What makes a punishment a punishment?
I mean, really. Many of us experience both spanking-for-punishment and spanking-for-pleasure, so how do we know the difference?
For some it seems to be the force of the spanking. A fun spanking is light, with implements we like, while a punishment is heavy, with implements we don't like.
For others, it's the position. Fun spankings are in easy-to-hold positions (over a lap, on a couch/bed), while punishments are more strict (over the knee in a chair, the spankee must hold position).
In my case position and severity certainly matter, but not as much as for others. My tolerance can be quite high, so severity doesn't necessarily mean
discomfort, and the position becomes at worst an annoyance. In order for me to really feel like it's a punishment, I need to be in the right headspace. It's all about the headspace for me. To be honest, I think it's all about headspace for most of us–we just use different ways to get there.
So how do I get into the right frame of mind? There are a couple of different factors that play into it. Probably the most important one is my relationship with my disciplinarian–I have to be able to trust that person completely. I have to know that he or she has my best interests at heart, will not take advantage of me, and truly accepts that discipline is necessary for me. Once we've established that trust I'm much more willing to put myself in his or her hands.
After that, words become very important. I have no use for outright humiliation, but for me, scolding is a necessary part of any punishment. My physical tolerance is high enough that without the words to tether me to the situation at hand, I could easily float away on the sensation or barricade myself inside my head until the pain ended. Reminders of what I've done ("Is that acceptable behavior, young lady?") or of my lack of control ("You can kick all you want, but you're not done yet") keep me grounded in the situation and are the concrete tie between my actions and the resulting spanking. They are what make me sorry and they are what make a punishment a punishment for me.
I realize this differs for others. For example, I know that sparkle can't stand to be scolded–even mild scolding feels humiliating and counterproductive to her. So I'm wondering: what makes spanking a punishment for you? Implement? Position? Tone? Something else? How do you achieve punishment headspace and how is it different than pleasure headspace?