Reclaiming Choice

by | Mar 7, 2023 | Needs, Power Dynamics

Our world would be radically transformed if all humans made one simple, profound shift in how they approached any situation.

What one shift? 

A commitment to meeting collective human needs to whatever degree is possible.   

That’s it. I truly believe it would change everything.  

What if the “prime objective” of any given conversation, relationship or system were focused around how well we are able to meet the needs of the humans, and not around who wins, who is “right” or who gets rich? 

Perhaps it’s hard to imagine this on a systemic, global scale, so let’s just keep it personal for now.   

The less our cultures and societies are organized around valuing and meeting the needs of all humans, the more toxic they are to our collective well-being.  They become traumatizing to humans, increase mental health issues, and ultimately lead to tremendous suffering in human relationships on our planet.

Here’s the issue: what you experienced from your parents, teachers, preachers and other authority figures, determines what you will perceive as “normal” in the world.  Unexamined, this perpetuates cycles of suffering, adapting, coping and illness. 

When we don’t stop to question the cultures we are being raised in, when we don’t examine the actual effects of our practices, our assumptions, and the beliefs and mindsets that we inherited, we unwittingly become pawns of these systems of disconnection and fragmentation.  

One of the most insidious effects of domination based parenting, schools and systems is that they instill deep experiences of fear of authority coupled with helplessness and choicelessness.  You’ll see this in your thinking and language when you find yourself saying things like, “I have no choice” or “I have to do this.”  

Transformation happens when we commit to trusting connection and reclaiming our choicefulness again.  

When people are lovingly and naturally connected to one another, trusting that each person matters, is valued, and is held with care, then when an authority figure says some version of “don’t do that,” we tune in. We feel protected. We trust and follow the guidance we are being provided.  This is an essential part of empowered interdependence.   

Domination cultures, however, run on the assumption that some people matter more than others, and that well-being is earned by being compliant, obedient and useful to others. In these systems, it’s wiser not to trust authority figures. In these systems, we get stuck in cycles of compliance and rebellion, disconnection and fragmentation.  

In families, when connection and safety between parents and children is not unconditional, but instead performance-based or compliance-based, parents find themselves needing to use more and more force to get children to comply.   In societies where meeting people’s needs and the well-being of all citizens is not the organizing principle–and instead, authority figures misuse power and resources for selfish interests and narrow agendas–unrest, fragmentation and violence abounds

When you’ve lived in domination cultures for your whole life, it seems normal. 

It can appear normal to feel disheartened, de-energized, depressed.  It’s tempting to see this as a personal problem instead of a cultural one.  

Children who are warmly, safely and securely attached to parents care about and follow their parents’ advice.   Family members learn how to set boundaries through love and relationship, not through disconnection and force.  

Here, I invite you to join me in Ken Wilber’s call to wake up, show up, clean up and grow up. 

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