May 8, 2012

A Tangled Web: Self-Deception in Submission

By Nina E.

tangledweb

Artwork ©Adrian Borda

“She who knows herself, knows her Lord.”

A few years ago, I was looking for a new master. I’d recovered enough from the loss of my first master that I felt ready to move on with my life. Like many women in my position, I chose to look for someone online, because that opened my search up to a much broader spectrum of people. I’d been “off the slave block” for a very long time, but I remembered how I and my former master used to help others look for capable men and thought this know-how would serve me well. That was my first mistake.

I met a man on a kink personals site who was charming and stimulating and seemed to want a real-life slave, but he quickly shunted me into a very limited routine of online chats which, while supportive and quite enjoyable, lacked something. He did not speak much about direction, plans, or visions. But he called me his slave girl and he was so warm and friendly, and I was so starved for attention after many cold years alone that I decided this was just another “style” of mastery. Mistake number two.

He limited our communications to chat windows and texting in online games or virtual worlds. Over the two years I was to know him, I only heard his voice three or four times. I’d often long for some “meaty” answers to the extensive emails I wrote him, but none were forthcoming, although he would promise to answer. Again I attributed this to his “style,” which was light and humorous. But the result was that I never knew how he really felt or thought about anything important. Finally, he made plans to meet me on numerous occasions but each time that moment drew close, he had some very reasonable excuse for not doing so. I chose to believe he was either “testing” me or his luck was phenomenally bad. How many mistakes are we at now?

After two years, I was at my wits’ end, and expressed my frustration to him frankly. He was angry and offended that I did not trust him. Even then, I was willing to keep going with him. But I decided to ask three other friends I trusted what they thought.

But self-deception is a slippery beast: it can easily slide into our assumptions without our noticing it. Therefore, knowing the nature and quality of one’s own ability to self-deceive is extremely important to women who desire to be obedient, loving servants of their men.

They were unanimous in their opinions: he was stringing me along and had no intention of ever being anything more than a cyber mirage. I might have been able to deny one person’s opinion on this. But three of the smartest people I knew were all saying the same thing. And so, as hard as it was, I finally admitted to myself the truth: I’d spent the last two years deceiving myself that this relationship was going somewhere.

Self-deception is very tricky largely because nobody wants to believe they are capable of it. It’s not a trait that one can ever fully declare “dead,” however. It arises from the darkness of your unconscious, like a vampire, to suck at your honest spirit when you least expect it. But unlike a vampire, self-deception doesn’t announce its presence with a bite on the neck; it’s a problem made even more serious because it’s so hard to accurately observe and identify when under its spell. Let’s face it, no woman desiring to please a man or trying to find a man to please likes to think of herself as intentionally deceptive or as not knowing her own mind. But self-deception is a slippery beast: it can easily slide into our assumptions without our noticing it. Therefore, knowing the nature and quality of one’s own ability to self-deceive is extremely important to women who desire to be obedient, loving servants of their men. Being honest and providing accurate information is so important in these relationships, but someone confused about what she really wants or what she is actually doing may provide inaccurate feedback to her male, and his plans for her will suffer as a result. This may, in turn, prevent the already surrendered woman from transforming herself, with her male’s help, into a better servant and helpmate. As my own story clearly demonstrates, self-deception can also prevent an unpartnered woman from finding the special sort of man that she needs.

A woman who is convinced she knows herself fully and is completely honest to others about her nature when this is not actually the case will frequently seek out a man willing to agree with her faulty self-assessment. The dominant male/submissive female couples that result are often nothing but mutual admiration societies in which the tacit rule is “I will accept everything that you say about yourself if you accept everything that I say about myself.” No growth, no progression, no change is possible in such relationships, although they may be filled with a certain sort of happiness and contentment. It feels quite good, after all, not to be questioned or challenged in disturbing ways.

But what feels good isn’t always what’s best for us. Aligning only with the pleasant lies we sell ourselves doesn’t allow us room to evolve. There’s another word for this condition: stagnation. Think of a small pond of completely still water that is never refreshed from a spring or river. Plants start to decay within it, microbes flourish, a scum grows over the surface that prevents oxygen from mixing with the water. The stagnant mental and emotional ponds that certain couples embody are sometimes the consequence of extreme self-deception working in both parties. They’ve mutually decided that, together, they know it all. If you live in the happy land of “Know It All,” you don’t have to worry about growing, changing, challenging your assumptions, and other potentially uncomfortable activities. That is its immense appeal, and the majority of people cannot resist that appeal. But a deeply submissive woman who desires or is with a demanding male must resist becoming a smug and staid Know-It-All, because her lord and master will be constantly insisting she change and grow for him.

Thus, she is, due to the nature of her self-deception, vulnerable to being drawn toward another type of man, the type who, while putting on a good act of independent dominance, is willing to approach her first and pay her homage by indirectly stroking her ego like some people pet a pussycat.

Because self-deception is so prevalent in us all and so difficult to spot from within, I’ve provided a few realistic examples of it in action below, in the hopes that reading about the ways others deceive themselves will aid recognition of it in one’s own self. These are common situations that affect women who want to fully serve or who are already serving a man.

