Mental Health

Instantly Know If You're An Emotional Masochist (What the Real Meaning of Masochism Is)

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No one starts their day with the intention of emotionally beating themselves up.

And yet we do it all the time.

If you're reading this, you're probably an emotional masochist, also known as an emotional sadist.

Or you've been one at some point. I know I'm guilty of it.

Masochism is one heck of an ugly word, and it stands for an even uglier behavior.

The problem is, it can be hard to know what being a masochist / sadist exactly means, and it's even harder to apply that to emotional masochism.

Today, you're going to learn how to spot the signs of the emotional masochist, meaning you'll be better educated and prepared.

And then you're going to learn what you can do about emotional masochism so that you can live a happier life.

How to Know If You're An Emotional Masochist

Let's start by defining "emotional masochist."

What's a Masochist? What Does Emotional Masochist Mean?

Masochism, if you're not familiar with the term, is all about accepting self-inflicted pain. Some would argue that it has to be intentional and enjoyed to be masochism, but it can be unintentional and undesired. A person who is an emotional masochist puts themselves in situations that cause emotional pain, and they do this over and over.

And that's what we'll focus on today.

Now, you might be thinking, why do masochists like pain?

Before I can answer that, we need to discuss emotional pain in particular.

Emotional pain is different from physical pain in that it is feeling-based rather than physical in nature.

But it can be all-consuming.

I'd argue that emotional pain is worse than physical pain.

Emotional masochism is participating in events, situations, and relationships that repeatedly damage your self-esteem.

It's negative self-talk.

It's needing approval from others but never getting it.

Being emotionally masochistic, in a nutshell, is a futile search for love and connection, both from yourself and from others.

Because life is a series of small journeys to get your needs meet.

One of the most critical needs you and I have is our need for emotional nourishment.

The problem with masochistic tendencies is that we search for love in the wrong ways, and it can turn into sadistic abuse.

A masochistic person likes pain because they think it will get them what they desire at a deep level.

If we're being honest, we all do this to some degree. We all put ourselves in situations that not only don't serve us but, rather, pummel us and tear us down.

It's like sticking your hand in a hole in the ground where a snake is lying in wait to strike you.

Questions to Ask to Figure Out If You're An Emotional Masochist / Emotional Sadist Engaged in Masochistic Behavior

This of this of an unofficial masochist test / masochism test:

1. Do you put other people's needs above your own?

2. Do you stay in relationships that don't bring you any joy?

3. Are you quick to blame yourself when things go wrong?

4. Do you do things out of begrudging duty rather than self-sustaining passion?

5. Are you more understanding with others than you are with yourself?

At the end of the day, the most important relationship you have in life is the one you have with yourself.

If you repeatedly put yourself in emotional harm's way, you can never expect to live a happy and fulfilled life.

Now, you might say, "But this is just my personality! This is just how I am!"

I thought this was true for a while.

I thought I needed to be a people-pleaser to survive. I thought that the only way others would like me is if I gave all of myself to them.

But this, in the long run, only gave me emotional pain. My need for approval from people overran and destroyed my need for genuine, emotional connection.

I eventually learned that there's a better way, and it's a way that removed me from toxic people, myself included.

How to Crush Emotional Masochism Once and For All

So much in our lives is devoted to convincing us that we need a perfect partner.

Marketers want you to think that, if only you find the special someone, you'll be happy forever.

But what marketers and salespeople don't want you to know is that the best way to find joy in your life is to focus on one person in particular. You.

In fact, buying a product or service and expecting it to improve your life forever is a mirage in the desert.

I don't think it would be a stretch to say that much of society hinges on you remaining a masochistic person.
If your tendencies to cause yourself emotional pain are enhanced, then more people can ask more things of you, more products can be sold to you, and more of your dreams can be deferred for the benefit of others.

Miserable people love it when others are miserable, too.

But fulfilled, joyful people are positive people. They know that there is a way out of masochism, and they are willing to experiment with their lives until they get there.

Remember, all healthy relationships start with self-relationships.

