Friday, April 30, 2010

Guest Post: Stopping yourself when you react to others pushing your buttons

Author: Carolyn Matheson
Twitter: @capcoach

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 his 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 behaviour'.

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.

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.

  • Easily distracted and having difficulty concentrating. What are your warning signs?

Suggestions to stop you reacting to other people

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

  • No one pushes our buttons like our children. 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

About the author:

Carolyn Matheson is a Master Certified Coach, and works with executives and their teams across the world. She is one of the world’s leading executive coaches whose world turned upside down 5 years ago when diagnosed with a chronic illness.