Entitlement
Some women believe they deserve the best of dominant men, the crème de la crème, simply because they feel submissive and that means, in their Holy Bible of Self Worth, that their submissiveness, simply because they are feeling it, is far better than anybody else’s submissiveness. A woman may not say this directly to herself, but she knows in her heart that she is the very best: That there has never been another submissive woman like herself and never will be again. If a male who catches her eye doesn’t pay her the level of attention she feels is her due, if he doesn’t come to her and court her after she coyly and nonchalantly makes sure he is aware of her presence, then she acts like the fox in the fable who made himself feel better by claiming, falsely, that the grapes he couldn’t reach by his own efforts were “undoubtedly sour.” This sort of female decides that dominant men who do not worship at her personal altar are not worth having, despite the fact that such a man is probably the only one free and independent enough to actually tame her.

Thus, she is, due to the nature of her self-deception, vulnerable to being drawn toward another type of man, the type who, while putting on a good act of independent dominance, is willing to approach her first and pay her homage by indirectly stroking her ego like some people pet a pussycat. It’s hard for a woman with a top-heavy self-opinion to resist that treatment. No matter how much modesty and humility she gives lip service to, inside she believes that a “perfect” dominant man will, first and foremost, recognize her own incredible excellence in submission. If a man comes along who is willing to bow to her egotistical rule that the male must always show the first signs of interest (although, ideally, cleverly hidden behind a dominant veneer) then Boom! It’s love at first sight, because she did not have to lose face (or faith in her religion of Self) by approaching him first, with trembling humility. The relationship has been founded on her ego’s demands, not on her ability to bend and humble herself before a man’s will. These are also the rocks upon which it will flounder…sooner or later.

This woman is in a predicament of her own making and she can’t really do much about such a situation except live through it since she is presently committed to a path of denial. But she’ll likely be so busy being a smug and complacent half of the perfect master-slave couple that she won’t mind doing so, at least for many years. Time and fate, however, may throw some hard curve balls her way and harsh events have a way of opening one’s eyes to the reality of one’s situation. Later in life, she may find herself starting at square one again: looking for a new master. Maybe, after going through a personal hell or two, she’ll be lucky enough to realize that there is some merit in begging for attention from the type of man that she really needs rather than assuming that he must come begging to her first. Therein lies her sole hope, if she is sincere about her submission.

Pride
Some submissive women are naturally self-effacing and observe themselves with some degree of honesty due to this trait. Unlike Miss “Entitled-To-The-Best,” there is no question in such a woman’s mind that she has defects, some of them quite pernicious, and she tries to improve them. It’s quite possible she is already in a relationship with a man capable and knowing enough to help her with this improvement. This is all very good; in fact, it’s a great base from which to work on oneself.

But even in optimal situations such as this, things can go wrong. Sometimes there are hidden secrets in such women’s souls, tender areas that they hide from themselves and thus from their masters. When an observant man points out one of these areas, the woman may find herself rejecting his observation violently in her mind. She may diffidently say, “Yes, Sir” to his observations, but inwardly she is seething in rebellion and rejecting the thought: “No! That’s not how I am at all! My faults are this and this, not THAT! He just doesn’t ‘get me’!” Or even worse, paranoid suspicion might set in: “Since I know this can’t possibly be true about me, I can only conclude that he is saying this to intentionally hurt me, even destroy me.”

When these sorts of thoughts occur, the submissive woman is experiencing pride. While it’s not full-blown pride but rather a little hidden island of pride connected to an area of her personality she was unaware of or repressing, it still has some very bad effects. She has, for instance, temporarily decided that her privileged position inside her own mind makes her far a better observer of her own flaws than somebody outside it, even if that somebody is her master. (Actually, those outside ourselves are almost always in a better position to see our issues more clearly than we are, ourselves.) The false belief that one is the sole expert on oneself seems rational and logical, but at heart it is close-minded, protective of the ego, and deeply disrespectful to one’s master.

What someone in this situation needs to realize is how very hard it is for her to see herself clearly from her highly subjective and biased perspective at the “center of the storm.” She needs to remember that her master is also her teacher and will guide her truly in this matter. He can be trusted when she cannot—due to a very tricky ego—trust herself. This is such a wonderful thing to be able to reply upon! And if the man in her life is consistently accurate in his assessments of her, then what he says is likely to be the truth, even if she doesn’t like it. When a woman detects a strong level of inner resistance to her master’s observations, this is a clear sign that she needs to wholly embrace what he is saying in order to avoid the trap of pride.

Resistance to Change
It is easy for people to get settled into habits or certain ways of doing things. These ways feel familiar and pleasant, everything runs smoothly, they know what to do and when to do it. But a woman who completely submits to her man, particularly one who has vowed to do “anything” for him, must prepare herself for times when routine is shattered and she is required do things she has never done before. When a submissive woman is faced with change it can fill her with insecurity or fear of failing. Even the most obedient may resist change, perhaps not overtly, but by putting off the execution of the new practice and continuing to engage in the old behavior. A submissive woman serving a weak or confused male can sometimes string him along for weeks or months with a subtle form of procrastination. If the man is self-aware and alert, however, he may give her a short period to time in which to adjust, but eventually he will put his foot down and say, “Do it NOW.” It’s at this point that a more subtle form of self-deception can occur: the temptation to create some drama around the change, just to avoid doing it, may be irresistible.

Where is the self-deception in this situation? It is around the most essential facts of the relationship, actually. The slave has forgotten in her state of distress (or whatever form her drama takes) that her master is her lord and ruler and that his will must be obeyed completely, without hesitation or angst-filled “I just can’t bear to do this!” moments. She can bear it because she must, because it is required of her by the man she both deeply worships and trusts with her soul. She may say to herself, “But I do so very much for him! Surely he could bend just a little in light of my overall service!” This is what a woman in a relationship of equals would think. She would feel she “deserved” some slack in an area that was distressing to her because she had “earned” such consideration.

