3 Surprising Ways in Which Exploring Submission Can Improve Your Self-Esteem

3 Surprising Ways in Which Exploring Submission Can Improve Your Self-Esteem

By Headmistress Shahrazad

One of the features of two (or more) people co-creating a consensual power dynamic is that they get to decide on certain rituals, behaviours or rules that help to reinforce the feeling of a power differential between them. Those modes of interaction vary tremendously from one D/s relationship to another and there are no hard and fast rules for what they should be, provided they work for those who subscribe to them. But did you know that some of those structures can have another unexpected effect beyond establishing the parameters of your power exchange?

There are many aspects of D/s that not only contribute to the strength of your power dynamic, but can also result in an increase in your self-esteem. What is self-esteem? In layman’s terms, it is the ability to feel satisfied, confident and happy in one’s own skin. It is the degree to which we perceive ourselves to have worth vis a vis other people. Do you like yourself? Can you honestly say that you love yourself? A person with healthy self-esteem can generally say yes to those questions most of the time.

If you struggle with liking or loving yourself, you would not be alone. Many adults struggle with symptoms of poor self-esteem. Consider, for example, whether you have experienced any of the following:

  • Insecurity

  • Feeling withdrawn/shy/quiet

  • Lack of motivation

  • Depression

  • Being dependent/a follower

  • Negative/pessimistic worldview

  • Poor self-image

  • Fear of risk-taking

  • Poor communication

  • Anger/Hostility

  • Feeling unhappy

Do they sound familiar? If so, don’t worry - low self-esteem is something learned, not innate. It is possible to rebuild a relationship to ourselves that is based in self-acceptance and self-worth by purposefully and gradually confronting our limiting beliefs about ourselves. Let’s look at 3 common D/s relationship practices that may help you learn a new way of relating to yourself:


1.      Submissives may agree to wear less (or no) clothing during play scenes, so their Dominants can have access to their bodies.

HOW THIS HELPS: When we don’t like our bodies, we tend to avoid situations where we may be required to show them off, wearing our clothes like protective armour. This might be comfortable, but it does nothing to confront the fact that we feel badly about ourselves. Consensually agreeing to an arrangement in which your trusted Dominant can require you to be naked or minimally dressed helps to reinforce the fact that there is a power differential between the two of you, but it will also force you to confront and get used to being naked in front of someone. Often it is easier to do something when someone else is “requiring us to” (even if we agreed to it in advance) as it helps us to move through our initial inhibitions. Even though your inner dialogue might tell you that you look ridiculous or dwell on how <fill in the blank> a certain part of your body is, it will eventually quiet over time as your Dominant gives you positive feedback for your obedience. There is also no shame in starting slow, perhaps by removing one article of clothing at a time until each can be done with relative comfort and working your way down to as little as you (and your Dominant) wish. It is not a race, merely a personal challenge.

2.      Submissives may agree to keep a journal of their desires, fantasies, and post-session impressions and feelings to share with their Dominant, so their Dominant can continue to guide the submissive in a healthy manner.

HOW THIS HELPS: Being required to keep a journal of one’s deepest desires and feeling initiates a powerful process of self-reflection. Sharing our innermost fantasies and thoughts requires first acknowledging that we have them, and then necessitates holding any shame at bay long enough to put pen to paper. It is a profound act of self-love. Sometimes, writing about our erotic impressions and desires is a bit easier than speaking them out loud, and can function as a way to practice intimate sharing in a way that is less scary. Having a Dominant who encourages the process, and who takes the time to read your thoughts and offer neutral feedback, can make revealing yourself in that way far more comfortable over time. Negativity festers in the darkness, so this process of bringing our perceived darkness to light and having someone be a non-judgemental witness (and not run away screaming, as is our fear), can be a huge boost to our self-esteem.

3.      Submissives may agree to regularly articulate their boundaries and limits in order to guide the parameters of the play, and to use a safe-word if necessary during a scene to stop the play.


HOW THIS HELPS: Many people who do not like or love themselves have an exceedingly difficult time setting healthy boundaries. Often, they believe they are not worthy of demanding that kind of protection for themselves. Consensual D/s is very difficult to do if those involved are not willing to express their limits or speak up on their own behalf when something is not okay, so having explicit discussions about limits built into the dynamic can begin to teach that process to someone who isn’t used to it. In addition, when a person uses a safe-word during a scene and that hard line is respected by their play partner, it strengthens their sense of confidence in their ability to advocate on their own behalf. Beginning to treat the self with the same respect that one might treat other people is a definite marker of growing self-esteem.

While change may not happen overnight, regular engagement with D/s parameters executed bit by bit with someone you trust can be an incredibly effective way to build up your confidence and feel better about yourself. It might be scary or difficult at first but eventually you will notice positive changes that will spill over into other areas of your life.






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