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What to Do When Someone Pushes Your Buttons

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We are all each other's teachers, and in all our relationships -- from family to colleagues to friends to romantic partners -- there are going to be times when our buttons get pushed. When someone does something that affects you in a negative way, what is your response? Do you lash back and attempt to get even? Do you stuff your feelings away and stew in your upset? Do you stand strong in your opinion that you are right and they are wrong and wait for them to apologize? Or is it a combination of all three?

I recently served as someone's button-pusher after I made a request of him that he found upsetting. Caught off guard, the coach/nurturer in me immediately wanted to make it better. However, I know that the best thing to do when I've pushed someone's buttons (which consequently pushes my own buttons of fearing that I am not liked) is to take responsibility for myself and give the other person space.

Fortunately he is someone who is committed to growth, and took the time he needed to process what happened. When he called me the next day to explain how my request made him feel and what it triggered, share what he learned and make a request of me, it was done from an incredibly authentic and neutral place. There was no blame. That made it possible for me to really hear and understand, communicate vulnerably my experience, and be totally open and willing to meet his request.

This beautiful communication was possible because we both chose to take personal responsibility rather than taking things personally.

My encouragement to you is to make the same choice whenever your buttons get pushed. Take responsibility for your upset. Know that the other person did not cause you to feel the way you are feeling. We are all 100 percent responsible for how we feel.

Set aside time to process what you are feeling on your own, rather than lashing out, pulling away, stuffing it while pretending everything is okay or immediately attempting to talk it through with the other person when you are still feeling sad or angry. (Trust me, communication is way easier after you've worked your process.)

Are you willing to choose personal responsibility over taking things personally? I certainly hope so! Here is an 10-step process you can use when your buttons get pushed:

  1. Find some time to be alone and allow yourself to feel whatever feelings are coming up for you. Be vulnerable with yourself by dropping out of righteousness and blame. Your upset has a valuable gift in store for you, but you will not receive it if you play the role of victim.
  2. Discover the bottom line hurt you are experiencing. For instance, do you feel rejected? Misunderstood? Abandoned? Left out? Not enough? It is probably a familiar feeling that you have experienced before and you have a beautiful opportunity to bring some healing to it.
  3. Ask yourself what this experience is triggering inside of you. What does it remind you of? When have you felt this way in the past? One of the main reasons we experience a big upset over something small is because the buttons that get pushed have been there for a while.
  4. Determine the meaning you are giving to what happened. For instance, the person doesn't respect your feelings. Relationships are too much work. Other people are selfish. You were right and they were wrong. You never get what you want. You need to protect yourself -- etc.
  5. Move into compassion for all the feelings and meaning-making that you are experiencing. Hold space for yourself the way you would a friend who was sharing vulnerably with you. When you feel fully expressed emotionally and mentally, move onto the next step.
  6. Ask yourself if the meaning you are giving to what happened is truly serving you. Is it supporting you in growing, opening your heart, and communicating authentically? Most likely the answer is "no," because the initial meaning we give to something when we are hurt does not come from an empowering place.
  7. Forgive yourself for any limiting beliefs, misunderstandings, or judgments of someone else -- such as: "I forgive myself for judging myself as rejected," "I forgive myself for buying into the misunderstanding that I can't trust others," "I forgive myself for judging X as selfish and controlling," and so on...
  8. Acknowledge yourself for taking a very self-honoring step and going through this process.
  9. Move into gratitude for this growth experience and extract the lessons you received from this upset. What did it teach you? What opportunity to heal did it give you? How can you use it for your growth and upliftment?
  10. Share authentically with the person who triggered the upset what you experienced, what you are taking responsibility for and what you learned.

Communicating from this place takes courage. It takes courage to get out of your own reactive patterns. It takes courage to process your own upset rather than looking to someone else to blame and/or make it better for you. It takes courage to communicate authentically from a place of vulnerability.

If you are courageous when your buttons get pushed you will break reactive patterns that will elevate intimacy, confidence, authentic self-expression and love in your life. Give yourself and all the button-pushers in your life the gift of working your own process and the quality of all your relationships will be lifted.

For more by Christine Hassler, click here.

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