Over the last few weeks, I have been writing how I feel it is crucial that people who live the BDSM lifestyle hold themselves to a higher level of conduct than the average person. This is because those who live this way of life made a conscious decision to do so. Most individuals who are in the vanilla world have not considered why they live the way they do. Instead, they fall in line with cultural conditioning.
Part of the process of having higher standards is continual growth. This concept applies to each area of our lives. Far too often I see members of the BDSM community concentrate solely on their "play" talents while ignoring everyday life. Unfortunately, it is for this reason that I believe many encounter problems. BDSM will not solve your life issues. We do not become exempt from the everyday situations that all people deal with simply because we opt to pursue a lifestyle based upon power exchange. Therefore, growing in those areas outside of play is paramount.
When looking at growth, there are two ways to approach things. Now, I will tell you, being in the corporate world taught me there is debate as to which is the best approach. Some believe that one needs to focus upon weaknesses and seek to improve them. At the same time, there is another faction which believes that one is to ignore weaknesses and only focus on improving strengths. After all, the Rolling Stones concentrate on making music while having someone else handle moving their equipment. Actually I can see both sides of the argument. However, I feel weaknesses are a proper place to focus attention.
Low Hanging Fruit
There is an adage in life about garnering results quickly and easily by concentrating one's efforts on the "low hanging fruit". What this analogy tells us is that it is far more effective to focus upon those areas of life which are a complete mess. This line of thinking believes that noticeable results are achieved with a small amount of consistent action.
As an example, I will use finances. Have you ever met someone who was a spender. This person never gives a thought to money when making a purchase. He or she is always broke spending whatever comes in almost as fast. The amount of money earned is truly not relevant since 100% (or more with credit) goes out. This is a person who has some big pieces of fruit to pick.
Contrast this with an individual who lives by a budget. Here is a person who knows what is coming in and, more importantly, what goes out. Each purchase is considered before it is made. Sound financial principles are a part of this person's regular makeup.
Now, let me ask you: which person can realize a 10% turnaround easier? Do you believe the free spender can improve quicker than the one who monitors his/her money?
The answer, in my view, is that the free spender, the person with the major financial weakness, will garner results quicker by simply taking a few corrective actions. This person could erect a self imposed spending holiday for a month where nothing but essentials are purchased. This certainly would have a major effect. Or perhaps a few of the items which were recently purchased but are not going to be used could be returned. Again, we would see an immediate net effect.
Weaknesses and BDSM
As mentioned in the open, we all have weaknesses. BDSM is a microcosm of society because of the fact that it is made up of individual; imperfect creatures who should be seeking to get better. Each of us is obligated to take inventory of ourselves to determine where we need improvement. Again, I need to stress that everyone falls into this category in spite of what some dominants would lead you to believe.
Concentrating on those areas which are "outside" of BDSM is a wonderful starting place. Is your financial situation a mess? Do you require a bit of work on your body? How are your interpersonal skills? Are you getting along with your co-workers and family?
In addition, another area to look at is your own character and notice some of the areas where you fall short. Is your temper a problem? Do you struggle with honesty? How is your self esteem? Where does fear rule your life? Are you ashamed of certain things? Is integrity of importance to you? How is it exemplified? Questions like these uncover the qualities which amount to our character. My view is the BDSM world is made up of far too many people who are low in this area. We have all encountered the outright scumbags online. These people are obvious. But what about the others who are less apparent? There are a multitude of people running around who will lead you to believe they are of quality when, in fact, they are not. The sad truth is it is often better to be stabbed in the fact by a stranger than in the back by a close confidant.
The key elements in a BDSM relationship are the individuals who are involved in it. It is amazing how few ever seem to take the time to consider this. Also, those who are in BDSM still need to operate in the "real" world. Unless you are part of the few who reside on some piece of land separated from the mainstream where total power exchange resides every second of the day, the fact is life still needs dealing with. And successful navigation through these waters will enhance the satisfaction of the relationship.
Certainly, learning and seeking to improve the different parts of play is important. However, it is not the only factor. One who is an expert at using a whip and bondage but is a total jerk is going to suffer difficulties. While this person might be an excellent BDSM dominant, the character leaves some to be desired. Sadly, this is a fact which becomes evident in all interaction this person has.
Therefore, it is helpful to focus upon our weaknesses...all of them. It is a difficult undertaking but one that nets great benefits. As members of the BDSM community, why shouldn't we hold ourselves to a higher level of behavior. Just looking around society, it is evident the world can use a group of people who adhere to this. At the same time, some of the problems which are commonplace in our community might not occur if people took a stand based upon higher principles. For too long, the BDSM community tended to gravitate to the lowest common denominator among us. It is time to change that.
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