How Not to Let Others Push Your Buttons

Photo by Maksim Romashkin on

I chose this pic for today’s blog post because the picture best reflects the topic for today, How Not to Let Other’s Push Your Buttons, which is really the topic of: How We Got to be Who We are, Why We React the Way We Do, and How to Handle That. Why we are who we are and we got that way is a huge complex mass, with cracks, clumps, connections, bubbles, darkness, and confusion. But there is good news. We can break through it all to clear skies and sunshine, with a little bit of help, a little bit of looking back, and a little bit of looking forward. Knowing God helps.

I decided to blog about this today because of a Podcast I listened to this week by Amy Smith, of the Joy Junkie Podcast through my iPhone app. It resonated a lot with me and helped me to look back on a few things in my life, so that I could look forward in life and be able to react or handle some relationships differently. It seems like we often have recurrences in life of people that can “push our buttons”! So how do we deal with that differently and keep that from happening?

A lot of our personality being is from God, who created us in our Mother’s womb, and who knows the number of hairs on our heads, but a lot of who we are and how we handle ourselves, come from our youth from ages 0 to 8. Our experiences and our roles models in EVERYTHING WE DID or SAW, formed our brains, our minds, our opinions and our reactions. From about 0 to 8, as a child, everything said was fact. At that age you have no way to discern, you simply take everything as fact.

Our feelings though start at a much younger age. One usually remembers how they feel or felt regarding certain things that happened in their life. Irregardless of the person(s) making them feel that way, their intent, or their reason, we STILL felt emotions regarding certain events. Those emotions – if negative ones – rallied ourselves into creating defense mechanisms to be able to cope with those emotions.

Listening to this podcast made me look back into my life and recall the negative emotions I experienced from childhood and up into some present times in my life. Which we ALL have had. Everyone of us has had negative experiences and negative feelings. Doing this was very eye opening as I could see patterns. Patterns that began early in childhood and persisted, in the way I react to situations and to people. Now I’m not going to go in detail about my personal life here as to what caused my negative emotions as it would shed negative light on others and that is not my intent at all. But I do want to share this with you today because of the way it made me feel after I did this look back exercise. It freed me in many ways from some tangles that beheld me. I learned a lot about myself and that is what the purpose of it is, to learn about yourself and to free yourself from negative emotions linked to the past especially within your relationships, and to learn where you need to set boundaries, and not allow buttons to be pushed. That part about boundaries, I was already getting pretty good at as it’s a lesson I’ve already learned. Not an expert, but I usually have no problem establishing and giving boundaries.

Photo by Tatiana Syrikova on

The Root of our Emotions

I experienced fear at times of certain people in my life, feeling some things were unfair or unjust at times, and later developed some anger surrounding some things that I couldn’t change and toward those that would spawn negative energies around me. I sometimes felt trapped. I remember at times feeling like I didn’t have an outlet for these feelings and didn’t know what to do, so I just cried. Aha! That is why I cry at first when I’m misunderstood or misjudged or mistreated! I also remember feeling judged and criticized, and often felt like I had to have justification for everything I did or didn’t do. Aha! That is where my defensiveness was born! Having to explain or justify my every move, a list of 1, 2, 3 reasons why I thought a certain way, acted a certain way, did a certain thing, etc. I often felt I didn’t have a voice as someone usually spoke for me or over me. Aha! That is why I cut people off today midstream and mid thought – it was a learned reaction and I needed to do that to be able to have my own thought heard! And so forth…..

So you see what I did here?

Here’s how to go back and revisit negative emotions early on in life, so you can learn why you react the way you do, what defense mechanisms or coping mechanisms you developed.

  • Remember negative emotions you had as a child in your younger days, as a teen, as an adult, in past relationships or situations. What were they? Remember the specific incidents.
  • Don’t focus on the other person that made you feel that way or what their intentions were – just focus on you. How did you react or feel?
  • How did you cope with that? What was your defense mechanism?
  • BAM! Do you see the link between your younger formative years and now?

Knowing that is very freeing. You can begin to change your reactions and your outlook because once you know that and can see the patterns, you can focus on the future ways you want to react or feel or cope.

Is it OK to Revisit the Past?

We are often told not to visit the past as it makes you hold grudges or bring these thoughts to the forefront where you will bring it up in a more recent argument with others. And of course that can be true. But I DO think we have to go back and wrestle with the past so that we can drop off that damn baggage, (I’m sorry but baggage needed a curse word here), that tries to control us and haunt us at every turn down the path.

Taking it a step further though into the REASON why someone may have made you feel a certain negative emotion. Now you can visit why by using EMPATHY. Did the person really mean to hurt you? Was their actions warranted? It is possible we did not rationale this situation appropriately. Did they really have ill intent? Selfish Intent? They may have done something out of hate or out of selfishness or maybe you just thought they did. Just recognize this and think about it and then let it go. If you conclude it was ill intent – that is NOT on you. If you conclude that it was not ill intent, you can begin to work though some things within yourself to understand that. It’s easier as now you have identified the most important thing – that “oh it probably wasn’t something I should have taken personal” and BAM, problem solved.

