Somanaut's Blog

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Mundane Masochism

We all are familiar with masochism, especially the mass media conceptualization of whips and chains and leather garments. Kinky, perhaps glamorous, it is for most both odd and fascinating.

Much less glamorous is mundane masochism- the small moments of self inflicted pain that occur regularly throughout daily life. These are the times when we choose to ignore the preferences of our body for the preferences of our mind.

Here are a few examples. We wait to eat past our hunger. We wait to sleep past exhaustion. Fearing to express our anger directly, we yank open a door in frustration, punishing our hand, arm and shoulder. We wear clothing that “looks good”, rather than something comfortable and suitable for action.

There are also many instances of mundane masochism that are more mind versus mind. We choose to deny our desires, our pain and our fears when we perceive a greater fear. “I wouldn’t dare say what I really think, they would never accept that!” is a typical example.

These fears run deep. They show in the basic way we grip a doorknob, in the pace of our heart, in the depth of our breath. Cognitive work can help tremendously, but the fear is woven into the fabric of thought. What we assume is normal, is in fact pervasive anxiety. Chasing this level of fear can feel like pursuing ghosts in a fog.

Working from the physical is clearer. It is useful to differentiate functional action from expressive action. This arbitrary choice helps us to clarify when we are acting ‘to do’ versus ‘to show’. While many social expressions are genuine and therefor pleasurable, most are contaminated with fear. By testing the physical we can build a data base. From that we can evaluate our action, and reconfigure our choices.

The pleasure of clean physical action is an antidote to the misery of mundane masochism. Action experiments, deliberately divorced from social context, help up recognize the true, and differentiate it from the merely normal. We can build a habit of self reflection that purges the masochistic and nurtures healthy joy.


March 3, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Thanks for the insight! I have recently started to look at my body as one of my only true indicators. While I can delude my mind into believing anything, my body isn’t as quick to jump on board.

    The more I learn to be in tune with my body and my body language (like you mentioned in your other blog) the more I hear the messages that I often ignore.

    I Like what you mentioned last night while describing your physical Improve, about how when our bodies are involved, in correlation with someone else, we can often have huge realizations that we didn’t see before.

    I am sure this applies to the dance of life we all do as we move around this earth…



    Comment by TheMrRogers | March 3, 2010 | Reply

  2. I love the last line, it affirms I am on the right track! I am a wordpress blogger too!
    glad to be in your company – erin

    Comment by erin clark | March 4, 2010 | Reply

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