In the midst of a meditation some time ago, it occurred to me that focusing on a subject may be better understood if we think of three kinds of focusing: microscopic ("my life"), binocular ( our lives and the times we live in), and telescopic ( lives as understood via history, philosophy, religion etc.).
This piece will use the microscopic lens and the binocular lens to examine conflict on the level of our everyday experience. There is relevance here for the larger picture, but that will have to wait for now.
In the office, or anywhere on the job, or at home we sometimes find ourselves in a conflictual situation. Early on in our relationship ( now more than 40 years in the process), my wife and I could argue about which way to cross the street. At the curb, with the lights changing, and traffic rolling by, we could literally tug at each other to go "my" way; which of course, was as anyone in their right mind could see, was the "right" way.
How do you make sense out of that? If you look at the scene via the language of drama, you see the conflict. Leaving complex theory to the side, a simple explanation is that each of us was "acting" as the protagonist (hero or heroine) of our own life drama, expecting the other to take the supporting, cooperative role. We were not aware of the dynamic, we were on automatic pilot.
Each of us was operating with this in mind: I am at the corner, this is the way I cross the street. Why won't you just go along with me?
Before you say this is silly, up the ante to where to go on vacations, or can I take a new job that requires a move, or should we really buy this house? In these struggles, we have a tendency to feel misunderstood, and to translate that feeling into not being "really" loved. Issues of identity spring up, and ancient struggles with parents emerge.
But it is the Identity issue that gets challenged in ways that seem to hurt us, and generate the kind of anger that surprises us both. How we think about our identity and exploring new ways to think about that will be the subject next time.