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10 Super Simple Tools to Regain Control When Someone Pushes Your Buttons

10 Super Simple Tools to Regain Control When Someone Pushes Your Buttons

This is the time of year when many of us find ourselves stressed and dealing with people who push our buttons whether on purpose or by accident.

Buttons are those areas that when touched on by someone in the course of communication, make us react. Some are bigger buttons than others but everyone has them and we all need tools for handling the communication when those buttons are approached or pushed.

I have come up with 10 Super Simple Tools you can use at a moment’s notice that will put you in control of these situations when they occur. Take these tools and practice with them. Then put them into your communication tool belt and go have some fun!

1. Understand that your buttons are your buttons.

Buttons are the things (ideas or subjects) that make you react in a certain way. We all have areas of sensitivity and I am pretty sure we know what they are.

There are buttons that are yours alone and there are universal buttons. I will go over the universal buttons a bit later in this article but as for your own personal buttons, understand what they are and look at why they are there.

Perhaps you were made fun of as a kid for some personal characteristic or perhaps the person you are talking to has been hurtful in the past. Try to remain in the present rather than re-experiencing all of the old pain. Take each individual communication as something totally new. Try to understand the point of what the person is saying to you instead of simply reacting.

2. Learn to steer the conversation away from sensitive subjects or areas.

When you are in a situation where someone is heading into the danger zone for you, the smart thing to do is to steer the conversation away from the area of your sensitivity. This is a skill that you can learn and it will give you power in any conversation.

Many people can be insensitive or inadvertently push your buttons. Many times you can cope with this behavior by changing the subject. For example, if someone brings up a subject that is a sore point for you. You simply ask the person something about himself, preferably something that he is interested in. People love to talk about themselves and the communication about the sensitive area will be completely forgotten.

Here is an example of how to steer a conversation:

Let’s say Geraldine has a button on her intelligence. Let’s not even go into why she has that button, she just has it.

Now let’s say that someone makes a crack about something she has done that he feels is stupid. Geraldine knows that this person is a avid fisherman. She takes no notice of his insensitive remark and simply says, “Hey! I hear that you caught a huge fish last time you were out! Tell me about that!”

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With this one move, Geraldine has taken control of the communication  and put it on a course that is more desirable.

3. Educate the people close to you what your buttons are and find out theirs.

A very good thing to do at the beginning of any close relationships such as newlyweds or fiancés would be to sit down and go over areas that might be sensitive. Then at least, when you wade through the minefield, you know where the mines are. You are less likely to have one explode in your face. It is also good to make an agreement that you will never use these areas to intentionally hurt the other person no matter how angry you might be.

Here is another example:

Joe notices that his wife Geraldine is getting grey hair. He doesn’t realize that she has a button on getting older as she never told him about it. Joe makes a comment to Geraldine that she has a lot more grey hair than when they met. Perhaps to him it is not a big deal but it has the potential to cause Geraldine pain.

Geraldine takes a big breath and instead of calling Joe an insensitive clod, she calmly lets Joe know that she knows she is getting older and is a bit sensitive about it. Joe, if he is smart, decides that this is not an area that he will bring up unless there is something really important about it that needs to be said.

If Joe is an insensitive clod, he continues to push this button with Geraldine and the wonders why he comes home to find the locks on the house changed and all of his belongings at the end of the driveway with a note inviting him to find another place to live.

4. If something has really upset you, go somewhere quiet and regroup.

Sometimes these things take us by surprise and it can be difficult to regain our composure. The best thing to do when that occurs is to go somewhere by yourself and regroup. Do not react when you are severely upset. Wait until you have calmed down enough to figure out a good way to handle the upset.

Nothing good comes from blindly reacting from a painful place. Pain creates pain in these instances and the impulse might be to hurt that person in return. This starts a chain reaction of negativity and you always feel terrible afterward.

Breathe, dry your tears and go turn the situation around.

5. Understand that a person’s hurtful comments have nothing to do with you.

They really don’t, no matter what the other person is saying.

If the person is being nasty, that is NOTHING to do with you. It is ONLY in his or her own universe and comes from his or her own personal pain.

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The best thing you can do when this occurs is to recognize that the nasty person in front of you is not the real person. Granted there are some people who are like this all the time and are best avoided but the majority of people are just doing their best with a huge lack of workable tools to fix unhappy situations. They don’t like acting the way they do any more than you like having to deal with it.

