinking that we’re not worthy of walking on this earth.
Different forms of self-punishment
People brought up in non-loving families and who don’t take time to deal with the beliefs and issues caused by the parents, unconsciously wish to die. They, therefore, waste themselves for this goal to be achieved faster. Most people, of course, would never admit this cause of their self-punishment, because they really don’t know it.
There are different forms and stages of self-punishment. Mild ones could be always getting light sicknesses such as flu or headaches. Through this self-punishment a person seeks for love and attention of others who nurse him.
Medium self-punishment would involve over-eating, getting into small accidents and isolating oneself from people. This kind of self-punishment is getting turned inwards – the person no longer looks for external help but tries to fix the issue of being not loved in a way that’s harmful.
Severe self-punishment is, for example, being in a verbally or physically abusive relationship and hurting oneself such as through wrist-cutting. This kind of self-punishment involves no attempt to love oneself; only the destruction results from such actions.
Nobody is immune to self-punishment
I punish myself also – I’m not immune to it. I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t punish themselves. I think it’s our karma to do so, but let’s not use this as an excuse to do nothing about it.
I punish myself through drinking caffeine and milk which I’m slightly intolerant to. Now I’ve been off these substances for 22 days, but I noticed that now I started eating a slice of cake a day or once in two days, which is still harmful.
I punish myself by sometimes getting negative – it usually involves something happening to my blog. For example, I recently hired a freelancer to change my blog domain from personal-development-coach.net to the current one but the job was complicated and after two sleepless nights and five hours of my blog being down, the freelancer said he couldn’t do the transfer. That was frustrating and I witnessed my mood going down.
When my mood went down, I was aware of how much my body suffered because of that. All the cells were unhappy; some of the vital force was drawn off them. However this awareness of mine is improving things bit by bit. Only when you’re aware of the act of self-punishment can you change it.
Self punishment may shift from one form to another one (as it did with me), and this indicates that there’s a deeper issue that needs to be addressed. I’ll talk about it now.
How to stop the self-punishment habit
The more you start loving and respecting yourself, the more sacred you perceive your self to be. There comes a stage were you could never engage in a heavy self-punishment ever again, like constantly putting yourself down or being put down. The more you love yourself, the fewer self-punishment acts you engage in.
Finally even the self-punishment forms which gain the approval of others can no longer be entertained, like talking negatively about the co-workers behind their backs (it’s self-punishment because as you do onto others so it’s done onto you) or denying your own self-fulfillment because others require your time.
The root cause of self-punishment
If you engage in any form of self-punishment, be it eating too much, smoking, drinking, excessive sex, destructive relationships or anything else, and you find it hard to love yourself although you try to, you need to deal with your past.
Think about the time you felt really down as a child. Talk to this child as to a friend. Tell that adults are not always right – some of them, in fact, remain childish all their lives. Adults don’t know it all – they make many mistakes and most are not that intelligent either. If they don’t love you, it’s usually because they didn’t receive love themselves so don’t know how to express it.
Tell this inner child of yours that only he/she can choose who’s influencing him/her. It’s up to each of us to allow or disallow someone impacting us.
It’s not you that’s at fault. It’s not those people either. It’s usually the culture, the tradition that’s to blame. But it is how it is and let’s make peace with that. Let’s make peace with the people that didn’t love us and let’s make peace with the culture that didn’t allow for the love to flourish. Let’s be okay with that as we can’t change the past and we’re usually not that influential to change the culture either!
Forgive people for not loving you and let them go. Cut the cords with them in your mind (you can visualize a pair of giant scissors cutting the cord) and see them walking away. Say “thank you for giving me life” or “thank you for giving me the lessons I needed to learn”. “You greatly served me as a channel through which I learnt valuable lessons – you perfectly played your divine role. Thank you for this.”
We all experience what we need to experience. Even if we had to go through abuse and cruelty, that’s what we needed to go through in order to learn valuable lessons and emerge out of those experiences better, wiser and stronger than before. Let’s say “thank you” for this valuable experience.
Last advice on self-punishment
Let me end this post with beautiful words which I found at the end of the Heal Your Body book by Louise Hay. It answers the question about how to stop the self-punishment habit and will inspire you to use this magic cure more and more in your life:
I love myself; therefore, I work at a job that I truly enjoy doing, one that uses my creative talents and abilities, working with and for people that I love and that love me, and earning a good income. I love myself; therefore, I behave and think in a loving way to all people, for I know that that which I give out returns to be multiplied. I only attract loving people in my world, for they are a mirror of what I am. I love myself; therefore I forgive and totally release the past and all past experiences and I am free.