Since slaves don’t earn a paycheck for their servitude, what she should actually be thinking in this situation is the converse: “He does so very much for me, he has brought me along so very far, made me such a better person. And yet, I want to refuse him this one small thing, to the point where I consciously choose to mistrust him rather than submit to his will. How much more ungrateful can I get?” She should consider how much she owes him, particularly in light of his mercy toward her and how he deserves her best service and compliance in all things, including this.

Holier-Than-Thouism
It’s mind-bogglingly easy for those of us who engage in online socializing to feel superior to others. The larger an online space is and the more people it draws, the more one will see others whose ideas, when compared to one’s own level of knowledge or experience, seem sorely lacking. Additionally, the bigger a kinky online social site, the more likely a woman is to draw random interest from men. It’s easy for the submissive woman, lost in the giddy online high generated by all this attention, to forget that in regular life far fewer men, if any, approach her. In scoffing at the “stupid idiots” who post online it’s also easy to forget that, in ordinary life, the people around her include a great many who are a lot smarter than herself. But online, it’s another world, full of seemingly stupid people she can feel superior to and hundreds of misguided men willing to bend over backward for her if she so much as posts a picture of herself. It’s hard for any woman not to get a swelled head from this. But for a woman who deeply desires to serve a strong man, resisting this effect is an absolute necessity.

When a submissive woman buys into the myth of her own “superiority” based on these online observations, she becomes strongly invested in self-deception. In order to feel superior to others she must forget, even if only temporarily, what she really is, which is usually an ordinary person perhaps working in an ordinary job or pursuing a satisfying but very standard course of study. She works with or attends classes with others far brighter and more beautiful than herself. But online, it’s so different! There, she is a Star, a Very Important Person. “Big and Important” disease can easily and quickly progress to a lethal stage: An Extremely Arrogant Know-It-All Shrew Who, Despite Claiming She is Submissive, Knows She Is Here To Inform All Dominant Men Of The Error Of Their Ways. And once she is at that stage of corrupt blotation, she is perfectly self-sabotaged, because her cynicism, her desire to score points off of others so she can feel superior in comparison, and her belief in her own greatness will blind her to reality.

The one man who is worth serving, a very strong dominant male, is not only invaluable to her, but also extremely rare and she may never have any significant contact with him at all if she cannot rid herself of the proud delusion that a potential master must come begging to her, like all the others do.

Those individuals who are best for her are the ones she will deride and peck at most viciously because they disturb her complacent and falsely high self-opinion. Those who are the worst for her are the ones she will easily be flattered by and drawn to. The man that ultimately “wins her hand” will only do so by repeatedly kissing her ass. He will have to agree wholeheartedly with her grandiose and artificially inflated self-opinion, because she will accept nothing less.

This whole frame of mind, the “I am superior to all of you pathetic morons” stance, is deadly for a submissive female to adopt, particularly one who wants to improve herself and attract a stronger or higher quality man. A woman will never attract a high-quality man with this sort of attitude although she may very well convince herself that she has. To remedy this deplorable condition in herself, a submissive woman can, first of all, remind herself of who she actually is in real life and how unimportant she actually is in the greater scheme of things. Secondly, she can remember her sincere craving to be more humble, obsequious, and self-effacing in order to someday be worthy of serving a great man. She can observe how her current despicable behavior is making these honorable aims impossible to hold honestly. Sometimes, realizing these things and then adopting and sincerely displaying more appropriate attitudes can be enough to cause a dominant man to give her a chance to prove herself, particularly if she begs him sincerely for that chance.

But asking for that chance may seem the hardest thing in the world for a Superstar bloated fat on Internet attention to do. Why should she have to ask for attention from a mere male, when there are hundreds beating down her door, like sperm around the egg, trying to be the first to get in? The reason is simple: those hundreds of men are totally worthless to her. The one man who is worth serving, a very strong dominant male, is not only invaluable to her, but also extremely rare and she may never have any significant contact with him at all if she cannot rid herself of the proud delusion that a potential master must come begging to her, like all the others do. In reality, a man worth serving will avoid a proud, puffed-up, pecking peacock such as her like the plague. He finds absolutely nothing appealing in such a woman.

If her ego can entertain this idea (that someone out there may actually be assiduously avoiding the great and wonderful Her because he finds her so abhorrent), perhaps she can take the first step along the road that leads to a humble, genuine, and valuable servant who is worth owning. She cannot have both (her immense online ego fed and the attention of a man who is worth obeying) because such a man won’t be able to stand her in her present, ugly state. She will need to clean up her personality first, and often that means cutting off the source of her ego addiction and retiring from those online habitats that feed her inflated self-worth so voraciously. A quick and easy way to do this is to completely abandon or destroy her current online identity and start, more humbly, from scratch, with an unknown user name or avatar, which nobody, not even former friends, knows is actually her.

