Menu

Why do I punish myself?

HomeForumsEmotional MasteryWhy do I punish myself?

New Reply
Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #86706
    Brian
    Participant

    That’s more of a rhetorical question, because I know why (family history in formative years, etc). However, on a somewhat regular basis I consciously choose not to do the things that would probably help me alleviate the self-punishment…stuff like avoiding friends or making new friends. And then I of course feel very lonely to tears. Doesn’t help that I have no close in-person friends I feel safe hugging and crying on. Online “hugs” are a poor substitute. I know I have to do the work in order to see results. But when I get this low, I think I don’t deserve happiness, and that I in fact deserve to suffer. I know these are cognitive distortions. But I’m believing them as fact, because I apparently think I deserve to believe the negativity as fact.

    The root of my mental self-punishment comes from my internalizing blame from early childhood onwards. No one ever soothed me or told me the terrible things that were going on in the house weren’t my fault, so I assumed they were. (Apparently this is very common, the assumption of guilt by children when no contradicting explanation is given) My sister also told me how selfish I was on a constant basis, when in fact she was the selfish one.

    But anyway, I ask, why do I do this to myself? Why do I consciously avoid things/actions that will help me? And again, I answer: because my core beliefs are that I’m not good enough for anyone or anything. This core belief feels true. But factually….sometimes I’ve said this core belief is false. Right now I don’t believe it’s false. I feel so ineffectual, unlovable, useless…but I keep choosing the “easy” path of avoiding things that will help me. Though perhaps my writing this represents non-avoidance.

    Why do I choose the “easy” path? Because it feels like home. There’s something specific about home, about getting used to certain ways of thinking (and indeed, having your neuropathways being formed to think a certain way when you’re very small). It feels “safe” in terms of familiarity. Change requires work. I know I need to act opposite to staying in bed all day or getting drunk a lot.

    I’m just extremely lonely and pre-judge potential social encounters. I apparently can’t take my own advice (someone on here was talking about going on a date(s) not too long ago, and I responded). I feel useless, and the idea of taking action opposite to my feelings seems useless. Though obviously I won’t know until I try it….

    …again. Ever feel like you’re just starting all over again with mental health recovery? Like you’re back to square one? Factually I know I’m not at square one–I have a lot of skills I am aware of. I just need to use them. One way to act opposite is to go out somewhere. However, I am ashamed because I think I’ll look depressed (I *am* actually depressed). I know it doesn’t really matter what others think. What matters is me taking a step, then another. I get so easily discouraged though.

    Ok I’m rambling now. A hallmark of depression: unclear thinking.

    #86717
    jock
    Participant

    You seem to have insight and answers to your own issues so there’s no need for me to offer any suggestions. I am similar in that I like to think I am the expert on myself. For both of us then, we need to emphasise the positive for the past and present. Can you see anything good happening to you at present? Today for instance, I took my dog for a walk this morning, and he was so appreciative, he hasn’t stopped smiling at me since then. I am grateful for this at least. But I can easily slip into negativity if I dwell on silly little melodramas that occurred in the past. (I don’t mean your past events were melodramas, just mine 🙂 )

    #86729
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Brian:

    “Why do I punish myself?” My answer, simplified, would be: Because you did. But you already know that. You know about those formed neurological pathways. I think you know all there is to know on the level that you know them.

    There is a deeper level to knowing things, and then there is an even deeper level of knowing. You are stuck on one level. This is the level where knowing does not benefit you anymore. You need a deeper level of knowing.

    How do you get to that deeper level of knowing, a level that will make you BELIEVE what you already know? A level where you will think to yourself something like: oh, I thought I knew it (anything that indeed you took the blame as the innocent child that you were) was not my fault but now, wow… it REALLY was not my fault. I had no idea!

    I ask and I don’t know the answer, that is how you can get to that deeper level, the emotional knowing. Can you think with me here, post your thoughts? I will read and respond again, of course.

    anita

    #86731
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Brian:

    More thoughts. You answered your own question (which you did call rhetorical, so no wonder you answered it): “It feels ‘safe’ in terms of familiarity.” The need to feel safe is how it all started: it was too unsafe to imagine your childhood circumstances indeed had nothing to do with you and therefore you were powerless to change them. So you took the blame so to feel you had control, that you could change the circumstances (because it is your fault and if you change your ‘badness’ the circumstances will change from bad to good). So now it is still SAFETY that is your main concern. It feels safe, at least relatively safe, but still… safe, the way things are. So… how can you argue with such an intense motivation as in the need for safety?

