Emotional Literacy is Important. Seriously Learn it.

Cross posted on My main poly blog

General disclaimer: I’m not a psychologist. I just like studying self-knowledge and becoming self-aware. While I am going to school for this stuff, I’m not an expert.

What is emotional literacy anyways?

To summarize the key points of emotional literacy, it is a form of self-awareness that allows us to communicate and take responsibility for our emotions and feel secure doing so.

I like Claude Steiner’s (1997) breakdown of the parts of emotional literacy.

  1. Knowing your feelings.
  2. Having a sense of empathy.
  3. Learning to manage your emotions.
  4. Repairing emotional problems.
  5. Putting it all together or emotional interactivity.

Because I appreciate the structure of this breakdown this post will follow its example for this discussion.

Knowing your feelings means you understand that there is an entire language to describe the sense of experience or relation to the chemical reactions from a stimulus that is usually but not always outside of yourself.  Our language for emotions is very diverse. There is an entire spectrum of emotions and the lack of knowledge of these emotions unintentionally forces us to be dishonest with ourselves. What most of us fail to realize is that this spectrum is umbrella-ed to further explain the root emotion we are feeling, but there are degrees that we don’t necessarily understand and thus incorrectly express or communicate our emotions.

Below are two charts I absolutely adore in the context of relationships and emotional literacy.

The first is the feelings wheel which shows you the many emotions you can experience that are rooted in six base emotions.

The second chart is one that helps to give you a view that our emotions have various intensities which produce similar, yet different emotional responses.

I feel like the charts are great visual aids in assisting with Emotions 101 of developing your emotional intelligence.

For example, according to the feelings wheel jealousy is actually in selfishness which is an extension just being mad about something. Do you realize how differently many people would handle their jealousy if they understood that their jealousy is a valid yet negative emotion that stems from their anger over a situation? And we also know that there are fear and sadness involved from further discussion and study of this, but finding your roots of your reactions is profoundly useful when relating to other.s

There are many other types of emotion breakdowns including the Plutchik model, so study up.

Having a sense of empathy in relationships, in general, is a useful tool. Or at least being able to acknowledge and communicate your lack of empathy is. When your partner is upset if you lack empathy you may not be able to understand what they are feeling or communicate effectively with them.

We should also be aware that there are factors that impact empathy levels like mental health and experience, as well as different types of empathy. Like I don’t really experience emotional empathy and I experience limited compassionate empathy. That make my relationships super hard and requires far more emotional processing to make sure that I am understanding what my partners are communicating to me. It is exhausting. I’m more of a cognitive empathetic person. This is partially to do with my mental disorders which is why I have to do so much work on mindfulness and self-awareness in relationships. I am aware of how badly I can ruin someone, just from the fact that I only have certain empathetic responses.

Learning to manage your emotions is hell in a hand basket y’all. Well, at least it is for me. I have baggage, but my baggage is in the form of PTSD from abuse and assault and just general mental health disorder related issues. See, knowing your feelings is only part of the battle because once you know what is up, you have to figure out how to not project your feelings onto another person. Your emotions are your own reaction to a stimulus and sometimes we end up projecting because in reality we were not wronged, we just were not fond of what was said or done personally.

Now, this isn’t a blanket claim, however, that all emotions are not impacted by others. People can literally wrong you or hurt you. Managing your emotions comes in part from being able to separate whether or not what you think actually happened, happened and to communicate your consent to the situation.

There are five ways that you can manage your emotions that I do recommend experimenting with either by yourself or with your therapist.

