Have you ever considered yourself to be in control? Maybe even a control freak? Or someone who likes pushing boundaries, winning races, chasing goals…someone who aims to win and fights to get there?
I have. I’m driven like crazy. I work like a maniac when I want something. I love adrenaline thrills. I will whip my own ass till I’m screaming in pain. And I like it. (This is a metaphor guys, I do not whip my own ass. Just to clarify. This blog, through the years, has created a fair amount of confusion.)
The thing is, as I’m whipping my own ass to move forward, it’s not always encouraging whips. In fact, half of them act as punishment. Punishment for fucking up. For not being far enough along the road. For not being good enough. I punish myself endlessly for wanting to be better than I am.
These days my internal dialogue is a lot better than it used to be. Because instead of whipping my ass endlessly, I shift my attention to what’s working, what I’ve achieved and what I’m enjoying, because I know this is what will bring me to my goals. Focus creates reality. The more you focus on what’s working, the more you’ll create of that.
We punish ourselves because we think we deserve it and because we think it will move us forward, but that’s an illusion. In fact, it only derails us.
Punishment is a vicious circle. You fuck up. You feel bad about fucking up. So you fuck up more to punish yourself, or you sit doing nothing reveling in your own guilt, or trying to numb it by working yourself to death/downing your preferred poison/eating/working out. This is why I was petrified of drugs when I was younger. Back then I really didn’t like myself much. And drugs, to my mind, was about as low as you could go. Then you’d really lost control over yourself. I didn’t grow up seeing drugs as something you did at parties. I grew up seeing drugs as your one way ticket to the street. The ultimate surrender to your own ineptitude. And I was scared due to the circle of punishment — if I took a drug once I’d take it again. Not to get high and numb my pain, but so I could hate myself more. And the more drugs I’d take, the more I’d hate myself, so the more I’d have to take to punish myself. I’d read books about control freaks like myself completely losing it to drugs. And they scared the bejesus out of me.
Possibly ironically, I ended up working with substance abuse and raising and mentoring the children of drug addicts. Plus, I have enough recovering addicts in my life to write a book about it. Many have told me they take/took drugs because they can’t handle pain. I, on the other hand, revel in it. I take long baths in it. Which is probably why I never got addicted to substances. I’m too busy breaking my back chasing my next adrenaline kick. The pain fighting for it only fuels me on. That’s my drug. Tell me I can’t do something and I’ll break myself trying. I thrive on challenges.
My point with this post was not my paranoia about drugs, but pain. That inner dominatrix who is whipping its way around your life, causing havoc. Tell me, how many times have you punished yourself for something you did in the past? Once, twice, a thousand times? And how many times a day do you punish yourself for what you didn’t achieve that day, how much better you could be at x, y, z, or how you fucked up that one conversation with Mr Hot and Bothered, because, well, he was hot and bothered and you got confused and stumbled in your heels and went down like San Francisco in the great earthquake when he looked at you?
First, as Don Miguel Ruiz says (yes, I know I’m into his work a lot recently, but it always clears my mind): what’s the justice of you punishing yourself over and over again for the same thing? If you commit a crime you’re punished once. End of story. Better yet: you do something to balance out your actions. No, maybe you can’t give someone back the leg you broke in a fight, but you can work to help others learn to control their anger so they won’t break someone’s bones.
I always believe forgiveness is given the moment someone truly feels the impact of their actions and are willing to repent them instead of berating themselves, or numbing their pain with [insert poison of choice], or endlessly fucking themselves up because of their own self-loathing. Beause if they’re truly sorry for what they did, they use the event to turn their life around and become better people, not worse. That way, they can spend the rest of their life doing good instead of sitting moping about that one thing they fucked up. Because if they’re moping (see above: berating themselves, numbing the pain, or endlessly fucking up to keep feeling bad) it’s still all about them. It’s not truly about what they did to another person, but about how they feel about it. If it’s about the other person, they’d decide to service humanity instead of taking guilt trips.
Of course, it’s not that easy. Or maybe it’s easy once you have the answer, but as humans we react instinctively in ways that are completely idiotic. Such as holding onto the guilt instead of going out there and doing good. We feel we have to hold onto the guilt. Feel the need to punish ourselves. Feel we don’t deserve to be happy. While in fact, if we went out there and did some good, we’d help others and become happy ourselves. It’s simple. It just doesn’t seem that way when we’re guilt tripping.
Besides, we all fuck up. It’s part of being human. Unfortunately, we weren’t born with instruction manuals and some of us grew up in a way that taught us unsavory behavior. Once we realize how we’ve behaved we’re hit by guilt, but we weren’t in charge of our behavior. Not really. We never are until the day we become aware of our thinking habits and how they’re controlling our lives. And that’s a lifelong learning experience. So really, you should get over yourself because we all fuck up and depending on our backgrounds, we fuck up more or less. You don’t have to spend the rest of your life repenting your sins, but you’ll probably feel better when you start thinking about servicing others instead of thinking about yourself.
Secondly, if you’re punishing yourself on a daily basis, not because you fucked that one (or several) things up, but because you feel you need to be better (this is called perfectionism), you are wasting your time. If you want to be so goddamn perfect, then spend your time thinking lovely thoughts. They will lead to lovely actions. That will take you a lot closer to being perfect. (The writer of this blog post is making mental notes to remember her moments of insight.)
Punishing yourself may feel good, as you feel it’s a way to repent your mistakes, but it’s not. It’s a way to hold onto them. It’s a way of staying in a state of mind where you keep fucking up. It’s an excuse to fail. You’re actually being selfish. If you truly want to repent, go out there and sort your life out and do some good. The better a person you become, the better a place this world becomes. And that’s probably what the people you fucked over in the past would prefer, as opposed to you sitting reveling in guilt and shame, downing whiskey to numb your feelings, or fucking up your life to feel bad, meaning those around you get fucked up in the process.
What it truly comes down to is loving yourself. When you do, you act from that space. When you act from that space, you create good things in this world. When you create good things in this world, you earn forgiveness as you show you’ve changed. You show you’re willing to work for a better tomorrow, not just for yourself, but for others.
However, you’re speaking to someone who strives on challenges and discipline, while getting high on pain, so if you’re anything like me you may respond better to something like: get off your lazy fucking ass and do something for the world instead of moping about your own ineptitude or I’ll whip your ass three ways to Friday. (Or better yet if you’re speaking to me: “I don’t believe you can do it.” When you say those words, I’ll rise like a Phoenix from the ashes and flap about until I prove them wrong.)
But really, it all comes down to love, in the end. Using the punishment method, or the “I don’t believe you can do it method” is a lot less healthy, but it can be a starting point. Because the moment you get someone off their butt (or our of their guilt/shame/pity) they do something they feel worthy of being loved for. And that changes everything. Love should be there regardless, because we’re all just humans — we all fuck up. The best we can do is learn from our mistakes and become better people.
If you want to be punished, keep it to the bedroom. Or work out till you pass out from the pain. Or challenge yourself at work until you have all the adrenaline kicks and mental pain you need. It’s much better for all involved.
Recovering mental pain addict, over and out.
Want to change your patterns in life to become a more productive, happier and healthier person, thereby making the world a better place to be? Read my post Getting naked with Socrates…
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