What have you or someone else done that deserves a life sentence of punishment? Have you been berating yourself or someone else for years over a past behavior or event? A judge would provide an opportunity to review your current behavior and revise the punishment or even let you go. Be the judge. Decide on a reasonable punishment. Remember, effective punishments should help you change and move forward. Before you try this exercise read the following examples of punishments that support change:
- Crime: You spent all the money in your family savings account on drugs and alcohol. Sample self punishment: Make a positive life commitment, stop using drugs and alcohol, make a savings plan, get a better paying job, and save double the amount wasted. Then after five years, forgive yourself and let it go.
- Crime: You got very intoxicated at a family wedding four years ago, started a fist fight, and then vomited on the front steps. Punishment: Make a commitment not to drink or use drugs. Decide to: always dress immaculately to show you value being part of the family; always use behavior that is positive and respectful of yourself and others. After one year, forgive yourself, and let it go.
- Crime: You had sex with strangers when you were intoxicated. Punishment: Make a positive life commitment. Visit a doctor and get checked for sexually transmitted diseases. Stop drinking and taking drugs. Don’t have sex for 3 months and read one book every two weeks on sexual health and building self-esteem, even if you have to give up other events. Then, after 3 months, forgive yourself, and let it go.
Think of a specific negative event that you can’t seem to let go. Then answer the following questions.
Be specific and make amends by making the punishment match the crime. After all, you really are your own judge. To forgive and forget, be honest with yourself. Remember, the goal is to give up berating yourself. Always choose activities for your punishment that will help you to learn to better manage your life and to uphold your values.