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{PART TWO of ;Do you always fly off the handle when someone pushes your “hot buttons”? http://wp.me/p1JlOj-Eq}

It’s critical to identify just what pushes your buttons (or “yanks to your chain”) to begin with.

Otherwise, there’s no way you can pinpoint–let alone, work through–those past experiences that now prompt you to over react to
provocations that actually may be more “felt” than real.

In fact, it’s important to recognise that what
incites you isn’t necessarily anything that would
provoke someone else.

Finally, it may be only because the current-day
stimulus unconsciously reminds you of something that upset you weeks, months, years, or even decades ago, that you’re compelled to “lose your cool” in the present.

But once you can make the required connections between the there-and-then
and the here-and-now, you can begin to de-activate those buttons that, till this point, have irrationally taken over your behaviour.

Once you’re able to bring a new and more positive self-understanding to whatever distressing messages about yourself you
received–or thought you received–when you were younger (probably much younger), your essential self-image can undergo all kinds of transformative changes.

So what exactly is it that triggers your buttons?

And just how do you determine what causes you to become provoked?–what you can’t help but react to as an affront, annoyance,indignity, or insult?

Begin by asking yourself: Does this hot button relate to getting criticised? disagreed with? nagged? slighted? scolded? disregarded? ignored? . . .

Is it tied to being rebuffed? spurned? made fun of? humiliated? . . .

Is it about feeling trifled with?

Made to feel weak? inadequate? stupid? Might it be connected to feeling un-appreciated? unimportant? devalued? Or maybe taken advantage of? powerless?disrespected? . . .

Is it attached to feeling falsely or unfairly accused? distrusted? disapproved of?rejected?

Or is being mistakenly perceived as dishonest? guilty? shameful? Or could it be some verbal, or non-verbal, cue suggesting that you’re
unloved (or–far worse– unlovable)?

Consider making as comprehensive a list as possible of all the different things you can think of that have goaded you into seeing red in the past, that triggered you to instantly defend yourself, or attack the person who (presumably) intended to hurt you–or (as it
were) slam the door and “act out” your distress by angrily dis-engaging from your seeming provocateur entirely.

Remember, it’s safe to assume that anything
powerful enough to have pushed your buttons
previously is quite likely to push them again.

By now, it’s been said countless times that nothing predicts the future better than the past.

And the psychological dynamic of button-pushing hardly represents an exception to this familiar adage.

So catalog everything you can think of that incited you in times past.

And definitely consider as possibilities the extensive checklist of indignities inventoried above.

Unquestionably, you’ll find a pattern–whether it’s a sensitivity to being criticised,to feeling demeaned or disrespected, to experiencing
the other person as devaluing your viewpoint, or even to feeling utterly abandoned or rejected.

If you’re like most of us, you’ll probably discover that you’ve got considerably more than a single button susceptible to external provocation.

And if you’re particularly insecure, you may find that you have more vulnerability buttons–or “soft spots”–than, frankly, can easily be enumerated.

People characterised by others as “thin-skinned” may well have the most buttons of all.

Once another person hits a nerve deep inside you, there’s very little (at least in the moment) that, realistically, you can do.

But if, beforehand, you can
(1) de-sensitize yourself emotionally from those past experiences that were originally experienced as deeply threatening, and

(2) reassess positively the self-referencing negative meaning these past upsets held for you–that is, re-interpret these disturbing
events in a way that is both more accurate and self-validating–then you’re well on your way to
responding calmly (vs. reacting defensively or
angrily) to current-day situations that in the past may have sorely taxed your emotional resources.

To the extent that (however unconsciously) you’re still programmed to give others the authority to make you feel bad or doubt yourself, you’ll instantaneously feel compelled to diminish their power over you by reacting negatively to them.

But if you’ve been able to “update” your self-image by cognitively re-evaluating your past–thereby coming into your own, irrefutable authority as an adult–you’ll no longer feel the urgency to react this way.

For your emotional equilibrium, shored up by your ability to self-validate and self-soothe, will remain intact.

Even in the face of serious outward challenges, if you’ve developed an essentially favourable sense of self you won’t feel threatened by another’s insensitivity, put-downs, or lack of compassion or understanding.

For (to put it succinctly) you’re no longer dependent on external validation to feel okay
about yourself.

Your feelings of inner security are now firmly anchored from within.

And as a result, if someone says or does something to you that seems unfair or unkind, you’re now fully capable of addressing it–or them–in a manner most likely to be effective.

At this point, the other person’s once incendiary behaviour won’t throw you so off-balance that you can no longer keep your cool.
Once your fundamentally positive sense of self has crystallised, it’s virtually unassailable.

And so, in trying situations you’re in an
ideal position to explain yourself both tactically and tactfully–and without having to be concerned that your expression (facial or verbal) is likely to make matters worse.

Additionally, responding assertively is in direct opposition to reacting aggressively–which may have been what happened routinely in the past
when your buttons got pushed.

It’s somewhat analogous to being bullied, which is an extreme example of external provocation.

Once you’re able to stand tall in the face of another’s ridicule or derision, you’re practically immune to their provocation and slights.
Nothing your bull-headed opponent might say
can make you feel oppressed or intimidated.

No one can tease you (or, for that matter, torment you), for you’ve now “consolidated” a favourable sense of self-one that’s impervious to anyone who might, sadistically, wish to taunt you.

As idealistic (or far-fetched) as some of what I’m describing might seem, none of it is really outside the bounds of human possibility.

Admittedly, however, developing such psychological immunity hardly comes easy.

It takes considerable self-discipline to
systematically re-visit especially distressing moments in your past that (in certain ways at least) have negatively sensitised you to others.

And, understandably, not that many people are even willing to unearth memories linked to such unpleasant experiences as feeling repudiated, rejected, shamed, or abandoned.

Yet once the adult part of you is able to recognise that you’re essentially a good, decent person, you can mentally return to such past circumstances to purge them of their toxic
residue.

And you hardly need to be some kind of
exceptional human being to summon the
wherewithal to undertake such deeper-level
exploration.

However, if on your own you’re simply unable to accomplish such self-change, I’d strongly advise you to get some professional assistance (it will be well worth it!).

But if you are able to see yourself, for example, as basically competent (though certainly not perfect), acceptable (though, of course, not to
everybody), and trustworthy (despite certain peoples’ entrenched cynicism preventing them from placing much faith in you), then you already have everything you need to return to your past and repair those negatively distorted beliefs you may long have harbored about yourself.

And these beliefs are precisely the ones that re-surface time and again (ad infinitum–or ad nauseum) when you still have buttons altogether susceptible to others’ prodding.

Parts 3 and 4 will describe a very different approach to disarming your buttons: namely, employing certain strategies from a method known as Stress [or, in this case, Anger] Inoculation Training.

Utilizing such techniques will help you to better
prepare–or rehearse–for a variety of challenging interpersonal situations.
_________

Just some random thoughts that came to my mind….©Profarms’ Random Thoughts®

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