What pushes your buttons?
Your natural instinct when someone or something pushes your buttons may be to place blame, but in reality, in most cases WE are the ones with the issue, and that button pushing moment is an opportunity for you to learn something about yourself that needs to change.
The first step in the scientific method is to state the problem. The same way, if you want inner peace, to come to an end of anxiety, worry, feeling annoyed, complaining, anger (or any negative emotion, really) you need to be aware of what your triggers are. What pushes your buttons and sets you off? What are the catalysts for you transforming from a rational you, into someone who is angry, stressed, bitter.
I took my students through this exercise, and many of them would have loved to spend the class period talking through it.
I shared a couple of examples with them of what were once my triggers and how I now choose to do something about it rather than allow them to set me off on an emotional downward spiral.
Distractions are a trigger for me and frustrate me greatly. I have attention deficit disorder, and it is pretty significant. It used to be, someone would interrupt me and probably say that I overacted and maybe even seemed irrational. I’m wired very differently than most! Those with true ADD, like me, actually have the gift of being able to hyper-focus on a task and give it such great attention. Especially when I’m doing something creative such as writing or teaching an engaging lesson. It’s like I get in this unexplainable amazing zone where I almost feel I become a channel and I’m being used as an instrument to reach others. When I get interrupted or distracted, I can start to feel like I’m going to come unglued because the magic is gone. Any creative will understand exactly what I’m saying. You go from this extreme high of flowing these amazing thoughts and don’t want it to end, then someone or something causes it to come to a screeching halt. Instead of losing my temper and erupting at the interruption, I can ask myself, “what can I do about this?” and go into problem-solving mode.
The answer to distractions and interruptions is always either to let others around you know you need quiet and to be able to focus (communication) or minimize the distractions. This has helped me so much, I can’t tell you. I will let my family know when I am working on something that I need to really concentrate on. Often my husband will watch the girls so I have quiet time or take one child while another is napping which gives me that space. But only if I communicate!
Another button pusher for me is hurrying. When I’m forced to hurry, I get extremely anxious and can even become anxious to the point I get angry. Of course the answer to not being in a rush is to allow yourself plenty of time. I get up early, get ready earlier than necessary, and leave earlier than needed. Now I rarely ever find myself in a hurry because I know to give myself plenty of time prevents it. It’s like the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” There are times when I’m in one lane traffic and someone will tailgate me, creating that rushed feeling, or someone may physically tailgate me. I was walking in the hall that connects my school’s front office to our guidance department with a full hot cup of coffee with no lid (I probably should get a cup with a lid). I heard very rapid footsteps behind me. Obviously someone in a hurry. In the past, I would get really anxious and feel like I needed to hurry up. Now I just step aside, smile, and say “you go ahead” and then I get to keep my peace and walk at the speed I choose! In my car, I pull over and let the bumper rider get in front of me, then I can drive at my pace without that fear or pressure.
Many of my students commented that it was SOMEONE who pushed their buttons. In almost every case when it is someone who is pushing your buttons, the solution is to create distance with that individual. Minimize interactions with them to the extent possible, in person and on social media. They were relieved to hear the advice and that if it was someone near their locker, we could move their locker, or in class, to let the teacher know and we could change their seat, even their schedule in some cases if the effect is that significant.
Here is the exercise for you: Create a two-column chart. On the left, list anything that pushes your buttons. On the right, list what you can do about it. This is so eye-opening. It can be a huge game changer and totally free you if you allow it.
Some turn to food, drugs, exercise or venting to relieve stress, but the best method is to identify your stressor, what pushes your buttons. Once you are aware, be a problem solver and decide what you can do about it. Solution-focused vs. problem-focused.