If you don't know what you want and deserve to have, how can you expect others to give it to you?

The most fulfilling--and the most challenging--relationship you will ever have is the one you have with yourself.

But that's why you need to start there.

You need to start with the source of the abuse.

Now, I don't mean to say that you enjoy abuse or that abuse should be taken lightly. It's a serious, serious thing.

What I am saying is that abusive relationships have root causes, and one of them is deciding what you will and will not tolerate.

So, I need to ask you:

1. Do you feel like you're in emotional pain most of the time?

2. Are you always on autopilot, just trying to get through the day?

3. Do you frequently find yourself shaking your head and wondering how you got into yet another bad situation?

If any of these are true, you might be a cruel partner to yourself.

You might be engaging in emotional masochism.

But awareness is the antidote.

Once you become aware of something that is causing you pain, you can then take action to change and extract yourself from painful situations.

If it's true that your experiences define you, wouldn't you want to improve their quality? Wouldn't you want to increase the odds that you have pleasurable experiences?

You can, but you absolutely have to start with self-reflection.

Do whatever it takes to turn the candle in your direction and light up your internal experience.

There's no one perfect way to do this, but the more you're aware of self-inflicted pain, the more you will notice ways to remove it from your life.

Mental health issues can show up in our lives in all sorts of ways.

And emotional masochism is just one of many interlinked issues. 

But it doesn't need to be one of many unresolved issues.

If you are serious about feeling better emotionally, you will find a way forward.

You don't deserve emotional pain.

No one does.

And now that you know that, you can do something about it.

Masochist Meaning - Read if You Want to Understand Masochism in General (And the "Masochist Person")

Lucky you.

You're a person who has a morbid interest in learning even more about masochism.

Beyond emotional masochism, there are other forms of being a person who is masochistic.

So, who exactly is a masochist person? What is masochist person?

A person with masochistic tendencies gets pleasure from pain.

If that sounds like an oxymoron, it is. But it also paints a picture of a slice of reality for certain people.

Rather than go into the minute details of who a person is--because we are all unique and weird in our own ways--it's easier to describe what a masochistic person does.

In a nutshell, they exhibit masochistic behavior. This is some form of behavior, no matter how it is categorized below, that is obsessed and/or addicted to getting pleasure from pain.

Here are some other forms of masochism, including some you might not initially associate with masochistic personality traits:

  • Physical masochism
  • Sexual masochism - Deriving sexual pleasure or sexual gratification from painful, sexual activity
  • Economic / financial masochism
  • Moral masochism
  • Religion-based masochism
  • Relationship-based masochism (i.e. Being in a sadomasochistic relationship) - There are relationship patterns you need to be aware of. I don't want to judge different preferences that people have, but masochism typically goes beyond simply having a difficult relationship or challenging relationship. It can be a sign of dysfunctional relationships and outright abuse.

One of the "godfathers" of psychology, the inimitable Sigmund Freud, broke masochism down into three types: erotic, feminine, and moral.

The thing is, Freud related pretty much everything back to sexual desire and the world has evolved in its thinking since then.

Think of it this way.

If there is a way to derive pleasure from pain in any given set of circumstances, it's safe to call that masochistic behavior.

It's just a form of masochism. It's infliction of pain + type of behavior.

Remember, if you saw a topic in the above list and thought, "Wow, I might be a masochist," don't beat yourself up too much.

We have a tendency to learn about a diagnosis or "bad" set of behaviors and immediately latch on to the things we see in ourselves. We silly humans love to make everything about ourselves.

It's always crucial to get a diagnosis from a trained mental health professional if you are worried that you are doing something that is making it difficult for you to go about your daily activities. That's always the rule I follow.

What you must do is always be introspective. Always dig deep into what is going on for you, in your life.

What are you really getting out of pain?

If you're worried about someone else, ask yourself, "Is their behavior preventing them from completing their daily activities? Is it preventing them from maintaining relationships?"

That might signal it's time for something to change.

Masochism is a complex topic, and as you can now see, it goes beyond emotional masochism.

Its tendrils slither and spread into almost all areas of life.

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