  1. caringandreal says:

    Very appropriate article, especially considering certain recent blood-pressure raising forum posts. Keep up the good work, folks. I live for these writings. :-)

  2. slave_rachel says:

    There are a lot of little and large self-deceptions. i think what seems most common is that “Submission is a gift,” (that seems to be a bit of the martyr thinking, is egocentric and pretty much says the slave has some moral superiority)

    “M/s is just a fantasy” (i am thinking that means one is absolved from growth within it should it get uncomfortable and not fun all the time),

    and that being obnoxious,sarcastic and rude to everyone (including Masters who are truly Masters) not “their” Master is okay (i am thinking it reflects poorly IMO on both in the M/s, and causes me to question the slave’s fulfillment within that relationship and is perhaps venting frustration or a need to Dominate not submit.)
    i would think as we grow we lose those deceptions. Becoming more focused on what clarifies and defines us IMO should help us confront the deceptions and mistakes and remove them as we mature.

  3. winddncr says:

    An Excellent article.

    Self deception is a human trait and a nemesis to any individual who wishes to truly understand oneself and ones nature.
    But without this struggle we cannot truly grow as a human being.

    Thus being aware and ever vigilant, it is my belief that in order to be honest with oneself we must strive to be honest with others.
    Thank you for this well thought out and presented article.

  4. Nina E. says:

    Thank you for the comment, winddncr. I’m glad you liked the article.

    “in order to be honest with oneself we must strive to be honest with others.”

    This is a good point: the two types of honesty seem inextricably entwined. The converse is also true. It’s hard to be honest with others if we are not honest with ourselves.

  5. Mishy says:

    Is submission not a gift? A Master in my own experiences taught me this. If a Master takes control of you as more of a right then some thing given He does not and will never respect you. Even as His slave or submissive there still needs to be some sort of respect going both ways. You are His slave/ submissive not a pawn. I think of the story of O in this case where O was never respected by her lover or anyone else. To me that is a man who does not cherish the person he is Mastering. Which I have seen all to often.

  6. playmelikeaninstrument says:

    This was a very thought-provoking post and I am still processing it. There is much to consider here. Foremost, for me, is the question of self-awareness. We are all in process, it seems. I do not know myself. I am aware of my thoughts, feelings, reactions, fears, desires, and the balance of these is ever-shifting, such that knowing myself at one point does not mean that is how to define me at a later point. I’m thinking of this at an almost sub-atomic level. In other words, what is constant? What is true? And who gets to say, “This is you, always, this defines you.” Those are my questions.

    And so, to call it self-deception…that seems to jump the gun, in my way of thinking. It presupposes that there is a constant truth about who and where we are in our process.

    How can we know this, definitely?

    I am not saying that we can’t. I’m not posing a rhetorical question. I’m literally requesting the following information: How can one determine this? With emphasis on HOW. What is the methodology, specifically? Is it a simple matter of listening to and being guided by our Master? Is that how? Does He determine this, choose this, or ideally, just see us for what/who we are…does He recognize this (and hopefully share the information with us)?

    And if, let’s say, we are in training…if we are being conditioned…undergoing conditioning…we are being changed, molded from one state to another, a state more perfect for Him, for His needs, His purposes. Which is fine. It is wonderful. I cherish it. But it also means…it mean, that now, I know even less than I did before about who I am, what I should be, where I am going. It is in His hands.

    I do not understand where self-deception even applies, I guess that is my challenge here.

  7. Nina E. says:

    @playmelikeaninstrument

    You ask some great, thoughtful questions here. Thank you so much for your comment. :-) It helped me see my article in some new ways. I’m going to answer in detail, as these strike me as the sorts of questions that other readers might have.

    First of all the little vignettes, on pride, entitlement, resistance to change, etc., were intended to help someone who is struggling with the issue of self-deception identify it in themselves and in their daily dealings with a husband, master, or other controlling male. Not everyone is struggling with this issue so, while their intention was to spark recognition (Oh yeah! I have experienced something similar!), they won’t spark this recognition in everybody. If, when you read them, you didn’t recognize any of this stuff in you or as relating to your experience, then I’d say that maybe this article is not relevant for you. And that is a good thing! I know from personal experience that self-deception is not exactly the most pleasant of issues to deal with. There is also an article on weight loss here, but that article, as chock full of good information as it is, is irrelevant to a healthy, naturally skinny woman who has never had a weight problem. So I would say the same thing to her if she was confused about that article’s relevance.

    One thing that I think everyone needs to watch out for when they read an article like this is “Intern’s Disease.” Imagine an inexperienced medical employee, new on the job, who diagnoses a patient with a bad pain in their side as having appendicitis. A week later, this medical professional gets a bad pain in their side and boom! They immediately think that that they have a ruptured appendix, not because there’s any objective evidence for this, but because they were recently around somebody with a pain that resembles theirs who had that condition. When you read an article like this it’s possible to feel something similar: that you must have the same traits in you, whether you do or not. Figuring out whether something does apply to you or not can be hard, I know, but often simple gut feelings will tell you a lot. If you feel indifferent toward something you read, it’s likely not an issue you need to deal with because it doesn’t apply to your life. If it upsets you in some way or makes you think of past experiences, there might be something there worth looking at in more depth.

    Dominating someone or submitting to someone is so complicated that the general subject has to be broken down into tiny pieces if you hope to explore them in any depth in an article. That is what I did here. I chose to talk about self-deception in women who submit but self-deception is only one tiny hue in the full-spectrum experience of submitting to a man. It can be an important one, however, as it can sabotage your submission. But the length of my article may be giving it more emphasis than it deserves. I just tend to write long articles. It’s a bad habit and my master is helping me to improve in this area, but writing short, surprisingly enough, is hard to do if you are used to writing long.

    Ok, on to your questions!

    “What is constant? What is true? And who gets to say, “This is you, always this defines you.”

