Following on from the last post on rules, and a discussion on Twitter. I thought it would be good to talk about my own personal rules, in more that 140 characters. This is somewhat of a divergence from a BDSM specific topic, except for the fact that kink is about people, what makes them tick, and understanding yourself is important to delivering and receiving good kink.
The rules are in part about ethics - a way of living, or trying to live, that I consider to be a good way of being towards others and the world. They are also about being good to myself, making sure that I look after my needs and getting what I want. There is a sense in which these rules are "selfish" - which I recognise, but not in the disparaging way that people usually use the word. They are made by me, for me and how I intend to mediate my life - which is an awful lot of me, myself and I.
Personal rules are about really thinking about who you are and doing what you really want rather than what other people think or what they might want from you. How I behave impacts on people around me - I treat other people well (or as well as I can) because I want to be a good person, not because I want to be the sort of person they think I should be.
Naturally the way we are perceived is important and no-one would want people to think badly of them, but as Mannequin commented, everyone also thinks that their own way of being is the right one. Similarly everyone tends to view their own ideas as self-evident facts whereas the rest of the world has opinions. The key thing for me about these rules is that they are mine. I don't expect anyone else to live according to them, or even to like them. So, for what it's worth, here they are.
1. All or nothing
I always get this song in my head when I write that phrase, which always makes me smile. I'm quite a direct person these days, realising more and more that I know what I want and will not be content with half measures. This goes for my personal and professional life. I cannot stand a job half done, or something given a cursory amount of effort. This rule does mean that I am poor at compromising on the things I truly care about - and lack of compromise indicates how much I care about something. This can be a difficult rule to live by, as people pointed out when I posted these rules, life is full of grey areas. But that doesn't mean I have to be like that.
2. Fear is the enemy
Like a lot of perverts, I do like a good bit of fear play, but the fun for me is in pushing past the things that scare us, push other people through their fear. Personal fear, the things that hold us back, is made of the same stuff. Fear, in and of itself, can be deeply paralysing, the sensation of fear is often more powerful than the thing we believe causes the fear. Fear of failing, fear of letting other people down, fear of the unknown. I think it's really important to recognise those fears and to work to remove them as best as I can.
3. Only you are responsible for you
At the end of the day you have to live with yourself and everything you do. You are the only person who really understands yourself, the things that you want, the things that are in your past. It's very easy to blame other people, our background and our situations for things that have happened, and we are absolutely influenced by others and the world. However, there is a difference between accepting our lot and feeling incapable of doing anything about it, if you want something, you need to work for it. That work is part of what makes it yours. This rule is also about recognising and owning our mistakes, the things we have got wrong. The flipside is about taking pride in our achievements and the things we have done right. Basically, being you - warts and all.
4. Be kind, be clear
I've wrapped these two together because I think they rely on each other. Kindness is not about giving other people what they want all the time, nor is it about always putting other people first - though those things can be kind. It's about respecting the boundaries that you need and that other people need and sticking to them, a sort of honesty. Clarity gives you this: be clear in what you want, tell other people about it and then act accordingly. That's kindness.
5. Ask for help
Rule three is true, but it doesn't mean that I want to live in isolation. Life is very difficult, and very boring all by yourself - it's much more fun with people to share it. It's also much easier to get through problems, to learn new things and to generally get on with getting the most out of life if you are able to ask for help. It's something that I find hard to do, which is in part why it's one of my rules - things we find easy we don't need to strive to do.
6. Love fiercely
Final one, and the one that matches rule one the most, but I like keeping them as a pair. Love isn't about flowers, and chocolates and cuddly teddy bears. It's not soft, or weak or silly, and neither is the desire for love when you do not have it. My insistence on fierceness is also about how I behave when I am in love - a protection and a need to stand up for the things and people I love, which means being a little defiant in the face of everything else, and to go for it despite it perhaps not being the most practical thing to do. But without risk or effort, how would we go forward?
Once I'd written these, this of course then led me on to thinking about how I do against my own rules, which are of course an idealised version of myself. Am I living up to them? Sometimes, and I want to live up to them, certainly. Having the rules is half the battle, as they mark out where I want to get to - like deciding your own kink road map, rules give you a way of becoming the person you want to be.
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