“I got spanked and I turned out fine.”
No, you didn’t.
You became an emotionally distant person who’s self-critical, afraid of failing and lacks compassion for other people, including yourself. What about that is fine?
In railing against the waywardness and softness of “today’s kids”, countless older Millennials, Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers tout the okayness of physically punishing kids by saying that they “turned out fine”, an assertion I reject.
I contend that not only have you not turned out fine, but that growing up under a punishment paradigm just made you more aggressive.
Some signs you’re not okay:
You’re uptight. The things that you enjoy can only be enjoyed under the right conditions and your opinions cause you to judge other people, instead of questioning yourself. And when you do question yourself, it results in you being negative toward yourself.
You have misplaced aggression. Years of suppressing yourself make you quick to anger, or passive aggressive. Either way, you probably don’t think anything of it until you’ve either blown up at someone or want to combust.
You second guess yourself. Your self-trust is in the tank. Because you got punished for “back talk” you don’t prioritize speaking up for yourself and when you do, it’s in a way that ends up not helping you.
Even when you know you’re right, you judge yourself for sticking up.
You love conditionally. You only care about the people you know. And those people are in the position to lose your love if they step out of line, or make a mistake.
You feel unworthy. There’s always something you “should” do, before you get to: feel good, enjoy yourself, feel appreciated, feel strong, feel like a stud, be taken care of, relax.
You worry about what other people think about you. No matter how badly you don’t want to give zero fucks, you can’t shake the feeling that you have to be perfect or do certain things to be acceptable to people: dress a certain way, be available, keep your house shiny… the list is endless. Instead of doing things because you truly want or need to, you do them because of other people’s approval, suspicions and opinions. Maybe you don’t post a picture on social media, unless the room is spotless, even though your room is never spotless.
You don’t give yourself permission to take care of yourself. Does, “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!” sound familiar? If so, what you learned from that was that you’re not allowed to hurt or grieve and that no one wants to hear your pain. Crying was your first way of letting pain out and taking care of yourself and you were denied that.
As a result you deny yourself the space to mourn and heal. You’re weighed down with the emotional baggage that comes with suppressing yourself. You might even be one of those people that denies people their pain by saying things like, “No one cares” or “No one wants to hear that.”
You think that might equals right. When people speak up about injustice or violence against themselves or groups of people, your first reaction is to defend authority and make excuses for them. Or, it’s to take immediate violent action. Your first reaction is rarely to just feel, or be there for people. Empathy doesn’t come into the equation and when other people express solidarity or heartbreak over the situation, you call them soft or make fun of them.
You support capital punishment. Despite the overwhelming proof that the death penalty doesn’t deter crime and the fact that the top 10 happiest countries in the world have either abolished the death penalty or not executed someone in decades, you support the state taking someone else’s life. You likely favor harsh punishments over rehabilitation, even though rehabilitation is supposed to be one of the aim’s of the legal system.
Unless you’ve done the inner work to return to yourself, you’re emotionally stunted and support things about crime and punishment that does not bear out in facts.
Lead that life if you want, but don’t make fun of people who are anti-spanking and don’t belittle kids who don’t get spanked and still claim you’re “fine”, because it just isn’t true.
**Disclaimer: I’m not a psychotherapist, nor am I pretending to be. These are simply observations, which decades of literature on child development happen to support