In my last blog 'You Just Pushed my Button!' I touched on some of the ‘fear buttons’ that we all have. I also highlighted some of the unhealthy responses we fall into when those buttons are pressed. Its one thing to recognise our unhealthy behaviour patterns, but it is altogether another thing being able to break free from them.
Here are four things you can do to respond in healthier ways:
1. Take control of your thoughts, feelings and actions
Before you react, take a breath and think! Say to yourself ‘my button just got pressed and normally I would do x, y or z, but this time I’m going to…’ Work out some things you can do instead, such as being honest to the one who pushed your button. E.g. you could say ‘I need to be honest with you right now. You just hit a button and I’m feeling rejected/angry/confused (fill in the blank).’ This at least gives the other person the chance to explain themselves and you might discover you are not seeing things clearly. It might simply diffuse the situation, as the other person sees that their words have not been helpful. There are any number of better responses you can choose from, so think through some options ahead of time.
2. Don’t give others the power to control your feelings
We all tend to say things like ‘he made me mad’ or ‘she just went too far and I snapped’. In essence we are saying that other people control our feelings. Of course I’m not suggesting we should be made of steel and be unmoved by hurtful or abusive comments, but we need to develop a healthy self-esteem and learn what it is to put boundaries in place. Remember, in a tug of war it only takes one person to drop the rope for the war to end.
3. Don’t create unrealistic expectations of others
Stress is the gap between what we expect to happen and what is actually happening, and the more valuable an expectation the more intense the stress when it’s not being met. Having some random person be nasty towards us at a bus stop is not going to bother us as much as if it were our spouse or best friend speaking like that. We naturally ‘expect better’ from them. However, if your expectations begin to take you into the realm where you are demanding more than they can reasonably give, you create impossible standards for them to keep and the relationship will quickly fall into stormy waters. When is the last time you talked through expectations with those closest to you? It might be a worthwhile exercise.
4. Choose forgiveness
Of course this is easier said than done, but it is said that choosing to hold onto un-forgiveness is a bit like taking poison and hoping the other person gets sick! Challenge yourself to always make the first move towards forgiveness and remember that most people who offend you are probably doing so out of their own hurt. Forgiveness may be the right response for them to begin the healing process in their own life.