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Discharging Patterns of Domination

From a talk by Tim Jackins at the West Coast
 North America Leaders’ Workshop, January 2021

Domination is connected to our relationships. If I’m not connected with other people, and they’re not connected with me, and we live in an oppressive society, how does that affect our ability to relate to each other? I think it’s clear that all of our relationships are affected by domination. If someone isn’t connected to me and can’t think about me, they will probably act out domination in my direction, if they can.

I was born into a world where everybody had domination acted out at them. So although they wanted me and loved me, it was inevitable that domination would be part of our relationship. Therefore, I got this distress, too. We all did. If you had older siblings, they acted it out at you. If you had younger siblings, you acted it out at them. Then you went out into the neighborhood, to school, and it was there—all over the place. Everywhere there was a “pecking order” [a hierarchical system of social organization].

So it is in all of our relationships. Some of us have known each other for twenty, thirty, forty years. The better we know each other, the more we keep domination between us operating at a lower level. But there are still times when the pull to dominate shows up. 

Out in the world, it shows up a lot. One of the few things that was useful about the former U.S. president was how clearly his desperation for domination showed. No matter what was happening, or whether or not there was any evidence or person supporting his position, he had to dominate. He is a very good example of this material [distress]. 

If you own a business, you get to dominate the business. You get to hire and fire, promote and demote. If you join the military, you see domination acted out in exquisite detail. The way it happens is codified, but the code doesn’t limit the acting out of individual distresses, and in some ways it encourages it. 

Domination happens in school. It happens in conversations. We may not have the legal power to dominate (like when owning a business or holding a political office), but we still do it to each other—a little more subtly sometimes.

We try to make sure people understand our point. Because we were dominated and no one listened, we feel like we have to say something repeatedly: Clearly you didn’t listen to me, and so I have to say it louder and louder, trying to satisfy a frozen patterned need. I will try to have the last word. And if I can’t make the last point, I will make a little undercutting comment at the end to lessen your domination.

We have this material because our society is saturated with it, and it keeps pushing us away from each other. The more someone needs to act it out, the harder it is to approach them; the harder it is to find a way to reach them and connect with them. 

This piece of society’s material is used in all of the oppressions. We experience all of the oppressions early in our lives, both as the direct target and simply when we are just around people, so we pick it up. Then this makes us more vulnerable to the oppressions that make use of it.

We need to look at how this happened to us. When somebody shows the effects of domination material on them—when they feel a need to show that they are a little bit smarter or a little more knowledgeable than we are—and our minds react, we can bring that up later in a Co-Counseling session. For a lot of us, this means talking about something that feels petty: “This shouldn’t matter. I shouldn’t be upset by this little thing.” But if we are upset by it, of course we need to discharge on it until it no longer restimulates us. 

It’s good when we can be clear enough to not act out every restimulation of domination material. One thing we learn as Co-Counselors is to not voice every restimulation we feel. But at some point, we need to have discharged enough that we don’t get restimulated, that the domination material doesn’t distract us and make it more difficult to move forward together. I’d like you to spend some time in a session thinking about who dominated you. How did it come in on you? When did you turn it around and act it out at someone else?

When we’ve internalized a distress, it is ours. It is our responsibility. How it affects our behavior can vary depending on the circumstances. We usually feel victimized, because originally we were the target. And it’s easier to work on having been targeted. It’s a little harder to work on where we have acted out the oppressor end of a pattern. Often people act out the oppressor end while still feeling victimized. People who are desperately trying to dominate often feel like they are fighting for their lives against being dominated. They don’t recognize that they’ve slipped over into the other role. As always, the way we feel about a situation is not solid evidence of the reality of it. 

International Reference Person for the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities

(Present Time 203, April 2021)

Last modified: 2021-04-14 15:46:39+00