by Sunny Simon

Lisa arrived at our coffee date with a bright smile, but I sensed beneath the surface, something was bothering her. After we placed our order, I urged her to fess up. She sighed and admitted people had been pushing her buttons all week long. When I inquired which culprits, she gave me a list beginning with her boss, her sister, and of course, the gal at the mall. I could not help but laugh. We have a standing joke about the girl at the mall who hawks anti-aging products. She has a habit of zeroing in on your weakest feature as you pass by making you cringe when she loudly exclaims her magic elixir will fix your neck or whatever body part is succumbing to gravity.

Buttons require little explanation. We all have sensitive areas that make us emotionally volatile. One push and we’re thrown off balance. Instantly we begin feeling negative, insecure or just plain angry.

Lisa told me the other day she proudly turned in a complex work project ahead of schedule hoping for an atta-girl, some small consideration that her hard work was valued. What she received instead of a pat on the back, was an intelligible grunt and another assignment. She returned to her desk fuming over the lack of appreciation.

I stepped in to help my friend sort this out. Never before had Lisa cast her boss in a negative light. I inquired if her timing was off suggesting perhaps she enter his office at a bad time. After some consideration she revealed he had just returned from a three hour meeting with the corporate CFO. I suggested she chalk this one up to what was going on in his world and not take it personally.

Regarding her sister, siblings are notorious for button pushing because they know exactly where our soft spots lie. Lisa and I discussed her sister’s offhanded remarks. We agreed she would set boundaries letting her sibling know exactly what is off limits. By telling her sister what she does is offensive, Lisa may be able to stop this barb-flinging habit.

As far as the gal at the mall goes, there is a solution. Lisa can try the product (who knows, it might work) or not cross directly in front of the store.

Who’s pushing your buttons? Do some soul searching today and decide on the best way to deal with your reactions. Take control and push your reset button before those negative emotions begin festering.

Sunny Simon is the owner of Raise the Bar High Life and Career Coaching and the author of the blog www.lifeonthesunnyside.net

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