Women's Ways of Learning LO24660

From: Winfried Dressler (winfried.dressler@voith.de)
Date: 05/23/00

Replying to LO24638 --

Dear Sajeela,

thank you for sharing your emotional response to my mail. This is quite
rare on this list, usually I have to guess between the lines. Yet I have
to admit that it is really difficult and tricky to do so, because the
cultural connotations of the use of words which are meant to convey
feelings are often unknown and/or misinterpreted within a reader in
another part of the world. Emotional response is so direct, difficult to
question. At de Lange once used the word 'nice' with such an effect on
you. And I hope that the word 'sweet' does not have the same meaning as
the literal translation 'suess' in german. Here it has the main
connotation of childish naiveness or sticky...;-)

>I know I personally feel that diversity is best
>aknowledged, celebrated and encouraged (rather than feared and suppressed)
>because in so doing there is room for difference and alignment.
>In any case, considering that the survival of humanity
>and many forms of life on Earth probably depends on a shift away from
>domination and towards greater partnership on all levels, we had best be
>thoughtful about these things!

I want to share an experience of being thoughtful without doing, what I
usually would call thinking.

Domination and partnership are both about differences, or the way to deal
with differences. I often encounter people who show a strong need for
domination in the way they behave.

This used to come along with some kind of feelings of intimidation.
Fortunately I have learnt that not the others dominating behaviour causes
such intimidation, but that I allow such intimidation. This is my part in
making partnership impossible.

Unfortunately, by not being intimidated anymore I showed domination
behaviour. This was very hard for me to learn, because I pushed domination
away and held partnership high. I think I was reading Watzlawick, when I
realized the trick I was playing on me and others: I thought of
partnership as dominant over domination. The resulting systemic patterns
were that of domination. Again I managed to blame the others for the
pattern - they didn't embrace partnership. Again I had to see my part in
the pattern.

By seeing this, I have fallen in a deep hole. I felt intimidated again,
the protection didn't work anymore and I additionally started to feel
guilty about it because I couldn't say anymore that the other is causing
the intimidation. The breakdown of my protection was irreversible. It's
difficult to write about, you must have gone through the same sort of hell
to understand, I'm afraid.

At that time, I was very much alone. I knew I had to work on my
communication skills, but I feared the contact with humans, this didn't
reduce my feeling of guilt as you can imagine. Today, I can write it as a
system diagram, a viscous circle. I knew I had to do something about it
and I sought for help - not an easy thing: First I had to realize that not
all people are intimidating. Helpers, in my mind, were somehow dominating.
I was quite trapped within my beliefs.

I don't know what would have become of me, if I didn't miraculously got
into contact with an institute offering courses in the 'art of
communication' - NLP. I think I have learnt a lot. But most profound was
the insight, that one has to come into contact and communicate, dialogue
with the enemies within, so that we can find a base on which we might
become friends. Guess which one was my enemy: domination. It was difficult
to find a positive valuing name for this part of mine. I chose 'power' -
at least in my head I knew that power was not negative per se.

Thank to the facilitator, I had an incredible communication experience
with the power within. What a great and positive force. I will try to
express the lessons learnt. Power can have two ways of articulation:
constructive and destructive. The destructive form is about making others
smaller, weaker. I said, 'this is bad. You (power - I was talking to the
power as a person within me) should not make others smaller.' The power
was completely neutral and open about it. 'Why not', it claimed, 'the
other wants to be weakened, I respond to the others request, like a key
opens a door.' I knew that I was facing some deep truth here. I self had
experienced it again and again, had begged the power within others to help
me make me small, while the real function of power is simply this: open
doors. When I could talk again, I asked: 'But why do I want to be
weakend?' - 'Your choice' - 'What do you mean 'your choice'?' - 'You've
choosen to want to be weakend' - 'But why?' - 'How should I kn!!ow, you
are the creator of your life.' After a while I said: 'I don't want to be
weakened anymore. But I also don't want to dominate. I want good
partnership.' - 'Ok.' End of dialogue. - And by the time I got a lot of
very good partnership, unthinkable before.

Today I can see, that I have started to develop my own strengths and with
those, I am a different, not dominant, partner for those who have
developed complementary strengths. But 'dominant' is not a negative word
for me anymore. I can see that I gain some power from my strengths, some
real door-opener, but I don't hurry. With my strengths I dominate others,
but only in the way I am, not to make them small - I avoid such situations
as far as I can - I stick to my decision not to weaken others even if they
beg for it. On the contrary I allow others to draw from by strengths to
develop their own, as I draw from theirs. This is powerful partnership.

Sajeela, the lesson learnt here is, that domination is not the dualistic
counterpart of partnership. In fact domination seems to be a special form
of partnership (which I assess to be destructive, so that I don't choose
it anymore, but first I had to gain the necessary freedom of choice). On
the other hand, constructive partnership builds on inner domination in one
or more strengths, which is the core of difference and diversity.

Am I right that I couldn't have written this last paragraph without
sharing the experience above? Was sharing this experience also sufficient
for understanding?

Liebe Gruesse,



"Winfried Dressler" <winfried.dressler@voith.de>

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