Just look beyond the hurtful comments of these desperate people and take the opportunity to help him or her solve the problems. Get them to talk and be interested in finding out the real problem. If they are just too angry or verbally abusive, let them know that you will try to help when they calm down and then you can have a real conversation. Being able to pinpoint problems and help others to do so is a valuable skill. Those around you rightly perceive you as a valuable ally and value you.

6. Understand that certain relationships have buttons in common and need extra care and consideration.

Specifically, I am talking about the familial relationship. So many times these can get off on the wrong foot and make you both miserable. In close relationships, there is shared pain, and buttons come from pain. This pain can then create patterns of behavior that are destructive

Understand that just because patterns are set early in a relationship does not mean they have to remain that way during the relationship.

The most destructive thing you can ever do is to go back and forth pounding each other’s buttons. It accomplishes nothing but more pain and unhappiness.

When my son was little, we would clash at times. We both have extremely strong personalities and sometimes we would disagree. Whenever things started to get painful, one or the other of us would ask, “Can we just start over?”

It was perfect because it gave us the opportunity to drop the defenses and just go back to being in love with each other. Of all of the tools I had with my kids, that was the most valuable one. The result of this one tool was that we constantly broke bad habits and behavioral patterns and started afresh.

7. Recognize that another’s behavior may be the result of limiting beliefs, prejudices, opinions and generalizations.

And guess what! You don’t have to explain yourself, justify yourself or in any way prove that you are a good and decent person!

Even if you did, this person would not see it anyway because all he or she sees is his or her own limited views.

You are not responsible for someone else’s prejudices or generalizations. Let it go and move on.

At the same time, look at your own views of certain people. Are there groups of people that you have a fixed view of? If so, make a point of getting to know these people without a curtain of prejudice and you will likely find that most of them are ok.

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Many lies are told about us as groups by the media and they are negative and divisive. Don’t believe them. Talk to people as individuals and make your own determinations about who and what they are.

8. Stay away from the universal buttons!

What I am going to give you here is so valuable that it will smooth out communication for you with 80% of the people you deal with

Here are some of the universal buttons:

Do not invalidate a person or his or her beliefs and do not allow someone to invalidate yours.

When I say “invalidate”, I mean to seek to take away the credibility of the person, or the thing he or she believes in.

Nothing good comes from seeking to make people wrong. People have been made wrong so often that it has become a universal button. If you need to correct others’ behaviors, do it in such a way as to validate them for what they did right.

For example, if your child washes the dishes but misses a spot, first let him know how happy you are that he has done the dishes and what a sweet and caring person he is. Then, once you have made him RIGHT about the dishes, make him more right by showing him how he can do it better.

Focus on the right! Validate your people at every opportunity and really mean what you say! People blossom before your eyes when you do this and if you go out of your way to validate people, you will be the best loved person in any gathering.

Do not tell a person what to think about himself or herself and do not allow someone to do that to you.

This is extremely hard on a person and can cause unneeded sadness. Nobody wants to hear “Your problem is….!’ or “You need to ….”

The bottom line is that it is up to the person to decide what his or her “problem” is or what need to be changed in life. It’s extremely damaging that you point it out. Instead, offer to help them and show them different ways of doing things. Again, make them right for trying.

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When a person says something to you, don’t ignore them.

All you have to do is something that lets them know that you have understood them. If they are upset about something, don’t seek to minimize it or make them wrong for being upset. Help them out.

That said, there are people who seek to upset and irritate for sport. Let them know that you are onto their game and are unwilling to play it. If they decide to change, they can come back to your life; if not, tell them “See you later Baby!” and move on!

Do not interrupt people when they are talking.

This has gotten to be commonplace in our society but it breeds upset. If the person you are talking to is the one who hogs the conversation, wait for the breath to start in. If you’re interrupted, ask people to wait until you are finished.

9. Understand that communication is one of the most misunderstood subjects on the planet.

So many people have no idea how to communicate effectively and communication itself has become a big button. People learn bad habits from their parents, but these bad habits can destroy the whole generations of relationships.

To begin with a fruitful communication, listen to what people say and acknowledge them when they have spoken.

10. Know that life is full of both good and bad experiences and each is part of the learning curve of life.

If you have run into a bad experience, look at it and see what you can learn from it. Be grateful that it didn’t kill you and learn a lesson from it.

Take all of these techniques I have given you and practice them with people until you are comfortable using them.

