How are your buttons being pushed?
LIVING NATURALLY with Olwen Anderson
IDLY waiting in the post office queue, the toy with a "Try me!” sticker caught my attention.
A hole cut in the packaging was just big enough to push the button and create a noise loud enough to make everyone around me turn around to look. It made me think of the metaphorical buttons we can all wear from time to time; the ones that seem to control our reactions but don't have to.
Ever heard the term 'that person really pushed my buttons'? It just means they've (unconsciously or deliberately) located a way to make you respond in a particular way. Somehow, people close to you can learn intuitively how to generate a reaction.
Children especially seem to have an uncanny ability to locate these buttons on their parents. In response they get anger, or a hug, or perhaps they know you'll cave in on their request if they repeatedly push the same button.
It can seem that you have no choice but to respond in a pre-defined way when someone in your life pushes your buttons. That you are helpless to respond in any other way except the way you have in the past.
But in reality, how you choose to respond to another person actually puts you in a far more powerful position than you might think.
Victor Frankl, a psychotherapist and survivor of internment in the Holocaust, put it well: he pointed out that his captors could never take away his power of choice in how to respond.
You also have this power too if you want to learn how to use it. The key is to be present enough to notice when your particular emotional buttons are being pushed.
You might sense a flash of emotion burst forth when it happens. For example, while hunting down a car parking spot, someone cheekily pushes ahead into the space you've been waiting for.
Your emotional button labelled "How dare you” lights up, and you automatically reach towards that big loud button situated in the centre of most steering wheels. Anger ensues and your mood plummets. Instead, you could decide to just let it go. Move on, knowing another parking spot will open up.
What's the reward if you choose to notice your automatic emotional reaction and this time, respond differently? In letting something like this go, you get to enjoy life more, spend your day in a better mood.
Worth the trouble, don't you think?
Olwen Anderson is a Murwillumbah-based naturopath and counsellor. Find out more at www.olwenanderson.com.au