    You start with the toughest questions of all! (smile) Philosophers have been asking these very things for thousands of years. But in speaking just about this article, here’s the scoop: I’m not trying to say that these things are _you_, specifically. The article is asking, “Does any of this ring a bell with you?” If it doesn’t apply to someone, normally it wouldn’t concern them. The reader would just get bored and wander on to the next article without finishing this one. The fact that you did think carefully about the article and wrote some questions about it leads me to believe that some of this did apply to you. The pieces in the article that bothered you the most are the ones to pay close attention to as they may have nuggets of truth in them that your conscious mind feels a little threatened by. That’s how I know when something is important to me: when it bugs the holy crap of out me! :-)

    About constancy and truth, well, I personally don’t think people constantly change inside. There are many schools of thought about this, but I believe that a few very important events that occur in childhood or even in infancy set us on a certain course, shape us very generally to become a certain sort of person, bring out traits that might have stayed hidden or “recessive” if those events hadn’t triggered them. It takes a very long time for a personality to take shape, however, and much of that formation takes place long after we reach adulthood. A person may be in their 40s or even 50s before they see the clear shape of their personality before them, although this can also happen at earlier ages. But until our mental and emotional shape becomes obvious, it can feel, subjectively on the inside, like our personalities are constantly shifting and changing. But I believe this subjective feeling of constant personality change is an illusion, that there is actually a lot of deliberate construction work going on in the psyche–it just looks chaotic because we are not used to the ways in which the mind works.

    One of my favorite theories about how personalities work is the one that says we’re composed of hundreds of tinier personalities, each with a specific task or a trigger than brings them to the forefront of consciousness. There’s a personality for driving, one for job interviews, one for socializing at a party, one for dealing with parents, etc. When that personality is brought to the forefront of consciousness and is driving things it feels like “us”–we think it is us, even though it is only a tiny part of us. We don’t usually notice that the thing we call “me” is constantly be replaced by different smaller individuals each with their own agenda and attitudes. People, to me, have hive minds: sometimes Gather Pollen Bee is in charge, sometimes Take Care Of Eggs bee is in charge, sometimes Build Honeycomb Bee is in charge, etc. But they all feel like “me.”

    “And to call it self-deception…that seems to jump the gun, in my way of thinking. It presupposes that there is a constant truth about who and where we are in our process. How can we know this definitely?”

    Look for repeating patterns. You can learn a lot about yourself through observing habitual behavior. When you do an action once, it may just be some random, spur-of-the-moment thing that doesn’t repeat. Do it (or think it or feel it) 10 times and you’ve got the beginnings of a personality trait that may become fixed if it is repeated. It’s these habitual behaviors that are strong behaviors and will affect your dealings with your master. Sometimes these are positive, sometimes they are negative. This article talks about a number of negative habitual behaviors: why the crop up, how to spot them, what is wrong with them, how to counteract them. (I give the “what is wrong” part because most of these behaviors would not be wrong in a non-submissive person: they would be useful or right behaviors. But for a humbled female, they can sabotage and harm her relationship in some major ways. You were right to pick up on that. The behaviors and thoughts discussed in the article are not always about self-deception. But in my experience, they often are in submissive women.)

    I must admit, however, that I did some sloppy thinking in this article. Your comments have helped me to see this, so I greatly appreciate the fact that you posted them. I made an unconscious (and very habitual, with me, lol) assumption that the women I were writing about are mostly slaves. But that is a wrong assumption. Not all women interested in the concept of being a humbled female are slaves or even want to be slaves. But I wrote certain statements with only slaves in mind, and that could cause someone to have reactions of “this isn’t me” or “this is confusing.” Here is an example, from the “Resistance to Change” section. I was talking about a woman given an order that is very hard for her to complete. Instead of following her order, sometimes such a woman will create a mini-drama, an emotion-filled response to the order. I said about that:

    “Where is the self-deception in this situation? It is around the most essential facts of the relationship, actually. The slave has forgotten in her state of distress…that her master is her lord and ruler and that his will must be obeyed, completely, without hesitation or angst-filled “I just can’t bear to do this!” moments.”

    In the above statement I am assuming that everyone reading this is a slave who has very strict rules about obedience. But not all women have these strict rules. In some relationships, including one I was formerly in, the man instructs the woman to talk to him before obeying if an order disturbs her to this degree. This “communicate first” rule is pretty common in male-led relationships. But my statement above only covers the situation of the woman who is a slave to a very strict man who demands absolute and immediate obedience (with perhaps some talking later, if the incident disturbed her, although a slave has no right to such communications). This can be disturbing to read if you are not a slave or don’t want that sort of very regimented and controlled life, because I seem to be saying it is true for all humbled women in all relationships. My Bad! :-( And kudos to you for making me aware of this. At some point I may re-write this article to be more inclusive of other types of male-led relationships, if my master agrees it is a good idea. It might help to clear up some confusion.

    You said:

    “I am not saying that we can’t [know this definitely]. I’m not posing a rhetorical question. I’m literally requesting the following information: How can one determine this? With emphasis on HOW. What is the methodology, specifically?”

