Disempowering through invention
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It may not come as a shock to you to when I say that I have a keen interest in mastery.
In particular, there are two aspects of mastery that I focus on. They are:
- Understanding it, and
- Increasing it.
There's a very insidious phrase which is the nemesis of these two goals. It easily slips into conversations and it can sound surprisingly innocent. It's usually uttered in response to "why" questions such as, "Why does ABC happen?" or "Why do some submissives do XYZ?" This evil phrase goes something like this:
"Because that's the way it is."
This answer is an invention. It's simply made up by the person who said it. It's not a real answer to the question. In reality it's actually a poor alternative to saying, "I don't know."
The nasty thing about this evil phrase is that it creates a block to moving forwards towards understanding. And in doing so it also creates a block to moving forward towards mastery.
Let me clarify this a little.
When someone says, "Because that's the way it is," what they're asserting is that the answer to a question is unknowable. In many cases they're making this claim so that everyone who hears them thinks that this is actually the case.
By doing this they create an oddly level playing field for themselves. If a master can convince others that something is unknowable he removes a threat to himself. This threat is that someone else will gain superior knowledge. If someone else gains superior knowledge then this master is knocked a rung or two down from the position he's trying to maintain. By encouraging ignorance in others he makes sure that no one rises above him.
Let me give you an example. Let's take the question: "Why do some submissives respond well to being caned on their rear end and others not?" Now let's imagine a group of BDSM folk including one Master Hercules (a name he chose because he sees himself as mighty). If Master Hercules doesn't know the answer to this question (and it's clearly a good question for a master to know the answer to) and somebody asks it, then it's very much in Master Hercules' interest to say, "Because that's the way it is." The reason is that if others in the group, particularly his own submissive(s), consider the question and come up with an answer, then Master Hercules immediately doesn't look so mighty any more.
Now Master Hercules might have actually considered this question already and not found an answer. He may have even convinced himself that there isn't an answer, hence his reply.
Making this "it's unknowable" claim also disempowers the master or dominant. When Master Hercules says that XYZ is unknowable, then Master Hercules can never be a master of XYZ. He has created a belief in his own mind that prevents him from becoming a master of XYZ. If, instead, Master Hercules were to say that he doesn't know XYZ, then the possibility of becoming a master of XYZ remains attainable and on his horizon. He may not master it today. He may not master it tomorrow. But it's there. When he instead says that XYZ is unknowable then he has completely removed it from his horizon and he cannot strive to attain it. And this defeat of himself is something which he has done to himself. On his own. No one helped. He defeated himself.
In my own journey I discovered that increasing mastery is not so much about actually making it grow, but is more about getting rid of the things which prevent it growing in the first place. This amounts to the avoidance or dismantling of contexts which inhibit mastery, and by actively creating or engaging in contexts which cause it to flourish.
One of the points I made in another essay is that a master or dominant creates a context in which their slave can come out and blossom. While it's true that our submissives and slaves are in a position to help create contexts where we can really shine (or flourish) as dominants and masters, the opportunities for self-sabotage are firmly in our own hands. Saying, "Because that's the way it is," is one of these self-sabotage techniques.
One of things I try to do with "why" questions I can't answer is say this: "I don't know the answer today. Maybe I won't know it tomorrow either, but someday I will."
In fact, I like to have questions to which I don't know the answer today. I like to listen to others because when I hear, "Because that's the way it is," I know that I have just encountered something, possibly golden, which I definitely need to explore.
There are variations of this evil phrase. Here are some of the variations I listen out for:
- "I don't think there really is an answer to this",
- "Ultimately your main question is not one that can be answered. Try to explain why some people don't like chocolate",
- "Because I'm wired that way",
- "The answer simply is that it's how their brain works", and
- "But at some point you simply accept some people like things others do not".
Keep in mind that the people who say these things might genuinely believe that they are enlightening you by telling you you are not going to find an answer. Often though, what they're doing is discouraging you from looking further.