Feel Good Already!
Using pain as punishment for wrongdoing? A bit of an old chestnut. Since the dawn of time people have been inflicting pain on themselves or others as a punishment for doing something wrong. Research now finds that this seems to be hardwired into our psychology.
A paper published in Psychological Science by Brock Bastian et al in January 2011 found that people asked to write about a time when they rejected another person left their hand in icy water for longer than those who just had to write about an everyday interaction. Of those who had to write about rejecting another person, they later scored much lower on a guilt questionnaire if they had put their hand in a bucket of ice than those who had put their hand in a bucket of warm water.
In other words, those who had punished themselves felt less guilty afterwards about having rejected another person!
So how’s that for a solution? You can do what you like, and then punish yourself afterwards and you don’t have to feel guilty. Hmmmm.
I prefer a different Feel-Good approach. The approach of doing one’s best.
Yup. As simple as that. If at every juncture you do your best, then what have you ever got to feel guilty about? And if you don’t feel bad about things you’ve done, or not done, then you’ll never feel psychologically obliged to punish yourself or let anyone else punish you. Instead you can feel good that you did your best.
Of course this only helps with things you do willingly and with intention. What about all the actions where you’re not sure about what to do and you take the wrong action, or you make a mistake? What about those times where whatever you do you end up doing damage in some sense? Well in those cases there’s still another option – the opportunity to say sorry and do what you can to put things right.
Punishing oneself is destructive. It may be hardwired in, but don’t you get the feeling that it’s a bit of an old-world approach to doing things? Like caning naughty children … we don’t do that kind of thing anymore. Punishment weakens you and lessens your ability to do the next thing. Whereas caring passionately enough about your world to make better decisions upstream, putting things right if they go wrong and if all else fails saying sorry and finding a way to forgive yourself allow you to continue moving forward in life. You can have a lighter, happier attitude and go forth and achieve everything you desire. Forgiving yourself and others when things go wrong allows you to cut ties with negativity and heaviness and focus on the good stuff. It allows you to start again and get it right this time.
Have a fabulously productive week – in which you forgive yourself and others!
Ps: This post was meant to self-publish on Wednesday and as you might have noticed, it didn’t … so Ive fixed it, and here it is. I certainly did my best though, so I’m not going to give myself a hard time about it – in fact I’m forgiving myself and moving on to the next thing!
Brock Bastian, Jolanda Jetten, and Fabio Fasoli
Cleansing the Soul by Hurting the Flesh: The Guilt-Reducing Effect of Pain
Psychological Science January 2011 , first published on January 18, 2011
Posted on September 28, 2011, in a positive focus, acceptance, compassion, forgiveness, Inspiration, pain, punishment and tagged acceptance, forgiveness, positive focus, punishment. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.