A consensual non-consent story
I took the kids to the pool. They had just finished swimming lessons a few weeks before, yet they were still fearful of actually jumping into the water. So, I was trying to teach them not to be afraid of jumping in, of course, by doing exactly that and throwing them in. After all, isn’t that what the grownups on tv do? So, I decided to play that same game of throwing them in the water and then suddenly, and quite magically, they will conquer their fears. Tada! Well, let me tell you, they did not respond well to this approach at all. They did it once, after kickin and screaming bloody murder the whole time, and It was no fun for any of us.
So, I said, “fine, forget it, I’m done playing this way. I promise I won’t touch you any more and I will never throw you in the pool ever… as long as you follow my condition… whatever you do… don’t press my belly button.” The tension broke free and the kids clamored “Why, why? Why not?” and then I hear one of them say “Ok, but what will happen if I DO?!” And in my most devilish pirate tone I wiggled my eyebrows and answered, “Well, then you’ll get thrown back in like a flippy floppy fish!”
The consequence is known, and in fact, it’s been very clearly stated “If you touch my belly button, you will be thrown.” So they acknowledge their understanding, and they agree to accept these terms and conditions. We are all good to go, I lean my arms out on the pool deck, and would you believe It only took about 30 seconds before a shaky little finger reached out and pressed my belly button! Sure enough, it did! So, I scooped them right up abruptly, my arms gobbled them up without any hesitation, and since I didn’t want to overwhelm them and make them, you know, cave under their fears, gently into the water they went!
Now, to be clear, when I released them, it was an easy glide off my arms into the water the first few times because they trust me to keep them safe. It’s not until they’d resurface, spewing water and giggle-laughing, that they realized the fear of “what if ” was blocking the fun of what could be. And, it was only when their swim training kicked in and they knew they could trust themselves to breathe safely were they actually empowered to run back and engage again.
So, pleading with them and promising that I would not throw them far just wasn’t reassuring enough for them. So, it makes sense that they freaked when I picked them up and tossed them the first time. But when we changed to a game structure, they were fully seduced by the idea of what they were NOT to do. And a statement like “Don’t press my belly button” demands the challenge back – “yeah, but what happens if I do?!”
Well, they simply can’t resist. They literally resurface like drown clowns, spitting water and laugh-coughing. You know what I mean, it would totally be a sense of drowning if they weren’t having so much fun laughing and having the time of their lives. They were wetter than a fish, inside and out, and still it was not enough to dissuade them from pressing the button and running like escaped convicts at that point. Such a remarkable difference between my reassuring and pleading approach compared to their pushing the belly button in the scene of the game. Saying “whatever you do, don’t do this, just made it way too seductive for them to resist. Because, like we all know, when something is restricted, it’s human nature to want it, right? So with a reliable action/reaction/result sequence and our safeword in place, the kids were able to fully lean into the thrill of the experience. Finally, fully exhausted, I collapse and call timeout.
- Deep Dive into IntimaSEA challenge:
Giving their consent allowed the kids to be swept up by the excitement. They could fully embrace the thrill of the chase (running away, being caught and resisting). And they experience a far greater euphoric feeling than if they were just tossed in the pool.
So, let’s look at this set up:
- They are using their free will (choice) and they want to play the game (desire).
- They choose to start the event sequence when they press “the button” (consent).
- They enjoy the struggle of running away, getting scooped up and resisting the moment of thrilling pleasure when they are tossed in (non-consent).
- And since I also agreed to the rules of the game, I must play my part, even if they kick and scream and say “oh, no, no, no!!!”
And that’s exactly what they did, over and over and over. They would squeal “ooooh, on no, no, no, no!” They would scream in absolute terror of death, and come back to press my belly button again and again. And I’d swoosh them up and plunge them to the watery depths only to see them seconds later sputtering and laughing and tripping over each other to “push the button” again.
This whole concept is a trust game and I honored their trust by not terrorizing them with their worst fears simply because I could, so we started gently and gradually increased the intensity each time they came back for more. It wasn’t long until I was throwing them as far as I possibly could, and even then they continued coming back to push the button repeatedly. So, I kept throwing ever a little farther, and farther, until I used all my strength and I was completely exhausted.
Ask yourself why. Why do these kids keep coming back for more? Being tossed is exciting and fun to be sure, but it’s the struggling and resisting interplay that they just can’t get enough of! They eat it up every time! So their desire for connection with me is driving this entire action sequence and they can both build trust with me. In addition, and far more importantly, they’ve been given the opportunity to test themselves as swimmers, allowing vulnerability allowed their swimming skills to actually kick in for real and suddenly they were no longer trusting me to keep them safe, they were trusting their training. Now they know they are safe to play. (Trust+Vulnerability=Intimacy)
- Because they knew the rules of the game clearly and trust in the power of “TIMEOUT” (our family SAFETY word) they felt untouchable.
- And when they were ready and wanted to start the thrill sequence they chose to press the belly button.
- So, allowing the excitement to sweep them into euphoria, they get the satisfaction from running away, getting caught, and resisting leading to the inevitable bliss of being tossed because they knew there was no threat.
The bird doesn’t trust a branch not to break, rather she believes her wings will fly when it does.
The secret treasure found in this Deep Dive into intimaSEA is SELF-EFFICACY!