Most everyone recognizes those times when other people trigger unwanted, negative emotions and reactions. There are oodles of how-to articles, too, where one can find advice on how to both recognize and handle those button-pushing situations. What is more difficult to decipher, though, are the times when we push our own emotional buttons.
Let’s first take a look at what getting our buttons pushed by others looks like. Oftentimes it means that someone has intentionally (but sometimes unintentionally as well) done or said something that creates a strong emotional response, which usually triggers negative emotions such as anger, frustration, and shame. An example would be when your grandmother so graciously recounts the time — in front of your kids, no less — when your twenty-year-old self had one too many tequila sunrises and threw up in her rose garden. Grandma may think she’s only kidding around, yet she sure did a great job of pushing your shame and embarrassment buttons.
But what does it look like when we push our own buttons? Somewhat similar to when we become agitated by other people poking at our feelings, it’s when we purposely — or even unconsciously — seek out stimuli and circumstances that bring on negative emotional responses. An example of this would be when someone has been in a horrible car accident and years later continues to look up footage of deadly automobile crashes, even though it inevitably creates more anxiety and stress. So, what to do if you’re stuck in the vicious cycle in which you keep pushing your own buttons? Below are two ways to help you become more aware of — and how to control — your own emotional button pushing…