Friday, November 8, 2013

Reward and Punishment

At our last meeting, my Sponsor said something to the effect of "you've never been rewarded, only not punished." I've thought and thought and THOUGHT to find an example to prove her wrong.  There had to be some time my parents rewarded me for good behavior.
I can't think of one.  Good grades were so commonplace they weren't praised. A clean room just meant I wasn't to be punished.  Babysitting was routine. Chores earned allowance in the same way a job earns wages.  Rewards just didn't happen.  Matter of fact, when I would be rewarded for something by a relative,  I was often embarrassed by it, of all things.  I guess because I viewed rewards as special treatment and special treatment was Bad, because special treatment meant you weren't perfect enough not to need it.  A perfect person wouldn't need to be rewarded, it would be superfluous, because it would be constant reward.
I'm still scratching my head, trying to find a time I was rewarded, even with a simple "good job!"  I think I heard that a few times cooking with dad.  A true reward? I don't know that I was even allowed to go out to eat with the team after a soccer win.  For all I know, we couldn't afford that, though.
I'm struggling to come up with a way to reward myself for positive behavior and progress.  The word really isn't in my vocabulary, in regards to myself.  I use stickers for the little girl I tutor, and praise.  I use praise and hugs for my niece.
Part of the struggle with rewards is thinking of one I would consider a reward that isn't already used for something else.  I already play a video game on a daily basis.  I cook good food on a daily basis, and have severe food issues.  I'm unemployed, so many are flat offlimits. Maybe giving myself a manicure or pedicure or allowing myself to watch trash tv or a favorite show.
Another part of it, possibly a bigger part of it, is convincing myself that what I do is worthy of reward and praise.  Many times, I'm bewildered by praise, so I deflect it towards someone or something else.  I'm bewildered because most of what others praise me for was what needed to be done or what I was asked to do.  It just is.  I feel like I can't accept reward for something that I'm supposed to do, even if I do a stellar job.  It's needy, childish, and something you Don't Do.  A good person doesn't need a reward, the good job was it's own reward, or something like that.  Being rewarded is a foreign concept, almost as foreign as the ocean to someone that's never been off the Rockies: I know it exists, I've seen pictures and maps, but can't grasp the concept of seemingly endless water. 
I don't know that anything I do is worthy of praise and reward.  I've had people praise or reward me for things I couldn't understand.  My Sponsor has praised me for making such progress in healing myself via Al- Anon, for making it so far  as I have in my life. It needed to be done, so I'm doing it.  I needed to get out and get a better life than I had, so I did.  I still don't understand how that merits praise.  I have the faintest glimmer of why it does, but it's like a candle 5 million miles away. I've been rewarded with a bonus for what  I considered to be doing my job, and not doing it particularly spectacularly, in my eyes, much as I tried.  It was for a "job well done," so apparently they liked it...  How is doing what needs to happen worthy of praise?  How is something incomplete still worthy of reward?
It's just... foreign.  I understand the raw concept.  An animal learns best with praise and rewards.  I can apply it to others.  But when I try to apply it to me, I can't see what it is I do that's special enough for a reward.  If I saw someone else doing what I'm doing, I'd praise and congratulate them to the ends of the earth.  But, in my head, I didn't "earn" that reward for the exact same behavior.
Another part of it is that perfectionist/ procastinist drive.  I'm supposed to be perfect, and perfect people don't need rewards to learn.  I realize I'm not perfect, nor am I expected to be. I can acknowledge that  rewards would help in the process.
I guess the temporary answer on whether or not something deserves a reward is whether I'd praise or reward someone else for the same thing, until I can see the reward triggering actions myself.

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