If we are going to win at life— if we are truly going to achieve meaningful goals and live well considered values— then we need to submit. 

We need to play by certain rules. 

We need to be accountable— to ourselves, and likely to another person as well. 

Those who are categorically unwilling to submit rarely achieve their goals— if ever. 

Achieving goals isn’t peripherally about discipline— it’s entirely about discipline. 

We only ever achieve goals if we’re willing to regularly do things that we’d maybe prefer not to do. 

When we’re melting down, we don’t FEEL like using our tools and skills. 

When we’re presented with a pleasurable activity, we often don’t FEEL like passing it up in order to do the thing that will nudge us toward our goals. 

When we’re tired, we often don’t FEEL like pressing on. 

When we do the things we need to do to achieve our goals and live our values DESPITE the fact that we don’t feel like doing them— when we submit to the necessity of doing those things regardless of whatever we’re feeling in the moment— that’s when, paradoxically, we achieve freedom. 

The only way to achieve meaningful freedom is through submission— but not just any submission. 

For submission and discipline to be empowering tools for us, they must be thoughtful. 

They must be intentional. 

They must be chosen from a place of autonomy and personal power— not forced on us by someone trying to coerce or bully or exploit us. 

Many of us have complicated histories with the concepts of submission and discipline. 

For many of us, especially those who survived trauma or abuse, those words trigger old feelings and reactions linked to times in the past when certain people tried to manipulate, smother, or use us. 

Many trauma survivors then grow up to decide that, because unchosen submission and discipline were used to harm them in the past, that they’re not going to allow those concepts anywhere near their lives as adults. 

It’s a survival impulse— and a very understandable one, at that. 

Sometimes some people express frustration at how “stubborn” trauma survivors are? This is one of the reasons why. They’re not trying to frustrate the people around them; they’re reacting to what they went through at the hands of monsters in their past. 

Part of reclaiming your life, is reclaiming your right— and your responsibility— to choose how submission and discipline are going to function in your life. 

You’re an autonomous adult now. 

You get to CHOOSE who or what gets your submission now. 

You get to CHOOSE how the tools of discipline and accountability are going to function in your life. 

Submission, when it is not chosen, can be poisonous. It can psychologically cripple a person. It’s what the condition “complex post traumatic stress disorder” is all about. 

In order to recover, we must make peace with the concepts of submission, discipline, and accountability. 

We need to reclaim those concepts from our pasts. 

We need to recognize these tools as the fundamental tools for personal development that they are— when they are chosen and engaged thoughtfully, intentionally, and congruently with one’s core values. 

In order to live the life we want to live, we really have to submit. We really do have to play by the rules. 

But we get to choose what outcomes are worth making those sacrifices for. 

We get to choose if and how we’re going to value something enough to submit. 

We get to choose to whom and how to be accountable. 

Thoughtful, intentional, values-driven submission is the opposite of slavery. 

It’s the only thing that truly sets us free. 


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