top of page

Letting go of Self-Punishment: the subconscious programming to protect

When things feel better, here's what sometimes happens

Most of us have been stuck in low vibe energies for so long we can't imagine living without them. They become part of us, our everyday life, and who we are. Identifying through struggle, anxiety, conflict, illness, exhaustion, and lack have taken up so much space and energy that our subconscious is afraid to live without them because they are FAMILIAR, and the brain interprets familiar as SAFE, even if the energies are dysfunctional.

the brain interprets familiar as SAFE, even if the energies are dysfunctional. 

Have you ever had something really great happen and immediately something negative pops in? Maybe you received a refund check and then you have a major house repair that is substantially more than the refund.

Or, you have reconciled a conflict with someone in your life only to find yourself in another conflicting relationship.

Sometimes this pattern is referred to as sabotage--that when something positive happens, we find ways to sabotage ourselves by looking for problems. 

Such as, picking a fight with our partner, or feeling completely exhausted. I see this dynamic often with my clients, and have experienced this myself many times. It is VERY common, and you're not doing anything wrong. You are simply adjusting to the new energy, and it takes some time.

While usually referred to as sabotage, I tend to acknowledge this dynamic as a form of self-punishment. For years, I knew very little about this concept of self-punishment. I had heard about it, and occasionally I would see it in others, but I did not see it in myself until my own deeper self work revealed this pattern.

I recognized when others were being hard on themselves, not allowing themselves to receive, have fun, and experience joy. I could see how they withheld from Self--with money, relationships, food, etc. I witnessed the constraints and restraints others kept themselves in and the unhappiness this created. I began to recognize similar dynamics in myself. I could feel really good for a day or two, but then I would find lots of ways to feel terrible.

Self-punishment, like most programs and patterns, are subconscious.

The subconscious collects and holds on to everything--positive, negative, good, bad, joy, trauma--with the sole intent of keeping us safe. So our subconscious may believe that self-punishment protects us by keeping us humble, small, and worthy. We may have watched our parents/family do this growing up. We may have been told explicitly that it's wrong to be TOO successful, smart, happy, rich, or different because it draws negative attention, invites jealousy, or hurts others.

And even if you did not grow up religious, there may also be deep programs that suffering and sacrifice keep you worthy of God's love and healing. All of these beliefs, patterns, and programs are held in our DNA throughout the generations, and recognizing them is the first step to changing the paradigm.

The next step is releasing these programs for the subconscious to allow more ease.

This kind of subconscious release and reprogramming work is quite powerful. In fact, it's the most powerful kind of work I've experienced with myself and others.

And like any deep meaningful kinds of work we do, the path is not a straight line. 

There are lots of ups and downs, back and forth, triggers, old stuff, new stuff, and recalibrating. We are incredibly complex beings. And as we continually shift into better more joyful energy, our subconscious likes to throw curve balls in the mix. We feel good then we feel bad. We feel energized and then we are exhausted. We have clarity and then we feel confused. We allow the next step to show up and then we pull in old energies of lack, fear, and anger because it's so familiar.

When we release a big deep program around anger, for example, our bodies may have no idea what to do without the anger and feel some kind of void. We may have used anger for years and years to keep a boundary with others, to negatively motivate us, or to give us energy. And when the anger is no longer in place, we can feel confused and disoriented, like a deep part of us is missing. And somewhere in that reorganization of letting go of the anger and allowing more joy, we often times bring back the old energies because our brain is looking for safety, or the illusion that anger has kept us safe. Or, we may simply feel that releasing that anger is wrong somehow, or that we are not worthy of happiness. Rationally, this may not make sense. Consciously, we say we'd like to feel better, we'd like more energy, better health, more money, etc. but our subconscious holds a different story around that. And that is where the self-punishment can show up.

As we continue to let go of the old energies, it's important to be patient with ourselves when things are sorting and settling. Remember, we have been running old programs for years and years and years, so when that energy leaves, it takes a bit of time to transition into the newer, more high vibration energy. Consciously we say we want it, but our brains are reorganizing around things and need more experiences in the new energies to solidify and feel safe. So don't feel bad if sabotage or self punishment shows up somewhere for you. Your brain is always looking for the familiar and to keep us out of danger. It just needs a chance to experience joy and ease as safe.

Feel free to share your experience with these concepts and tools in the comments section, and as always, if you need support on your journey, don't hesitate to schedule a complimentary Discovery Session that can be found on my services page.

22 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page