I read a quote a few days ago that said something like, "The problem is rarely the problem. The problem is usually the reaction to the problem."
I've been noticing lately that what seems to cause conflict in relationships - at work, at home, between friends, etc - is the response to a person's insecurity.
We're all insecure at times. This will drive us to do really stupid and drastic things to protect ourselves that we might not otherwise do, but insecurity is not really rational. And so we do the thing we never thought we'd do, or we say the thing we never thought we'd say. Did we mean to do or say it? It seems as though it were driven by a different side of us. Which is true, in a way. Our instincts rise up and it's fight or flight and we react. It's never classy when this happens. We're usually ashamed of our behavior later.
I think our reaction to someone's insecurity is where we spur the frightened beast and the problem then escalates and becomes the problem. Rather than recognize it, we can react back and make it worse.
I can't control the behavior of others, but I can control my response to their behavior. By believing that the reaction is the problem, I can usually take someone's insecurity and calm it with an even-handed response.
Cool hands, warm heart - isn't that the saying?