One explanation is that as we are descended from hunters and are therefore aggressive, and because we don’t expend that energy hunting we take it out on ourselves and those we live with. Another clue to this natural antagonism may be that we have not learned how to sublimate enough of our aggression into culturally acceptable activities like art and physical exercise.
We certainly can make a case for aggression is the result of our American culture that puts so much pressure on us to compete and succeed. It would seem logical that the stress of modern life would bring out a more aggressive side to our personalities. Living in large cities with the intensity of living closely with others can also take its toll on our sense of well being. We read about cultures in the South Seas that seem so tranquil and after traveling to Costa Rica it sure seems to be true.
Another factor could be our upbringing. If we witnessed a free flow of aggression and criticism that we internalized into perfection and self-criticism, we may also apply the same process that we do to ourselves and to our mate. Certainly, the models that we had as children do affect the way we respond to our current relationship and certainly to our relationship with ourselves.
So what can we do about this aggression? The first thing might be to learn how to let go of or better yet work through our perfection/criticism cycle. The next best thing is to develop our compassionate, understanding, respectful and empathic side of our personality. There is, of course, taking time to rest, reflect and have fun, not to underestimate the power of meditation and recreation.
The most important part of all of this is to start looking, seeing and understanding who we are and what we do both to ourselves and others. Another is to inspect our defenses so we don’t build walls to our awareness of ourselves and what we do with those we love.