Submissive

We explain what it means to be submissive and what submissive people are like. Also, what are the best tips for someone submissive.

A submissive young man lowers his head.
Someone who is submissive easily assumes a position of subordination to others.

What does it mean to be submissive?

A submissive person is someone who demonstrates obedience and submission to the authority of others, even when said authority lacks foundations. That is, it is someone who easily assumes a position of subordination to others, granting them different amounts of power over themselves.

The adjectives “submissive” and “submissive”, as well as the noun “submission”, come from the Latin verb submissiocomposed of the voices sub- (“below”) and mittere (“send”). So submission can be understood as the act of putting oneself below, which culturally constitutes a place of secondaryness or submission. For example, leaders (political, social or whatever) are generally located at the top of a platform, from where they address their followers.

Submission is part of the dynamics of power and domination that have taken place since ancient times in the history of humanity. For example, absolute monarchies, dictatorships, and other oppressive forms of government reduce citizens to a state of submission, usually through systematic violence, punishment, and fear.

In this way, people’s will is broken and they are forced to comply with an unjust system. However, Acceptance of the law and legitimate authorities should not be confused with submission.: all human beings living in society must abide by some form of command.

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Even so, There are individuals with a personality particularly prone to submission and subalternity., so they usually play submissive roles in their relationships with third parties, granting the latter sometimes excessive authority and power over their lives. This is what the psychological term “submissive personality” refers to.

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Characteristics of the submissive personality

According to psychology, the submissive personality is characterized by the following:

  • Avoid conflicts at the expense of your well-being. A submissive person is incapable of raising his voice to demand his rights, or of making enemies with someone whom he considers harmful or harmful. Instead, the submissive will always try to be at peace with everyone, often at the cost of sacrificing his own well-being and accepting conditions that might normally be considered unfair or undignified.
  • Avoid attracting attention. A submissive person will always try to go unnoticed or integrate into the crowd, even when doing so misses opportunities for protagonism desired or necessary for his well-being. Submissives do not feel comfortable being the center of attention.
  • Forge relationships of dependency or codependency. A submissive person will tend to associate with third parties in a dependent manner, that is, assuming a victim role that gives the other not only the power, but also the responsibility and task of taking care of his or her needs. In the sudden absence of this type of people, the submissive person suffers immensely, because he considers himself as someone incapable of taking care of his affairs.
  • Have very low self-esteem. A submissive person generally has a tendency to low self-esteem and self-worth problems, and that is the reason why he tolerates abuse and attitudes that he would otherwise reject.
  • Tend to shyness and withdrawal. A submissive person often has trouble facing others, especially in new situations. This is usually accompanied by a contracted, hesitant body language that expresses a lack of self-confidence.
  • Prioritize the satisfaction of others. A submissive person usually gives priority to satisfying the desires and needs of others, before their own, which makes them pathologically compliant, but permanently dissatisfied.
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It is important to note that not all of these characteristics should occur at the same time in a person with a submissive personality. Likewise, there are people who act submissively in some contexts and not in others.

Tips for submissive people

Individuals with a submissive personality who want to fight against this tendency in their way of being can be guided by the following advice:

  • Go to a specialist. Psychotherapy is possibly the best option to review and discuss, in a safe environment, the problems that may lie behind a submissive personality.
  • Practice verbal assertiveness. The submissive person should practice saying what he wants out loud, initially in simple or trivial situations, and then in more challenging self-esteem situations. In this way, he will “train” himself to say what he wants and not to simply please.
  • Distinguish disagreement from hostility. It is possible to express a disagreement, even have an argument, without engaging in hostile behavior or resorting to insults or degradation. A submissive person must understand this point well to be able to both express their desires and demand the same treatment from others, and understand that others may not agree, without this meaning something bad.
  • Exercise self-confidence. The submissive person must exercise himself to make his own achievements visible and understand his mistakes, to be able to assume what has been achieved and the mistakes made, without hiding the former or magnifying the latter.

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References

  • “Submissive, sa” in the Language Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy.
  • “Radication of the word submission” in the Online Spanish Etymological Dictionary.
  • “Submissive personality: 10 traits” in Alejandra’s Divan.
  • “Submissive personality: 10 psychological traits that define it” in Mundo Psicologías.
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