The Dominator Mentality
To those accustomed to treating others with kindness, one of the most difficult concepts to grasp is how some people can live their lives without compassion—and even display outright cruelty—toward others. It’s as though one were suddenly ferried from a generous and kindly planet onto a foreign world of strange beings, far from home. It can be especially difficult to deal with indifference and callousness when these traits feel so alien to one’s own nature. For those trying to navigate through dominant territory, it’s important to understand how the dominator mentality operates.
Dominator paradigm people feel beautiful or talented, important or special or worthy, not because they feel intrinsically good and alive within their own skin. They gain their feelings of self-
Because they depend on others to make them feel whole, dominator people must constantly replenish their supply of people (land, animals, plants, minerals, etc.) over whom they can exercise power. Being dependent on the external environment for one’s sense of meaning and value creates a never-
No one who feels connected to self, to the greater community, and to his or her own divinity, would dream of harming another. People who mistreat others are separated from their own mind, body and spirit. In treating others like expendable commodities, dominators turn themselves into commodities as well. Therefore, mistreating others is, quite literally, mistreating oneself. The tragedy is that those with a dominator mentality do not see or understand this.
Once the dominator mentality becomes entrenched in the psyche, something else happens. The dominators start to condemn, in others, the traits that they are unable to accept in themselves. They’re usually not even conscious that they harbor these traits. Psychologists call this habit of disowning one’s “shadow” side and assigning it onto others projection.
Judging and blaming others generates a false sense of self-
Me / You
Male / Female
Superior / Inferior
Observer / Observed
Conqueror / Conquered
Objective / Subjective
Powerful / Powerless
Scientific / Creative
Active / Passive
Strong / Weak
Us / Them
The hierarchical mindset of “Us versus Them,” “Superior / Inferior,” etc., does more than keep the world polarized and its inhabitants separated from each other (and from themselves). It also encourages the mistreatment of anyone who we believe is not like us! Someone who’s different isn’t worth very much, the rationalization goes, so it doesn’t matter how badly we treat them. The antagonistic behavior toward others that’s encouraged by this alienated state eventually escalates into aggressively destructive and murderous acts.
Everyone living in a dominator paradigm system pays a steep price for this separation consciousness. The Win/Lose way of viewing the world becomes the norm. Our relationships, work, play, politics, child rearing, social climate, science, religion, art, and healing modalities all reflect—and perpetuate further—this alienation. There is no area of life that separation consciousness does not touch.
The dominator mindset may be the most visible paradigm to some, but it’s not the only one. There’s another paradigm called “Win/Win.” In this paradigm, everyone gets what they truly need because they are connected to who they really are—at the deepest level of their being.