  1. Choosing the situations in which you put yourself. This one I personally do myself. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and some days the world scares me so much that I can not leave my house aside from work. I will cancel plans if I have to. I will tell friends and partners I can’t go certain places because I am not sure what the emotional response I will have to the environment will be. Some people who don’t get it assume that I just let my fear overtake me, but in reality, I am managing situation that could go bad and make everyone unhappy, uncomfortable, or endangered. I go out, I have fun, I live, on my terms because I know what I can handle.
  2. Changing your perception or expectations of the situation. I personally still struggle with the ability to adjust my expectations when things start going wrong in some situations. This is greatly rooted in your ability to adjust to change or go with the flow. I personally can only do so much of that at a time.
  3. Change your focus. I also have OCD. I literally have to force myself to find a new focus so I don’t obsess and spiral into an overemotional ball of panic. My SO also has a tendency to hyper focus and that exacerbates his anxiety response to the point of physical illness that has resulted in a tendency to try to avoid dealing with anything that he feels will trigger that — so heavy emotions in a relationship where he feels he has caused anger or disappointment. I use these as an example to understand why the focus may need to be shifted. It is not to avoid the situation, but to allow you time to get your initial response under control so that you may address it.
  4. This, in the end, allows you to change your thoughts about the situations which 7411272_originvolve our ability to be mindful of the situation and move forward from that
  5. so that your responses will be adapted. Adjusting the first four help to manage things highly associated with anxiety-like symptoms or anger or even your sadness response. Yea, this reads easy, but it takes a lot of time, effort and support to change these.

Above I mentioned that I have baggage. Baggage in this discussion is a reference to unresolved emotional issues and trauma that affect your interaction in and outside the relationship. Part of becoming emotionally literate is being able to identify your baggage so that you can begin to deconstruct it. One thing that people often forget is that this is an incredibly uncomfortable experience and that is normal for this kind of self-discovery and rewiring.

E.B Resources: X X X X X

Once you have learned how to do these things you will be engaging in emotional interactivity for yourself and it will greatly help you in your relationships, to communicate, to relate, and to respect your partner(s) reactions and deal with them. It is also really helpful in identifying when your partner is projecting or just not able to communicate a problem to you. It improves your ability to read a situation

In polyamory, this can be our greatest help or hindrance.  You have to be able to see where your partner is coming from no matter where you are on your journey and learn how to healthily compromise. You have to be able to negotiate your boundaries and discuss protocols for handling situations in healthier ways. All of this is unique to the individuals involved.

I notice that a lot of times in subcultures that emphasize DIY and designer relationships we forget that any self-help that is available is a template. You have to change it up and make it unique to you. This is why people often advise others to visit therapist whether alone or in a group to find ways to address issues unique to their situation.

I’m urging everyone to start working on their emotional literacy to help improve their quality of life and quality of interaction. It can only benefit you in the end and improve your journey of self-authenticity and awareness.

Resource list:











Oh yes lovlies, I am Mentally Ill

Cross posted to my Fet

And that seems to be the absolute worst thing as a tiny.

I’m not sure what it is about the BDSM subculture’s need to question littles and their actions so critically.

Now yes this is my ramblings after reading yet another writing about littles.

I happen to be both person who suffers from mental health issues and is a 24/7 little.

My mental health shit makes dealing with people panic inducing, leaving my house a nightmare, and having friends work. Yes y’all, I love my friends and family, but y’all are hard work for me to maintain just on an every level. But I love y’all so I push.

I am also totally ok with managing my shit and being tiny on the most authentic way possible because I don’t feel that having mental illnesses makes anything I do invalid. If I fuck up, I did and I will strive to do better.

People forget that Big/little dynamics are just like every other dynamic in this lifestyle. We negotiate based on our experience and knowledge of self (and for me that means I negotiate heavily for ongoing and 24/7 dynamics). We fuck up and do better. We end relationships because our managing tools for whatever reason don’t work anymore. OMG you mean we are still human just like the rest of you. Who would have known?

I also happen to be a regressive little which fucking throws people off especially with the mental health shit. But the major thing is that I understand that there are differences between regressing due to mental illness and regressing because that’s a natural part of your personality. And I do both as well as be little without regressing. That’s right y’all the little actually knows the behaviours they engage in and sometimes we know why and we communicate that just like any other Real Adult Human.

Talks about separating mental health and managing are common in littles spaces. Very few people in littles spaces see mental health as something to take lightly and talk a lot of finding tools and managing as well as finding support.

But being totally honest, being a little and having a mental illness is no different than being any other role in this lifestyle and having a mental illness.

