The punishment reward system was designed to maintain order in a social group. If you're good according to the rules, regulations and ways of doing things you deserve rewards. If you're bad according to the group mores and moralities etc. you deserve to be punished. Rewards are often about what you're given that is desired, such as resources, love, attention, praise, support, belonging, affection and so on. Punishments are often about what is taken away or withheld from you when you're bad or do something wrong. These include things like lack of love, condemnation, shame, guilt, isolation, abandonment, rejection, being shut out of the group, not belonging, or not getting what you want or need. Although this system can be "effective" at maintaining order, it is super painful and harsh and unkind and really leaves the majority of us feeling not good enough, unworthy, full of shame, and in fear, terror or unending grief.
One of the greatest challenges of this particular system is that we don't live in an environment where the collective agreements are consistent. In other words, we are not given the same rule book. Every family is different. In one family you could be punished and condemned for something that in another family you could be rewarded and loved for. So, we end up super confused thinking things like "what's wrong with me?" "Why can't I figure this out?" "What am I missing?" If this is you, my sense is that you've outgrown the punishment rewards system. In other words, if it's not working for you to motivate right action, or inspire you to be great and contribute your gifts to the social group then it's time to be or do something different.
So, a potential starting place is to acknowledge: I am here. I exist. I am living. What do I require and desire to have in my life? What do I desire to give? What would I like to receive? What do I value? What do I appreciate? If I could choose anything what would it be? Essentially you begin an exploration of who you are, what you value or what's true for you, and what it would be like to generate and create your life from this starting point. You don't have to have all the answers, instead you just begin. If you feel like you don't know you could ask things of the broader universe that you are a part of like: universe, show me something beautiful today. Universe, what can I be and do that I've never been and done that would contribute to the joy of living? Start with curiosity and expand from there. If you're interested in more you can check out my blogs: Love is not a Reward, Learning Lessons from Love, It's Time to Take the Pressure Off and Beyond Worthy and Deserving.
We've often been taught to fight for change, or push through fear, or make things happen. We often were not taught to ask for, receive, embrace, allow and invite in the beauty, the peace and the change we'd like to see in the world. What if now we can know what it would be like to ask, receive, embrace and allow? What if now we can access energies that may not have been valued, wanted, needed or desired by others?...We can choose to be the gentleness, the kindness, the peace, the calm, the innocence, the gifts and the space of possibility. We don't have to fight to maintain the identities we built to keep us safe when we lived in a world of fear. What is different now? What if it was different for you now? If it was, what would you choose to ask for and receive?
This week I did an in person and online version of a class I entitled “Trusting You to Create Your Life.” A few themes came forward both nights that I wanted to share in this format too. One is that of committing to building trust from where you are. Often we get caught believing that we “should” trust, or it’s right to trust ourselves and other people or we keep looping back to an earlier time in our life to figure out what went wrong, or where we lost this trust that we should supposedly have developed.
One of the things that prevents us from building trust in ourselves is not knowing ourselves, or where we learned to cope with life by emphasizing the aspects of our being that others liked or accepted and denying, suppressing, rejecting or disowning aspects of ourselves that other people didn’t like. Those aspects that we “hid” from ourselves are now unknown to us, and it is harder to trust what is unknown to us. People have attempted to get us there by saying things like “just trust” or “have faith”, however that is often not enough to truly address what’s going on. If we knew all that we are, would it be easier to trust all that we are? Yes! As we know all that we are we can receive the awareness of what the needs and desires are and update our means or methods of getting those needs met and desires fulfilled by tuning in to the field of possibilities now, rather than relying on associations made about ourselves, life, the world and other people at other times in our lives (what they could or couldn’t give us, whether they could meet the needs or fulfill the desires that are relationship based etc.).
So, one of the ways to build trust from within is to look for anywhere we’ve separated out aspects of ourselves based on value judgments imposed by other people. I lead a meditation earlier this year called “Strengthening Trust in Life” which I’ll include at the bottom of the blog. In that I speak to some of the separations between the mind, heart, body and spirit and what it would be like to unify them again, or have all that we are working together to benefit the totality of the embodiment. If every aspect of us chose what honored the totality of our embodiment, how much more could we trust ourselves to create our life? Ponder that, and get curious about what is possible now.