Years and years ago I tried to watch the movie "Clockwork Orange." It is the only movie I have ever walked out in the middle of. I generally avoid movies that I think will be about human cruelty to other humans and this one was extreme. I couldn't stomach it. But the other part that disturbed me too much was the idea of re-conditioning peoples' thoughts and feelings and responses. I've never seen the ending, so I have no idea if or how it all worked out. But the idea of conditioning or brainwashing really disturbs me.
I know that life is conditioning us, shaping us every day, all the time. Nothing, since our first few cries at birth, isn't in some way conditioned. Babies get fed or cuddled or tended to when they cry; so begins the conditioning, very early on. Our innate nature also plays some part in our personality: how we set ourselves up for the experiences which might shape us, how we respond to events and what changes are then allowed to happen in our psychic makeup as a result. It's the old nature vs. nurture debate.
I wasn't looking for answers or even for something different when I stumbled onto a lot of new ideas, and into the world of D/s, but the ideas sucked me in with a force I had not experienced before. I read and read and read. And a good deal of what I read was other peoples' thoughts on how their version of D/s works for them: their mechanics and logistics, their styles, and their protocols; but, mostly I read about how it makes them feel, how they react to the things that are done or said, their responses to the realities of the dynamic.
The things I read resonated with me. The ideas of the dynamic appealed certainly, but I also started to recognize in myself a lot of the feelings other people described. These weren't feelings I had had before. In fact, I started to respond to things in my life in a way opposite to how I would have previously: things like wanting to serve and wanting to make him happy. Previously, I would have felt put upon or slighted or that it wasn't fair if I ended up doing more of whatever. It just led to resentment and unhappiness. Now I like having chances to do little things for him and feel twinges of guilt when he needs to do things I normally would have taken care of.
The same is true for a lot of other very new ways of thinking and processing and responding. I see myself reacting to something a certain way, a way that is very different than I ever would have before. And more than that, I feel myself experiencing feelings I never used to - feelings that would have been very incongruent with the situation previously -from expecting me to make is coffe for him each morning to having him tell me he plans to provide guidance and oversight as I start my new job. These should both create feelings of burden or indignance or even outrage. Instead I feel pleased that it makes him happy that I do his coffee for him; and on a larger scale, I am embarressed and ashamed that he knows my weaknesses, but grateful and oddly warm and fuzzy knowing he will actively hold me to accounts even in my job.
What I have wondered and worried about for a long time now is the idea of whether these new feelings and responses are really me - or have just been conditioned or absorbed by my subconscious from reading about them. The rewards seem to be quite pleasant for the writers, I crave the feeling they have, something about it all strikes something deep within me. So maybe all my new feelings are really nothing more than power of suggestion and knee-jerk responses to things I've read? In that case, would it be a good idea to follow this path?
On the other hand, maybe these new ways of thinking and feeling and responding are newly conditioned or learned, and maybe they have just replaced other behaviors and responses that had been conditioned a long time ago, by other forces. Has this reading and learning let me shift my inhibitions and previously conditioned responses to the "real" me? I've done some serious soul searching to try to figure out if I'm just falling into something -like a fad - or are these new feelings honest adn true to me. As far as I can tell, they are.