Pride usually gets me into trouble. Or perhaps it’s not actual pride, more an unguarded slide into smugness.
The worst part of pride is mistaking it for approval from others. Well, let’s qualify that, it’s when they are approving of you in doing things that conform to their world view and not yours.
Pride comes in many forms. During the winter of the miner’s strike I was unemployed in a northern hell hole not far from the coal fields. Yes, I did have the choice of turning to my parents for some help, but pride wouldn’t let me. I lived for some time with the daily choice of food or heat, heat or food. Pride can make me very stubborn and yet, I came through it and there’s a certain (healthier) pride in that fact. That I didn’t buckle, that I saw it through to the other side on my own.
We can gloss over the decades where pride in work and associated approval was the be all and end all. I agree it’s shallow, yet it had its rewards and gained approval. Particularly from my parents who had been incredibly disappointed that I gave up education and never went to university. My mother, especially, got over her disappointment at missing out on buying a graduation outfit (with hat) when they came to visit me living abroad and realised I hadn’t turned out to be the loafing, benefit bum they assumed I would be.
Pride in it’s wider meanings has been something new in my later years, predominantly associated with how I’ve entered, tackled and evolved within D/s.
Entering D/s comes with so many misconceptions. Perhaps the worst being, what does it mean to be a ‘good sub’ ? The fantasies that played in your head for so long determine what that means to you and there’s a significant associated pride when you achieve what you define as being a ‘good sub’. There’s a big come down when you finally realise that your pride is totally misplaced. That it’s largely been about selfish personal gratification. One of my very earliest posts was about the quick removal of the collar she had presented to me. I was swelling with pride when she gave it to me. To be told shortly after that I’d got it almost totally wrong in my priorities and attitude shook me big time. The competitive instincts reinforced the levels of pride into an obnoxious smugness that was centred on my own achievements rather than on her and ‘our’ achievements.
I’ve been very wary of personal pride ever since. Yet it doesn’t take too much change of focus and emphasis to start understanding the things that are important and take pride in them.
For me, one of the big things was ego and my sense of self. Written down, the change in the words and how they apply are subtle. Learning that being submissive does not have to mean subservience and being stripped of ego and self. Both my former mistress and my current domme have done more to bolster my ego than in all the years of vanilla life. I recognise that they took/take their own pride in seeing me grow in ways that are within their parameters of being a ‘good sub’. Without being (too) smug I have learned that it’s okay to take pride in achieving things within D/s that are meaningful to her/us.
Another aspect for me in D/s has been pride in endurance. The unhealthy interpretation of this was tied to my competitive nature, the desire to run before I could walk, with pride leading me to ignore any warning signs.
My domme has taken me a long way in showing me the healthy way to be proud of what is accomplished. Mostly, it has to be said, by consistently taking me to my limit. I quickly learned that it’s false pride to try to con her that I can take more than I am able. I see her pleasure when she knows she’s extracted every last bit of what I had to give and I have pride in having been able to give it without reservation. The change is quite subtle, I no longer care about some internal scorecard and beating the last hi-score. Instead, being able to go further is a natural consequence of the dynamic, but it’s not important anymore so long as I’ve been honest with her and myself.
The one area where pride has changed significantly is with melody. For a very long time she was a shameful, hidden part of me – a sort of anti-pride.
My former mistress took me to the point where in our limited environment it was no longer shameful to be melody, to have some pride in being open in front of her.
It’s my current domme who has taken this so much further. A good part of it is an indirect benefit of the hypnosis. She’s never tried to say anything explicit about who or what melody is, she promotes a general confidence that the melody in my sub-conscious decides how it applies to her.
That confidence in just being able to explore and increasingly expose elements of melody means that there is no shame. She’s helped me create a healthy pride in who I really am. It’s a new and different ego that finds it easier to derive strength from submission and swell when it hears “good girl” without the old smugness.
There’s one further aspect to pride that crept up on me. As my ego and its priorities have changed under the influence of some wonderful people, I find that what does make me swell with pride are the achievements and happiness of those I am closest to. Maybe there is some hope for me yet.