Lesson 16: The Need To Dominate Comes From Fear
“Whenever we are in a situation where we are trying to dominate or someone is trying to dominate us, it probably comes from the frightened child within. When someone is trying to dominate us, we are being asked to respond as if they were a frightened child. If we respond to that need by reassuring and supporting, we won’t end up feeling as if we are oppressed.
If we are the one trying to dominate, there is a part of us that is feeling frightened. If we were to communicate our fear, not only would it be a relief of the fear for us, it would also be a great gift for the other person. Communication, reaching out, and forgiveness can heal the fear. They are a great gift for the other person, as well.
Today, in every situation where you notice that you are dominating, communicate your fear to the person you are oppressing. Communication heals the fear. In every situation where another is dominating you, reach out and respond to that person as if they were a frightened child. Reaching out heals the fear. In every situation that shows itself as domination, reach out, communicate, and forgive both the other person and yourself.” –Chuck Spezzano, PhD
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This is something that has historically been very difficult for me. I suppose it is a great challenge for many of us. When we feel under attack, it is one of the hardest things to reach out to our attacker with love and compassion. To maintain that level of clarity is something I aspire to, because I know that the truth of the situation is always as Dr. Spezzano lays it out here.
The other hardest thing to do is to maintain that level of clarity within my own pain. For most of my life, my fear, hurt and sadness had one cycle of expression: anger, attack, withdrawal, sadness, loneliness and regret. In that order. My training with myself has been to commit to recognizing when I am angry (possessed) and to trust that no matter how justified I feel in that moment, the underlying feelings are fear, sadness, hurt and they will come to me in the wee small hours of the morning.
My job in that moment is to STOP. To make contact with the underlying feelings and to share those. I am so wired to protect myself, to fend off, or scare off my perceived attacker, that this has been a monumental task. I still have such a hard time with it. In those moments after the storm, when I am alone and my deeper feelings come out, the depth of loneliness and regret and failure that I feel are sometimes debilitating. I see my own blindness and I feel so disappointed that, A) I did it again! and B) I fulfilled the projection of whomever I was in conflict with. There is this kind of helpless invisibility that I feel in those moments because I failed to be my authentic, vulnerable, true self.
This lesson is a good reminder that this is still something I have going on. I’ve gotten better in that I am aware of it, and sometimes I’m even able to stop myself. But it’s remarkable the degree to which I am still so afraid of being vulnerable.