This can open up a whole new world for you by giving you control over communication and tools to recreate relationships. Use them well. Educate those around you about communication and how it works and seek out more information on the subject. There is more to learn but this will get you started!

Good luck!

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Last Updated on May 20, 2019

How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future

How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future

We sometimes hear people talk about the importance of living in the moment. We might hear about the different ways it will benefit us. It all sounds wonderful, but how exactly can we live in the moment when our mind is constantly racing?

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the benefits of living in the moment you may not be aware of. Then we’ll look at some of the obstacles, and why we worry. Finally, and most importantly, I’ll show you how to live in the moment and stop worrying using some simple practices that you can easily incorporate into your busy schedule.

The result: a happier and more fulfilling life.

Why Live in the Moment?

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” – Buddha

Living in the moment has innumerable benefits. Here are just a few that will enhance your life tremendously:

Better Health

By reducing stress and anxiety, you avoid many of the associated health consequences, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. Studies have shown that being present can also improve psychological well-being.[1]

Improve Your Relationships

Have you ever been with someone who is physically present, but mentally he’s a million miles away?

Being with unavailable people is a struggle, and makes relationships with them extremely difficult.

How about being with someone who is fully present? We enjoy being with him because we can make a much deeper connection with him.

By living in the moment, you can be that person other people enjoy being with, and you make relationships much easier.

Greater Self-Control

You have greater control over your mind, body, and emotions. Imagine how much better your life would be if it weren’t at the mercy of a racing mind, and unpredictable emotions. You would certainly be more at peace, and much happier.[2]

Why Do We Worry?

Before we answer this question, it’s important to distinguish between worry and concern.

When we are concerned about something, we are more likely dealing with a real problem with realistic solutions. Then once we do whatever we can to address the problem, we’re willing to live with the outcome.

Worrying, on the other hand, involves unrealistic thinking. We may worry about a problem that doesn’t really exist, or dwell on all the bad things that can happen as a result. Then, we feel unable to deal with the outcome. Either way, we have difficulty dealing with uncertainty, which is a normal part of life.

Certainly, some of our problems may not have desirable outcomes, such as a serious health issue. Some problems may be beyond our control, such as civil unrest or economic downturn. In such cases, it can be hard to avoid worrying, but not impossible.

We sometimes worry when we don’t know how to deal with a problem. For example, have you ever received a letter from the IRS telling you that you owe more money than you thought, and don’t have the funds to pay it? This is enough to scare anyone who is not familiar with taxes.

How to Live in the Moment

Step 1: Overcome Worrying

In order to overcome worrying, we need to do two things:

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Learn How to Live in the Moment

By living in the moment, you calm your mind, and are able to see more clearly.

The reason some problems seem so daunting is that our mind is racing so fast that we cannot see things as they truly are. So we make up a bunch of possible scenarios in our mind, most of which are unlikely to come true.

In addition to seeing more clearly, living in the moment will help us think more realistically. Unrealistic thinking is fueled by confusion and uncontrolled emotions. Calming your mind will reduce confusion and calm your emotions.

Learn to Focus on Solutions Instead of Problems

Some people tend to be more solution-oriented, and others more problem-oriented. Some of the factors that may determine this are gender, upbringing, and education.

People with higher educations tend to be problem-solvers. That is what their years of education train them to do. In addition, their jobs probably reinforce this way of thinking.

If you’re not problem-solving oriented, don’t worry. You can train yourself to worry less. We’ll discuss that soon.

Step 2: Identify Obstacles to Living in the Moment

In today’s busy world, it can be a challenge to live in the moment. The reasons revolve around how our mind works, and outside influences.

Racing Mind

Many busy people have a racing mind that never seems to slow down. Their mind gets so agitated from too much sensory stimulation.

You see, anything that stimulates any of our five senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell) will trigger a thought, and that thought leads to another, and then another, and so on.

If you have a busy life, all your activities will overstimulate your mind, and make it seemingly impossible to slow it down. And an agitated mind wants to go to another place and time.

Unpleasant Situations and Troublesome Past

None of us want to be in unpleasant situations, or remember those of the past. They can bring up painful emotions, which we don’t want to feel.

So how do most people cope with painful emotions?

By doing whatever we can to avoid them, and we can avoid them by taking our mind to another place and time where things are more pleasant.

In other words, we avoid living in the present moment.

Some people resort to doing things that stimulate sensory pleasure, such as eating, alcohol or sex. Others will consume substances that dull their mind, and keep them from thinking about unpleasant or stressful situations.

