Go Ahead - Push My Buttons!
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Go Ahead - Push My Buttons!

At times when we feel irritated to the core by what we perceive as another's selfishness or lack of consideration, a good hard look in the mirror could be all that's required

by Linda Larsen

So, I'm sitting in my seat on the plane returning from Australia, reading Soul Stories by Gary Zukav. I'm loving this book and am relating to everything he is saying.

At one point he's talking about what happens when someone knows how to push our buttons. He says even though the tendency is to push back, that doing so seldom fixes the problem - in fact it usually makes matters worse.

I can feel myself nodding in agreement as I read on. I'm thinking, "That's so true. We simply need to let go of the desire to be right about the way things should be. Release and resist the temptation to push back."

It was just about at that moment that the man in the seat in front of me, pushes his seat as far back as it will go, thereby causing my tray table to become one with my chest. I lift my tray table, firmly pushing it in place on the back of his seat. I uncross my legs which (whoops!) also push against the back of his seat.

Well, that's not comfortable, so I uncross them again and cross them the other way and - wouldn't you know it - they push against his seat again. When all of a sudden... Ding, ding, ding! The bells go off, the light bulb goes on and the dawn comes.

Here I am - pushing the pusher. Just exactly what I had been reading about!

And here's the interesting thing: I was getting no response. He didn't leap up, return his seat to its upright position and beg my forgiveness. He didn't even appear to notice. He just kept on reading. I was the one getting agitated. I was the one stressing out.

Before you say, "Well, Linda, why didn't you just ask him to move his seat forward?" let me tell you what my next thought was.

It suddenly occurred to me that as a business traveler who flies a lot, I have never ONCE thought about the person behind me when I reclined my seat. Well, maybe I thought about them, but I didn't let that thought stop me.

My reasoning always was that everyone is allowed "x" amount of room - and if I recline back into their space, then they can recline back also. Seemed like a pretty good system to me.

Until that moment.

If people know that they can control you and your emotions by pushing your buttons - they will probably continue to do so

What I realized, once again, is that it's about taking responsibility on both sides of the scenario.

I could proactively choose my response when being "pushed against", understanding that he was doing nothing different that I had done many times before. AND, I could also choose, in the future, to check with the person behind me to alert them to my intention to move back.

What I saw in that experience was how, when pushed, my natural tendency was to push back - before I considered all the factors. In other words, I let people get my goat. And as a friend of mine once said, "If you don't want people to get your goat - stop telling them where you keep it tied up!"

The truth is this: If people know that they can control you and your emotions by pushing your buttons - they will probably continue to do so.

Why not spend the next few days in quiet observation of yourself? Notice whether you automatically respond in certain ineffective ways when people push against you. Just notice. Don't berate yourself or judge. Just observe.

Then at least once, when someone tries to push your buttons, take the opportunity to release and let go of your need to push back. This action will put you squarely in the control seat of your life.

The more you do it, the easier it will become, and the greater the odds that the button pusher will give up and go away. If he's not getting the response he's looking for, it's no fun anymore.

I conclude with this: God bless the button pushers - for without them I would not have the opportunity to learn the art of letting go.

Copyright 2006, Linda Larsen

Linda Larsen helps individuals think strategically, communicate effectively, and celebrate success. She is an international keynote speaker, trial consultant and author of the book, True Power, and the best selling audio program, 12 Secrets to High Self-Esteem. She can be reached at htttp://www.lindalarsen.com or 941-927-4700.

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