Self-discipline, self-appreciation and help of a Dom(me) This week Hans answers a reader’s question…

Hi Hans, I want to ask my Dom(me) to help me think about my lack of self-discipline. Is that a good idea in your opinion?

That’s actually a really complex question, and possibly too complex to answer it with a simple “Yes” or “no”. So, here’s a look at my train of thought…

Change is difficult. I know that. I turned that into my job (and I often notice it myself!)

The fantasy in which you’re using a D/s relationship to change your lifestyle makes sense and is understandable. But every conscious change in behavioral patterns or lifestyle is the conscious intervention in a balance of all kinds of automatic behavior, because most of the time, all kinds of biological and emotional automatic kinds of behavior are the foundation of our “bad” characteristics. When you talk about a “lack of discipline”, all kinds of elements can be involved in that. We will talk about that later.

Demands and energy

First, we always have to take a quick look at the desired change of behavior. Because, the first question I always ask is if the demands you set for yourself are aligned with your energy. If I am genetically sensitive to depression or when I have chronical issues which cause me not to have too much energy and I demand from myself that I should not just have 10 hour working days at my work, but that I also should do more around the house and I also should not eat a lot of candy and that I should go running more, and should do a little less of this and a little more of that…

Sometimes people will set a lot of demands, which by themselves are all reasonable but adding all those demands up can be more than the amount of energy you actually have. You might think that’s fun or not, you might think it’s fair or not… But if it keeps being like this, then there is a chance that you should tell yourself it’s okay to let go of certain demands in order to keep up with other demands. And to make a Dom(me) partially responsible for demands you can’t meet, would not be completely fair (and useless to you as well).

Labile balance (and willpower)

There must be plenty of reasons for change in order to “swallow” the disadvantages if change for such a long time make it so that the advantages will begin to take the upper hand (for example: a change of diet only gets to be “fun” when you actually start to lose some weight / endurance training only becomes fun when you actually start to get more energy) Until that time, there needs to be other motivations/reasons for a change in your diet.

A human as a biological, emotional/social, psychological and possibly spiritually system is not a stable being. Even though we experience it in a different way most of the time. We actually change all the time (sometimes, that’s because we actually do nothing) so you’re able to look at our behavior as some sort of balance of a bi-stable system. The positive feedback within that system ensures that eventually, when it comes to behavioral changes, people succeed or don’t succeed to change (or to keep on balancing in a yes/no situation until we fall to the left or to the right).

I always say “every kind motivation is a form of motivation” and that goes for positive as well as negative motivations, the things that we feel attracted to and the things that we are afraid of on different levels.

The willpower, which is something we all want to be enthusiastic about unfortunately only plays a small role in the game. We can do things in order for things to start changing, we can do things so that positive things will happen and this way, other things start to happen.

You can compare it a bit to something we see again and again on domino-day; small changes can happen because of willpower and this way; bigger things might start happening based on that willpower. But if we started with trying to push over the biggest one stone, we could not have done it with just willpower alone.

The influence of a Dom(me)

You can also use submission as one of the motivations in this story. You can use positive motivation because you want to pleasure your Dom(me), or use negative motivation (as in fear for punishment).

Love for your partner (and with that possibly the need to take care of yourself so that you can take care of someone else) and/or respect for the Dom(me) or even the fear for punishment are ALSO motivations. In the end, it’s not only about adding and subtracting, which is a thing people seem to do as well. The sequence of the steps and the size and weight of those steps are important when it comes to this.

As said before, we like to trust our willpower when it comes to this, but we often overestimate ourselves when we do. Far more important is how much you want to award yourself when it comes to the results of change on a heart kind of level, in your emotional brain. Fear will slowly get less, willpower is easily tired out at the end of the day, love and respect are things which are important as long as the relationship is important, love for yourself -once you’ve developed it, which is not always easy- is often the thing which will last the longest against the automatisms that apparently exists.

Existing Balance?

People often also forget to look at the existing balance. Often, you need to lose some of the weight of willpower when you want to add something else. The reoccurring question I often ask when it comes to change is “What actually is that existing balance?”

I deliberately say reoccurring question, because you can’t map everything out beforehand. Often, you need to discover things along the way and you will discover more and more about how that weight is being distributed. With that, a little depression or just enough self-undermining self-talk can make it happen that you are just a very little bit removed from making it to that tipping point when you lose a little bit of willpower.

But gladly enough, you don’t need to do everything on your own in life. As Darwin once said (but did not got a lot of attention at that time)

In survival of the fittest, it’s not always the “fitness”, it’s more often the one who works best with others and its environment

If you look at everything and see it as some sort of balance, then a little push might be the only thing you need. That is, when you have a clear perspective on all of your negative and positive motivations. This is always a multidimensional system but also often a condition to not depend too much on willpower alone (in a clumsy -read: eventually not working way).

Pressure on the D/s

Something to focus on when it comes to this is that you obviously can really put some pressure on the relationship. What kind of relationship do you have with your Dom(me)? Is it true that you want to outsource that responsibility or do you want to do this together?

By putting your selfcare in the hands of your Dom(me), you can put extra pression on the relationship in the long term. Even if it feels like a relief in the short term, you do see that relationships suffer from being under pressure. Especially when you are, on a short term, but not in a long term, are capable to keep up the desired behavior.

It can give you the feeling that you’re not important enough as a Dom(me). Or it can make you feel manipulated because you need to punish for something which made you annoyed (and you as a sub will just enjoy the punishment while there is actually something really wrong going on). These are things which you both should think about before you say “yes” as a Dom(me) or as a sub.

Short term / long term

If you need pressure from the outside when it comes to a long-term strategy, then it might be important to see what you actually might need and -possibly- if you can’t get that from somewhere else (for example: from your emotional self) -which is easier said than done, but it almost always requires some practice.

In that respect, it’s often important to think about your own definition of (self)discipline. Is it structure, is it a stimulant, is it the feeling of self-matter? If you need pressure from the outside for a long term strategy to do what you need(?) to do, then it might be interesting to find out what “discipline” means to you, because a lot of people talk about it like it’s nothing.

The risk of outsourcing positive motivations is unfortunately that you don’t “practice” your “self-importance”. But on the other hand, is might also feel liberating for a lot of people that you don’t have to live your life alone and that you’re stronger together and are more capable to shape your life the way you want it to be.

If you would like it, I can think about this with you when it comes to the questions you might have about this topic. Feel free to contact me …

Read more articles by Hans here.

Hans has over a quarter of a century of experience in the mental health sector. Hans is a certified physiotherapist, psychotherapist and relationship coach. The debilitating effects of shame and taboos have always had his attention.


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