True story, we are sometimes better at our emotions and mental health than our Bigs. And sometimes we aren’t. Individuals are individuals.

I also find these discussions hilarious because as a 24/7 slave I can still function as an adult, but as a 24/7 little people think I run away from things and can’t function. What sense that that actually make?

What you see is not always what is right. You may see a Big constantly cater to their little and their needs, but that is part of their negotiations. For all you know those public displays are more to help the Bigs mental illness by giving them something to focus on.

But lets pretend like dressing up, going to the park, coloring, making demands, and being totally rad at events means something way bigger than it does.




Understanding Bigs and littles.

This is a clearer write up based on the initial post and to clarify with the commentary later provided.
When you understand that DDlg is not the umbrella littles evolved from, it is easier to understand that littles are not what most people assume we are.
Just to make sure we are clear, all parts of the BDSM lifestyle have a foundation in which they grew. Even Littles have a foundation. The foundation is built to maintain flexibility. The Big/littles community has influence from the age play kink, where our openness was born, and the leather community. Even in our local communities, there are differences in the straight, pansexual, and gay B/l communities. All of this is because we have a base structure that we can renovate.
So we all have common roots.
Big/little dynamics, or even CGl, is the umbrella. DDlg is a specific dynamic that branches off B/l that is about Daddy Dominants and littles girls. DDlg is one of the most public forms of D/s based Big/littles dynamics.
B/l means Bigs and littles. I use Bigs/littles because I have seen its use as a better and more caring use to the non-binary community who often lump both D/s and non-D/s dynamics under the same non-gendered phrasing. Ageplayers are not included as littles unless they are also littles who carry more of a personality style. DDlg is as D/s based B/l or CG l dynamic.
Also addressing the idea that Babyboys and Babygirls are automatically littles. That is not true. Some BBs and BGs also are littles like many ageplayers are also littles usually also identify as that. BBs and BGs enjoy dynamic based on the nurturing aspect of BDSM relationships and that has a lot of overlap with Big/Little. Similarities don’t mean it’s the same things. Many confuse this however due to Babyboy and Babygirl being pet names as well as roles.
In most little friendly spaces in the community at large, age-players and a littles intermix a lot and during that time the differences between us are not very profound. It is not until we start dealing with the relational aspects of how littles interact with their partners on a regular basis, that you truly see the limited differences between us; as well as when you see 24/7 littles and how they interact with the world around them.
BDSM stands for Bondage and Discipline/ Dominance and submission/ Sadism and Masochism. BDSM is not just one person being in control of another. That is a specific part of BDSM, the power exchange within Dominance and submission.
Big/little dynamic don’t inherently have anyone in charge. They have someone who takes on more of the responsibility, but unlike D/s power exchange there are no control or authority transfers. In a non-D/s Big/little dynamic your Big does not control you, unless specifically negotiated. In a D/s B/l dynamic where the little is the sub, they give up their power and control of themselves as negotiated.
In the B/l community, littles are not subs, but we can also be subs. D/s is based in submission (the action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person) and control (the power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events). Bigs and little care for and are taken care of. It does not require you to submit to another’s authority or relinquish control of yourself to just engage as littles and Bigs, even if you create a relationship or dynamic of sorts.
Example: Submitting happens in only D/s. I have another Big. He cares for me, but I do not submit to him. He has no control over how I live my life, just reminds me of my choices and lets me make them. My DD has every right, however, to tell me my choices aren’t acceptable and tell be what “choices” to make or limit my choices. While a Big may limit my choices it is usually between choices that they know I like or would find acceptable. While a Daddy Dominant knows my negotiated limits, they would still have more leeway to tell me what to do.
Remember that there are Dominants who are little who have set their dynamic and their Big is submissive to them.
To be a Dominant and a little doesn’t mean you are a switch. It is like being a little and a Primal.
It is a type of exchange dynamic, but the power exchange is not always the same as Dominant submissive. For non-D/s CGl (B/l) dynamics it is care and being cared for, rather than control and submission. But most D/s based B/l dynamics include both.
Littles and Big are roles that evolved from a kink-based role play because some people are more personality based rather than role-play based. Hence, the difference between littles and age-players. Not a big difference and often ignored because when we are interacting in the community, does that really matter?
DDlg is also most certainly not the gentler form of BDSM as it is often pushed to be seen to appeal to some unless the people want it to be. BDSM is not always rough just bc some of the actions may seem thus. The distinction between gentler seems unnecessary bc it comes from a place of misunderstanding of D/s relationship. Not all BDSMers are into pain at all, that is one of the stereotypes that are often perpetuated. Unfortunately even those of us who reside in the lifestyle keep falling for it.
B/l is not a construct if my own. It’s just not as widely used because Tumblr is one of the reasons that littles became popular and they lump everyone under DDlg an CG l.
Littles’ history is not written or put together as well as leather and D/s history. Once you find people who have identified as littles since the split split between littles and ageplayers back in the late ups and early 90s you start to understand the basic foundation of our community.
**I, KittenInLimbo, have adopted the preferences of using Big/little over CGl as some people still use CGl to denote D/s based dynamics.
I maintain that not all littles are subs as their are many out there who don’t fit within D/s PE or are Dominants themselves.
B/l is a regional term. I forget which area of the U.S I learned it from, but it seems like a better fit after talking to some older littles who have stayed littles over the years.
B/l is the larger community of Bigs and littles not a singular dynamic which is why that or CGl fit as better umbrellas for all dynamics rather than DDlg which gives a false notion about what littles are.
Talking to littles who engage in Big/l relationships is what has shown me and others that lumping us under DDlg is inaccurate, especially for non-binary, polyamorous, and lgbt people.
When I first asked people in my local community I was told that it was a regional label, but it did seem to be a better overall title for addressing our community as a whole. We tend to just say the littles community which is inaccurate. It is B/l or Bigs/l or CG/l. Which, just like with the M/s community or D/s community, can represent a label for the community as a whole or a type of dynamic.**
Take a gander at some of K.I.L’s writings. On Fet:

