We all have times when we feel our buttons being pushed. How we deal with these situations is largely determined by how much awareness we bring to the situation and how skillful we are at managing our mind under pressure.
For most of us, there is not a day that goes by that our buttons aren’t being pushed in some way or another. It may be at work or at home, in relationships with our spouses, friends, children and coworkers or with complete strangers at the grocery store or the gas station.
There was a situation with my husband recently where I felt he was pushing my buttons. I knew that I was being given an opportunity to see how much progress I had made in my ability to deal skillfully in these situations. I’ve been practicing meditation and mindfulness regularly for over 2 years now and thought, “okay miss meditation junkie, let’s see how you handle these thoughts and feelings.”
I dealt with them like most people do. I was initially irritated, angry, defensive, sad and impatient as he made comments about some things that pushed my buttons. I was very aware of what I was thinking and feeling because my meditation practice has helped me become more mindful and “tuned in”.
My regular practice gave me the ability to pause rather than react out of anger or fear.
I realized that I needed to catch my breath, and step back from the situation so that I didn’t respond in a way that I would regret.
Meditation also gave me the skill to not go to battle with what I was thinking and feeling. I accepted my feelings and embraced them, knowing that trying to push them away and turn my back on them would do the opposite and they would persist. I allowed myself to feel my feelings and not “should” on myself.
I realized that I was initially acting like a victim, and thinking about the situation as something that was happening to me. I thought that if he acted differently, then I would feel better and that my feelings were his fault.
At an intellectual level, we realize that no one can make us feel a certain way but at the heart level it can be difficult to shift our mindset from victim to accepting responsibility.
What does it actually mean to accept responsibility for our thoughts and feelings? In my situation, it meant that I turned the spotlight from my husband to myself and asked myself, “why are these comments pushing my buttons”?
They were pushing my buttons because there were some beliefs within me that I needed to challenge. I believed that if I was a good wife, I would behave in a certain way and the fact that I wasn’t meant that I wasn’t a good wife. I was making assumptions and drawing conclusions based on my beliefs and not my husbands.
I had also stopped using my voice and sharing my feelings. I again, blamed that on him when in actuality I was avoiding conflict.
I wasn’t speaking my truth and that kept me locked in the victim mindset.
When I became aware that I was meant to learn to use my voice in a kind and compassionate way, regardless of the outcome, a shift happened. I was no longer a victim. I also became aware of and made the choice to change some of the beliefs and thoughts that weren’t serving me.
I was reminded in a powerful way about this quote:
Every time that our buttons are being pushed and we can turn it around and grow from it, we heal in some way. Our natural reaction is to turn away from and avoid whatever is causing us to feel uncomfortable. But when we can stay with it and uncover what we are meant to learn, we gain greater peace of mind. Before we know it, we’re not reacting to the same things in the same way. At least until the next opportunity comes along when someone pushes our buttons and we recognize we have yet another opportunity to learn and grow.