Posted by: Judy | October 15, 2015

Schema 18…

Last one:

18. PUNITIVENESS – The belief that people should be harshly punished for making mistakes. Involves the tendency to be angry, intolerant, punitive, and impatient with those people (including oneself) who do not meet one’s expectations or standards. Usually includes difficulty forgiving mistakes in oneself or others, because of a reluctance to consider extenuating circumstances, allow for human imperfection, or empathize with feelings. Yes. However, I’ve improved. I still don’t suffer fools well.

This is another one that was carefully taught.

I was harshly punished for minor infractions and ignored when I obviously stepped over a line. It was arbitrary, wildly unpredictable, confusing, and all based on NM’s mood. Mind reading, otherwise known as skilled reading of body language, was a necessity.

Expectations and standards were adjusted as necessary, to ensure I could never quite meet them. Ever. Then I would be punished for not measuring up.

Forgiveness was demanded… no, absolution was demanded. They called it forgiveness. This included a sure knowledge the “mistake” would happen again, and I would be expected to forgive it, again.

So yes, I learned to be punitive with myself and others. I endeavored to never be more exacting on anyone else than I was on myself.

This is where love thy neighbor as thyself became an important teaching tool.

Being kind to others was such a struggle. It didn’t make sense. It’s difficult to understand something you haven’t experienced. I worked hard to be kind to others, but there was always an inner struggle. As I’ve learned to be kind to myself, I’ve learned to be kind to others.  Learning to be kind to me, I was able to release the inner struggle.

And we’re right back to how to change: Practice, practice, practice.

I would add: Start with yourself. It’s actually a really good way to start. As you learn what is kind for yourself, you come to understand that it may not be kind to someone else. Kindness becomes a tool in the toolbox. It needs to be honed and sharped, and the only way is by frequent use.

That’s the last one. Interesting learning experience. I beat myself up over a lot of these schemas when I first read through them. Stepping back and seeing I learned them from the way I was treated helped me realize I am able to unlearn them. Realizing I’m capable of unlearning them helped me recognize I’m already working on it and, for the most part, quite successfully.

The insanity of my life may have messed me up in a lot of ways, but it isn’t winning.



  1. You know, what amazes me is how they were so punitive to us but then expected us to be forgiving/absolving of other people without even getting a sorry.

    • Yes, do as I say not as I do or be punished. They are wrong. I win by being the kind of person I want to be instead of who they attempted to make me. Go us! 🙂

  2. I find it easier to be kind to others than myself. My therapist once asked me why I thought I was so special that I had different “rules” for myself than for others. I’m not sure it is quite right, but his words did make me step back a bit and look at my thought processes.

    • You’re right: It’s jarring. However, he’s also right from a certain point of view. However, a part of me wants to expect more of myself than I do of others because I don’t know their story. I do know mine.

      • It definitely was jarring. For me, it’s like other people deserve to be given some slack, but I do not deserve any kindness from myself or others. I’m getting much better at self-kindness, thank goodness because the mean voice in my head is exhausting.

        • My counselor told me to fire the mean boss. I’d accomplish more by hiring an encouraging one. 🙂

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