Have you ever had that person whose one exceptional gift is to push your buttons? Not only push your buttons but get under your skin like no other person? Oh, and let’s not forget, step…no, let’s make that STOMP on your last nerve. Every. Single. Time.

Let’s face it, there are people, who when you see them, you want to run the other way. But since you can’t, you grit your teeth and pray for the encounter to be over before you do something you’ll regret.

Yeah, me too.

Here’s the interesting thing I learned about this; there’s a pattern.

It’s YOUR button. 

It’s YOUR skin.

It’s YOUR last nerve. 

Because as much as you think this is about something outside of you, this energy vampire doing something TO you, it’s not. When someone externally can internally trigger you, it’s because of something inside of you. There is something inside of us that needs to be addressed, and this person has shown up as your “teacher,” and they’ve got a lesson to show you where you need to grow.

Why is this important?

Because if you don’t figure out what the lesson is in this situation, you will always be at the mercy of these negative people. It means that you don’t have control or influence over your own reality, and you’ve given your power away.

Let me give you an example. Back in my corporate days, I interacted with leadership in the C-Suite a great deal. In one organization, a member of the leadership team, let’s call him “Eddie,” would talk non-stop. I mean, he barely drew a breath in between sentences, so anyone else had a chance to speak. His favorite topic? Himself. He loved to talk about all the great things he was doing, how he conquered situations, and how everyone loved him. You know the type, right? Ugh…

I would see him coming down the hall, and my stomach would clench because I didn’t want to listen to one more second of me, me, me, I, I, I that permeated his conversations. It was so nauseating! That’s when I got curious. Why was I being triggered by this? He didn’t bother everyone, but he annoyed me. Why? After some introspection, I figured out what the issue was. Eddie was fabulous at using his voice and advocating for himself…and I wasn’t.

I was still of the mindset that you worked hard, and hopefully, someone would notice. Well, that ship had sailed already, and I still hadn’t gotten the memo. Besides, girls didn’t brag about themselves, right?

When I did start to speak up for myself, using my voice and advocating on my behalf, I noticed one day that Eddie didn’t bother me anymore. It wasn’t that he changed; it was that I did.

We all find ourselves stressed and dealing with negative people who push our buttons, whether on purpose or by accident. But it’s useless to blame people and situations outside of you for getting you upset because they are powerless without your reaction.

So here are some strategies to help change your reaction.

  1. Get rid of the emotional charge. If this person or situation is getting a rise out of you, it’s high jacking your rational thinking. You can feel your emotions, sure; just don’t hold onto them. Find a way to process your emotions that feels comfortable to you. You can talk it out, yell or scream it out (hello pillow!), journal, meditate, exercise, or click HERE for an experiential meditation on forgiveness.
  2. Don’t make it personal. Far too often, we take on things that don’t belong to us. If you think that this person’s bad mood, surliness, or general beef with the world is about you, you’re wrong. Everybody is dealing with their own stuff. It’s kids, spouses, work, finances, health; you name it. EVERYONE has something that is a thorn in their side, a worry, or is causing some anxiety because no one’s life is perfect. Don’t pick up what doesn’t belong to you and make it about you. You get to make the choice
  3. Ask yourself, where is this behavior in me? People show up as a mirror to us. They reflect what we can be or, conversely, what we don’t want to be. If you’re witnessing a behavior in someone else, you likely have the same potential inside of you. Take bullying, for example. One overarching theme of bullying is forcing an opinion or view upon others. Are there times where you assert your beliefs upon others, maybe not go as far as forcing, but you want to be right or make them understand your point? It’s not the same intensity, but it’s of the same vein. Explore where this behavior could show up in you, and that’s where the work lies.
  4. Don’t label them. When you label a person as irritating, a bitch, annoying, or any other identifier, you are essentially planting a seed in your mind that “this is what I want to find.” What you say (internally and externally) with your words and thoughts becomes an instruction to your mind, and when you label a person, it creates a filter of how you will experience them. You will never see them any other way than what you label them. That’s making more work for you!
  5. Seek to understand. I love this principle by Steven Covey, “seek first to understand.” What does that mean? People are not their behaviors. It means that a person’s behavior can be irritating, unacceptable, or frustrating, but they as a person, a human being are not. Everyone is doing the best they can with what they have. Your job, if you choose to accept it, is to understand as best you can, not judge.

I hope these tips bring you the clarity you need to take back your power and also the control of YOUR buttons, YOUR last nerves, and YOUR skin!

Be well,