Everyday Dilemma: Should I follow my urge to take control of this project, do it my way, efficiently and quickly, and risk a fight? Or should I just breathe deep, surrender to my partner’s way, and opt to keep the peace to get the project done?

My mom and dad never fought over cooking. But they never stopped fighting over what to buy at the grocery store. My mom loved chicken. My dad wouldn’t eat it. My dad loved steak. My mom didn’t like cooking two main entrees. Without fighting about it, they collaborated. She cooked two main courses giving them both what they wanted – even though it cost her time. He bought the best kind of chicken – whatever she liked – even though he wouldn’t touch it. It worked for them.

But, my mom loved the designer box of Kleenex – the pretty little ones with the colored flowers and patterns. My dad liked the economy kind in big plain ugly boxes. She resented the ugly box and the scratchy tissues. He railed against an unnecessary extravagance to blow your nose. My mom loved the taste of Pepperidge Farm cookies. My dad loved the vanilla sandwich cookies in those large economy bags. She wanted beauty and goodness around her - today. He wanted to save money so they could live comfortably – in the future. They fought over this all the time.

In fact, my parents fought a lot – about a lot of things. I watched and learned. ‘You’re not the boss o’me’ became the household slogan. Whose idea was right? Whose project was best? Who was the brightest, cleverest, and funniest? My later relationships were carbon copies of this truly unpleasant pattern. I didn’t know collaboration also brought success. Working together and giving someone else the lead could be fun - not just failure and a loss of face.

One summer day my partner and I were making a spaghetti dinner for 15 people. We hadn’t decided who was chef and who was sous-chef. We got into a horrendous fight over the proper way to cut up the onions for the sauce!

The kitchen was our boxing ring. We fought over the most effective way to fill the dishwasher, the most efficient placement of the plates and bowls in the cupboard, the best way to stuff a turkey. It wasn’t fun, but it was stimulating and intense - two things I surmised from my parents meant intimacy and love. But without the balancing ingredient of collaboration, intimacy and love kept moving beyond my reach.

It took a while to understand competition and collaboration are two sides of the same coin. They are complementary, not antagonistic; interdependent, not independent. At first, I’d collaborate too much and get resentful. Then I’d fall back into competing and get frustrated. Finally, I developed the knack for balancing the two by flowing between them.

Relationship isn’t one or the other. It’s both competition and collaboration. Understanding the paradoxical nature of life’s dance frees the heart to more easily open, and grace you and me with love and compassion. After all, it’s not easy being human.

Author's Bio: 

Ragini Elizabeth Michaels, author & International Trainer of NLP & Hypnosis, offers her 3rd book on how to better navigate duality even as you strive to move beyond it - Unflappable - 6-Steps To Staying Happy, Centered, & Peaceful No Matter What. Ragini offers a FREE VIDEO SERIES from her website www.RaginiMichaels.com as well as on-line trainings to support your integrating her original 6-Step Process into your brain and body.