I grew up in a household where people expressed their dominance in unhealthy ways. I learned to associate dominance with conflict, aggression, coercion, manipulation and unhealthy competition.
Due to my own temperament and circumstances in that environment, I believed the best response was to submit and withdraw from the contest of wills. And as I grew older I interpreted spirituality through that lens of surrender, selflessness, and dying to self or ego.
But at the same time I’ve been increasingly indignant at having taken this burden on myself. Why do I alone suppress my dominance while others are so self-assured in their right to be and do and have?
The harder I tried to justify and explain my point of view to others, the more self-assured they seemed in rejecting my view and asserting their own – no matter how unexamined or invalid it might be.
So what now?
Well, it turns out that dominance is not a bad thing after all. It only looks bad when it’s used to harm or manipulate others, when it functions through conflict and aggression.
I like to use etymology to reframe loaded terms and in this case dominance comes from the Latin dominus meaning “Lord, master”, as in the head of a house or domus.
Dominance is not about aggression and control, but ownership. It’s natural and healthy for us each to take ownership of ourselves and our possessions and our beliefs, actions and choices.
Dominance means it’s your house, and you can do whatever the hell you want and if other people don’t like it they can GTFO. But dominance also means that each person is their own “house” as well, and you need to respect that or GTFO yourself.
You can be dominant without domineering, and for those of us who grew up on the receiving end, that distinction is one we need to hear.
…and enjoy. Because a tyrant’s pleasure in dominating others doesn’t tarnish our own healthy pleasure in taking full ownership and mastery of ourselves. Pushing back is not the same as pushing others down. Your freedom to disagree with others is not the same as them trying to make you wrong.
We are all free to disagree, and it’s a sign of something awry when people baulk at that freedom in themselves or others.
So enjoy your dominance. Appreciate your freedom…and the freedom of everyone else in your life as well.