Self Punishment and Joy

I was chatting to our friend Joy the other day. We were discussing blocks, the things that prevent us experiencing our emotions and connecting to God.

I mentioned self punishment, the state of berating ourselves for not ‘getting it’, not being ‘good enough’, putting ourselves down and projecting anger at ourselves.

Joy said casually ‘Oh yes, self punishment, I tried that for a day. It was terrible! No wonder people feel like giving up on this path if they self punish.’

I burst into laughter. Self punishment is HUGE for me. I felt so happy for Joy that she could try it on and realise how damaging it was so quickly. If only I had just tried it out for a day, thought ‘this is ridiculous’ and given it up!

But seriously, self punishment is a big block for me for a reason. I wasn’t born with it – I was taught it in my childhood. If I blamed myself for how I was and what I felt, then no-one minded. If I spoke up, just to say what I felt, if I felt something was unfair, if I felt I was unloved, then there was trouble. I was blamed. The resistance in my parents to feeling their own emotions was so big that I got seriously ‘guilted’ and made to feel wrong if I triggered them. So I learned that I must be bad.

Right now, in my day to day life, it takes courage to stop self punishing. Underneath my self loathing and bashing lie the feelings of how much it hurt to be blamed, how unloved and alone I felt and how much I feel like a horrible person, completely unworthy of being loved. These are the feelings I must release.

Dr Susan Forward says “until you honestly assess who owns the responsibility.. (for the pain in your childhood).., you will almost certainly go through life shouldering the blame yourself. As long as you are blaming yourself you’ll suffer shame and self-hatred, and you’ll find ways to punish yourself” *

Shame, self hatred and self punishment have surely been my middle names.

The challenge for all of us, when we are finally brave enough to acknowledge what occurred in our childhood’s, is to grieve this treatment and not to go into blame, hatred and punishment of those who failed to love us. This is just another block and only damages us further.

To heal we must face the truth of what happened in our childhoods and grieve the lack of love. Only through the grieving can God reach us and teach us.

The fallacy that our parents did a good job only keeps us suppressing our pain and primes us to inflict damage on our own children when they arrive.

In my childhood I was ridiculed, treated condescendingly and laughed at for being my expressive, passionate self. My desire to punish myself now is only perpetuating what I was taught. It takes courage to cease punishing myself, to honour my own experience, and to submit to the pain. I am convinced however that this is the pathway to happiness and where I will uncover my joy.

little me!
Wishing you courage on the journey to find your joy,
* Susan Forward ‘ Toxic Parents’, pg 214

9 thoughts on “Self Punishment and Joy

  1. Marina

    'guilted'…exactly what it feels biggest block to date.Just like the seminars have done, it almost always feels like these posts are made specifically for the person at the moment.very cool.Thank u, Mary. These blogs shed a light to what feels like an infinite darkness at times.Rock on. :c)

  2. Nina Bossard

    Thank you Mary for all your sharing, It feels in my heart we are all connected and I am so grateful you are opening doors for all of us, AJ step, your step makes a way in my heart to make a stemp for myself…Thank you for your courage, your love, your share, your truth and your openness…Love youxxxNina

  3. Anonymous

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write. I so appreciate you doing this. Your words are so powerful i never fail to cry! Love reading your posts. I guess more people are reading this than the comments your getting, cause like me it's hard to know how to thank you, words fail me. I feel silly when your words seem so wise. When I feel confused at my feelings you always seem to write just what I need to hear! Thank you Much love and thank you's xxx

  4. Vanessa

    Thank you Mary for sharing and being so humble. I found this blog such a great revelation! I have been berating myself for so many things focusing on all the things that show me 'how far away from God' I am. I realised I am expecting little (3 year old – ME – which is where I feel spiritually tiny) Vanessa to do calculus! Of course I have been struggling but I guess I just need to practice more faith and trust and keep praying to God and as they say on the TV 'it won't happen overnight BUT it will happen! (Sorry for daggy analogy) Anyway thanks again Love Vanessa

  5. Anonymous

    Self punishment is so so HUGE for me; something learned in early childhood; growing up with the belief of not being good enough, that happiness had to be EARNED somehow – that was, and shamedly still is my pattern / belief…the silly intellectual one anyway. i had a mother who would say "they love themselves a bit", or "they think they're pretty good" like this was a WRONG…..a inappropriate emotion to display(isn't this what god intends for us)….so, I felt it was wrong to show joy or self love, like if you did you were somehow showing off, or not being humble and kind. pfft… you said it takes courage to let go of the self punishment…and I pray I can surrender to FEEELING this in order to regain heartfelt joy….which I have had snippets of….only fleetingly lately..with me it is the LETTING GO of earning joy…allowing EMOTION to flow so I CAN THEN BE OPEN TO JOY….Maybe I'm writing this in the wrong post now, but there's a fine line between pleasure and pain (ie vagina/god post)-sorry this song popped ito my head! so, praying for COURAGE and OWNING my emotions…to cease blaming. Playing small for fear of judgement from others;have lived in that….sometimes afraid of our own light and POTENTIAL because of where it may take us……wow…to even feel joy!??AA anonymous ATHANKYOU MARY 🙂

  6. Amanda

    Dear MaryThank you for sharing this with us. Your honesty validates all our feelings. I have found that I want to punish myself before someone else gets the chance, I see myself cowering like a dog waiting for the next kick or slap (I was never physically abused but harsh words and neglect hurt). However I know I need to look inside me to see clearly where I have done the same thing, lashed out at others to relieve my own pain. That feels enormous – do I pray to God for him to help me and hold me?Thank you.

  7. Pingback: Deconstructing Self Punishment | Notes Along The Way

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