In this life, there are sentiments that are always hard to deal with no matter how old and experienced we become. The unpleasant feeling of guilt and regret is one of those. Regardless of how bad the mistake you made is, dealing with such a situation isn't something you really enjoy, especialy when guilt starts eating you alive until you are convinced that only self-punishment is your salvation. And that's where the red flags are up. Some people might go as far as self harm to try and "beat" that feeling, which is obviously a mistake in itself.
So is it really necessary to punish ourselves when we make a mistake? And if the answer is yes, then what are the best ways to do so?
Before getting to the punishment part, there are some important quastions you have to ask yourself: Why do you feel guilty at the first place? Is that (supposed to be) mistake really that bad? Or it's just your mind exaggerating the whole matter? Pose those questions a couple of times during the day and think about all the details to get a clear answer. If you still think you need to punish yourself after this stage, then keep reading, I will help you to choose a "suitable" punishment.
Of course, when I say a "suitable punishment", don't expect stuffs like banging your head on the wall, self harm or even the mental torture that some people do when they blame themselves. No! Not even close. We are trying to find a possibility to let this so called self punishment turn into a way to make your life better, not the opposite. Choosing the right punishment is decisive here and it can make things better or worse. Well then, with that being said, how to pick a punishment without really hurting yourself?
It's all about positive thinking. Why would you harm yourself (physically or mentally) when you can change it to an opportunity to improve your skills? Always take the so called punishment as a chance to correct the mistake you have made and the guilt resulting from it. For example assume that you failed a test, instead of blaming yourself over and over again in vain, Just add one or two additional hours to your usual studying time for a month. That way you will hit two birds with one stone: Eliminating the feel of guilt and fix the original problem as well.
In every punishment you pick, consider options related to enlarging your knowledge or developing a healthy habit. Walking is an ideal option, especially for long distances everyday. Other than being a healthy habit, it also clear your mind and help with recovering your mood. Reading is fine too. Read a book related to your mistake so you will learn how to fix it and never repeat it again. Here is another trick: If you are a sugar loving person, try "punishing" yourself with living a sugar- free lifestyle for 3 days. There are a lot of other possibilities you can come up with. Just be creative.
This looks so efficient and simple to do right? Well at some point it is. But keep in mind the following: No matter how possitvie it might seem, the self-punishment is a two edged sword and it should be used wisely. Don't over do it consecutively for every mistake you make. Do it like once or twice every few months. You don't want to subconsciously convince your mind that every mistake should be penalized or that we can only develop good habits through punishments alone. That will make you either afraid of making mistakes and/or lose your passion for everything in life.
One last advice, always keep whatever punishment you pick a secret to yourself. That will make you avoid the unnecessary comments which sometimes may become rude and mean. It's something that YOU are doing for YOUR own self, so it's preferable to keep it that way.
So here you have it! I hope this helps you a little the next time you think about punishing yourself. And remember, Don't be too harsh on yourself. In the end, we are only humans. It is just a part of our nature, to learn from our mistakes and move on in our lives.