The Punisher

The Punisher

Mental Skills

When we won’t face what is difficult, we make things difficult.

Most of our aversion to difficulty is wrapped up in avoiding the punishment we will give ourselves. I know this was true for me as an athlete and it has been true for me in almost all aspects of my own life.

I have been more afraid of my own thoughts than anything I have ever had to face in the external world.

It has been such a strange paradox in my own life, because, when the chips have been down, I always find a stoic little bugger who comes out and will not give in. I think he is my real essence.

It is some kind of reserve of will inside me that only rises when I move out of my head and I am present with a difficulty or a challenge, as it is.

My punisher is not made of the same stuff my will is. One of them is an imposter.

Now, in therapy or coaching terms, we could call this punishing voice a fear of failure, a fear of winning, anxiety or any other number of tags or labels you would like to throw at it, but in the end I find, it is a fear of my own thoughts and the subsequent mental punishment I will receive that drives it.

So, the fear of not hitting the mark prevents me from hitting the mark.

The real fear is of my own arse kicking.

Going to be brutally honest with you now, my own levels of self-esteem, self-worth, self-confidence and-yes, self-love, up until this point have been MIA.

I kid you not when I tell you that a punisher has lived between my own two ears.

If you’ll bear with me, you’ll see how that is a positive aspect of what appears to be negative.

So, the first thing to do is to normalise it so you don't avoid it in your own life. I feel like our unwillingness to discuss these types of things is what drives it underground.

Quarantine vibes.
Photo by Jason Yoder / Unsplash

Now, I know that many others live with this punisher and when they explain their anxieties to me, I understand immediately that I am listening to the punisher, not the external perceived danger, or the essence of the person who makes the error of believing this voice is who they are.

I think this is a gift to me for having had to live with this punisher for so long. I have come to understand his motivations, his modes of operation and the dysfunctional behaviour that it causes.

So, here’s the thing:

He eats his meals served up to him on a plate called resistance and disassociation.

The more you avoid it, the more you perpetuate it.

The way to overcome this punishing inner dialogue is to get fully present with it in your own experience.

Feel it, fully, don’t turn your back on it, allow it, explore it and watch it closely.

In time, you will understand all the ways that you disassociate from external challenge and the reasons this punishing voice holds you to ransom.

You will also learn that being present with this threatening voice is actually not going to hurt you unless you keep agreeing with it.

Unfortunately, agreeing with this voice of dissent leads some to self-abuse and self-harm.

Once again, love is the way out!

So, observing lovingly without judgment is the first step to turning it all around.

This is the fork in the river, where you realise that the deeper “you” has the power to not believe it.

Becoming familiar with the punisher is the gift that you give to yourself.

The voice pushes you to the outer reaches of your own bandwidth, that’s where real, tangible change and transformation can take place.

We are far too quick to jump to conclusions. In the same way, try not jump to conclusions based on the arse kicking you are getting from the punisher. Just observe closely and you will recognise the holes in the storyline that move you away from love.

If you are comfortable, ignoring your own resistance, that’s OK, but nothing will change.

The fire of loving self-discovery drives recovery.

We can’t see the gift of the challenge until we have the benefit of time and perspective.

The return to love becomes the source of self acceptance and ultimately returns you to the power you were given as a small child.

Life in the here and now.