Trace it Back

Have you ever used the expression that someone has “pushed your button?” You know what I mean–that your response is an automatic reaction to the words or actions of another person. It’s almost as if we are free of responsibility for our response, which comes in handy, since we usually use that expression when our response is less than noble.

“Girl, I’m telling you she was pushing my buttons.”

Oh! Well in that case it’s fine to snap back, or go home and eat a quart of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. What can you do?

Isn’t it an interesting expression, though, this idea of a “button.” It sounds mechanical, like cause = effect without thought or exception. To react seems reasonable. Justifiable. Expected.

So, of course I started thinking about my own “buttons.” I remember an activity that used to be part of our leader training way back when; a way to uncover your values and how that shapes your leadership. It’s a reverse search, starting with those “buttons.”

Think about a room full of girl scouts, and ask yourself, after about 15 minutes what little thing will start making you crazy. If you can’t think of anything, stay in that imaginary room a few more minutes, or just be a little more honest. For example, I can tolerate creative chaos, or high volume, or chocolate for all three meals on a road trip.

But when a girl shirks responsibility or expects me to do something for her that she can do for herself I get my hackles up. So pinpoint something that pushes your “button” and then locate what that button is pushing against in you.  Trace it back. When I did that exercise I realized that I place a high value on honesty and responsibility. Not that I’m perfect in that department! But I learned to recognize why I react, and when I need to reframe my perspective. I can excuse being annoyed if I make it about a generation of entitled kids “pushing my button,” or I can redirect that emotional energy toward teaching something that I value. I’m the one having the reaction, right? So, it’s my job to do the inner work needed to take responsibility for myself.

And that is how we learn, I believe, to teach girls how to take responsibility when their “buttons” are pushed.