Motivation through punishment makes things harder if our goal is to become our greatness. Self-flagellation tears at our flesh. Wounds then need tending and time to heal. Furthermore, how can we climb the peaks of our greatest potentials when we have a backpack filled with shame, guilt and other “unpacked” emotions? Leave the kitchen sink (and everything else) in the kitchen!
When I started graduate school I told myself that “good grad students” don’t study with the TV or radio on. Even though I learned in High School that I needed to occupy part of my (monkey) mind by having music or TV on, suddenly in graduate school I was to be “cured of this.” I almost failed out in my first class! So I quickly learned to change my strategy. Soon enough, I was pulling up my grade by studying again with the TV or radio on. I shamed myself into believing that to be better, I needed to “work harder.”
In essence, I was fighting myself. I was blocking my own nature with the “idea” of what a “good graduate student looked like.” In taking away the radio, I was setting myself up for failure by trying to make myself conform to some crazy notion of what “I should be.” This is shame folks. It’s hidden shame that makes us sound like we’re doing the right thing. It’s shame that is showing us that what we are “is not right.”
It was as if I feared success. For if I truly wanted to do well, then why was I making things harder? I have feared doing well. So often successful people are torn down by others. Shame folks. This is shame at its finest! Being a trailblazer is a lonely life. So why would I want to get ahead?
Another example is where I get frustrated with the gap between how I want to be an excellent mom and where reality often falls. Role models like “Mrs. Brady” or “Mrs. Clever” who were the perfect moms with all the right answers “in every single moment.” Ignoring that they had a team of writers to think for them and how many takes and edits did they get for each episode?!
So I punish myself for being “less than.” I tell myself I’m a bad mother for being human and getting impatient. I’m a bad mother for not loving my children enough to know how to handle each and every situation perfectly the very first time. By shaming myself, I keep myself blind to different options. I also block my own compassion towards my children…no winners here.
So by setting the bar higher when I’m already feeling down, how am I helping myself to climb out of this pit and see how I can do things differently? Add to this the mental self-flagellation. Beating myself down only keeps me from being able to climb out of this hell!
Now I ask you, where are you punishing yourself? Where do you desire to be a better person, yet beat yourself down? How can you stop pushing your own face in the mud? Eagles don’t soar my sticking their faces in the dirt. Eagles soar by allowing themselves to rise up, not by weighing themselves down with guilt and shame.
Today, how can we begin to love and nurture our strengths without making our weaknesses weaker?
Let’s find a new way to motivate ourselves. Let’s be our own greatest cheerleaders. After all, what effective team (anywhere) has cheerleaders telling players they are terrible? The best way to get ahead is to set our sight on our goals and to stop beating ourselves the eff down. Focus on your greatness!