In the world there is nothing more submissive and weak than water. Yet for attacking that which is hard and strong nothing can surpass it. ~Lao Tzu
This post is meant to compare and contrast with my earlier post, 10 Traits of Powerful People.
Paradoxically, submissive people are perhaps the most powerful among us, as you may gather from reading on.
1. Define a submissive person (according to this blogger).
2. Discuss eight amazing traits a healthy submissive person carries.
A submissive person is someone who willingly submits to the authority of another. A submissive person enjoys in a service-oriented mindset and finds peace of mind in taking orders from those he or she has placed in positions of power. This can be at home, in the workplace, among friends or in community relationships.
Healthy submissive relationships are conscious and consensual. In other words, one party has agreed to hold more power of one kind or another. The other party has agreed to submit.
You can imagine that it takes a mountain of trust (which must be earned) in order for a submissive person to consent to these terms. Submitting without such trust is potentially harmful.
Examples of submissive relationships might be:
At work. Employees submit to the authority of supervisors. Even in companies that practice more egalitarian management methods must – at some point – be clear about who has the final decision-making power.
Healthy subordinates choose their workplaces wisely, when possible, and submit willingly, even when they dont necessarily agree with decisions made at higher levels in the organization.
In romantic relationships. Often, one partner in a romantic relationship has more authority than the other. This has nothing to do with gender roles. Its a matter of who feels most comfortable in which position. Sometimes a woman wears the pants in a heterosexual relationship. Sometimes the man is in charge.
Of course, not all couples care to designate who is in charge, but some couples prefer to be clear about this issue. Again, it takes a lot of trust to be in a relationship in which it has been predetermined who has more authority. It takes experience, wisdom and careful crafting of agreements. Some couples go through the lengthy and painstaking process of co-creating their relationship in this way.
An important point: Submissiveness has nothing to do with equality. In a relationship in which one person is clearly and consensually in charge, the healthy submissive feels no threat to his or her value or equal standing as a person. Both parties are equal as worthy, individual human beings with needs.
In friendships. Although it is rarely discussed, friendships often come with a power differential. When this is the case, one friend determines the agenda, topics of conversation and activity choices more so than does the other.
In religion. Many world religions are hierarchical in nature, with God at the top of the pile. And most religions create leadership positions in which the leaders act in Gods place, or at least serve as special advisors.
Most devotees understand that to worship faithfully, one must submit to Gods will, which is often carried out through the religious organization.
Not all submissive people exhibit these traits, Not all submissive people are submissive in every are of life. In my opinion, the healthiest ones have the following traits in their areas of submission.
As you read, of course you’ll notice these traits are healthy for anyone. Yet, pay attention to how and why a submissive person can and should apply them in unique and powerful ways.
1. Deep Self-Awareness
To understand who and what you are in general is a significant accomplishment. Healthy submissive people know who they are and what they have to offer. It can take years and years of adulthood to finally learn who you are. And many people never develop much self-awareness.
A healthy submissive has often walked through the fire of trial and error and arrived at a level of awareness that can serve as a guide in relationships. This is an amazing feat.
2. Understanding of Trust
Healthy submissive people know how trust works. In other words, they fully understand trust is something to be earned over time and not given away lightly. To protect yourself as a submissive person, you simply must know that the people you empower with your service deserve it and will faithfully meet your needs in return.
On the whole, many of us trust first, then wait to see if we will be disappointed or betrayed. In reality, trust should work the other way around. Be skeptical and more reserved with your trust at first and allow people to earn it. Though not many people may ultimately earn your deepest trust, thats OK. Those who do are much safer to relate with.
A healthy submissive person lives the question, Are you worthy of my service?
3. Awareness of Others Needs
The world is full of self-serving narcissists who use others to get what they want. Submissive people, however, are keenly aware of what others need. They find much of their happiness in meeting those needs and being of service.
Without this quality, the world might not even function. We could also suggest that the reason the world doesnt function well is due to a general lack of concern for other human beings and their needs.
Healthy submissive people are anything but lazy. Theyre up to the task and can be depended upon to get things done. This is because they actually care about genuinely pleasing those in authority over them.
Additionally, if you entrust a healthy submissive person with a job and they agree to do it, it is because you have earned his or her trust. A healthy submissive person will not want to break your trust, given that you have earned it.
5. Clear Boundaries
Healthy submissives have ultra-clear boundaries. Again, knowing what they have to offer in service, they are not about to offer it to someone who doesnt appreciate it. They are not going to indulge a selfish, lazy, arrogant power-tripper.
Because healthy relationships are based on agreements – and because a healthy submissive will not enter a relationship without a solid foundation of trust – boundaries are easier to maintain. Clear boundaries are created in the formation of the relationship itself. The rules are defined. Trustworthy people honor such agreements.
In business relationships, employment contracts, job descriptions and business law clarify boundaries. Some romantic couples create marriage contracts, which can be done in a very conscious, respectful and healthy way. Even some friendships are based on clear agreements that must be honored.
Consider that the vast majority of people enter important personal relationships virtually blind to what is actually expected of whom. Then, they battle over expectations. They engage in power struggles that last a lifetime and are a huge source of stress and emotional disconnection.
A healthy submissive person avoids all of this by entering relationships with boundaries and expectations established.
6. Definiteness of Purpose
Knowing your purpose in any area of life is a significant source of power. Knowing what you mean to do – and knowing what you are NOT meant to do – is clarifying.
Many of us wander through life unaware of any definite purpose to fulfill. Healthy submissive people are super clear on this one. They find causes and people to serve. And they find joy in such service.
7. Peace of Mind
Knowing your responsibilities (and what is NOT your responsibility) can be a huge source of relief and peace. A healthy submissive person knows. And he or she does not have to worry about much else.
When youre on task in service to another, you merely need to worry about getting the task at hand done. Ramifications dont need to concern you. You dont bear the burden of responsibility for anything outside of your boundaries.
8. High Self-Esteem
When you put it all together, you get someone with high self-esteem. Someone with deep self-awareness, who does not give trust away lightly, who is aware of needs, works hard, maintains clear boundaries and enjoys peace of mind is a naturally valuable person. And he or she knows it.