Taking Responsibility for Your Emotional Reactions
Your Hot Buttons
A favorite expression of mine is “Your family can press your hot buttons better than anyone else because they created them.” You developed many of your emotional sensitivities during your formative years. And you have inadvertently strengthened those sensitivities every time you’ve reacted to your hot button issues. In this way, certain mental patterns become entrenched. If, for example, I become upset when someone doesn’t thank me for a gift, I have reinforced my emotional sensitivity to behaviors that I perceive as bad manners.
Address Your Reactions Mindfully
Mindfulness practice can be invaluable in dealing with your hot button sensitivities. If you find yourself triggered by someone else’s behavior, try taking these steps:
1. Take responsibility for your negative reaction. This is your own emotional response. It is not someone else’s fault that you are sensitive to particular behaviors. You have a habitual mental pattern that arises when you perceive and interpret certain situations in a negative light.
2. Name the emotional reaction you’re experiencing – fear, anger, hurt, shame, etc.
3. Drop the blaming storyline. Your mind will want cast the other person as the perpetrator and yourself as the victim. Poor you. If So-and-So hadn’t done such-and-such, I wouldn’t be feeling so … blah blah blah. Do your best to drop this drama-trauma storyline.
4. Rein in the desire to blame the other or defend yourself self-righteously.
5. Take the time to feel and then investigate your emotions.
6. Identify your hot button.