Why Am I Being Punished? What Did I Do Wrong?
When bad things happen in life, do your thoughts turn to self blame, or questions of divine punishment?
“What did I do wrong?” Mom asked.
“You did nothing wrong mom. I believe everyone is born to do something in life. You have accomplished that and now it’s time to move on.” I said as I struggled with tears trying to be strong for her.
It was my way of helping her feel better about how she lived her life. This might have made it easier for me too. At the time. Now I feel there could have been more.
Jackie went on to look for that “more”; she asked her readers if they believed or felt that the bad things in their life were their own fault, or if they were somehow being punished. I asked if I could answer her here, so… here we are.
When I was involved with the spiritual community, the concept of divine punishment came up for many of the people I talked to. Faced with unexpected tragedy in their lives, people seem to naturally wonder if God or the universe is punishing them, searching for ways blame themselves for events that are clearly out of their control. Even a US Senator blamed sin for Hurricane Katrina.
But the Deity-as-Angry-Disciplinarian concept never took root in my spiritual beliefs. But in my personal relationships? Oy.
If someone seems unexpectedly upset, angry, or short tempered with me, even seems a bit disinterested.. if they stop calling for a while, don’t drop by one weekend, or cut a conversation short, I’m prone to doing a rather negative self inventory: “What did I do wrong? Why are they upset at me? Am I being punished ?” Sometimes I’ve even voiced these questions to others.
And when large-scale tragedy strikes, I may not assume it’s God’s Vengeance on a sinful nation, but I do catch myself looking for some fault of our culture to blame: global warming, violent video games, interference with the natural order.
Intellectually I know it’s not that simple. I know that there is a tricky combination of largely unpredictable factors involved, and that it’s unlikely that changing any single factor would have changed any particular event outcome. But still.. I look for that one factor, that one blame, failing and fault to lay at our feet, at *MY* feet.
Why? What makes this such a pervasive thought pattern? Why are we so obsessed with what we are doing wrong?
Stay tuned for part two, later this week… and while you wait, toss your own thoughts into the comments section below; I’m interested in hearing them!
MindTWEAK: Taking responsibility for our actions requires neither self-flagellation or wallowing in blame.