I’m no psychologist, far from it that’s for sure. But I have learned one or two things in life. Here is one thing… it is my understanding that sometimes we do an odd thing. We occasionally attempt to “punish” those closest to us at various times by our actions. As far as I can tell we do this for two reasons.
Firstly it is because we think they have not given us the attention we think we deserve, or we may feel slighted by them. So we do all sorts of things to somehow try to teach them a lesson. Some of these things might give us a little short term pleasure. Whilst not wanting to make light of how we feel we’ve been treated, I think a retributive type response just caters to our false self and gives absolutely no satisfaction or fulfillment at all. We just end up punishing ourselves. It is really just self sabotage. Others may get hurt too. This is not the life of love that we should be living.
If your are basing the satisfaction of your relationships upon your need for attention, then you may become quite disappointed. Sure, we all need a little loving and affection, (sounds like an 80’s song), but we need to be strong and confident in our own identity too.
When I did my Electrical Apprenticeship in the 1980’s my boss from Town & Country Electrical Services, Maurie Smith gave me some good advice. He saw my indecisiveness, low self esteem and told me (amongst other things) to “be your own man!” I remember this very clearly. In many ways he and his brother Rick were a far better Father figure than my own Dad, in my four year apprenticeship they taught me things of much greater value than merely wiring up houses, factories or climbing up power poles.
Maurie would often slap my leg a few times affectionately as we drove in the old Ford Transit van and give me verbal encouragement. I recall his lovely wife Christine commenting about the weirdness of Maurie’s friendly leg slaps. But I’m glad he did it, there was nothing weird about it. Maurie was a decent good natured man helping an insecure young person on the journey of life. He gave me the encouragement I needed at that time. I do the thigh slapping thing with my kids to this day and (in spite of the occasional smiling protests) I think they quite like it.
It took me a few decades to personally appropriate the self respect and self worth that Maurie tried to teach me. Over the years the struggles of life, my strong wife Trish and my ‘old school’ hard headed Finnish boss Timo Koski have been my best teachers.
If you are being ruled by low self esteem then your life will become a self sabotaging train wreck more quickly than a Usain Bolt 100 metre dash. Low self worth is the brainchild of your false ego/self, bad parenting and distorted mindsets.
Another reason we sabotage ourselves is that we can sometimes take on a false narrative that we are not worthy or good enough to be treated well, not good enough to be successful and enjoy a good life. Sadly, this is something that my wife and I have experienced first hand with many children over the years.
Every human being deserves to feel worthy and be treated with dignity and respect. And there are enough resources on this planet for all of us to live in prosperity. Yes every single one of us.
In my recent efforts to instigate against the Christian belief that all humans are intrinsically sinful, I have attempted to posit the idea that we are all actually good and worthy of acceptance, regardless of our religious affiliations or beliefs. I would never call any child a “sinful” human being. In my opinion this is a false and damaging narrative. Even the worst serial killers or dictator could have lived a good life if they were raised in an environment of love and kindness. I think this is a fact that has been confirmed by science.
I really love the analogy from my friend Joshua Tongol. ‘Gold that is covered in mud still retains its intrinsic value’. According to the biblical narrative, when we were created God said we were good. My understanding is that God never reneged on those words, but we have all hidden from our true sinless nature.
Maybe we just need to be metaphorically sprayed with a garden hose to wash off the mud, some like me might need a high pressure cleaner. So let your light shine brightly. Underneath we are all the same.
Some who’ve read my posts about us humans being fully divine and sinless have accused me of promoting a certain degree of narcissism. This accusation is not well founded. It is well known that the narcissist mind results from the lowest self esteem. The narcissists ravenous desire for self attention is borne from a very needy and wanting personality.
It is also well known fact that Grandparents are generally softer and less disciplinarian upon their Grandchildren than they were towards their own children. This is because as we grow in age and wisdom we learn the importance of love, acceptance, encouragement and kindness.
So in conclusion I would say don’t punish your loved ones and don’t punish yourself. Show kindness to those close to you, all humankind, all animals and all creation. It won’t hurt to give a little encouragement here and there when you can.
Occasionally you might also want to give your kids a friendly slap on the leg and tell them how amazing they are. Most importantly, don’t forget to tell yourself how amazing you are as well, but no need to slap yourself around. Recognise the fact that you are good, sinless and perfect.