Stop Yourself Reacting To Other People When They Push Your Buttons

We all know what it feels like to have our buttons pushed. Something happens, that seems to take us over, every muscle in our body tightens up and we turn into somebody no one wants to be around.

Steve was in a rush to get to the store but someone else took the parking space he had is eye on. His button had been pushed. He was going to let the other driver know how mad he made him and that he couldn't get away with taking his car park space. Leaping out of the car he started waving his fists and swearing at the other driver who was taken aback in shock.

In his anger, it didn't occur to Steve that the other driver did not have a personal vendetta against him. He had just been told his department at work was about to be re-organized making him angry and fearful even before he reached the store. The final straw was the other driver and Steve allowed him to push a button which was ready to be triggered by almost anything. Steve's reaction was an immediate and emotional response, with little thought to the consequences.

As he got back in the car his stomach was tied up in knots, his heart racing, he put his head in his clammy and sweaty hands. A thought popped into his head, 'what was that all about, I am so ashamed of my behavior'.

Changing Your Behavior The more you know about what is likely to push your buttons, the more you can anticipate your reaction and be ready with simple tactics. Often something has happened just before you started to become defensive. It is easy to blame others - the boss, family, colleagues, the economy, debts; anyone but ourselves. Many people recognise the warning signs that trouble may be brewing. The problem is that most of us rarely listen to them. Instead most of us choose to ignore them, until we over react.

Warning signs that you might be susceptible to button pushing:

Extreme tiredness, inability to relax, difficulty in sleeping, overactive mind, feeling very disconnected from yourself and others

Waking up in the morning and wanting to go straight back to sleep

Worried about health, money or work

Anxious about specific issues

Easily distracted and having difficulty concentrating

What are your warning signs?

STOP! Recognizing these signs will help you to spot when your buttons are more likely to be pushed, so you can do something about it. When you feel one of your buttons being pushed, pause and say nothing.

- if you feel angry, count to ten before you speak

- if you are boiling over count to a hundred

What may feel like hours, will probably last only a few seconds.

Begin with yourself

Most of us find it is hard enough to change ourselves. It is even more difficult to change others. So if you're getting stressed other people's actions, change how you react, rather than expecting others to change. As you change, watch people change around you!

Say No! Don't take on more than you can handle

Say 'no' to other people, especially when it will make your life more stressful than you want. Take responsibility for what you can and can't cope with. I know that when I start to become short tempered, it is time to take a look at how much I have on my plate. If I take on too much, I expect to get everything done on time. The reality is that I often don't manage this because I have placed excessive pressures on myself, or allowed others to do so. I may shout at others unnecessarily. I may react in this way because I feel that I am out of control.

Kids

No one pushes our buttons like our children. You may want to let them know how angry they are making you, so end up yelling at them and giving a punishment that is totally unrealistic. If you recognise that you are about to react, keep your lips firmly sealed. Step away from the situation for a while and think through your options. Go for a walk. Just a 15 minutes walk is enough to unfreeze your brain so you gain a different perspective.

This does not mean your child's behavior should be accepted. You may still need to set limits on their behavior but without yelling. Defuse your button and be the parent your kids need. If you react irrationally, you cannot expect your children to behave rationally and cooperatively.

Put yourself first

I have noticed that when I am calm and relaxed it is much easier to deal with anything that life throws at me. To become calm I have often needed to put myself first. If you are relaxed you will recognize when someone is pushing your buttons. When I'm tired or stressed, I'm more likely to allow others to push my buttons, just like Steve. If you are tired or stressed, you won't be alert enough to stop yourself reacting to others.

Discover the power of laughter

If you get tense, the negative energy will increase. You can't laugh and be angry at the same time. It's impossible! As soon as you start laughing, the power of whatever is making you feel uptight gets less. Don't take life so seriously, everyone has challenges in their lives and so will you.

Carolyn Matheson is a nationally recognized Coach, Speaker and Author of "Yes to Less Stress."

Carolyn is a Master Certified Coach, and works with executives and their teams across the world. She has pioneered an innovative approach to coaching, combining many years of high performance coaching with a holistic approach to work/life balance and has coached hundreds of leaders and their teams. Her experience as a presenter, both nationally and internationally, spans 20 years, with clients currently in Europe, Australia, the Middle and Far East, and the USA.

Her book, Yes to Less Stress is available online from http://www.areustressed.com

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