    It was always about the need and search for safety. A human/ animal will pay a huge price for the feeling of safety, so no wonder however miserable you are, safety is still the main objective.

    I am suggesting an answer that is IN your post that maybe you didn’t notice: your need to be soothed. You need hugs, real life hugs, you wrote- there is the answer- in those hugs, in the soothing. How else are you going to overcome the fear of being unsafe? Soothing by others, soothing by self. That needs to be increased.

    It is the chicken and the egg thing: how are you going to get out of bed and look for the real life hugs that you need so that you can get out of bed?

    I don’t think there is an answer to that. You either get out of bed and look for the hugs that you need, or you don’t.

    anita

    #86741
    Brian
    Participant

    jack,

    I couldn’t see much good in what I was doing, because I was barely doing anything. However, today I went to the gym and feel much better. I still need to do more, but I need to celebrate the “small” victories.

    anita,

    As I responded to jack, I made the decision to go out and do something positive. And it worked. I need to keep up the going-out. My therapist and I both agree that I have a highly exaggerated sense of safety. I’m still not getting what I want socially, but I guess that simply means I need to make more efforts, regardless of the depression that deepens when I stay home and all the accompanying negative self-belief thoughts that come with hiding. I think maybe I can come to believe that it’s not my fault by rewiring my neural pathways–i.e., by acting opposite to the fear and depression and doing things. Easier said than done of course. It’s also discouraging when I reach out to people I know who are going through the same kinds of things I’m going through and they don’t respond…makes me feel unwanted and abandoned. On the other hand, if they are going through the same things I am, perhaps they are in precisely the same mental space I am: not wanting to do anything and hide. That could easily result in them not choosing to do things, just as I chose not to do things for a few days.

    #86743
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Brian:

    If “going through the same kinds of things I am going through” meant rewiring neural pathways, then I am going through the same kind of thing these very days and for a long time. But very much so this very day, right now. It is the most amazing and difficult thing to do, not a natural inclination since these automatic pathways, once formed, are not meant to be changed. Changing one’s neuropathways is … mind boggling, really.

    anita

    #86761
    Brian
    Participant

    I’d say it’s literally mind boggling 🙂

    #86772
    anita
    Participant

    Yes, literally. In this and other posts you do have an excellent handle on what is going on. I am thinking you either have an excellent therapist or your therapist has an excellent client in you… or both. Keep going out, but wisely, so that you get a positive payoff from going out, maximize the chances that a going out will be pleasant, whatever it takes to make it easier, simpler and positive.

    anita

    #86800
    Brian
    Participant

    Thanks for the kudos. I’ve been in therapy for about 19 years (which is an *awfully* long time to be in therapy…they say that the goal of therapy is to be out of therapy), and have taken co-dependency classes, DBT, and get reminded every week of using the DBT skills to get me through. I do use the skills on my own, except when I think I don’t deserve to be happy (as I explained above of course).

    I think I do have an excellent therapist, and I do think I’m a very intelligent client (sounds a tad smug or arrogant, but whatever). My previous therapist (about 10 years ago?) seemed sad that I was leaving her for a male therapist (since I have issues with my dad, and wanted to challenge myself with a male therapist…I don’t generally feel comfortable around men).

    But my issues are still here, and I’m still learning. Just this morning I was at the gym and was noticing more and more ways how judgmental I am when it comes to new things–I always assume the worst. I could just as simply assume the best, or something in between. But I have to work at that part; assuming the worst is part of my nature, informed by my core beliefs. So when I go out I have to consciously say to myself “this is going to be ok, I’m going to face this”.

    #86851
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Brian:

    You are welcome. About assuming the worst still and believing still, at times at least, that you don’t deserve to be happy: these are indeed well ingrained, well worn neuropathways. And it does take a mind boggling kind of work to disengage from them frequently enough and engage other neuropathways often enough to that the latter become “your nature.”

    I will never assume the best about people because this is not reality, that is that people were… not dangerous, not violent and I only imagined them to be. As long as I exist something about me will trigger someone out there to attack me in one way or another, from a word to a bullet in my head. These kinds of attacks and all in between happen in reality every day, some here on this forum, some only possible outside the forum.

    So for me it has been the sorting out of what is real out there so that engaging in new neuropathways, I am more committed to those new ones, believing in their objective truth.

    anita

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic. Please log in OR register.