Intersecting D/s and Poly – Negotiations

Originally posted in Black and Poly BDSM Style a cross-posted to the Poly littles and their Caregivers page.

One of the pivotal concepts that BDSM and poly intersect on is Negotiation.

It is an unfortunate observation I have made is that in some vanilla poly circle the idea of negotiation is feared because of the theory it blocks organic growth.

Now I’m not afraid to tell you that that idea is rubbish.

Negotiating is a part of communicating boundaries and breaking down personal fears. It means you’ve become self-aware of your needs, wants, and your limits as a person.

But let me let you in on a secret. All of those things can change. It can change daily even. That is why people renegotiate.

Even in 24/7 power-exchange many people have it built in that people change so you may need to renegotiate. A submissive, especially a slave, however, realizes that they could end the relationship or dynamic. But there also lies the understanding that a relationship is built on consent to dealing with compromises and taking responsibility for your actions, even those that affect others.

What makes negotiation and renegotiation healthier are that you know your limits or boundaries and don’t allow yourself to be swayed in changing who you are. You take time to look into yourself when making a compromise to be sure that it does not leave you feeling as if something was taken. You’ll feel content or you need to revisit.

We are whole individuals. Our relationship rules, negotiation, and boundaries should never leave us feeling less than that.

And yes every relationship has boundaries. Its the result of negotiations. Even telling your partner they can’t control your interactions is a boundary.

And boundaries aren’t this negative scary thing.

They should be a reminder that in alt relationship communities, we are literally creating something from scratch. Our relationship is what we make it. It is the work we put it. And it’s not easy.

That is why many find it hard to make their relationship a reality. They have the fantasy in their head, but they don’t know how to deal with real people to break the walls and predisposed inclinations we have built into us.

Polyamorous folk and BDSMers redefine every term. We don’t fit the norms of what family and relationships look like because of that, even when we mask ourselves to be palatable.

So why let a fear of words keep you and your partners from reaching your true potential? From teaching you to be your authentic self? To keep you from being able to emotionally process in various ways. That is something for you to explore.

Negotiation brings forth organic growth. It only prohibits you if you let it.