A Wandering Mind

From the moment we are born (likely sooner) until the time we die, our body and mind are active performing some function. So it’s natural for our mind to have some level of activity, whether conscious or unconscious.

Generally, a wandering mind is unproductive. As noted above, one thought starts an endless chain of thoughts. The reason is that one thought reminds us of something else, and this process can go on until we need our mind to perform a specific function, or until we get distracted with something else.

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Now, there are times when a wandering mind can be productive, such as when creating works of art, or trying to find creative solutions to problems. In such cases, we need our mind to explore different possibilities.[3]

Outside Influences

Most of us are not fully aware of how our environment and social norms influence our thinking and behavior. People and institutions are constantly competing for our attention. The news media draw our attention to the past, and advertising usually to the future.[4]

Many people around us who dwell on the past or future try to draw us to their way of thinking. Even the whole concept of the American dream is geared toward the future. It tells us that if we acquire things like a good career, family, and house, then we’ll be happy.

Step 3: Practice Mindfulness

So how can we live in the moment in a world that is constantly trying to draw our attention to the past and future?

Before we get into concrete actions you can take, it’s important to understand what mindfulness is. You’ve probably heard the term before, but may not fully understand what it means.

Understand Mindfulness

The concept of mindfulness is actually quite simple. To be mindful IS to live in the moment.

When you are mindful, your attention is focused on what is happening in the present moment. When you are mindful, you are fully in touch with reality because the present moment is where reality is taking place.

You are aware of what is happening in your body, mind, emotions, and the world around you. This is different than thinking about these things. To develop greater understanding, you don’t have to think about them so much, but rather just observe them.

This may be counter-intuitive to many people, especially intellectuals, because they’re so used to using logic to develop greater understanding. With mindfulness, we calm our mind and emotions so we can see clearer. Then much of our understanding will come from simply observation. When we develop mindfulness, we literally expand our awareness.

To develop mindfulness, we need to train ourselves to observe things more objectively, that is, without our emotions or preconceived ideas influencing our views.

You’d be surprised to find out just how much your emotions and past experiences influence your judgments. What many of us do, including intellectuals, is make a quick judgment about a person or situation, then add the reasoning afterwards. That is not logic, but rather rationalization.

When you are mindful, you reserve judgment until you have more information. Notice how I said “more information,” and not “complete information.” It is impossible to have complete information about something because there are infinite numbers of factors affecting it. So the best thing to do is be as objective as possible, and always be open to new information.

Viewing the world in this manner can be a challenge, and takes some practice to overcome years of habitual thinking. But it can make our lives infinitely more fulfilling, as we’ll be able to make much better decisions that will result in real happiness and inner peace.

So if you’re ready to live a better life, read on for some simple mindfulness practices that you can incorporate into your busy life to help you live in the moment, that is, reality.

You don’t have to do all of them, but rather choose the ones that appeal to you, and suit your lifestyle.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is the mainstay of developing mindfulness and living in the moment. To practice mindfulness meditation, all you really have to do is sit quietly and follow your breathing. When your mind wanders off, just bring it back to your breath.

Notice how your lungs expand with each in-breath, and contract with each out-breath. Let your breathing become relaxed and natural.

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You don’t have to do it perfectly. The idea is to give your mind a rest from the constant sensory stimulation of all your activities, and just allow it to settle down naturally. Start with about 5 to 10 minutes per day and work your way up to about 20 minutes or longer.

This practice is highly effective, and can have both short-term and long-term benefits.

If you want to learn more about mindfulness meditation, take a look at this article: How to Practice Mindful Meditation to Calm Your Thoughts

Also, there are many good books on the market that explain the concepts and techniques in greater detail. Some examples are

Mindful Breathing

While this may sound the same as mindfulness meditation, all you’re really doing is taking short breaks occasionally (10 to 15 seconds) to observe your breathing. Stop whatever you’re doing, and take a few mindful breaths, then resume your activity. That’s it.

You can do mindful breathing at any time of the day during your busy schedule. What it does is interrupt the acceleration of your mind. It is like taking your foot off the accelerator while driving. It’s a nice refreshing break you can take without anyone noticing.

Here’re some breathing exercises you can try to learn: 5 Breathing Exercises for Anxiety (Simple and Calm Anxiety Quickly)

Mindful Walking

Walking is an activity that you perform several times throughout the day. We often think we’re being productive by texting, or calling someone while walking. But are we really?

