By Cindy Yantis
Who’s Got Your Buttons?
There’s a sweet little button shop in New York City called Tender Buttons. It is home to buttons upon buttons for every garment imaginable, with prices ranging from 50 cents to $2,000. Some of them are works of art and many are vintage buttons with a full histories embedded in between the buttonholes. Store-owner and button collector, Millicent Safro, is very proud of her museum-like button empire and watches over them protectively, preciously, until someone else falls in love with them and takes ownership of them.
It got me thinking about a discussion I recently had with a friend who was dealing with some boundary issues: a co-worker who really knew how to push her buttons. That conversation birthed the mantra: “Be in charge of your own buttons.”
When you push a button such as an elevator button, a website button, etc., it sets something in motion or sets forth an action.
When you feel your buttons being pushed, what gets activated or set in motion?
Take a moment and examine your own buttons. Being in awareness about them is the first step toward disengaging from the reactions, feelings and emotions that are intrinsically tethered to your buttons. What’s their back-story? What emotions spring forth?
Here are 3 ideas to help:
Name your buttons—anger, fear, rejection, insecurity. Recognize that the back-story of your own button is just that, back-story or history that has nothing to do with the present moment or the person you’ve designated as your button-pusher.
Have a mental dialogue with yourself: “Oh, there’s that rejection button. Clearly my reaction stems from something that happened last week, last year, last decade, last millennium, which has nothing to do with this moment, this person or this conversation.”
Then, disconnect the button—disengage from the negative association.
When someone thinks they know your buttons, and seems to purposely press them for their own purposes, understand that this has nothing to do with you but rather their own fears, insecurities, issues and anxieties; their own back-story. This phase of the button-pushing scenario is about setting clear boundaries. That’s when you say to yourself, “One, two, three, it’s not about me.”
The second agreement in Don Miguel Ruiz’s best-selling book, The Four Agreements, is “Don’t Take Anything Personally.” About this Ruiz says, “As you make a habit of not taking anything personally, you won’t need to place your trust in what others do or say. You will only need to trust yourself to make responsible choices. You are never responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for you. When you understand this, and refuse to take things personally, you can hardly be hurt by the careless comments or actions of others.”
One way to deal with your button-pusher is to say to them from a position of neutrality and truth, “While I appreciate your need to say what you just said, it’s not the way to address this issue with me. What are you really trying to say?” You just took control of your button by disengaging it, while at the same time allowing, if you choose to, the button-pusher to get on to the issue at hand.
Setting clear boundaries and being in charge of your buttons will lead not only more effective relationships but also will continue your journey toward a more fulfilling life.