Punishing Yourself

Tuesday 22 January, 2002

06.45 E&M 60 mins. In the evening Dev phoned to discuss his punishment with Karaj. Karaj handed him over to me saying that he had personalised the philosophical discussion between Karaj and Sunil from Sunday and was confusing the issue. He should talk to me and get some clarity about the situation. I told him he has to pay the price such that he suffers enough to learn all he can from his mistake.

Dev talked about the feeling of expectation about the reprimand and punishment he will receive from this issue and how it reminds him of the same feeling he had when his parents were mad with him. I told him that to wait for someone else to mete out the punishment is a cop-out. He needs to take control of his life and punish himself – otherwise he will not learn the lessons.* This is best illustrated by a comment from my recent appraisal about the time when Earl made me late for the men’s group:

“For the next hour or two I was preoccupied with the lapse in my awareness. I was trying to own it, pay the price and learn from it. I should have verbalised it but I didn’t. The truth is I didn’t want to be told what I already knew, and in that sense I suppose I wasn’t truly prepared to pay the price.”

I punished myself for what had happened and I learnt a lot as a result but had I gone that step further and verbalised it, I would have paid the full price. (For instance, there are occasions when my actions are seen by Karaj and the group as cocky. I hate being told I’m cocky and that is the price I pay when it happens.) Had I verbalised what happened and included the group, my learning would have been greater and I may have being better able to protect myself against Robert’s attempts to undermine me on Sunday. As it was, the learning I did do allowed me to recognise what was happening such that I could challenge Robert immediately and effectively. I would not have been able to do that at all, had I not punished myself the week before.

Harriet and George arrived for their individual sessions. While Karaj sat with Harriet, I talked with George. At the end of our chat he said that he was feeling more positive. This is the effect I have on people these days. I am no longer as negative and aggressive as I used to be. George’s session was a group one; Harriet and I both sat in on it. Karaj talked to Harriet about the way Robert took over the women’s group at times on Saturday. In giving feedback to everyone he took space away from women when it was their group. Karaj said that in contrast I withdrew and was respectful. When asked a question I answered, but I did not impose myself on the group. I showed respect for their space.

Karaj gave me a lift home and on the way he talked about having drop-in sessions twice a week for anyone who wants to come. They will be like tonight’s session with Harriet and George; everyone together, raising their own issues and contributing to each other.

* Two days later, Karaj corrected me on this point. See the post: Owning My Mistakes


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