    I have a couple of answers to this. Method One: First, start with the examples given in the article. Look at each one and ask yourself if they match anything at all in your own experience or anything you’ve personally felt or anything you’d expect to experience with a controlling man. Of course, the specific details of your experiences will differ from those presented here. What you are looking for is similar patterns, similar feelings or attitudes, even if the details are different. Have you felt any of these things? If yes, I’d say you need to examine these experiences, thoughts, or attitudes more closely and see if they are areas where you might be fooling yourself about your own intentions. The tendency in most people is to think that they are honest and direct in all their dealings. People do not like to hear that they are dishonest or tricky or indirect. But in my actual experience, most people are this way, at least to some small degree. For example, the person who calls herself totally honest and claims that she’d return a wallet with $10,000 in it to its owner rather than keeping the cash will routinely fudge her taxes, run red lights, walk home with a pencil or pen from work, tell a coworker her hideous hairstyle looks great, park in a handicapped spot, even have an affair behind her spouse’s or boyfriend’s back. She may even keep the wallet of money despite her good intentions if the bank is about to foreclose on her house! This is standard human behavior. What makes it hard for people who do these things to change is their denial that they are dishonest. They have a firm belief that they are totally honest, and nothing shakes it. This gives them leave to be as dishonest as they wish, because they never see their own dishonesty, they dismiss it with various excuses. That is self-deception, in a nutshell. It is not a big problem most of the time. The examples I gave above, except maybe for the last one, are trivial and most people do these things. But for a woman who is trying to obey her man in all things and improve herself for him, such little things, when the occur in the relationship with him, can be big deals, can affect the relationship in some very negative ways.

    Method #2: listen to your conscience. Sometimes that means learning to recognize your conscience first. It’s a very tiny, quiet voice inside you that whispers unobtrusively, “that’s not the right thing to do.” It’s very easy to dismiss this voice or ignore it. You may hear it when you park in the handicapped spot, for example, but immediately dismiss it with the thought, “handicapped people never park here” or “I’m only going to be in the store for a couple of minutes.” But the voice will always be there, it will be the first one to speak when you contemplate doing something that doesn’t met your moral or ethical standards. Once you start to hear it you need to decide if you should pay attention to in this case. If everyone on a freeway is going 65-70 and the little voice says, “The speed limit is 55,” you need to determine what is worst: possibly getting a speeding ticket or endangering someone by going to fast or equally endangering others by going too slow, forcing them to pass you in dangerous ways.

    Most people do not think things through in this fashion, they just mindlessly respond to the voice with some excuse for why their behavior is OK. You need to actually think about the issue, not just go on automatic. But unlike these common examples, the only place this article is recommending you do this is in a relationship with man, because it is there that all your normal “free person” habits will come to the forefront and possibly sabotage what he and you are trying to build. For example, if my master has put me on a tight budget that includes the rule “no spending on non-essentials,” then blowing a wad of cash on new clothes without consulting him first would be disobedient. Excusing this purchase with some excuse like “I needed that new winter coat, and also I had to buy that top because I had nothing to wear with my white pants” would be a good example of self-deception. The actual facts are, he said “no clothes purchases” and you not only bought new clothes but you justified your disobedience. You would not die without the coat or the new top. So they weren’t “essential.” You conscience will speak up about these sorts of events too, but remember it is very quiet and therefore very easy to just ignore or to respond to with some sort of excuse for the behavior you want to engage in.

    “Is it a simple matter of listening to and being guided by our Master? Is that how?”

    Not quite as simple as that. The above places the master in the role of your conscience, and most men do not want that tedious policing job. They want you to develop an independent sense of what is permissible under their rule and what is not and then voluntarily abide by those rules and limitations. Of course, most sensible men are open to your asking questions and clarifying what it is they what you to do, but the time to ask these things is before you disobey, not afterwards. Afterwards, asking these clarifying questions can be (not always, but sometimes) a form of self-deception. A smart man will wonder, “Why didn’t she ask me these things before she disobeyed?” It’s a good question! You may be telling yourself, “Well I didn’t know not to blow this wad of cash on clothes, because I really thought these things were essential.” Often this sort of statement is an excuse. You can counteract it by asking it a question or two: “Really? You _really_ thought you would die of exposure without that sexy new top that barely covers anything? And did you really need a super-expensive top-of-the-line designer arctic-wear coat when you live in a Southern climate with only a couple of really cold days each year?”

    In my personal opinion, only _your_ master or potential master is worth listening to; listening to just any master is fairly worthless: it’s like asking a random group of Internet strangers to answer a complex personal problem. Just any master is not going to be invested enough in you to know what works best for you. If you believe that your own master is worth listening to and you trust his judgment fully (I would sincerely hope you’d never become the slave of a man whose judgment and perceptions you didn’t trust fully!) then you should trust it fully about yourself, particularly about things that make you uncomfortable or that you want to deny when he points them out. I have constantly observed throughout my life that other people, outside me, can see my real self and motivations more clearly than I can myself. Although I am the one actually inside myself, my natural personal biases (like the the idea that I am always honest) get in the way of my seeing my actual behavior, particularly faults or defects. Who is better positioned to see you clearly, good as well as bad, than the man who lives with you, is intimate with you, controls you, sees all sides of you, and is truly interested in your personal improvement under his control?

    So if you have a master, I’d say relying on his perceptions of you, even if they are not always flattering, would be a good third method for seeing through your own self-deception to the areas that you need to change.

    “Does he determine this, choose this, or ideally, just see us for what/who we are… does He recognize this (and hopefully share the information with us)?”

    A lot of this depends on the man you end up serving and his specific goals and guidelines for you. Ideally, this man will become an expert on you and on your specific psychology. He will often be motivated to share what he has learned about you because by sharing this information with you, you will be better able to change in the ways he decides you should change. A key component in change is first realizing what needs to be changed! That is not always obvious. Many times I haven’t known that I needed to change something until my master told me so.

