“Parents know how to push your buttons because, hey, they sewed them on.”
– Camryn Manheim
In my work as a nurse, I’ve spent a lot of time around grumpy, angry, demanding and unpleasant people. Being sick, or having a loved one who is sick, brings out the worst in a lot of us.
As a nurse, the last thing I need if I am going to remain sane and have a positive impact on these people is to allow their “worst” to press my buttons, which inevitably brings out my worst. And as a sensitive, artistic person, I definitely have my share of buttons.
Each of us has hypersensitive areas in our personality—“buttons” that are painful when pressed. Some of the buttons are clearly apparent, just begging the mischievous people around us to push them.
Other buttons lurk in hidden minefields just beneath the surface, ready to explode if some unsuspecting person accidentally infringes on their territory.
Some buttons are common to humankind, such as guilt, shame, inferiority, rejection, or control. But we all have our own areas of particular hypersensitivity, based upon painful past experiences.
For example, someone whose parents got divorced might be particularly sensitive to issues of separation and rejection. And a person who lost a loved one recently might still have some sore spots connected with abandonment or the grieving process.
Unless you become a hermit, someone is bound to press your buttons from time to time. It may be your spouse, your boss, a co-worker, one of your kids, or someone in your church or neighborhood, even the friend of a friend on Facebook.
But sooner or later, your buttons will be pushed.
Although having our buttons pushed is inevitable, reacting like a hidden landmine is not inevitable. We always have a choice about how we react to the pushing of our buttons. It’s okay to express hurt, and it’s important to set boundaries. But it is critical to express ourselves in an appropriate manner.
The good thing about having our buttons pushed is that we can no longer ignore the sensitive areas where we need to heal. Our buttons mark the spot.