The Pain of Self Punishment
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“Turn down the volume of your negative inner voice and create a nurturing inner voice to take it’s place. When you make a mistake, forgive yourself, learn from it, and move on instead of obsessing about it.” ~ Beverly Engel
Have you ever felt like you don’t measure up? You try so hard, but then something happens and you turn into your worst enemy?
When I was fourteen years old, I hated myself. Every day, I would look at the people around me and wonder, why can’t I be like them? What’s wrong with me?
I’d beat myself down and punish myself for the smallest mistakes. When I grew close to a bit of joy, I’d make myself think I was unworthy of it. That I didn’t deserve it.
I didn’t want people to worry about me so I’d put on a mask of smiles. Only a few knew the pain I was suffering.
Have you ever felt that way before? Even now, years later, self-punishment can creep its ugly head in my life. It’s gotten better as I’ve learned ways to push it out of my thoughts, but it’s a difficult habit to break.
Why Do We Punish Ourselves?
It’s so easy to fall into a pattern of self-punishment and not even realize we’re doing it. Life is painful and punishing ourselves can be used as a defense mechanism to help us endure it. (How to Stop Punishing Yourself)
The pattern can stem from loving, but overly critical parents. It can stem from abuse. It can stem from a number of things that have hurt us in the past. It becomes a tool that we use to take out our anger and frustration. However, this habit soon becomes a double edged sword.
Instead of recognizing our worth, we destroy our self-esteem. We blame ourselves for past mistakes and refuse to forgive.
So How Do We Stop Our Self-Punishment?
“Forgiving yourself, believing in yourself and choosing to love yourself are the best gifts one could receive.” ~ Brittany Burgunder
I think the first step, is to recognize that it’s happening.
A simple test is to pause and notice how your inner dialogue is making you feel. Are your words building you up? Or breaking you down?
If you have a habit of self-punishment it’s easy to beat yourself down for realizing this. It’s easy to think, Oh, great. Something is wrong with me! I knew it! etc. etc.
Try not to.
Self-punishment is a common habit. From what I’ve read, many people suffer from it. So, instead of hurting yourself even more, simply recognize that it’s there.
Turn to God
“Leave the broken, irreversible past in God’s hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him.” ~ Oswald Chambers
I know religion can be a touchy subject, so I can’t say that this will work for you. I only know what worked for me. God literally saved my life when I was a teen. Suicide was heavy on my mind and He placed the friends I needed and pushed my mom to notice how deep I was in my self-loathing, because I asked Him to help me.
If you’re struggling with self-punishment, try turning to a spiritual leader. Pray. Go to a sacred place or study from scripture. Talk to someone that you trust.
It helped me to know that there was a higher power out there. Someone who loved me unconditionally and would sacrifice themselves for me when I felt like I wasn’t worth anything.
Seek Professional Help
“Courage doesn’t happen when you have all the answers. It happens when you are ready to face the questions you have been avoiding your whole life.” ~ Shannon L. Alder
I know from personal experience that seeking help from a licensed, medical professional can be difficult. It took me years to gain the courage to go and see a therapist for the sexual trauma I received as a child. But when I had the courage to finally go, it helped me to see things in a different perspective.
It helped me see myself in a different perspective.
If you’re struggling with mentally beating yourself up, then seek help from a professional. Also, don’t just settle on the first person you find. Keep looking until you feel comfortable with your therapist.
Start Creating a New Habit
Years of self-punishment can and will take time to root out of your system. Start planting seeds of positivity.
Hang up inspiring pictures in your home. Place positive quotes and affirmations on your mirror. Change the music you listen to so the words build you up.
Everything we surround ourselves with has an effect on us. “What we feed our energy is what evolves in our mind.” (Beware of What Sound Is Affecting Your Energy)
Be careful of the people you spend time with. Are they lifting you up? Or tearing you down? Pay attention to their words and look for the kind of people who inspire you to be a better.
Self-Punishment is a challenging habit to break. It is also normal, and a common thing that people struggle with. There are so many resources out there, so keep studying and learning! There are techniques and skills you can learn to help you on your journey.
“If you want to feel the sunshine, change position!” ~ Ernest Agyemang Yeboah.
If your thoughts are turning dangerous or suicidal, talk to someone. Please. Call the national suicide prevention lifeline 1-800-273-8255.
“Every failure brings with it the seed of an equivalent success.” ~ Napoleon Hill
Keep believing and have a beautiful day.