Instead of getting on your cell phone, or letting your mind wander off, why not use your walking for training yourself to live in the moment?

Mindful walking is similar to mindful breathing. But instead of focusing on your breath, focus on your walking. Pay attention to each footstep. Also, notice the different motions of your arms, legs, and torso. When your mind wanders off, just bring your attention back to your walking.

You can even make a meditation out of walking. That is, go walking for a few minutes outside. Start by slowing down your pace. If you slow down your body, your mind will follow.

In addition to paying attention to your walking, notice the trees, sunshine, and critters. A mindful walk is enjoyable, and can really help your mind settle down.

Mindful Eating

Eating is an activity that most of us perform mindlessly. The reason is that it doesn’t require your attention to perform. So what many of us do is try to multitask while we eat. We may talk on the phone, text, watch TV, or even hold a meeting.

The problem with not eating mindfully is that we don’t eat what our body and mind need to perform at an optimal level. We may eat unhealthy foods, or too much. This can lead to various health problems, especially as we get older.

Mindful eating has many health benefits, such as reduced food cravings, better digestion, and even weight loss.[5]

So how do you eat mindfully? Start by slowing down, and avoid the temptation to distract yourself with another activity. Here are 3 different aspects of eating where you can practice mindfulness:

  • Eating itself: Focus your attention on choosing a portion of food to insert into your mouth. Notice the smell, flavor, and texture as you chew it; then finally swallow it. As with following your breath during meditation, pay close attention to every aspect of eating.
  • Choice of foods: Although you’ve already chosen your food before you have begun eating, you can still take the opportunity to contemplate your choices. Think about the nutrients your body needs to sustain itself. Ask yourself, “Is this what my body and mind need to be healthy, and perform at an optimal level?” “Is it sufficient, or too much?” By asking yourself these questions, you will be more inclined to make better choices in the future.
  • Contemplating the sources: Most of us don’t think about all the work it takes to provide us with the food we eat. While you’re eating, consider all the work by the farmer, shipping company, and the grocery store. These are real people who worked hard to provide you with the food necessary for your survival.

You can find more tips about mindful eating here: 7 Simple Steps to Mindful Eating

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Mindful Activities

Choose an activity that you perform regularly, such as washing dishes. Focus all your attention on this activity, and resist the temptation to let your mind wander, or get distracted. When it does, then just bring your attention back to washing dishes.

Notice some of the specific movements, or sensations of washing dishes, such as how the soapy water feels on your hands, the circular motion of scrubbing the dish, or the rinsing. You’d be surprised at how such a mundane activity can truly expand your awareness.

You can choose any activity you like, such as ironing, folding clothes, mowing the lawn, or showering. Over time, you will begin doing all these activities with greater mindfulness.

Bonus Suggestion

Here is one activity that is not generally considered a mindful activity. It is physical training. For those of you who already workout, it may be easy to see how physical training requires you to live in the moment.

Here’s how it works:

In order to perform an exercise to get the desired benefit, you need to use a proper technique. In order to use the proper technique, you need to pay close attention to how you are doing the exercise. In other words, you need to be fully present in the moment.

Another aspect of training that helps you live in the moment is tuning into what is happening in your body. First, during exercising, you need to pay close attention to how your body feels. Are you exercising hard enough, or not enough?

There are times to go easy, such as during warm-up exercises; and times to push yourself hard, such as when you’re warmed up and want to stimulate growth.

Second, when you’re not in the gym training, you need to pay close attention to the signals your body is sending you. What nutrients and how much do you need to consume to support your training? How much rest do you need?

By tuning in to your body, you force yourself to be in the moment. So, physical training done properly is just about as effective as meditation, or any mindful activity, for developing mindfulness. It’s also great for your health.

Final Thoughts

Practicing mindfulness is like regularly putting small amounts of change in a jar. They will all add up over time. And this will add up to greater peace and happiness.

Remember, you don’t have to do the mindfulness practices perfectly to get the benefits. All you have to do is keep bringing your mind back to the present moment when it wanders off.

Practicing mindfulness may be a bit challenging in the beginning; but I can assure you, it will get easier fairly quickly.

The benefits of living in the moment are well within your reach, no matter how much your mind is racing. If you stick with these mindfulness practices, you too will learn how to live in the moment and stop worrying; and when you do, a whole new world will open up for you. This is what Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh calls the ultimate reality.

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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