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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 musclein our body tightens up and we turn into somebody no onewants to be around.

Steve was in a rush to get to the store but someone elsetook the parking space he had is eye on. His button had beenpushed. He was going to let the other driver know how mad hemade him and that he couldn't get away with taking his carpark space. Leaping out of the car he started waving hisfists and swearing at the other driver who was taken abackin shock.

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

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 sweatyhands. A thought popped into his head, 'what was that allabout, I am so ashamed of my behavior'.

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

Warning signs that you might be susceptible to buttonpushing:

Extreme tiredness, inability to relax, difficulty insleeping, overactive mind, feeling very disconnected fromyourself and others

Waking up in the morning and wanting to go straight backto 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 yourbuttons are more likely to be pushed, so you can dosomething about it. When you feel one of your buttons beingpushed, 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 fewseconds.

Begin with yourself

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

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

Say 'no' to other people, especially when it will make yourlife more stressful than you want. Take responsibility forwhat you can and can't cope with. I know that when I startto become short tempered, it is time to take a look at howmuch I have on my plate. If I take on too much, I expect toget everything done on time. The reality is that I oftendon't manage this because I have placed excessive pressureson myself, or allowed others to do so. I may shout at othersunnecessarily. I may react in this way because I feel that Iam out of control.


No one pushes our buttons like our children. You may want tolet them know how angry they are making you, so end upyelling at them and giving a punishment that is totallyunrealistic. If you recognise that you are about to react,keep your lips firmly sealed. Step away from the situationfor a while and think through your options. Go for a walk.Just a 15 minutes walk is enough to unfreeze your brain soyou 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 butwithout yelling. Defuse your button and be the parent yourkids need. If you react irrationally, you cannot expect yourchildren to behave rationally and cooperatively.

Put yourself first

I have noticed that when I am calm and relaxed it is mucheasier to deal with anything that life throws at me. Tobecome calm I have often needed to put myself first. If youare relaxed you will recognize when someone is pushing yourbuttons. When I'm tired or stressed, I'm more likely toallow others to push my buttons, just like Steve. If you aretired or stressed, you won't be alert enough to stopyourself reacting to others.

Discover the power of laughter

If you get tense, the negative energy will increase. Youcan't laugh and be angry at the same time. It's impossible!As soon as you start laughing, the power of whatever ismaking you feel uptight gets less. Don't take life soseriously, everyone has challenges in their lives and sowill 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 theworld. She has pioneered an innovative approach to coaching,combining many years of high performance coaching with aholistic approach to work/life balance and has coachedhundreds of leaders and their teams. Her experience as apresenter, both nationally and internationally, spans 20years, with clients currently in Europe, Australia, theMiddle and Far East, and the USA.

Her book, Yes to Less Stress is available online from

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