Hand pushing the button.

The Button Pushers Guide To Freedom

Have you ever considered thanking someone who is pushing your buttons?


Because when someone is pushing our buttons, we are learning where those buttons are and when we locate them, we can stop them holding power over us.

Then we can begin to uninstall them.

That is what pressed buttons  are – giving away power and control of ones own reaction, mood, feelings and authority.

Often my clients show up upset because a significant stakeholder has said or done something that really pisses them off – or triggers them as my kids would say.

I often respond with an unexpected “Well, that’s a result.”

Of course, they usually seem a little puzzled by that response. Hear me out.

We grow and gain power over our emotions (evolve to ‘we have emotions – they do not have us’) when we shift our perspective to…

“If somebody’s pushing my buttons, it’s only because I have buttons to push!”   (Therefore I have less freedom, as my mood is at at the mercy of others or circumstances)

The buttons belong to us, not them; they show us where we are vulnerable and need some work doing. (i.e. imagine the helpfulness of the boxing Coach pointing out the vulnerability in the fighter’s style that the fighter cannot see herself)

When we take responsibility for choosing our own reactions, instead of putting the responsibility on ‘them or it out there’, we have something we can work with.

The crux of this perspective is that we are only reactive when we are triggered in areas of our own vulnerability.

What to do when someone is pushing your buttons…

It is, in fact, the same in almost any situation. If someone is “making you mad”, it is only because you are vulnerable about the thing that they are pointing out to you.  For instance, when my kids ‘make me mad’ when they leave the lights on, I’m really mad at myself as I ‘the supposed great Coach communicator’ who can’t persuade a 15 year old to to carry out a simple task!

In this way, they are acting as your mirror. Your reaction (defence, outrage, denial etc) is like fog on the mirror. It distorts the image that is being reflected to you.

By the same token, when somebody is “pushing your buttons “, they are providing you with excellent information about yourself. You can shift your focus from the other person and what you perceive as their wrongdoing and turn instead toward yourself.

When you find yourself feeling upset, you can ask yourself “What is my vulnerability here? Why does this upset me? What pattern, set up in my past, is being activated now? What’s going on beneath the surface?”

So, the next time that somebody is pushing our buttons, let us try to remember to turn our attention inward. Remember to ask ourselves, “What is my vulnerability or concern here?”

And then from that place provide yourself with some patience, empathy and enquiry – thus creating the ground for giving less of our power away in another knee jerk reaction.

Until that time, we can thank others for pushing our buttons. Because after all, they are simply letting us know that we have buttons to uninstall.


(This post has been’inspired’ by the many folks who are experiencing stress and unusual behavioral outbursts a a result of the current environment!)

Paul Fox

Paul Fox has been active as a Construction Industry Performance Coach for the last 20 years and remains at the forefront of Collaborative Working and High Performance Team Behaviours. He disrupts the status quo of individuals, project and senior teams who want exponentially more output with much less struggle.

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