Deconstructing Self Punishment

I’ve written in the past about my own issues with self punishment and many people still ask me about it.

Since then I’ve done a lot to work on this issue. The first thing that really helped me was to begin to view self punishment as an addiction; a device to help me avoid my fears. I began to treat my self attack as something that had no future, could never be ‘felt enough’ in order to be released and decided that I just needed to halt it in its tracks whenever it began to happen.

To a small extent this helped but as with any major addiction until I was willing to deconstruct the false beliefs driving my justification for holding on to it, and to soften to the feelings I was using it to cover, I didn’t have much success. And the success I have had in letting go of self punishment up until this point is still limited to a large degree by the fears that I continue to justify and resist.

However I recently compiled some notes about the work I have done and insights that I have had about this topic thus far and thought that in sharing them here that they may be of assistance to others.

Self punishment is an interesting thing to deconstruct. I found that I really wanted to internally defend it as a ‘good’ and righteous thing. I’ve even gone so far as to delude myself that I was being humble, or ‘more humble than before’, when I was self punishing.

I often rationalised that when I was self punishing, that is, attacking myself, that I was being far more loving than I would be if I was attacking others. This is absolutely not true.

From God’s perspective attack of anyone is a sin. This includes when we direct the attack internally towards ourselves.

In addition, while I might have wanted to tell myself that self punishment effects only me, I have come to see that attack of self can at times be quite a manipulative technique. And just because I had stopped attacking others with my rage, it didn’t mean that my self punishment was lacking in passive aggression.

I’ve come to feel that my resistance to letting go of self punishment is in reality only ever a resistance to truth in one of two areas.

  1. How I Have Harmed Others

The first thing that drives my self punishment is a resistance to feeing how I have truthfully harmed others.

My emotional projection is that if I just punish myself enough about what I have done then hopefully the person I hurt will feel bad and try to make me feel better, or at least be happy that I am doing the punishing and they don’t have to say a thing.

This is actually a really manipulative tactic and makes the harm I have done to the other person all about me. I am avoiding of engaging with how the other person feels about what I have done and dealing with the causes as to why I took the unloving action.

A person in façade will often resist acknowledging the manipulative nature of self punishment. So growing a desire to let go of façade was an important step for me in giving up the addiction to self punishment.

  1. How I Have Truthfully Been Harmed By Others in the Past

The second is a resistance to feeling how I have been harmed by others.

I choose self punishment because I prefer that pain to the pain of feeling the truth of how little I have been loved in a certain situation. Essentially I fear experiencing the grief involved in facing the full truth of the situation. It is a way of blocking out the truth and shutting down my feelings.

I can also be avoiding an additional fear which is that I am afraid of how the person or spirit involved will respond to me if I feel and acknowledge the truth of how they are harming me. I often fear further abuse from them if I connect to how wrong what they are doing is and make a stand (even internally) for truth. Hiding in self punishment helps me avoid that fear.

As an adult, it is very important for me to remember that all of these situations in which I am being harmed are all attractions to help me to connect with causal grief. So the fears associated with facing and feeling the truth about personal hurt and harm are related to situations and unprocessed emotions from childhood.

I hope that this post might help some of you who are still finding that you are resistive to giving up self attack and punishment.