Reasons that we choose to self punish
Participant: So to deal with the injury that we have that we feel that God is punishing, is it just a matter of really allowing that grief that you feel like you’re being punished by God? Because I get a bit confused and Ifeel that I go into self punishment.
Can I show you how this belief that God is punishing gets established in us as a firm belief quite young? When we arebeing brought up by our parents, we generally learn quite early in our life that if we punish ourselves then we can escape the punishment of others. We usually learn this quite young, when our parents need to give us some form of correctionwhen we’ve done something wrong, but instead of just giving us correction that’s based on love and truth, most of the time it’s also guilt based. In other words our parent’s trying to make us feel guilty so that we don’t do the thing again. And what we learn in that process is that it’s actually better to punish ourselves than to receive punishment.
And what we learn in that process is that it’s actually better to punish ourselves than to receive punishment from another person. It actually feels easier. It also feels less destructive to our soul because when we receive punishment from theother person we have a heap of emotions, including total rejection, feelings of abandonment, and quite a lot of other very,vvery difficult feelings for a child to address if they were totally open emotionally. So what they learnvto do instead is theyvlearn to blame themselves for what went wrong and so we learn to punish ourselves. But if you think about it, the only reason why we punish ourselves is to avoid the prospect of being punished by others.
So emotionally, what we’re doing when we’re punishing ourselves is we’re avoiding the prospect of being punished eventually by God. We’re hoping that if we punish ourselves enough God will actually be easy on us. Now if you look at the Christian faiths for example that are on the planet at the moment, this concept is rife in most of these Christian faiths;on the planet at the moment this is rife in most of Christian faiths, this whole idea of self-sacrifice and self punishment. They even have parts of different faiths, including part of the Catholic faith, where they actually whip themselves when they noticed they’ve done something wrong. And that way they demonstrate their repentance towards God, who would otherwise punish them if they hadn’t realised. There is a very strong group of people in the Catholic
religion who still believe in that as a form of repentance with their relationship with God.
So this whole punishing god situation has caused us to revert to this self-punishment. So what we end up doing is we end up noticing when we’ve done something wrong. We want to punish ourselves for doing that wrong thing and the reason why is because we feel afraid that somebody else will punish us if we don’t punish ourselves. But the problem with that is we never address the underlying causal reason, the actual reason why we did that wrong thing.
So for example, let’s say during the day you know you had the opportunity to steal and you took the opportunity, but the feeling inside of you was, “It’s just a small thing”. You don’t even know why you did it and you even feel frightened about why you did it. If you believe in a punishing God, you will have a higher likelihood to try and punish yourself about that.
You’ll feel guilty that you did it; you’ll feel bad about yourself. You’ll feel like you can’t talk to anybody else about it because if you do they’ll feel you’re guilty and they’ll feel you’re bad as well. So you try to hold on to it all inside of yourself, you dream about it for a few days, you can’t sleep and you think all sorts of things happen as a result.
Interestingly though, what doesn’t happen in most cases is looking for the reason why. The reason why we don’t look forthe reason why is because we’re so involved in punishing ourselves, avoiding a punishing God or avoiding other people from thinking that we’re bad. So we never get below that to actually find out the reason why we did it. And then of courseit doesn’t get resolved, so months or years later we do the same thing, and then that adds to the previous feeling. But then
it doesn’t get resolved again and can you see how the turmoil inside just builds and builds and builds without ever being resolved?