    Change is a strange thing when you are controlled by a man. Sometimes you may notice something about yourself that you do not like but your master refuses to let you change it because he _likes_ it! That can be frustrating when it happens, and it can be hard to acquiesce to his opinion when you so dislike this thing about yourself, but it’s just as important to obey him in this situation as it is to obey him when he orders you to change something.

    If you end up being the slave of a master, rather than in another type of male-led relationship, realize that men who are drawn to being masters are often control freaks when it comes to their slaves. They _like_ to control a great many things about us. This is gratifying to a submissive female who likes to view herself as a beautiful and functional object that is used and makes another’s life more pleasant. So rest assured, if you wind up with a master and he wants you to be a certain way, he will do everything in his power to change you in the ways he desires, and that includes clear communication with you about the change and why it is good for him. Since you have to do a lot of the personal work of changing, this communication provides you with motivation and hope that you can do it, that you are not alone with this hard task.

    “I do not understand where self-deception applies, I guess that is my challenge here.”

    Do you mean to you personally or to all humbled women? Self-deception certainly applies to me, personally, and in spades! That’s primarily why I wrote this article. I also know, from observing other submissive women over many years, that if I am thinking and feeling certain things in response to serving a man, there are bound to be many other women like me thinking and feeling the same things. For some reason, I have always been a sort of generic slave; I am not much of a ground-breaking or outlier slave, lol. By writing about difficult and hard to accept things, like self-deception, I hope to help those women who a struggling with similar issues.

    But you are not necessarily a generic slave, you are uniquely who you are, so try to remember “Intern’s Disease” when you read articles like this. Just because lots of submissive women struggle with fooling themselves and being less obedient when they deceive themselves doesn’t mean that you, personally, will have the same difficulties. You might, because you might find yourself in a situation with a controlling man that is similar to those other women experience, but it certainly isn’t a given. Just take what is useful from this or other articles and leave the rest. Remember the weight loss article which applies to some of us but certainly not all of us! And who knows? Maybe a few years from now, information in certain articles that strikes you as completely irrelevant will become useful to you as your circumstances change. Or, if you are lucky, this information about self-deception (or weight loss, for that matter!) still will not apply (smiles).

  8. onlyme says:

    I realise that it is over a year since this article was written, but it remains something that is constantly relevant to us all. I’m not sure if I’m going to make much sense here, but here goes……

    I imagine that, when most people read it, their first reaction is to recognise some of the types and traits that you describe [i]in others[/i]. However, I’m wondering how, if, as is likely, some degree of self deception is common to all and this could often be a factor in preventing us from from connecting with the Dominant who can be our saving grace in the first place, we can recognise it in ourselves.

    I understand that there may be trusted and observant friends who can give reliable input on this, but relationships, including friendships, are complicated and heavily dependent on the personalities and circumstances of the people in them and, with the best and most honourable intentions a friend’s attempt at honest observations and advice may be similarly clouded by their own self deception, or even their feelings for you.

    I think I understand that, once in a D/s relationship, we cannot achieve true submission without fully trusting the Dominant to be the objective eye into our hearts and souls, but I wonder how we can get to that point if we have all these obstacles of self deception are in our way.

  9. Nina E. says:

    What a great comment, Onlyme! And also, what a hard question:

    “I’m wondering how, if, as is likely, some degree of self deception is common to all and this could often be a factor in preventing us from from connecting with the Dominant who can be our saving grace in the first place, we can recognise it in ourselves.”

    I am not sure I can answer it but I will try.

    First of all, I agree 100% with your premises. Yes, we all suffer some degree of self-deception. It’s natural, because it’s not pleasant to admit we have negative traits or do not do things in the best of ways or always make the right decisions. Such admissions hurt the ego and most people want to avoid that pain. It seems pretty natural to avoid mental discomfort, however much the resulting lack of insight may be akin to shooting oneself in the foot. Self-deception, is, in my belief, humanity’s worst psychological problem. It’s endemic, it’s extremely hard to spot/diagnose, it’s a moving target, and it causes so many people to (using the old-fashioned term) “lose their way.”

    What you are posing as a “bootstrap” question is not really quite that bad, because some people do manage to start to see themselves clearly, somehow, and then eventually they know how to proceed. A person can do a lot on his or her own. Or learn to. Even if you start out from a point of high self-deception, you can learn, even teach yourself to see yourself more clearly. But first you have to want to—really want to. Motivation is incredibly important to get real with yourself, because the process is so hard and involves peering into so many murky spots in the psyche that do not make one look very good to oneself.

    Assuming one has that level of motivation (something akin to a steely resolve), there’s the matter of method. Yes, this is something a dominant man who is right for a particular woman can help her with, but as you very accurately point out, in order to find that man, you first need to know who it is you are and what sort of man you personally need, and since he can’t be in the picture yet because you don’t know yet what sort of man you need, you’re going to have to do some of this struggling with self-deception on your own. I have done a couple of things when in this seemingly Catch-22 situation that brought moderate success:

    1. I guess this one might be termed a thought exercise. I started to despise myself, and I ignored all the stupid psychological theories that said we aren’t supposed to do this. I didn’t despise myself for no reason, that would have been stupid and resulted in nothing useful. I despised my bad traits: my cowardice, my gluttony, my tendency to look down my nose at others and scorn them, my tendency to lie to myself about specific subjects, and a dozen or so other ugly traits that I was able to observe and identify in myself. I actively allowed myself to intensely dislike those things about myself without the need to smooth it all over with a psychological kissy and a band aid, i.e. without saying, “On the other hand, I’m absolutely great at XYZ!” Since I already know I’m good at XYZ, why should I need to shout down my useful and accurate self-observations with some banal pick-me-up?

