How to Quickly Recover When Someone Close to You Pushes Your Buttons How to Quickly Recover When Someone Close to You Pushes Your Buttons How to Quickly Recover When Someone Close to You Pushes Your Buttons Michele Hart Law

Date: February 29, 2024 | Author: Michele Hart

I know I have written a lot lately about how to calm our emotional responses when interacting with the people closest to us.  This is because not only do I see it happen time and time again, leading to everything from hurt feelings to bitter endings of relationships, I also experience it for myself.  And I know the challenges.  But I also know the rewards that come with gaining power over how we choose to interact with others.

Significantly, the ways in which we relate to the people closest to us are often influenced by traumatic experiences we experienced in the past.  According to Dr. Gabor Maté, celebrated speaker and bestselling author highly sought after for his expertise in addiction, stress, and childhood development, “trauma is not what happens to you; trauma is what happens inside you as a result of what happened to you.”

Dr. Mate’s more recent book is The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture.  He explains that the word trauma has Greek origins and means “wound.”   As Dr. Gabor Maté further explains “It’s a psychic wound that leaves a scar. It leaves an imprint in your nervous system, in your body, in your psyche, and then shows up in multiple ways that are not helpful to you later on.”

Interestingly, according to Dr. Maté, our unmet needs in childhood can also result in trauma.  Children have certain essential needs that include unconditional love and acceptance, the freedom to express all emotions, and free to play with spontaneity, creativity, and imaginative play.

And when these essential childhood needs are not met, it can result in traumatic wounds.  Chances are we are not consciously aware of them.  Yet the impact on us plays out throughout our lives, especially in our relationships with others.  We see this whenever we feel “triggered,” when we experience a strong emotional reaction to what someone says or does.

Take, for example, someone at work or a family member who drives you crazy or really seems to “push your buttons.”  Whenever you’re around this person, you immediately go from zero to a hundred.  So much so that you might find yourself going out of your way to avoid this person. But perhaps there is no avoiding this person.  You simply need to find a way to get along with them.

The good news is that there are things you can do to calm yourself in any given interaction with this person.  And studies have shown that over time, you can train your brain to become less reactive, if at all.

So, what can you do to gain control?

The first thing is to become emotionally aware.  Ask yourself who are the people or what are their behaviors that tend to be difficult for me to handle?  What happens?  Do I become very angry, defensive, or fearful?  Recognize when it is happening in the moment.

And plan ahead.  Set your intention to have a positive interaction with this person at all costs.  Focus solely on that goal.

You might also identify a certain item or object that keeps you grounded.  Perhaps a photo of your family or a calming scene that you can keep handy on your phone to glance at.

If things do become heated, you can ask yourself if you need to take a break.  Have an excuse ready beforehand.  You might simply say you need to use the restroom and then do some deep breathing or box breathing.

The key is to calm the “fight, flight, or freeze” response of your nervous system.  Because we simply cannot think clearly while gripped in this emotional state.  Another tool that studies have shown particularly effective is “tapping,” also known as EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique).

When you do become calm, it’s important to pause before you say something verbally or in a text or email.  And ask yourself what the purpose is of saying it, is it something that needs to be said and would it be helpful?  How might it land with the other person?

Essentially, we all have experiences in our pasts that shape how we see ourselves and others.  And this can have a major impact on how we interact with others, especially those closest to us.  But the good news is that with learning and practice, we do have the ability to transform the outcome and with it, our relationships.

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