I wish I understood why we feel the need to punish ourselves sometimes. What is it about human nature that makes us abuse ourselves? Oh we deserve it. It apparently has a social purpose as well according to Psychology Today
Self-punishment tends to serve a dual purpose as it not only relieves internal feelings of guilt but impacts how others perceive us as well.
I’ve been feeling guilty. This month is the two year anniversary of me selling my last company Stowaway to a private equity firm and pursuing a medical leave to diagnose and treat my spinal condition ankylosing spondylitis. It was a happy ending, at least mostly, with the company being put into better hands than mine. But I still felt guilty.
I felt bad I didn’t live up the expectations of our biggest dreams. I felt guilty I didn’t 100x the capital for my venture investors. I felt guilty that my colleagues had dedicated so much to me and I had failed to deliver on the outcome we had dreamed of in our early days.
So punishing myself seemed like the right thing to do. I deserved to be sick. I deserve to be in pain. I deserved for the whole world to read about my experience and my failures. I deserved to be shown in public as a weak sick woman. It sounds so abusive when I write it out. Like I thought I deserved to be tortured. But maybe that’s exactly what I felt.
I am trying to unearth why I have the self limiting belief that punishment is what I deserve. As it’s more than just the circumstance of selling a startup and not seeing the results I wanted. It’s got to be deeper than the rationalizations I’ve given.
I’ve practice family systems therapy. The basic premise is that our childhood informs how we react as adults. And by healing the rough patch’s or even traumas of those times we can live the life we choose. For me I felt abandoned as a child. I wanted my father in particular to be emotionally available. But it just wasn’t to be. But I held on to the idea that I must have deserved to be abandoned. But of course it had nothing to do with what I did or did not deserve. It wasn’t about me at all.
Now I remember that I am a capable, brilliant and above all reliable person who needs to accept what I can be and not be bound by what I learned in failure. Finding that and turning it into your superpower is where the real success comes from.