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Don't Push the Button!

Keep the Peace

--Adam Maisen, LPC-S/TA



· Communication,Parenting,Creating Safety

Do your buttons get pushed by people around you? Mine do too. Congrats! You are a real human.

In our current climate, the people around us have polarizing opinions that they feel deeply passionate about. This is not necessarily a bad thing! However, when people have differing views, it is easy to become defensive. When this happens, we often react in less than kind ways.

When people outside of our more intimate circle push our buttons, we may find it easier to reject what they do and say, “because they are idiots”. I am 100% certain that people have said this and worse about me at points.

But, what about when it is the people closest to us that are pushing our buttons? If we just dismiss them, this creates drama, resentment, and tension.

Key questions to ask yourself:

What pushes my buttons? 

These are the things that cause you to want to lash out when they are pushed. One of mine is when I feel disrespected by my kids. Sometimes they choose to either deliberately disobey, argue with me, or both. Another is when others assume my motivation for things I do or say without asking for clarification. When I don’t feel appreciated, loved, and supported, my buttons are more easily pushed.

What pushes my family's buttons? 

I push my kids’ buttons when I am too critical of them without frequent loving, positive feedback. My kids are often well-behaved, but they are far from perfect. My kids want to feel unconditional love and acceptance from me. They often work hard to do what is expected of them. But when I focus on what they could have done better without acknowledging their effort, they feel minimized and unaccepted.

I push my wife’s buttons when I question how she does things I might have done differently without appreciating her effort. Another button-pushing happens when she is sharing her thoughts or feelings with me, and I try to problem-solve instead of simply listening and being in the moment with her. My wife carries a heavy mental load for our family, which I am highly appreciative of. However, when I don’t show my appreciation, she feels hurt and unloved. When my family members do not feel accepted or cherished, they are more likely to get their buttons pushed.

If I know what the buttons are, I can intentionally act in a way that shows my family love and respect.

How do I keep from pushing buttons with my family?

  • Acknowledge their efforts: I see what you are doing, and I genuinely appreciate your effort. Note: There can be room for discussing constructive criticism only when your family knows that you accept and appreciate them as people. I love what you are doing here! I appreciate your hard work. If something got left undone, you might say something like: Once you finish ________, you will be all done. (This is one that I am still working on.)
  • Listen to them: Make sure you clearly understand and validate the thoughts and feelings of your family members.
  • Allow them to be human: Give your family members some grace. We all have some growing to do, but we all have value too.
  • Enjoy each other’s company: Schedule special time to hang out with your family for fun. Play games, go to the lake, laugh together, dine together.

Please leave your comments at the bottom of this page!

If you are interested in individual or family counseling, contact me for a free 15-minute consult.

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