15 Feb Please Stop Punishing Yourself
These past 6 months, I have had a few opportunities to reach larger numbers of clients. I’ve done a bunch of mini-consultations in company staffrooms and a bunch more at the back of cooking classes; I’ve offered a couple of online webinars and a dozen workplace seminars, discussing things like label reading, eating healthy while busy, and reducing stress through diet and lifestyle; and each week, my own wee clinic room has gotten busier. All in all, I’d guess that I have spoken to over 400 people in a professional capacity in that 6 month window.
And the thing that struck me somewhat intensely is how desperately hurtful we can be toward ourselves while looking for a solution to our health problems. Those problems can be chronic (having plagued us for years) or acute (newly-developed, showing up for the first time). If I tried to get people to talk about others the way I have heard them talk about themselves, I couldn’t. To witness people seethe with frustration, cry at the maddening repetition of it all, wishing, cursing, punishing. This unbearable load: this exhausting pattern.
Punishment behaviours can start with self-deprecation; talking in negative terms about yourself, joking passive-aggressively about how useless, weak, stubborn, flawed you are, and progress to manipulative behaviours such as withholding food, or bingeing on food, or over-exercising or not exercising, or withholding reward because you failed, and Failures don’t get nice things. Those things that make you feel good are withheld to make you feel bad. Those things that make you feel bad are used to make you feel worse. Victories are no longer part of your vocabulary, because everything you do is deserving only of ridicule, guilt, and punishment.
I’m republishing this post, below, for those of you who might recognise how unfair you’ve been to yourself, how exhausted you are by it. I urge you to stop punishing yourself while you seek out a better way to live your life. Body issues, food issues, self-esteem issues, pain, so much pain. You are doing your best, and for now, that needs to be honoured. It’s enough. You’re enough. You won’t become more by thinking less of yourself. You won’t expand while you simultaneously diminish every damn thing you do.
Please Don’t Punish Yourself by Danielle LaPorte
It’s hard enough to make your way in a world where you will be judged, daily. To overcome the intentional punishments inflicted by dark mongers; to find the right concoction for emotional wounds; and to rise from the simply deep heartache of not getting what you want — it’s anything but easy. It’s gruelling enough to be betrayed when you have been over-loyal; to feel like an imposter at the pretty party; to be seemingly alone in your looping fixations (you’re never alone); to feel like the star ship flew off and orphaned you in a cabbage patch of zygotes to be adopted by humans who can’t understand you. This stuff of earth, you know, it’s a lot of things, but it’s anything but easy.
Have I painted the picture? How heavy this trip can be? Good. Then why would you wittingly make it harder on yourself?
PLEASE DON’T PUNISH YOURSELF.
Not with deprivation diets.
Not with constant self-improvement.
Not with guilt trips, or following plans that are so tight you can hardly exhale.
Not with self-talk that is less than all-loving (I’m so dumb, so stupid, so needy, I could have, I should have…). Every word, punishing you.
Setting up consequences if you fail… Only rewarding yourself if you succeed — these can be veiled punishments, often in the name of motivation, obligation, and endurance. We even punish ourselves in the name of enlightenment — and that is so cosmically fucked up.
What do you learn from punishment? Actually, it doesn’t matter much, because any lesson possibly garnered from punishment is so barbed with pain it takes years to see the learning — let alone appreciate it. Forget it.
Punishment has a direct opposite — so wildly oppositional that it’s irresistible, if you dare…
Pleasure makes all of the (seemingly) unavoidable hardships of just.being.here. so much easier.
Your pleasure empowers you.
After years of being hard on ourselves and staying stuck in karmic cycles, pleasure-making is courageous.
So when you’re going through hell, find whatever might be luxurious at the time — a day alone, an abrupt departure, therapy, art, being witnessed in a guilt-free rant, rest.
Reward yourself for failing — with comfort, with what you planned to do if you won.
Look at yourself and say, “All is forgiven.” Forgive yourself for quitting, for asking someone to do something that you knew was impossible, for taking more than your share. You’re learning. You learned. Integrate your hard lesson with pleasure.
Stop rewarding yourself “if…”
Reward yourself because you’re here.
You showed up to master light.
You showed up to know pleasure”.