When in a fight of any kind, over anything, we look over at the other person and "see" - almost magically - exactly what's wrong with him or her in that moment. So confident are we in our conclusion as to the nature of their problem - that the following has almost no chance to dawn on us:
We can't see that person is looking at us in this exact same kind of "light"... that is not a light at all. Negative reactions have no awareness of themselves; there is no light in them, any more than a cluster of bombs has compassion for whatever they fall on and destroy.
What we need in these moments is the light of a new kind of understanding. We need to awaken to, and realize a higher level of awareness that allows us to appreciate two things at once: first, to see that just like us, the other person is in some kind of pain and is being moved, just as we are, to find someone to blame for it. In other words, the same negative forces are at work in both of us. And second, even though these opposing forces are blind, that doesn't mean that we have to be! The more we can wake up to the presence of these unconscious forces and how, undetected, they keep us at odds with one another, the freer we become to love without their limitations.
When we're negative - in a "power struggle" with someone over whatever is being contested - we're reduced to being little more than a puppet. We're literally "strung out" - momentarily animated - by unseeing forces in us that can only do one thing: mechanically oppose whatever seems to oppose them.
I understand this last image is not very flattering, but let's be honest: experience validates the fact of it. Each time we're drawn into a fight, it's exactly as if someone "turns out the lights." All we can "see" in that slowly enveloping darkness of our negative state is someone that we're sure it's our duty to change, control, or "make sorry" for what he or she has done to us... even as they are trying to do the same to us.
The conflict in these emotional tugs-of-war is the stuff of sorrow and take us nowhere except back and forth. If this is true, and we know it is, then, with what are we left? From where will come this new light needed in the midst of these dark moments knowing, as is obvious by now, that we can't illuminate our partner, our friends, or anyone else.
Assuming we can all agree with this last revelation - that it's not in our power to illuminate another - here's what we're left with; its simplicity is both beautiful and powerful at the same time:
If we hope to see any real transformation take place in our relationships - whether with family, friends, or our partner for life - then it is we who must become illuminated. The kindness, the patience, the love we seek is going to have to start with us... even if our best efforts get thrown right back in our face!
Challenging? No doubt - perhaps more so than anything we may have ever tried to do before. Rewarding? Let's see, and then you decide:
What if rather than allowing these blind, opposing forces to set you against another person, you could learn how to start using them; where even a hint of their pressure would not only awaken you to their presence but - in that same moment - empower you to consciously separate yourself from their punishing influences? This would be like owning a kind of spiritual "alarm clock" that goes off just before you start to blame - or resent - another; a silent but unmistakable alert system that serves, at once, to reveal and release you from the unseen parts of your own consciousness that tend to automatically oppose any unwanted moment.