AUTHOR’S NOTE: Okay, so yesterday I posted a tiny post introducing a couple of ways to take up power. Today, I’m starting off with the same premise (and some very, VERY similar words – sorry) and taking things on from there. So if the first 300 words or so look really familiar, that’s why.
Bear with me?


Onwards! 😀


There are a couple of different ways that you can take up power in someone else’s life. Even if we’re just talking about explicit power-exchange relationships where that Taking Up is out in the open and acknowledged, there are still a whole bunch of ways in which it can be done. But, by and large (I think), they boil down to:

1) Receiving/Accepting it
2) Claiming/Taking it

Both of these methods are acceptable – at least once the opening negotiations are done – but they work in different ways and one may appeal more than the other to a given dominant individual.

Some folks may find that claiming/taking power in their exchanges is much easier for them to do because, as a for-instance, it feels more like they’re in charge when they’re picking and choosing the pieces of power they want; whereas being offered specific bits and pieces of power may feel like being topped from the bottom, pushed around, told what to do, or otherwise leave them feeling like they aren’t really the dominant in the relationship.

Other folks may be more comfortable receiving/accepting power in their exchanges as it reminds them that their submissives want them to have this power, or because it leaves them feeling worthy of the trust they’re being asked to take on[1]. It can be a real confidence boost for some folks when others say “Here, I trust you with X”.

Myself, I’m typically better at receiving/accepting power that is offered to me – probably because of the above-mentioned confidence thing.

Being Demanding terrifies me (mostly because I’m afraid of getting scolded about it when I’m hoping to get what I want and opening myself up to the vulnerability of asking for it with that hope written large in my delivery). So I’m much more comfortable picking up the power that people offer me than I am with picking up someone’s power and going “Mine now”, even when I know that said person has basically laid the profusion of their power before me and said “Go ahead, help yourself”.

I think my discomfort with claiming/taking power, however, will lessen as I get more comfortable with holding it and develop a better sense of where I can push and where I have to be careful. See, right now? Right now it’s all careful. The thought of taking risks with my relationship, let alone the other person I share said relationship with, is a really scary one. I feel like a remedial geography student, struggling to learn the basic layout of the map – my territory – despite having already spent years[2] living in a place.

There’s something from Screw the Roses (an intro to S/M book that’s dreadful in its strictness about upholding, and presuming, patriarchal gender norms – so I confess I’m a little surprised to be drawing on it here), that I find is a handy trick, or maybe a handy practice.
Basically, the idea is that, if you want to push your Person’s comfort zone in one place, you have to reinforce it in another. The example given is that, if you want to condition your Person to enjoy being called things like “slut” in order to help them feel more comfortable with their own sexual appetites, you need to find another part of their identity – like say, their intelligence – that they take a lot of pride in and base core parts of their identity around… and reinforce/confirm that ID, and that positivity, while connecting it with the shadow[3] part of themselves that you want to bring out and treat as a valuable part of them.
The book was talking about play situations, of course, BUT I think it can be applied elsewhere as well. I think, if you do it right, it can be used to deepen a dynamic, to help someone drop while giving them the push to learn new skills or take on new responsibilities.

Now the obvious affirmation point in a power-exchange dynamic is, effectively, “that’s my girl” – That is, affirming your Person’s sense of Place as your submissive. This can be done by dropping your Person into Place as they undertake a new, assigned-by-you task, protocol, or other element of your dynamic or surrender a new, requested-by-you freedom. A lumpy, lousy-motor-control way of doing this might be the standard “on your knees, at my feet”, followed by “here, while you’re there, I want you to do X” or “hey, while you’re there, I want to talk about my taking over Y aspect of your life” or whatever.
Which, y’know, will do the trick. But what I’m looking for, what I’m worried that I’m just abysmal at picking up on, are the more subtle, specific ways of doing this with my particular submissive. What parts of herself, beyond her ID as a submissive, are the places I can use to lever her towards taking on new things. Do use her courage and her willingness to take risks to reinforce my desire to have her take up this or that activity? Do I bolster her intelligence and curiosity to reinforce my decision that she should be taking a more active role in Community Z? Where do I push, and how hard, and when, in order to reinforce her dedication to what I want her to be doing, learning, or experiencing?

There are, I suspect, folks who would suggest that I shouldn’t have to do this, that my Person’s desire to serve should be enough (hell, I suspect my Person is one of those people). However this dynamic is supposed to benefit her pretty directly, and I want to bring a stronger sense of self, and self-worth, to her through her service to me. Which means knowing how to connect Activity Q with Self-Worth-Element Y so that (a) Activity Q develops an appeal beyond “because my Lady wishes it”, AND so that (b) Self-Worth-Element Y gets stronger and more developed the more my Person participates in Activity Q. Ideally the two would become a self-perpetuating positive cycle independent of, but initiated by me, that will still get me what I want.

And yet.

See, I look at that last sentence, the part about the self-perpetuating cycle that is carried out independently of me, and I wonder if I’m on the right track. I don’t know if I’m describing something akin to Raven’ and Joshua’s concept of “internal enslavement” or if I’m describing a process that will, eventually, render me obsolete and leave us both feeling lonely and let down in the process.
Aren’t I supposed to be the reason, and the focus, of all this? Isn’t that what she wants and needs from me?

So how do I do it, then?
How do I push right and pull well, how do I expand her horizons without losing sight of her or, more to the point, without her lose sight of me? How do I act as a guide without getting left behind?[4]

But what does this have to do with how one picks up power?

The short answer, I suppose, is that (in part out of uncertainty) I pick up the power I’m offered – rather than going in and grabbing with both hands – because I want to see where she gives it most easily or most readily… but also because I’m afraid of taking too much, too fast. Not just “too much” of something she’s not entirely comfortable with surrendering, but “too much” as in “more than I can handle”.

… I think – if I can just speculate for a bit – that the best (if there’s such a thing as a broad-brushed, widely-applicable “best”) option is to have a mix of both. To have a submissive who trusts you enough to actively hand over power but, at the same time, to be a dominant who’s confident enough, and attentive enough, to actively choose power and claim it from their submissive, too.

Good luck to me with that one.

So, questions. How do I go about actively claiming power?

Part of that is… Okay, I’m going to use a friend’s words here: I have to figure out “the shape of my hands”. The question is both “where am I happiest” and “what am I good at”, and I need to be able to answer both sides of it if I’m going to do this well.

The other part is, well… It’s almost asking “what’s on the menu” in terms of what I could go about claiming. How much work do I want to take on? What areas of her life (large or small) are up for grabs, and over how big a portion of each of them do I want control? What about input on? Are there areas I’d like to aim for? Are there areas that I know I don’t want to go near (or know I don’t want to go near right now but could, conceivably, want to approach later on)?

I’m not entirely sure how to go about answering these questions. Some of them, obviously, I can answer myself – you’ll probably read about those subjects (where am I happiest; what am I good at, what degree(s) of control do I want and where) later on this month, in all honesty. Others – specifically the “what’s up for grabs” question – are perhaps better left answered by my Person. Maybe I’ll end up asking her to talk about them in a journal entry, or maybe I’ll slowly piece things together through observation, over time. I don’t know.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at right now.

Ms Syren.

[1] Or, like Frodo in LotR, maybe they feel honoured when someone says to them “You have my axe” or similar.

[2] Almost – Two years this February.

[3] Just to get all Jungian on you.

[4] Isn’t that a funny way of putting it? Being afraid of getting left behind when I’m supposed to be leading?