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Life Traps | Pt. 11: Punitiveness

Posted by Maria

We’ve come to the halfway point in the descriptions of the Life Traps, only nine more to go! It’s been quite the trip, on I bet that it will keep being one, for me at least. Today I am taking a look at the Life Trap of Punitiveness, in other words, being punishing.

A brief summary based on what the book, Tunne Lukkosi by Kimmo Takanen, tells us of the Life Trap of Punitiveness:

I tend to be very harsh on myself and punish myself when I don’t act according to my expectations. I get angry with myself for the mistakes I do, which leads me to whip myself mentally. Everything needs to be punished, even if it is just a simple human error. In this mentality of no mercy, I still don’t see myself as being unfair towards myself, after all, the mistakes are my own fault. 

I keep being angry at myself for being so weak, so emotional, and needy. I loathe my own needs and think that if anything bad happens to me, I’ve earned it. I don’t deserve good things and rarely allow them for myself. I also don’t want other people to feel sorry for me for being punished by the cosmos.

I may be punishing my loved ones as well. I may limit my input in fulfilling their needs, and even blame them for my problems. I can not forgive myself or others, and other’s defensive explanations often bounce off of my shell. I am in a constant state of frustration, either because of myself, or others.

This might be one of the biggest everyday hurdles I have to deal with.

It doesn’t matter what it is, if I somehow mess it up, that’s it. I’m the worst person that ever lived on the surface of the planet – completely and utterly useless, lazy, worthless, you name it. My triggers for this can get ridiculous since as a Borderline, I tend to perceive things that are not there sometimes. So not only actual mistakes, but perceived ones too!

Another problem with this is that my expectations are a bit out there, as we will find out when the topic of Unrelenting Standards, aka perfectionism, comes to play. If I don’t succeed on the first go, even if it is a completely new situation and subject for me, I tear myself apart. I should’ve been able to nail it!

Thing is, this is normality to me, and as such, it brings me tons of stress. Can you imagine ever trying anything, when one of your Traps is about being Pessimistic, and the other screams at the aftermath about how you messed up and you’re terrible? It’s not a very sustainable way to be thinking, I’ll tell you that much.

The constant anger and dwelling in the mistakes is poison to the mind.

And so is thinking that I deserve whatever bad things happen to me. This I understand logically and rationally, but I am unable to make it stop. Somewhere along with my life, I learned to always strive to be the best, to always kill off my own needs, and even to tell myself that breaks are not ok.

That’s one of the more ludicrous ones if I’m honest with you. I sometimes literally can not take a break, as I would deem it a failure. This is especially messed up in situations like arguments, or say when I’m tired and in need of some peace. Nope, girl, you ain’t going nowhere! You stay right here and finish it! And then beat yourself up because there are mistakes in whatever you did because you actually needed the break. And then resume to beat yourself for not taking the break when you knew you needed it.

I keep wondering how the so-called normal people manage to forgive themselves and move on. I don’t think I’ve ever done that. My mistakes follow me sometimes for years, I’m lucky if I get to forget about it at some point. I still sometimes beat myself up for things that happened when I was a child even. How crazy is that?

I did truly believe I didn’t deserve anything good.

It was terrifying to live with the knowledge that I deserve absolutely nothing, and trying to cope with the Borderline’s immense fear of being abandoned at the same time. How is someone who is doomed to be a failure, and who keeps come after herself for being such a failure, and who thinks that every little thing is a complete failure as a human being, and who thinks that failure leads to abandonment… How is someone like that supposed to be living a happy life? Especially when they don’t think they deserve that happiness?

In my more mellow days, I don’t go around dishing out poison to others, but I have to admit that if the flame gets ignited there’s hell to be had in the Vana household. God help you if you left that sock on the floor on a wrong day, or didn’t do something immediately. You’ll face the mopes, the growls, the wicked witch of the west. No matter how you try to weasel out of it, my spidey sense sees the complete bull honky you are trying to feed me and off we go to a whole other level of banshee energy. 

The more tiresome thing about all of these Life Traps is, that when one gets triggered, the whole bunch of them tries to take part in the party. Sometimes more is not merrier! There are 18 of you guys, please give me and everyone else a break every now and again! I don’t need the agony of cleaning up after the banshee got let out and the little devils joined in. 

Yet, that is the life of Mrs. V as we know it.

The book tells me that once the Life Trap of Punitiveness starts resolving, I’ll stop punishing everyone, including myself, with such a heavy hand. I will begin to see rewarding as a better method of dealing with people, tolerating the humane mistakes and accidents more without demanding punishment. I will learn to be kinder towards myself and others, and instead of dwelling in the mud I will start thinking about the future, and how I could act more constructively.

As it stands, I am actually trying to find methods to motivate me through rewarding the successes that to others might seem minor, but to me they are momentous. And one day I hope that just because I said something and it wasn’t well-received, or because I woke up at 11 instead of 9, or maybe I over-salted the mash… I hope one day I will be able to look back and smile a lovely smile knowing, that going forward I am taking the lessons of life as they come without chewing at myself for eons because of a silly accident.

Do you find yourself being too harsh on yourself, or others? Let us know in the comments below!


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2 thoughts on “Life Traps | Pt. 11: Punitiveness

  1. Amethyst

    I used to be harsh on myself now I’m a little better with it. I always say I’m a work in progress because I don’t get it right all the time. Who does?

    1. Maria

      Absolutely nobody.

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