There is a self-evident truth in the world that about half the people you meet in your life will annoy you. Social media developed that much to allow the average Joe to have virtual conversation, instead of face to face. But it’s not always possible to go through life with your eyes glued to your phone screen and your ears plugged into your headphones. In fact, it is not even healthy.
One of the basic tenets of social connection is our ability to deal with interactions we preferred not to have. It is a sign of maturity when you learn the healthy techniques of how to deal with people who push your buttons. They know exactly what to say or do to transform you from a calm and happy person into a seething, mouth-frothing maniac.
Quite often the best button-pushers are the people closest to you — your spouse, children, and close friends. But other people can push your buttons too — often without even knowing what they are doing.
What are those damned buttons anyway, and why are they so sensitive to pressure? These buttons are emotionally volatile, reactive places within us that cause us to have negative feelings of frustration or anger — often out of proportion to the offense.
Here are some of the signs:
– Someone makes an off-hand remark, and it causes you to bristle or feel wounded.
– Your spouse says that you didn’t do as you promised. And on top of that, they criticize the way you do things.
– A friend forgets to call you or include you in something, and you immediately want to give them a piece of your mind.
– Your mother remarks on how you are ‘teaching’ your children or maintaining your home, and you want to scream at her about your miserable childhood.
Whether or not the offending party made an intentional jab to get a rise out of you, or it was a remark made in complete innocence. The sting is painful and your urge to retaliate is overwhelming. It’s one of the most natural human reactions.
None of us are immune from this — not psychologists, coaches, mentors, self-help gurus, monks, nor ministers. I’m embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve sat in my car or lingered in the shower plotting my evil little plans to set someone straight. It isn’t a pretty quality.
It takes a lot of restraint and self-awareness to deal with button-pushing in a healthy, positive way.
So, what can you do to prevent yourself from responding poorly?
Here are 4 ways to deal with those Buttons:
When the words have been spoken, typed, or texted — breathe. Count to 100. Walk away. Excuse yourself from the room. Do whatever you can to create time and space between the comment and your immediate feelings.
Always have in mind: “The tongue like a sharp knife… It kills without drawing blood.”
Those little buttons are really all about you, even if the pusher intentionally pushed the heck out of them. They are places where something ill is going on inside of you — some place of insecurity, fear, low self-esteem, or unmet needs. Take a long look at yourself before you explode on others. What you do and speak says a lot about you.
3. Practice Peace
Before you encounter your next button-pushing episode, make a conscious decision about the person you want to be. You have the power to be a peacemaker in this world by seeking to rise above your emotional reactions.
“Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.” – Buddha
4. Establish Boundaries
Sometimes there are people in our lives who take perverse pleasure in watching us squirm or lose control. It makes them feel better to make us feel bad. These are the people you must let go of in your life. They drain you of energy and joy. Read about 10 behaviors toxic people display before revealing themselves HERE.
Some people will bottle up an issue and knowing our vulnerabilities, they will go for the jugular in order to make a point or stir the pot. If this happens with people you love and want to keep in your life, then you need to kindly but firmly establish your boundaries.
When a button is pushed for you, try to view it as an opportunity for self-awareness, healing, honesty, and growth. Reflect yourself in those moments, because you react to those buttons. Mirror your inner self and learn more about you.