Releasing Our Addiction to Suffering
and Embracing Our Darkness for Healing
By Rachel Leedom
The Conscious Masochist | $13
“Conscious Masochism is an important book for anyone that experiences pain, anger, grief, and sadness. It teaches us that these emotions are a key part to understanding ourselves on a deeper level by surrendering to the process of emotionality rather than attempting to shut it out. Rachel explains that it is through the acceptance of our 'darker sides' that we can come to approach what is often considered negative, in a mindful and loving way. In this, we can then live healthier, more balanced lives. As someone who identifies strongly with both physical and emotional masochism, I have learned that conscious masochism can be used as a tool to feed my fire and creativity, rather than feel defeated or even judged for it."
- Breanna Meow from WhatTheSlut? (www.whattheslut.com)
“So wow... this is such a unique book with a voice that stands out to me because a lot of my experiences have started to make sense from this perspective. I can definitely relate with what Rachel says and think it's something people would benefit from being open to at least considering, if not accepting. I really loved the Dare pieces that get the reader engaged in the process and thinking about things deeply. For anyone interested in new perspectives on being human, check out Conscious Masochism!"
- Obscure Monologues (@obscuremonologues)
What is Conscious Masochism?
Masochism is beautiful to me - conscious masochism that is - in that it requires so much bravery to willingly choose pain over comfort. It’s not an easy thing to do and it requires much practice (as I’ve been learning first hand through many ups and downs). But when we approach pain with tenderness, it has true power, though it requires much discernment.
Discernment is tricky when it comes to emotional pain, because it all feels the same. Our survival instincts tell us to run pretty much 99% of the time. So how do we know which pain to embrace and which pain to release? How can we honor some of our pain and not drown in it? Is this pain telling me to leave or to stick it out? These questions frequent our minds during turbulent times and create added chaos to already murky situations.
We turn to tools in those moments to help us find comfort... prayer, meditation, creating external or internal space, talks with friends, journaling, or maybe smoking, drinking, self-harm or avoidance. Whatever the path, we try to find ways to move through the pain as quickly as possible. Our bleeding hearts won’t stop screaming until it’s over. But no matter the issue, our instincts typically urge us to fix, solve, ignore or run from the pain -
anything to make it stop.
However, pain is a tool we can use if we stick with it for a beat. One we can wield for causing more pain or for healing it, the choice is ours even when that choice is very difficult to make. The way of the conscious masochist is an inner dance of bravery, love, chaos and misery. It embraces all aspects of humanity, while gently reminding us that this too shall pass and no matter what, we are loved and supported.
Conscious masochism creates a bubble of safety around our experience of pain, grief or anger. This allows us to go into our darkest depths and express every ugly emotion or desire with safety, self-acceptance, curiosity and compassion. We trust that no feeling will last forever, so we lean into those shadowy corners where fear lurks and become the light needed to heal it. Our pain deserves to be honored, no matter how silly, trivial or scary it may be. It deserves to be felt and heard - at least by you, if not by trusted loved ones as well.
There is no discernment necessary within that bubble of safety in regards to judging our pain as worthy or if it matters - it does. And even if there is no one there to hold your hand or support you in that, you do always have yourself. Your pain should matter to you, but it’s usually when we’ve denied our own pain or left it uncared for that it rises up through immature acts of defiance.
This can look like comparison of our pain against another’s. Not being present to help comfort or soothe a friend, loved one, or even a total stranger when they are in pain because we are so focused on our own. Even taking our pain out on others through passive aggressive actions in an attempt to transfer the discomfort we feel inside. So the first step necessary in causing the least amount of pain in another’s life, and helping them with their hurt, is to deeply and courageously face our own.
Interested in learning more about conscious masochism, and how you can feel more at peace with pain?
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