The saying, “he or she pushes my buttons”, explains a typical scenario existing in today’s relationships. Pushing one’s buttons is the act of activating emotions that we have suppressed since our childhood. People Development addresses this as a core teaching in its coaching methodology. This promotes a sense of personal mastery in day- to- day living if we want to have less stress and better relationships.
What are ‘buttons’? Where do they come from and how do they work? How do we stop people from pushing or activating our ‘buttons’?
Buttons are emotional hurts or slights from our past that have helped shaped our beliefs and views about ourselves and others. Understanding how our thoughts are creative and how they work with our emotions creating our belief system, results in button identification
Now that we are adults, when a ‘button’ is pushed, we react defensively or by attacking whoever pushed our button. These buttons are tender, and when they are pushed, it feels like a stick being poked in a wound. The negative reaction always creates a negative result that we do not want. This kind of behavior, in any relationship, takes us off purpose from achieving what we want. In fact, it is a distraction and diverts our attention away from our focus.
Where Do Buttons Come From?
Buttons are 10 – 20 % of our existence; the rest of us is fine. Buttons can keep you awake at night until you heal them. Because they are wounds within us they are magnified and take over up a lot of our focus. Buttons come from our fears and inner worries. When they are activated, we are afraid that we will be attacked or ridiculed so we try to protect ourselves by defending ourselves. When a ‘button’ is “pushed”, it affects our behavior and usually creates a result we do not want. A negative result in our life creates stress in the form of anxiety, disruption of sleep and a general sense of uneasiness and unwellness.
We are the result of everyone who was around us during our developmental years. We could be described as a “psychic sponge”, absorbing all thoughts, emotions, etc. around us and, for whatever reason; we take on certain thoughts and negativity that form our view of who we are and how we fit into life.
We don’t inherit buttons instead the conditions to create buttons occur, and it is the emotional reaction to these buttons that create an emotional pattern that can be handed down from generation to generation.
Feelings play a big part in growing buttons. If we are sad or angry and resentful when we initially feel wounded that is the starting point of the button growing. Usually the emotion is forbidden and we are punished for expressing it. This becomes the fuel to grow the button. Emotions are just energy but we do not realize that when we are young. Our families and our society have certain taboos about feelings.
The old expression big boys don’t cry and nice girls do not get angry are two of the messages in our society.
This suppressed emotion can be laced with guilt/shame as well. This makes us fearful. We are in emotional survival. We carry this fear with us into adult life and it is activated regularly when our buttons are pushed.
We react different ways when a button is pushed. We could stop talking, shut down, internalize and fester quietly or get belligerent, verbally attack and then strive to get even.
All of our reactions to our ‘buttons’ create negative or unproductive behaviors. We create the negative result we do not want but our defense of the button will actually block us in being able to change the result that would be positive and more productive. Our stress level rises as that old wound that keeps us in emotional survival.
Relationship between Buttons and Fear
Buttons always come from a fearful state. We have become a society of worriers because of our fear and we do not realize that we are being driven by this fear. It seems like such a natural state of being to us to have our beliefs and react when others are challenging them. To get the relief we are looking for we must understand and control our buttons so that we are no longer creating unnecessary upset within ourselves and in our relationships with others who push our buttons. The first step is to overcome our buttons and understand how much our self created fear is controlling us. We can then think of fear as F.E.A.R. False Evidence Appearing Real. If we can access our fears and identify the beliefs we developed because of them we can find a new way to look at our fears, and feel like we have more control of them. Once our fears and emotions are identified; our fears lessen. This is the goal. Become more and more fearless and have less stress.
Accessing Your Fears
Your fears are you buttons in disguise!
The first step to access your own fear buttons is to pay attention to your feelings. For example if you walk out of a meeting seething with anger because of what someone said to you the first question to ask yourself is How are I feeling right now? Then move on to Why am I feeling this way? What do I think it meant about me when he or she attacked me? Therein lies the key to accessing your fear buttons. Were you embarrassed? Did you feel stupid? Not good enough? Or misunderstood? These are buttons you are identifying here by asking yourself these questions. They control you. By accessing them you are talking the first step in you controlling them.
Reacting to buttons is living life by default because they control you. When you live life by default you are not in control, life just happens. You are unconsciously fighting the energy flow of life.
Each fear can be accessed through this very thorough questioning process guided by your People Development coach. These questions help you feel the emotions that have kept you stuck and anchored your belief system. Remember a ‘button’ is grown as a child formed with a child’s limited life experience, intellect and self knowing and is misaligned with an adult’s world filled with responsibilities, hopes and dreams. But as long as it remains sub consciously buried within you the adult there will be a continued reaction to the ‘buttons’.
A button takes you to a place of not accepting yourself or not loving self. You cannot connect with your true self, which is known as your ‘essence’. Accessing your essence, whether through meditation, walks in nature, your chosen religion or spiritual activities, is what sets the conditions for inner peace and inner happiness..
Buttons are always specific to the person. One person’s Failure Button is not the same as another’s. It may not even be called the same thing. Also, what stimulates a button in one person might not stimulate the same button in someone else. We are unique!
Suppressed emotions (like sadness) enable our buttons to continue to control us. That’s why there is a Breathwork exercise recommended with People Development coaching, Breathwork exercises help unstick these emotions, either as well as gain valuable insights that bring more clarity about a particular button and the event where it was created. Seeing this through an adults intellect instead of a child’ minds shines a whole new light on how to fine tune your belief system to work better for you as an adult...Once the feelings are experienced and accepted as an important part of you, denial is released and so are the blocks. The button can then be controlled by you. The breathwork process deactivates your buttons and desensitizes them and similar to the healing of a wound only leave a small scar. In other words, your ‘buttons’ become desensitized and they no longer control you or your behavior. You control the button and something good changes in the interactions with others.
The Good News
Your buttons are not bad and you are not bad for having them. They serve you at a high level by teaching you something important and instigating you to grow. There is a good part to the buttons. For example a failure button drives you to be successful. When you are no longer in painful reaction to the failure part of the button you continue to grow and be successful without the anxiety connected to the failure button.
How to Identify Our Buttons
The easiest way is to identify your buttons is to acknowledge when you feel bad or fearful and then ask yourself, “what am I afraid of and why? What is the worst thing that can happen? This kind of self-query brings relief, which encourages you see how irrational your beliefs are when you are afraid.
A People Development coach can teach you how to develop a strong reflective skill that enlightens you without putting you through a beating- up- of- self process.
• Living Life by Default*
When you live life by default you are not in control, life just happens -- not practicing self mastery. You are unconscious, fighting the energy flow and self
If you don’t know your buttons, you’re living by default; you’re reacting to your buttons
Knowing your buttons enables you to monitor your behaviors
Understanding your buttons puts you on your life’s journey, which becomes a spiritual journey. Learning is daily.
stupid powerless lack
wrong responsible alone
not good enough Bad betrayal
controlled disregarded invisible
failure Ugly unimportant
unlovable Unsafe unworthy/worthless