My husband has a knack for pushing my buttons.
This morning when I entered the room wearing a neon yellow shirt, he made the comment, "You are so bright."
His tone was a bit flat, so the comment hung in the air, open to interpretation by me. My initial thought was, "What's that supposed to mean? I look ridiculous? He doesn't like it?". I was aware of my defensiveness creeping in so instead of reacting to the comment in a negative way (which could have started a whole thing over a dumb yellow shirt), I took a deep breath and then responded by saying, "Thank you".
He laughed thinking that I was jokingly thanking him for telling me how intelligent I was. We were then able to discuss what happened in a neutral way. I told him that a girlfriend would say, "I love your bright yellow shirt, or I don't think you should wear that bright yellow shirt", and that is why his comment left me hanging. He told me that he meant nothing at all by it. It was just an observation, not unlike the statement "two plus two is four."
I have to admit, it has taken me close to twenty-eight years to realize that no one, including my professional button pusher husband, can activate my buttons unless I allow them to.
My yoga practice has taught me to be aware of my thoughts. This awareness allows me to take a step back from my reactionary mind, so that instead of reacting in a negative or habitual way, I can choose the best response to whatever situation I am in at the moment. This has made all of my relationships better.
We all have buttons or sore spots in our psyche. They are created by past experiences that we haven't healed from or let go of. When something happens or someone says something that feels familiar to that old unhealed past experience, it is as if that pain button is pushed and we react to the present situation in a negative or unconscious way.
Some of our buttons are small and weak. Others are really big...practically lit up as if they are just waiting for someone to come along and push them.
Taking responsibility for your sore spots is an ongoing process. It requires the realization that we aren't always conscious of what lies just underneath the surface of our psyche.
Yoga philosophy and Buddhism name the following five mind states or kleshas. These afflictions of the mind are responsible for activating our unconscious pain response (pushing our buttons) which can "cloud the mind and manifest in unwholesome actions".
1. Lack of awareness (Avidya)
3. Likes (Raga)
4. Dislikes (Dvesa)
5.Fear of death (Abhinivesah)
According to yoga philosophy, all of the mental states listed above stem from the lack of the awareness of the self. When we realize that our true nature is one of eternal peace, joy, and love, we won't be driven by our ever changing ego, our likes and dislikes, or the fear of the end of life as we know it.
You can improve your relationships by watching your negative reactions and learning from them. Taking a moment before you speak will give you time to become present to the situation that is in front you, instead of being pulled back in time to an unhealed past experience.
Each time you choose to respond in a new way, an old habit will weaken leaving you open and ready to live in the present moment.
All Abhyasa Ahimsa Aparigraha Asmita-Ego Attachment Baron Baptiste Beginner's Mind Bramacharya Carl Jung Clear Seeing Colorless Comfortable Discomfort Creating Spaciousness In Mind And Body Cultivate The Opposite Deepak Chopra Dharma Empty Your Cup Enthusiasm Equanimity Family Fight Or Flight Great Vows Inner-awareness Inner Critic John Kabbatzinnb2faff332d Listening Mirrors To Ourselves Monkey Hunting Non Stealing Patanjali Pause Pillar Pleasure And Pain Posseses Us Practice Pratipaksa Bhavana Pratyahara Present Moment Present Moment Awareness Respond Instead Of React Samadhi Samskara Santosha Satya Sauca Sensual Pleasures Shadow Side Spirituality Steadiness And Ease Sthira And Sukha Strength Sustained Attention Svadhyaya There You Are Thich Nat Hahn This Too Shall Pass True Self Uncertainty Universal Truth What We Possess Wherever You Go Wisdom Yoga Philosophy Yoga Sutra 1. 14 Yoga Sutra 1.33 Yoga Sutra 2.33 Yoga Sutra 2 37cfe9965fa2 Yoga Sutra 2. 46 Yoga Sutras