Conflict is the heart of movies and plays, and (some feel) relationships themselves.
Couples sometimes pick fights just to re‑connect. It may be better than repression and denial, but the results are not always energizing; sometimes there’s a better way to get through the middle (as opposed to skirting around the edge) of a conflict.
From the next table in the restaurant, I overheard the closing dialogue of a conversation that had been going on for some time (might have been for few years). “You, sir,” (she pauses) “are a wet blanket!” They don’t look like they will be coming to blows later. “I sense, dear” he says, using her same tone as they rose to leave, “that you (pause) are in the mood to burn.”
The Tale Wagged
Good stuff! I had to jot that one down, for sure. (Maybe they were writers.) They were doing conflict nicely, telling the “opponent” how they felt, what was important to them, responding with respect for the other person, sweeping nothing under the carpet, yet no one was throwing sand either. That kind of dialogue is the exception, not the rule. Usually fights are punishing contests, revenge fests, destructive, bloody, indelible.
What do you do when you’re feeling mad, deceived and/or hurt? More importantly, do you have tools for resolving conflict usefully? For me, if I see I’m worn out by close hand‑to‑hand combat with a friend, my spouse, or a co‑worker, resolution is near. Around the same time, it also dawns on me that, in some sense, I’ve been enjoying the excitement generated by my little soap‑opera. And then, for some reason, on the heels of these two realizations comes a small shift toward a less conflictual angle of vision: what’s going on inside of me becomes more interesting than winning the contest; what’s going on below the surface of the other person becomes more interesting, too, than being right. Fortunately, my inner attitude sometimes shifts to Curiosity, the perspective I have when watching a good thriller, reading a mystery, or even doing puzzles of various kinds.