What is word for forcing oneself to do something one dislikes or in general doing something one hates?

I can't use [self-] "discipline" because I'm thinking along negative connotations almost of puritanical self-punishment, doing something that one might find distasteful, unnatural, because it's somehow ennobling.

  • 1
    Why not discipline or self-discipline? Or ascesis. Those words would seem to express what you want better than anything else I can think of. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Jun 14 '16 at 18:28
  • Oooh, @Cerberus, +1 for the ascesis. Can I add it as an alternative to asceticism in my answer? – Dan Bron Jun 14 '16 at 18:31
  • Because I'm looking for a slightly religious, maybe puritanical and negative connotation. '(Self-)discipline' is generally positive, I think. – Matt S. Jun 14 '16 at 18:33
  • "Eat your vegetables", "screw up your courage", "choke it down"? – user662852 Jun 14 '16 at 18:52
  • 1
    @DanBron: You can add anything you like! I hate copyright (although of course there is more to it). – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Jun 14 '16 at 20:07

Staying within your religious context, this practice is known as

Mortification of the flesh is an act by which a individual or group seeks to mortify, or put to death, their sinful nature, as a part of the process of sanctification.
In Christianity, common forms of mortification that are practiced to this day include fasting, abstinence, as well as pious kneeling. Wikipedia

Another example of mortification of the flesh is self-flagellation.

A related, and complementary, concept is asceticism, which, as opposed to doing something one finds distasteful, is forgoing or abstaining from things one would like to do.

Asceticism is a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from worldly pleasures, often for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals.Wikipedia

An alternative to asceticism, suggested by @Cerebus in the comments, is ascesis, which I like better than asceticism because it seems more personal, more of a practice specific to that one individual.

Finally, a common conversational rebuke in these contexts is:

Oh, don't be such a martyr!

Which @Matt S cleverly reduced to martyrdom.

| improve this answer | |
  • I'm using it figuratively, but the religious side is pretty much in evidence (though not explicit). 'Mortification' is good, 'self-flagellation' a bit too far. The other suggestions are almost noble, so don't quite fit. 'Expiatory'? – Matt S. Jun 14 '16 at 18:22
  • Aren't all these actions supposed to be noble? At least in the mind of the practitioner? In re: expiatory, (a) thanks for teaching me a new word and (b) are you intending to use the word in the context of atonement specifically? To make amends for some past sin? If so, there are a wealth of words available to you. – Dan Bron Jun 14 '16 at 18:24
  • Welcome. No, for an activity that one undertakes not for pleasure or out of necessity, but for some arbitrary, possibly pious reason of "you can't always do what you want", and finding that noble. – Matt S. Jun 14 '16 at 18:26
  • Oh, like don't be such a martyr kind of thing? – Dan Bron Jun 14 '16 at 18:27
  • 1
    Ha! I may just go with 'martyrdom'. Great! – Matt S. Jun 14 '16 at 18:28

I am left thinking of "taking one's medicine." If this isn't the context you're looking for can you provide an example or more specifics?

| improve this answer | |
  • Dan's suggestions are very close to what I need. Thank you though. – Matt S. Jun 14 '16 at 18:22

The question is about forcing someone to do something. The words dictator and dictate come to my mind.

But I am not sure if those imply putting your force on someone else against his will.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    No, I wrote "forcing oneself to do something", not "forcing someone to do something", in which case your suggestions would be good. Thanks. – Matt S. Jun 14 '16 at 18:49
  • Ah ... Do what you want, not what you´d like to. How about inventing the word self-dictate? But maybe I´ll have an idea where to look for an existing word. – Titus Jun 14 '16 at 19:00
  • This reads more like a comment than an answer. – GoldenGremlin Jun 14 '16 at 20:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.