Monday, November 16, 2015

Beliefs About Punishment: May Peace Prevail

As my heart goes out to the people of Paris, San Bernardino and now, Orlando and the refugees fleeing terror in their homeland, my fervent desire is for peace.

Instead of anger, hate and punishment, because what we focus on grows, will you join me in fostering desire and focus on kindness and understanding. May Peace Prevail! 

To shed some light on this perspective, here is an excerpt from my book "Emotional Options: A Handbook for Happiness." It deals with life extinguishing beliefs about punishment as a solution to challenging problems.

"Beliefs About Punishment:

Faith in the value of punishment takes many forms that impact our lives in countless destructive and limiting ways. Whether we punish to get even, or punish to change, punish to teach or punish to deter—the toll is high, the results open to dispute.

I want to interject an idea here before we go further into these beliefs. Each of us reacts to punishment, or intended punishment, in different ways. Perhaps the ideas in this book and practicing the Option Dialogues that follow will help you to gain more freedom over how you feel. When someone tries to make you feel bad, to humiliate you, or actually inflicts physical pain, you will know more about your emotional options and how to exercise them.

The goal is to bring awareness to the ways our faith in punishment often surpasses our faith in creativity, love, and perseverance. Here are some of the many ways society’s belief in the value of punishment manifests itself:
The Chiding Inner Monologue: This mind chatter mutters things like, “You stupid jerk. Can’t you do anything right?” while you forge stoically ahead trying to accomplish whatever the task-at-hand may be. Most inner reprimands include some sizzling X-rated language to give them that extra oomph. Ever catch yourself doing that? I cannot believe I still do it—and often. Now I’m on to myself though. I find it mildly amusing. Sometimes I actually counter out loud, “Don’t be ridiculous; I am not a stupid jerk. I am actually very bright.” Or grinningly repeat the childhood singsong, “Am not, am not, am not!”

Verbal Abuse Directed at Someone Else: Pity the customer service representatives who listen to people yell at them people all day long. How often do you hear people, who believe they have been wronged, simply state what they would like instead of what they got? When you want someone to fix something, change something, be more like the person you had in mind, all too often the reproach approach dominates.

Physical Abuse: From spanking a child to the abuse of prisoners, the belief that intentionally inflicting pain works is still widely held. Two favorite authors dispute this, Doctor Spock in his classic, still in print and going strong book, Baby and Child Care says, “discipline does not mean punishment.” Peter Eikann lays out a strong case in, The Tough on Crime Myth, which is unfortunately out of print now. Amazon.com lists several used copies for sale though.

Torture and Death: Taken to the extreme, faith in punishment leads to torture and death.

When it comes to life-enhancing beliefs and life-extinguishing ones, surely beliefs about punishment rank at the top of the list of beliefs we can hold that extinguish our aliveness—moment by moment, or altogether in death.
All sorts of false beliefs can produce strong emotional reactions that make life extremely painful. Other beliefs will hold a particular emotion in place long after it has served any useful purpose. Still other beliefs limit us like the bars of a small prison cell.

Beliefs that foster or allow happiness enhance life. Beliefs that foster or cause un-happiness extinguish life. Can it be that simple? With a smile, I believe it is.What do you do if you suspect you hold beliefs that may undermine your health and happiness? Adapt them? Adopt somebody else’s?

Trying to superimpose a new belief system over what already seems true to you does not work. That is because your belief system represents your version of reality—your unique, private reality, handed down through generations and cultures, cultivated since birth and added to by your own conclusions and observations every moment. Your reality does not change because someone tells you it is bad for you.

Should you try to figure out which ones are positive and which ones are negative? How would you even know which ones to try to change if you knew how to do it? You can’t exactly get up in the morning and start with “Do I believe I’m awake? Do I believe this is planet earth? Do I believe I can stand up?” You would never get out of bed.

Well then what can you do then when you suspect that your own beliefs stand in your way in an important area of your life?

If we abandon the defense of our existing beliefs and search for truth instead we will learn more.

You can learn how to uncover those beliefs—especially the hidden ones you do not even know you have. Then you can explore them, find out if they are true for you, and how to change them if they are not.

The real miracle is that you can feel better now. Feeling better offers a bonus. We make our greatest contributions when we are happy. When we are relaxed our bodies heal themselves and maintain health better. Every time we declare emotional independence from circumstances and events we free creativity and energy to deal with whatever conditions we encounter. We see more clearly. New directions become obvious that once were hidden in a red blaze of anger or the cold gray of despair."


"Emotional Options:A Handbook for Happiness" is available in paperback or digital format from Amazon. Here are links for reviews, info and ordering:
http://amzn.com/B002ACPNXK in the US 
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B002ACPNXK in the UK
It is also available in many other countries; check your local Amazon listings.

MAY PEACE PREVAIL!