    I also didn’t look at these bad traits all of the time. A 100% focus on gloom, doom, and personal evil would have driven me mad, probably, but I got into the habit of seeing myself, more often than not, in a very harsh, critical light. I used the same sort of criticality I might use in deconstructing someone’s argument or forming a theory about others’ weird personality traits. I just turned that mental spotlight on myself. It didn’t wreck anything. It didn’t make me totally hate myself or go crazy or even wallow in a self-pity party. But I learned that by watching closely, I could start to catch myself in little self-lies. Without beating myself up for doing such things (that would have driven the behavior underground) I started to see myself a little more clearly, without that hazy fog of self-love that covers up so many important details.

    2. This one’s going to sound really weird, but I wouldn’t be relating here as a method if it hadn’t had an immensely positive and practical effect on me: for some reason, I started reading sufi stories. I don’t remember how it happened, but I probably bumped into them during my teenage cult-exploration days. And while I gave up on all the cults as stupid and lying entities, I could never quite say that about these stories. I don’t read just any sufi stories. I read the good ones, like those in Tales of the Dervishes. If the stories are really sappy and emotional, if they sound like Aesop’s fables, you’re reading the wrong ones, by the way. If they annoy you or make you go WTF? they are probably the good ones. The stories are not an intellectual exercise. What I mean is I didn’t get great mental insights through reading them. Most of them I didn’t even understand, I couldn’t relate them to anything in my experience, and to this day I still can’t. They make very little sense. But I still read them because they have had an effect on me despite the lack of light bulbs over my head. A practical, useful effect. I slowly and gradually started to see everything, including myself, more clearly. The patterns in the weird stories and sayings let me see patterns in my own life that were similar, sometimes. Other times they taught me cool mental tricks. But mostly, the effect wasn’t mental. It was more subtle than that. Sorry I can’t be more specific but the end result of this reading was definitely less self-deception.

    These are just two examples of methods. There literally are thousands of these. My Master has several, too, but I’d rather let Him chime in with those than speak of them myself. Yes, it helps immensely if you have a dominant or a master to help you do this sort of thing. But you can always (and, I think, should feel obligated to) do some initial work on yourself. If you can, see it as you making yourself worthy of such an ideal person. Going the rest of the way takes the right person, the person who, like you so beautifully said, you can trust to be the objective eye in your heart and soul. But you can take yourself to the point where you can (a) recognize that person when they come along (b) decide honestly if you want that sort of person or want your life to take some other path, while clearly understanding the tradeoffs, and perhaps (c) with his help, take the enormous step of giving him your trust and letting him take you the rest of the way, finally relaxing in your submission.

  10. JiZai says:

    @Nina E. I think I loved your comments to the comments better than the article. The article I feel left a humongous gap (I may have exaggerated that but since the gap is more personal it seems larger than life to me). I didn’t relate to hardly anything in your article other than mainly the title. There is a self-deception that occurs to some which I experienced most profoundly but didn’t recognize until sometime after I started out on my journey to change. How we are raised can have a profound impact on our ability to be self-deceptive and in some cases can cause a person to completely deceive themselves about the very fundamental makeup of their personality. I grew up in a very closed off emotional and non-communicative family. I wasn’t allowed to express myself openly nor ask questions. I believe this was largely due to those raising me being afraid or not able to answer my questions or deal with my self-expression. Or most likely they didn’t want me to remind them that they hadn’t done their own homework. It was only about a year ago that I recognized I was raised to be submissive while foregoing most if not all the supporting love, trust, understanding and teaching that a submissive needs. This was rather mind blowing at the age of 52 when I finally broke through the self-deception I had developed as a coping mechanism when I was a child to deal with the demands of a controlling parent while the love and trust were absent. As a child I asked myself “why” but soon stopped because I didn’t have the resources to help answer my questions. It amazed me how my self-deceptions allowed me to deal with everything but ultimately kept me from finding what I most needed. And as a teenager when I left home I grounded myself in even deeper self-deception by turning away from trying to understand how my experiences prior to then had molded me. My path of change didn’t develop until I finally had enough of failed relationships and went through a period similar to what you described in despising myself, followed by then asking myself “why”, “why haven’t any of my relationships worked”, “why does what he said make me so angry”, “why do I feel so horrified at doing what he asks me to do”, “why am I so willing to abase myself just for those few minutes when I feel something other than nothing”… The question “why” has become my methodology so to speak and has been the most useful tool I have found for uncovering my self-deceptions. The hard part is in finding ways to praise myself instead of kick myself. The one thing I’m hearing between all the lines you have written is the importance of disseminating between a controlling man who is only out for his own pleasure, versus a dominating man who seeks to ensure the submissive woman in his life is healthy and strong in her submission and if she isn’t then desires to aid her in growing in that direction in a loving and caring way. I’ve read stories of such but in my experience I’ve met too many who were condescending or mentally abusive which is probably why I find myself drawn towards a dominant man but quietly cringe when someone describes a dom/sub relationship. Self-deceptions that developed from childhood can be so overwhelmingly difficult to discover and dismantle.

  11. Graciously Yours says:

    Very humbling read!

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