Saturday, August 19, 2017

What is a Domination System?

One of the most powerful things I have read recently.

A short read offering clarity about how we are where we are culturally.   I also have some hope that we can indeed be on the long road back to our former coherence (as Thomas Berry wrote).

This comes from the book Humanizing Health Care, by Melanie Sears, RN, MBA.  (page 23).  Brilliant.

What is a Domination System?

Domination structures were developed thousands of years ago when our ancestors moved from small-scale gardening to larger-scale farming.  Because physical strength was needed to handle plows and other implements of mass food production, physically strong men found themselves increasingly in positions of power, and systems of domination began to evolve.  A cultural spiritual shift occurred at this time away from reverence fro live and pleasure and toward domination and pain.  In order to maintain rigid rankings of domination, violence and abuse became institutionalized and (as with unprosecuted mail violence of both warfare and the war of the sexes) bound up with gender-specific socialization processes.

In domination systems, there are two roles:  Those who dominate and those who are dominated.  Those on top control those below and benefit from their position at the expense of others.  Those who are dominated often come to believe that they, too, benefit from the perpetuation of the domination system--after all, "Father Knows Best."  The system is held in place through fear and force and through patters of thinking that polarize complex feelings and experiences into strict categories:  right or wrong, good or bad, us or them, punishment or reward.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Can you ever WIN an argument?

I did a bit of research on this.  I wanted to see if there are actual guidelines about this.  Whether I looked up how to win a debate, or win an argument, what is being offered is about keeping calm, use logic, ask questions.  I found an article that says, “Gather your thoughts before you deliver the zinger”.  Zinger? 

What I haven’t found in my research is the criteria that defines WIN.  Often subjective ~ as in our political debates, the press (and each candidate) announces the winner (based on some undisclosed, not so obvious and very biased criteria.)  Obviously in this case, each candidate declares themselves the winner.  Then we (the witnesses) either agree or disagree.  This might work in politics when the goal of the debate is to get votes.

In tennis as an example, there is a clear structure, an agreed to point system, an agreed to court size, apparel and racket constraints, etc.  In other sports there are always well-defined rules whether it is time, a court or field, a point system, conduct constraints.

Following this thought through, if you are going to have an argument with someone and you want to win it, it would be wise then to set up the structure that you both agree on about who wins.  Otherwise the argument continues until either one or the other or both declare themselves the winner. This can look like ending the relationship, allowing us to continue to believe we are right about what we think, and most often continue to be in some level of upset with the other person ongoing.  Possibly it dissipates in intensity over time, and more likely not.  Just notice how you feel the instant you spot this person a year later!

Make some rules.

So if you really want to win, rather than just declaring yourself the winner, get
with your conflict rival and set up some rules for winning.

Taking this step actually requires listening, connection, mutual understanding and agreement.  Part of what will need to become clear to you both is what is the purpose of winning?  What will be better in your life if you win?  Understanding?  More connection and shared reality?  

I am guessing you can see where this is leading?!

In the context of Nonviolent Communication and creating a quality of connection where everyone’s needs matter and get met, the very act of taking this step [reminder:  step = talking and making agreements] is how you win an argument!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Do You Know What You Mean?

I have been to workshops where they teach that everything is meaningless.  There is no actual specific meaning inside what happens, or what people say and do.  Is this true?  Well, yes. 

And…I might suggest this thought for people to consider.   Hearing that nothing has meaning often leads to all kinds of emotional distress.  Why?  Because the things people do and say have meaning to us.  Often super life changing, really deeply held meaning. And this is also true.

How is this possible?

Our filters make things mean things.  So when a thing happens (or someone says something) it means one thing to me, another thing to you, and yet another thing to our friend.  All the meaning is happening inside each individual. 

That is why when you believe what you think is true you are more likely to argue with someone.  Because they have the same belief, that what they are thinking is true.  If what you each think is not the same, and you both believe your thoughts as truth, there isn’t much room for understanding.  So we spend lots of time arguing about our beliefs as if the meaning we each make is the actual meaning.  And, as we know, there is no actual meaning.


So much distress and hours of unproductive conversations would be alleviated if we each understood that the meaning I make is important to me, and the meaning you make is important to you.  Acknowledge the difference and that we care, rather than try to convince the how wrong they are.

For example…

I like vanilla ice cream and you like chocolate.  If I insisted that you like vanilla and you insisted that I like chocolate we will be talking for a long time ~ with likely not much resolve.  I will still like vanilla, you will still like chocolate.

Instead if we chose to celebrate each other’s choices, discussed the pleasure you experience eating chocolate and my joy in eating vanilla, and make arrangements for us each to have those experiences we would decrease our stress and increase joy!!


Next time someone tells you their opinion and shares it as the truth, repeat it back to them with the words, “I understand from what you are saying that you experience what happened as this….is that right?”  Once they have responded, you offer, “I have made a different conclusion from what has happened, are you interested in hearing my thoughts?”

They may or may not want to hear your thoughts.  Whether they invite a conversation or they do not, you have saved many hours of arguing whose interpretations of the facts are the ‘correct’ ones!