“The jungle: Here I was born; and here my parents died when I was but an infant. I would have soon perished, too, had I not been found by a kindly she-ape named Kala, who adopted me as her own and taught me the ways of the wild. I learned quickly, and grew stronger each day, and now I share the friendship and trust of all jungle animals. The jungle is filled with beauty, and danger; and lost cities filled with good, and evil. This is my domain, and I protect those who come here; for I am Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle!”
–Opening narration from the 1976-77 cartoon Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle
Life can seem like a jungle sometimes, “filled with beauty, and danger…good, and evil” like Tarzan said here. Indeed, “the jungle” is a fitting analogy for life.
The Lord or Lady of Your Jungle
Like Tarzan, in the “jungle” of life you also have a domain. Like Tarzan, you are the “Lord” (or “Lady”) of your domain–the portion of life over which you have the right, authority, and power to exercise dominion: direct, personal control over your domain.
You HAVE a domain and you HAVE dominion over it…already, right now, all the time. Your domain is defined by your boundaries.
These interlocking concepts describe a highly important reality for every human being. To put it all together:
You have dominion (the right, authority, and power to exercise direct, personal control) over your domain (the portion of life that is defined by your boundaries).
Just like Tarzan, you are the Lord or Lady of your jungle!
Interestingly, your domain exists and has its boundaries quite naturally–and also quite independently of your awareness of it! Your domain is there, whether you realize it or not. So it’s important that you be aware of the extent of your dominion: where your boundaries actually ARE.
Your Parcel in the Jungle of Life
Having a personal domain, but not knowing that you have it, is like being the owner of a parcel in the jungle…but not being aware that you own it. In the absence of your dominion over it, the jungle itself and adjacent landowners might encroach upon it.
Indeed, according to “the ways of the wild,” why wouldn’t they?
Weeds, vines, and thorns might overgrow your domain. “Lost cities” may exist in your part of the jungle, but without you ever knowing about them. You could also lose out on the “friendship and trust” that exercising your dominion would bring to your domain.
If you aren’t aware of your own Lordship within the boundaries of your domain, your piece of the jungle might become quite an inhospitable place! However–and this is important to note–in real life, you live inside your domain all the time, no matter what condition it’s in, whether you know it or not.
So, in real life, NOT exercising dominion over your personal domain is like sitting, oblivious, on your own jungle parcel…living among ever-thicker weeds, vines, and thorns…while adjacent landowners ignore your boundaries…and you wonder why you lack “friendship and trust”.
The Boundaries of Your Realm
“Exercising dominion over your domain” is also known as defining and enforcing your personal boundaries. Interestingly, you can only exercise your dominion to the degree that 1) you are aware that you have it and 2) you believe that you can use it!
Weeds, vines, and thorns don’t have to grow up over the “lost cities” within your realm. You can uproot them or hack them down. Your neighbors don’t have to encroach upon the edges of your parcel. You can build fences to keep out “danger” and “evil”–with gates to allow “friendship and trust” and “beauty” and “good” to enter.
Where, then, do these boundaries exist? What is the extent of one’s personal domain? At what point do neighbors begin to trespass on it if boundaries aren’t enforced?
Where, indeed, do “I” end and “you” begin? This is how a recovering codependent, people-pleaser, fixer, enabler, and/or target of Narcissistic abuse might ask the question.
One’s domain ends with the extent of one’s own personal responsibility for oneself…and for others who depend upon oneself (the ones who can’t be responsible for themselves). Every mature adult is responsible for his or her own domain. By the same token, no one is responsible for another mature adult’s domain.
These realms of life are part of nearly every adult’s personal domain:
personal hygiene, belongings and property, procuring room and board, choice and acquisition of clothing, receiving medical care, getting to work, doing one’s job, handling financial matters, getting an education or training, child care, and responsibility for all of the above with one’s own child(ren)
The violation of another person’s domain through deception, coercion, or force is called abuse. Taking another person’s responsibilities upon oneself is called enabling. Both are results of a mature adult not exercising dominion.
Boundaries, then, work in both directions: they keep others from violating our domain, even as they prevent us from violating theirs. Exercising dominion causes us to honor everyone’s boundaries, not only our own.
Honoring personal boundaries is called respect.
The Expanding Domain
Note that one’s own children are within one’s own domain. Note also, however, that one’s own children are also within the domain of the children’s other parent. This presents many opportunities to honor (or violate) each other’s boundaries.
Note also that every child has his or her own personal domain, which starts out very small and expands as the child learns, grows, and matures. From birth, even the smallest child has a domain that exists within the boundaries of (but also independently of) his or her parents’ domains.
This fact has great importance in the raising of children who will become emotionally and psychologically healthy (mature) adults.
A mature adult has a responsibility to honor the boundaries of his or her own domain. Exercising dominion causes us also to honor other people’s boundaries, which prevents us from either abusing or enabling others. In turn, we teach our children by our example to respect others (and themselves), and we allow them to become mature.
Like Tarzan, the mature adult can say, “This is my domain, and I protect those who come here”–for you are the Lord or Lady of your piece of the jungle of life.