Posted October 13, 2010on:
One concept I find very important in my daily life is DOMAIN. My definition of domain is the “tangible and intangible territory in which I’m the only one responsible for and that nobody should invade or violate“. The tangible ones include all my personal properties, money, bank accounts. The intangible ones are my philosophies, my values system, my time, my choices of food, clothing, hobbies, and jobs.
For someone who is individualistic and has a strong sense of self like me, it’s easier to be constantly aware of my domain as well as other people’s domain. But for others who value and seek a sense of belongingness, it can be quite difficult. People close to us will try to make us guilty because a certain act we have “affects” them. My question is am I acting outside of my domain and invading their domain? How valid are their “feelings” or “how I affected them”? I usually measure the validity of their feelings base on how much of my action is within my domain and how much of it is possibly a “shared domain”. For instance, a friend can force me to eat a piece of cake because it’s his birthday. He may even appeal to my sense of guilt and say he’ll feel bad if I don’t and it’s his birthday. But if it’s a strict diet day for me, I will decline politely and stick to my diet. That is within my domain and I shouldn’t care if he’ll feel bad or if it’s his birthday. My not eating doesn’t truly affect him. In fact, it has nothing to do with him.
The issue of domain may not seem huge, but if it’s translated into closely entwined relationships like parent-child, husband-wife relationship, it is very crucial.. I think the only time we can intrude and invade in someone else’s domain is when the person is insane or self-destructive. (like addiction)
I was chatting with a Christian married woman last week. She told me that she has very strong character but she learned that it’s the husband who will be accountable for his entire family to god, so she has to give in and obey most of the time. She even said she has to constantly stroke her husband’s ego because he is the man and he has to feel like the man. She also advises her daughter to tone down her personality since she is like her mom– assertive. What a load of crap! I introduced the idea of domain to her and she’s resistant to it saying when you’re married and have children, there’s no more ‘who’s domain’.
Shared responsibility is way different from having no personal domain. Her husband’s muscles are not her muscles. She can ask him to lift 50 kg for her, but it’s him doing the lifting, not her. He can be making tons of money that he can share with her, but it’s still him doing it, not her. I guess for someone who did just the washing and cleaning, they want the illusion that no domain exist within each member of the family. Not being aware and respectful of our domain and other people’s domain can be draining, depleting, and exhausting for everyone. There’s always an invisible tug-of-war. That is why I’m extremely protective of my domain but I’m also very respectful of other’s domain.