Wednesday, December 13, 2017
HOW TO PREVENT PEOPLE FROM PUSHING YOUR BUTTONS
We've all blamed others for how we feel at times. "You really make me angry!" "You hurt my feelings!" "You totally embarrassed me!" Most people don't realize that by allowing others to push our buttons and determine how we feel, we actually give away our personal power. Others decide for us how we will feel at any given moment. When I view myself as one without power (the ability to determine my own state of being) I see myself as a victim - one who is incapable of making choices for themselves. I assign that responsibility to another giving the power to determine my level of happiness, joy, love, esteem, despair, misery, rage and so forth. For me, that is something I am not at all comfortable with. I am a fully functioning adult and am capable of choosing for myself just how happy or miserable I want to be.
Anger progresses in what I refer to as the Three A's of Anger: Annoyed (the mildest form), Anger (more intense), and Aggression (out-of-control hostility and/or violence).Certainly, the mildest form is the easiest to rectify and correct. However, at the onset, many people do not address it and allow their feelings to escalate to the more severe stages. Letting others to bring us to the point where we are deeply upset or out of control is dangerous. Emotions dictate our actions and those who are enraged most typically make really poor choices, the kind that can deeply impact themselves and those around them. Therefore, it is critical that one be acutely aware of what is going on around them at all times, particularly what others are saying and/or doing, so as to monitor and choose their own feelings rather than permit others to dictate them.
Even though people can behave in an annoying, aggravating, obnoxious, or disrespectful manner, we still have the ability to prevent any and all of them from pushing our buttons and getting us angry. We can accomplish this by considering the following factors:
First: It is critical to understand that all feelings are the direct result of what we think. All emotions, including anger, come from thoughts. Throughout the day, we have hundreds or possibly thousands of experiences. In each event, we form a corresponding thought. I look outside my window and think, "My yard needs a lot of work. I hate doing yard work/I'm really looking forward to working outside today. " The phone rings and I say to myself, "That's my son calling from college. I can't wait to hear his voice/I wonder what he wants now, he's always asking for something." My internal dialogue, the voice in my head, AKA my thoughts, generate a particular feeling. I can feel depressed over the condition of my yard or angry that my husband hasn't taken care of it. Or I can look forward to making it look presentable again. I may be ecstatic over the thought of hearing my child's voice or dread it knowing he only calls asking for money. Either way, I decide how I want to feel. A simple change of thought (internal voice) changes the emotion I experience. Positive thoughts generate positive emotions. Negative begets negative.* The truth about what is occurring is irrelevant. It is only my perception that matters, how I choose to view it. Knowing this simple principle allows me to be the master of my life - I alone dictate what I think and therefore how I'll feel. My anger, or happiness, is within my choosing.
Be aware, too, of the labels we place on others for they are judgments and judgments are thoughts. I can label a cranky coworker as difficult and uncooperative (leaving me disgusted and irate) or see them as troubled or unhappy (causing feelings of compassion and understanding to surface). Their behavior can be problematic for me or not, based entirely on what thoughts I form about them.
Secondly: Remain emotionally detached. Many people take personal offense to what others are saying or doing. Few realize that one's behavior (their words or actions) are a reflection of them not you. Behavior is an external expression of what one is dealing with internally. Someone who finds fault with everything about you may be communicating their insecurities or unhappiness which are totally unrelated to you. For example, someone who is disrespectful reveals their judgmentalism, declaring that you are not worthy of reverence by their standards. An angry individual is conveying their hurt, fear or frustration disguised as outrage. They may be unaware of what they are truly feeling and anger is their default emotion with you as their direct target. (This is not acceptable and one can certainly impose boundaries in a situation such as this.)
While first learning how to remain emotionally detached, I recommend envisioning a large clear glass partition between you and the other party. Whatever offenses the other is spewing cannot penetrate the glass and impact you. As with water, their behaviors remain on their side leaving you protected from its effects. Or you can view the entire experience as them being actors on a stage: you are simply an audience to their performance and therefore are not directly impacted by what is transpiring.
One can also adopt the approach of emergency responders in the face of tragedy: they do not react emotionally. They view the situation objectively while keeping their feelings in check so as to best assist those in need. One need not assign a feeling to every event that is occurring. Some things can simply be what they are. Rain is just rain. It doesn't have to evoke a negative feeling. One can easily adjust how they are going to plan their day under their "wetter" circumstances.
As I mentioned earlier, behavior is an external expression of what one is dealing with internally. This also applies to those feelings we deem positive: one who is cheerful may be expressing their gratitude or joy for the many blessings in their life at that time. Keep in mind that each of us must own our unique actions and feelings. They belong solely to us.
Thirdly: It is critically important that in order to avoid taking personal offense one needs to fully know and appreciate themselves. Therefore, if your feelings are easily hurt, if you find yourself blaming others for how you feel, take some time and work on building a stronger sense of self. Know your inherent goodness. Recognize your attributes and strengths that God has blessed you with and develop them to their fullest capacity. Conversely, be willing to identify your weaknesses and flaws. Take full ownership for them rather than hold others accountable. Refrain from blame. Put forth a sincere effort to correct any faulty thinking patters, judgments of others, faults and flaws that you may be ashamed of or that are interfering with the quality of your life. Those attitudes and actions that do not authentically represent who you really are need to be rectified. Openly admit to your shortcomings rather than try to hide or deny them. Realize that while we are all intrinsically perfect creations of a perfect Supreme Being, we are also comprised of a human component that struggles with personal issues and imperfections. Only through our acknowledgement and willingness to grow can be become the confident, self-loving people God created us to be. There is no shame in not liking the way we behave but we can still love our inner beauty as well.
Being able to disagree with others, listen to criticism or negative comments about ourselves is only possible when one truly knows and loves themselves. Other people's opinions of us do matter: each has value as they serve to help us better know who we are or how we are perceived by the world. (This has a direct impact on our relationships and successes/failures in life.) However, my worth is not dependent on other's opinions of me. God has already predetermined my value and that is my only measure of worth. Other's comments pertaining to my attitudes or behaviors can help me better understand how I am presenting myself to others. In this regard, I may need to reconsider how I treat people and make the necessary adjustments in order to better get along with everyone. This can be incredibly helpful in all of my relationships.
Summary: Remember that you are the master of your life. You have free will and intellect. You and you alone determine whether or not you be will angry or happy. No one can push your buttons and make you angry; no one has the ability to make you feel anything including anger. It's all in your head, or more accurately, your thoughts.
Q: "Choose your thoughts wisely. They determine the outcome of your life. Remember: Where your mind goes your life follows."
*See TECO Magic in The Secret Side of Anger
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