I hope you are enjoying this beautiful week when we are finally seeing some evidence of Spring.
Personally, I have been on a high. My lighthearted feelings come partly from the weather, but mostly on the heels of a weekend I spent in an experiential growth program with the masterful Bettie Spruill. Bettie is a world renowned coach and trainer who has been leading transformational workshops for over 30 years.
Much happened during the weekend and I have had lots to ponder. One of the moments that stood out the most for me was a story that Bettie told us.
In addition to running trainings all over the world, Bettie works in a women’s prison. One day after a session, one of the inmates came to her office and said, “Miss Bettie–I am so mad, I just want to slap you!” and without missing a beat, Bettie replied, “You want to slap me? You can’t slap me–I don’t have a slap button.” And the woman angrily said, “What do you mean?” and Bettie calmly answered, “I don’t have any part of me that would allow being slapped.” The woman paused, settled down and then said, “You’re right Miss Bettie, I could never slap you–I love you!”.
I’ve done a lot of transformational work over the past five years and have supplemented it with much reading on the topic. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that happiness does not stem from what you have or what you do in the world. Happiness stems from your thoughts and feelings around what you have and do. Happiness has to do with what you make things mean about you and how attached you are to them.
This is why two people in the exact same circumstance may feel completely differently about their lives. One may feel like life has worked out beautifully and they have more than they could ever be thankful enough for, while the other feels like a complete failure and that they have not amounted to anything. The circumstances are the same, but the thoughts and feelings around the circumstances make one person happy and the other miserable.
When I think about Bettie’s slap button from this perspective, it makes a whole lot of sense to me. Your buttons are the meanings and attachments you have to things and situations in your life. If you don’t have a button, whatever happens or is said can’t affect you.
I feel very fortunate that slapping and other physical violence is not a concern for me. Those buttons are not part of my world.
But what about buttons that hit your insecurities–that you are not a good enough (mother, wife, daughter, friend), that you don’t matter, that you don’t fit in, that you aren’t attractive enough, rich enough, experienced enough, smart enough, athletic enough or well travelled enough?
What about buttons that hit part of your personality–that you are aloof, over bearing, bossy, rude, thoughtless, selfish, controlling, judgmental, annoying or competitive?
An easy example—If someone calls me a right wing lunatic, it is not going to get a reaction out of me. I will laugh and with no defensiveness or anger tell them that they have the wrong person. I so firmly do not have a conservative button that the comment does not have any power to touch me.
BUT–if someone were to call me a control freak? That is a different story. Being controlling is something that I have worked to move away from. If an accusation like that got tossed my way–I’m not sure. I would like to say that the button is gone. But there is certainly some likelihood that my control button could still be pushed. Once it was activated I might feel or behave defensively around the fact that I’m not like that anymore–which would of course prove that I am.
So I love this idea of buttons and how recognizing your buttons can help you deal with areas in your life where you don’t yet have peace.
When do your buttons get pushed? Is it with your kids? Your husband? Your boss? World events? Is it with customer service reps or the weather? Is it when you travel on trains, planes or automobiles? Or do all of those circumstances have the power to push your buttons?
Try to start noticing your buttons. What is really going on? Are you feeling ignored? Less than? Scared? Unloved? Hurt? Sad? Lonely? Disrespected? Are you feeling sorry for yourself?
When you can identify the feeling underneath your reaction, that is when you can start deactivating your buttons. Because when you know how you really feel, then you can do something to change it.
Do you need help with your buttons? Can you identify them, but have no idea how to make changes? Do you make inroads and then slide backwards? If so, I can help. Please hit contact in the upper right hand corner of this page so that we can set up a time to talk–and remember, first calls with me are always free.
Here’s to deactivating all of our buttons!