When you think about BDSM and the aspect of service, I bet one of the first things that come to your mind is about willpower.
How can a submissive endure that?
Why do they agree to this over and over?
What can they be telling themselves to push through?
When will they give up?
Where do they summon the power to perform as expected?
This is where ‘willpower’ enters the conversation.
Willpower is often thought of as a depleting resource: The more we use it, the less of it we have left, like a muscle that can become fatigue from overuse. Kneeling by the bed before entering, reciting a mantra each night, passively preparing tea, preemptively waiting in a ‘special spot’ to be acknowledged for foot service, folding the clothes *exactly* as instructed, remaining chaste with or without a device; all of these take willpower. Willpower is pretty cognitively demanding and resisting the urge to eat a forbidden food or consume porn, for example, was thought in the past to deplete our cognitive resources, making less of them available for other situations where self control might be required.
But, that’s simply not true and I wish more people (especially submissives) understood this.
Recent studies of willpower-as-a-depleting-resource has found that people who have good willpower are actually good at avoiding temptation in the first place.
- Kneeling by the bed before entering, instead of binge watching a show
- Preemptively waiting to be acknowledged for foot service, versus getting comfy to go the fuck to sleep…
- Folding the clothes *exactly* as instructed, even though you could easily stuff them away quickly…
- Remaining chaste with or without a device when you know you want to touch yourself…
The submissives, and people, who are able to be mindful about these situations will hardly use willpower at all because they’ve put plans in place to minimize temptation. Like not playing their favorite video game before bed in the first place, or avoiding porn to not become unintentionally aroused while in chastity. This is called “pre-commitment” because, by minimizing temptations, they’re choosing from a more limited menu of choices.
Is willpower overrated?
That’s where a good Mistress comes in, equipped with tips for self-control.
Willpower (a.ka. ‘self-control’), has significant psychological costs that can’t be ignored. There are theories that posits that we fail when the costs of exercising self-control outweigh the perceived benefits. Makes sense right? That’s why pre-commitment as a strategy can be helpful to many people to reduce the need for self-control.
Every time you choose not to look at or read that porn, you’re using a pre-commitment strategy: By not watching porn, you’re avoiding the temptation and discomfort from consensual chastity. By making sure you having everything you need before you start your service, you’re using a pre-commitment strategy: you’re minimizing the possibility of getting side tracked by something unrelated to your service, like video games, porn, and surfing the internet just to name a few.
As humans and kinksters, we like to set zelous long-term goals but as you’re probably aware from experience, we have a hard time following through. I’ve seen good submissives make choices that undermine or thwart their service goals. Why? Because when we’re setting goals, we’re driven by the potential reward, but when it comes down to execution, we’re driven by the effort we have to put in. This is why I’ve long stated that for me, personally, I don’t think a reward based sexual D/s dynamic would be suitable to me or those who serve me.
Using willpower to achieve goals is laborious and obdurate. That’s simply because self-control has a tendency to fail when rationale goes out the window the moment we deem the costs of exercising control will exceed the relative perceived benefits. In other words; it’s easy to justify giving in to temptation when temptation is present.
These studies attempted to quantify the cost of exercising self control to avoid a tempting food; cookies. They found that people were willing to “pay” more to avoid temptation, and this stacks. As long as you can maintain a steady view, not just action, of control in relation to the absence of temptation, it’s easier to see it as “worth the cost”.
Using pre-commitment, as a means to prevent having a tempting situation occur, appears to be an effective strategy for success in my opinion. Just ask the countless subbies I’ve helped lose weight, gain muscle, learn to cook, chase their dream job, curb sexual addictions, mitigate anxiety, and generally exhibit the behavior they wanted to achieve but had failed at doing so the past. This strategy of pre-commitment as a way to avoid temptation goes doubly for those highly impulsive people (looking at you ADHD and addictive personality folks). However, this still requires that one is aware of one’s impulsivity.
Meet the WOOP Method
It doesn’t matter what type of s-type or person you are (yes, even us Tops), temptation and obstacles will come up. It’s just a fact of life. Maybe you want to kneel in the evening but the floor pillow nearby looks more comfortable, or you can promise to be chaste and still get turned on my something not inherently sexy, maybe the those clothes that need folding can wait for one more day…Mistress won’t mind, right???
If you were to devise a pre-commitment strategy for yourself to combat obstacles and increase your chances of achieving said goals by answering the following questions, you would be partaking in the WOOP Method. Which comes directly from a study by Gabriele Oettingen on physical activity. The four steps stand for:
Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan
Image courtesy of https://www.njlifehacks.com/
Take time to ask yourself these questions when you implement this method for your best chance at positive results:
- What is your most critical obstacle (e.g., watching porn, overeating, being lazy, etc) together with events and experiences you associate with this obstacle?
- When and where does the obstacle occur, and what can you do to overcome or circumvent the obstacle?
- When and where is there an opportunity to prevent the obstacle from occurring?
- What can you do to prevent it from occurring?
- When and where is a good opportunity for you to act on your goal, and what would this action be?
It really is that simple. This is how you avoid using willpower: You pre-commit by planning for the obstacles, and temptations, that will inevitably come up and then you tackle them head-on, just as planned.
And you know what? Just maybe it’ll impress Mistress enough to let you touch yourself…or maybe it’s best to remove the temptation of that?