The practice of journaling is a very common tool in D/s training. How it’s used, however, varies widely based on the individuals involved. As has been discussed in prior posts, in the BDSM lifestyle there is no single or right way of doing something. This is because each of us is a little different in our goals, needs, wants, and limits. Similarly, the act of journaling can have different benefits and purposes.
The exercise of journaling is often a matter of how we elect to use it, our purpose of journaling. It is the sense of clear intent or mindfulness behind the act of journaling which often matters most. The purpose for Journaling varies based on the needs and goals of those within the dynamic. It is up to the Dom(me) to help define the purpose while taking into consideration the needs and goals of the submissive. Allow me to provide some examples for giving journaling assignments:
- As means to benefit the Dominant: to better understand the sub’s struggles, worries and challenges, while also deepening the connection. This is a “high touch” mode of journaling where a daily journal entry is submitted on a weekly basis where the Dominant will review, comment, and discuss. The purpose is not only for the Dom(me)’s understanding of their submissive, but to reiterate or clarify expectations, gauge behavioral change, and forge the D/s dynamic with Demand/compliance as part of training.
- As means to the benefit of the submissive: in order for a submissive to clear their mind and organize their feelings and thoughts. When a submissive can do so, the benefit is often to better realize the link between their choices, behavior, outcomes, and consequences. In such a case a Dom(me) may review the journal, but perhaps not as often (monthly, quarterly, etc.) because they already recognize their subs capacity towards self-improvement. In this instance the obedience training is no longer necessary as the dynamic is already in place. It is wise, however, to ask if the sub is still keeping up with it, and discuss on occasion to see if they are learning about themselves. This helps verify that the Dom(me) is paying attention and the effort is not “wasted” – which goes to improving trust and a sense of security.
- As means to test, challenge, or prove obedience: journaling without checking regularly can be purposefully done to see if the sub in question can just simply obey and perform the task. It’s not about validating feelings, or valuing the time they are spending – merely that it’s an Order and they are supposed to obey. Whether the sub does so blindly or as an act of Service is often a matter of choosing a perspective that works for the sub. They also then need to learn how to Trust in the dynamic and lean on Faith; thus practicing the skill of self-managing doubts, insecurity, and anxiety.
- Blending all of the above intuitively: Sometimes reviewing, sometimes questioning, sometimes just silently observing and seeing if they are obeying, and then passively absorbing the info and making changes and tweaks to the training as needed. I would remind Dom(me)s that a huge part of most submissives is the need to give/please and receive validation/acceptance, and as such requires acknowledgement (at a minimum) or feedback and discussion.
So which approach works or is recommended? That depends on the goals, needs, and limits are of those involved in the dynamic.
Clarify & Discuss
I cannot tell you how to run your relationship, and wouldn’t if I could, but rather challenge you to consider the trade-offs or possible outcomes and consequences. Example: Does the Dominant have time to regularly review and discuss journal entries, or if not, will the sub feel insecure if left without acknowledgement and feedback? Because D/s is a Living Dynamic there is always some degree of trade-off unless all involved are perfectly in-sync (which never happens). Remember we are all trapped in our own hearts and minds, and more often than not we make the mistake of assuming we know what the other is feeling or thinking. To resolve, simply discuss it. I recommend these discussion key points:
- Goals: Has the framework been established behind the purpose, goal, use, format, etc?
- Expectations: How much feedback and input will be provided? How often are things reviewed? Through what methods or medium?
- Communicate: Can you ask the difficult questions of yourself and the other? Will you make the time to “feed” or invest in this aspect of the dynamic?
- Mindfulness: What feelings do you notice when you (a) submit or fulfill the assignment, (b) receive and read the content, (c) discuss or get feedback?
The key take away is Don’t Assume. A little bit of thought and appreciation of different communication needs goes a long way. Ensure you have a clear intent. Communicate, and then manage the outcomes and adapt as needed to realign with the goal or purpose established.
Communication Needs & Styles
Personally I enjoy using my words, so a submissive that requires a high degree of communication is often not a challenge for me to manage. My goal is to eventually reduce that the frequency as the submissive becomes more secure and proficient in self-governing, because I’m not a micro-manager and my goal is to help train healthy submission (capable versus captive).
I realize that many folks may not be so communicative. Some are frequent communicators, but cannot always find the words to get their feelings or points across. Some are highly effective communicators, but may not do so very readily or often. Some are neither frequent nor effective – which can be frustrating if they have a high-touch communicative partner. Both D/s roles need to learn how to Ask & Discuss, be that for clarification or because of your own needs/limits:
- Relationship Needs of the individuals involved, which goes towards goals and intent (i.e. mentorship, training, personal relationship, activity/service, etc)
- Communication Needs for acknowledgement, feedback, and communication frequency & format (email, txt, phone, skype, in-person, etc)
- Structure Needs for format, timing, frequency, check-ins, and other “grading” elements like expectations
One must be able to communicate needs and avoid the error of making too many assumptions. More often than not it is when we infer as to what the other may be thinking or doing that things get ugly. However, the challenge in the act of asking is something that seems particularly difficult for submissives. Please bear in mind that both sides of the slash are responsible for their contribution in a consensual relationship. Consensuality means each partner is responsible and accountable for feeding the dynamic and being responsible for choices and outcomes (including the choice to NOT ask or decide).
Asking a question, as long as it’s done respectfully, is how one gets understanding and clarity. Unasked questions are a path towards a failure, while the asked question is a light on the path towards success. As such I often recommend that the Dom(me) view a submissive’s question as an opportunity to help set them up for success.
The value of journaling in training is manifold. It can help one to process their feelings & thoughts, clear the mind, clarify challenges and needs, establish better connection, and strengthen the dynamic. It can help you appreciate and understand the inner workings of the other and of yourselves, and lead to better choices and outcomes. It can also help you decide if the relationship or dynamic is right for you – after all it is a choice you made. Just know why you are doing what you are doing, and if that isn’t serving your needs and goals, make a new choice.
– Sir Vice
© Limits Unleashed 2016