We first experience this conflict between satisfying our own needs and considering the needs of others around the age of two as we begin to discover our place in the family group. The level of self esteem we develop at that age and the way we judge our worth in regard to other people sets the stage for the next crisis period in our human struggle. That crisis period occurs at teenage as we break away from the control of our parents and face the give and take of fitting into the wider community. But the basic struggle continues throughout life and affects all our relationships with other people. Therefore it’s important to understand how to use conflict to strengthen relationships.
Peace of mind and a sense of satisfaction in relationships result from striking a balance between these two needs. Not from giving or from gaining, but from a balance of the two. The further we stray from that balance, in either direction, the more stressed the relationship becomes. Regardless of whether we call it balance, justice or equality, it’s necessary for peace and happiness in relationships involving two people or a million people. In practice, the balance is better described as an average rather than a constant. It could even be thought of as dynamic because of rapid variations but the important thing is that the people involved have a sense that there is balance between their need to belong and their need to be an individual. People in such relationships stand tall as individuals who belong. And for many, that extends to include their relationship with nature and the cosmos.