Photo by Yaroslav Shuraev on

The whole purpose of this exercise is so that you can realize that you don’t have to allow others to own your emotions. Once you try to understand how a person pushed your buttons initially – you start to understand why – and then you can decide to release it. It doesn’t mean a person’s actions are OK if you release it, you are just not going to let the actions own you or ruin your day.

Will you be able to fix an issue permanently?

Probably not. The original button pushing feeling may emerge again and again causing a chain reaction of emotions. You can’t change others, but you can change yourself. Just realize what is going on, don’t harbor your anger or negative emotions. Don’t let them control you. Approach your thoughts with clarity and calmness. Anger only muddles the mind. Claim your mind as your own. Free yourself.


  2. You can find ways to release the negative energy
  3. Limit your time around those with negative energy.
  4. Be kind to the person giving you the negative energy. Don’t let anything be on YOU.
  5. Control your own reactions. Set a time later to continue the conversation if needed.
  6. Lead with Love!
  7. Realize you are NOT in charge of the negative person’s reactions. Just yours.
  8. Set boundaries with the negative person pushing your buttons.
  9. Refocus you mind on other things that need your attention
  10. Set a timer to schedule a time to think about it later (you will be less angry, less bothered for rational thinking)
  11. Do or plan fun things to do
  12. Focus on the positive
  13. Breathe deeply ten deep breaths, positive in, exhale negative out
  14. Spend some time in nature
  15. Talk and release with a friend
  16. Drink a glass of wine and toss a cheer to yourself for being insightful
  17. Have a cup of coffee (home brewed or cafe out) and smile because good coffee is oh so good!
  18. Come read my blog and I’ll always have something for you to focus on, lol.
  19. Leave me a comment and I’ll love you forever.
  20. Watch my YouTube Channel and we will be BFF’s forever and ever and ever.

Ok a little humor there at the end, but yeah – Humor is probably the one and only thing that could resolve all of this in one big swoop. Throw humor in there and that’s all the perspective you need!

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I hope this has helped. I was so excited to have listened to this podcast. And it sent me soaring down a path that really helped me and I was excited to share with you. Let me know what you thought.

4 responses to “How Not to Let Others Push Your Buttons”

  1. Hi Sonya, sorry to be so late in getting to you. I think I told you that we are away for a few days with my niece and husband Max yesterday I had trouble getting my cars insurance changed to get Max onto it but managed after a while. Now we are up in the North of England in a small village near Chesterfield. We each have a nice little one bedroom house, the one Mary and I have is all on the flat whereas Beth and Max’s has their bedroom upstairs. It’s quite cute..there appears to be lots of lovely walks around Beth is away now to find a cafe by one of the two lakes where we can have breakfast from 9.30am…she walks for miles with the dog Floppy who was very good on the drive up here that took us three hours….now to reply to your blog. What very wise words you have written it’s great advice. I think I’ve said before how much I have seen a change in your attitude to lots of things you have found hard and I’m sure those words will help you even more, as it could for anyone reading your blog. I have as usual read it to Mary as she has had such an odd upbringing she has quite a few….hang ups…once I read everything to her I tried to put it in different words so she can hopefully be helped by them….well better go to finish my cup of tea that Mary has made as usual as soon as she comes over, she hasn’t far to walk this morning !! We brought my push wheelchair so that Max or Beth can push her, it would be to far for her to walk, I of course have my battery chair so I’m quite independent …I really hope that you go to church this morning and I pray that Mum will enjoy it and be happy to go there once she moves into her new home. Just thinking has the building of the homes started yet . .God Bless. To you all.

    • Your trip sounds fun. What I wrote on this blog was hard to put into words. It made sense to me. But might not to someone else. The podcast lady did a bet job explaining the psychological concepts. She’s a life coach and I’m not. The thought process she suggested worked for me in understanding why I am the way I am and helps realize I can control my responses and my defense mechanisms and not let someone steal my joy for the day. Hopefully Mary found that concept helpful. We are going to church this morning. I hope she likes it. I am doubtful that if we do, she won’t. Such as seems to be my life’s experience so I’m afraid to be hopeful. I keep my promises so I’ll take her where she wants to go, to the point of sacrificing going where we want to go. We have mainly been worshiping at home every day instead of once a week- but I miss gathering with others.

  2. I’d recommend the book by Dr. laura Bad Childhood Good Life. She’s quite blunt but I think we as adults need that. As she says get over it, life and how you feel as a mature adult is now your choice. Choosing each day to be a happy, open, forgiving adult is how I hope to move through the rest of my life. Note I have two sisters who dwell on the negativity of our childhood as children of two alcoholics, but as I tell them then our parents are still damaging them, still “winning”. Move on.

    • I had a pretty happy childhood overall as we were well taken care of but along my lifeline I developed some tendencies to react in negative ways and I thought maybe this podcast could help someone that is struggling. I’m learning to shed things that once bothered me and it’s very freeing!

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