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Button Pushing!


Guest articles > Button Pushing!


by: Carol Davis


The question: What is it about BUTTONS that makes us all quiver in fear! Are buttons strictly defined as ‘words’ we say or can they also be non-verbal as in kinetic or other various forms of communication? Just to make sure we are all on the same page, here are a few of the examples I am referring to:

  • As in response to something said; “Whatever”
  • As in response to something, anything: “rolling of the eyes”
  • As in response to ‘Whatever’: Outrage!

So, it seems regardless of who pushes your buttons and the type of button, words, looks, etc., if you have a button pushed, you are more than capable of attempting to return the favor. So what is it that causes us to suffer this at least if not more, than once a month? I know some who have this happen every time they go to work, come home from work and then there are others that will tell you, just looking at my teenager pushes both of our buttons.

There are so many academic theories out there, but there is one underlying agreement; reaction to having your ‘button’ pushed is an ‘AUTO-DEFENSE RESPONSE’.

That means you do not even have to think about it. There are buttons you probably haven’t even discovered, but once you do you will never forget and defend it to the best of your ability for as long as you need to. Controlling how we feel and react to this ‘Auto-Defense Response’ takes work, time and lots of effort.

Cascading Adult-Child theory incorporates this defense response but goes one step further. The cause! Not historically, but here and now in the present. The theory concludes that the mere act of ‘reacting’ as we do when buttons are pushed, takes place when our mental and intellectual status is either in the Child state or causes the Adult state to go into a Child state. How is this concluded? Any and all fears or phobias take place in the child state. Because a ‘button’ or ‘buttons’ are defensive to begin with, they are classified as Child state.

Nearly all defense mechanisms take place when we are like ‘child’ in our psyche. It is how we view and react to the oncoming issue that causes us to either lift ourselves from Child to Adult or remain in the Child state until something comes along to assist us back into the Adult state.

Now that we have appropriately identified how our brains classify ‘Button’ pushing, what is the trick to ensuring you survive the onslaught? THERE ARE NO EASY OUTS! This is really worth repeating, ‘there are no easy outs.’ Exercising the ability to ‘Cascade back and forth from Adult to Child to Adult’ takes work! The first word in the last sentence described the procedure to a tee. It takes exercise and patience.

Journaling is by far the best resource you have, and a beginning. Journaling is the process of documenting from a historical POV (Point Of View) exactly what happened, when it happened, why it happened, how it happened. In addition, clearly identifying the ‘Button’ or ‘Buttons’ causing the feeling and/or reaction will help IQQ (Identify, Qualify and Quantify) this issue. At first you might be best off having the ability to record notes so that the moment is captured, or carry something to immediately make a few notes. This is considered Phase 1 of this push to control your reactions. The process looks like this:

  • A push of your Button/Buttons takes place (you finish the sentence or conversation)
  • You identify that a button has been pushed (This is done by recognizing that you reacted in some fashion and form)
  • You identify when in the period of time it happened (How long into the conversation, what time of day, in real time or a dream, etc.)
  • You identify what you were doing when it happened (What activity were you in or had just completed such as playing tennis, working at my desk, etc.)
  • You do your best to identify why it happened (Was this as a result of something said, done or just in passing, etc.?)
  • You identify who pushed your ‘button’/’buttons’ (Knowing who caused this reaction is very important!)
  • You identify where you were when this happened (What was your location when this happened; at work, playing in the park, sleeping, etc.)

You identify how many times this happened in relation to this single incident (This would be similar to counting how many times someone said something in one paragraph. You can identify this because you probably would say something like; ok, that’s enough, stop already, say that one more time and I’ll…)

Do your best to capture the above as soon as possible after it happens? KEEP DOCUMENTING! Do not worry about trying to analyze or review. Give yourself anywhere from one to 3 weeks, journaling this specific situation as many times and as much as possible. Some people find it difficult to keep a separate journal, it is ok to do this in ‘diary’ form, but that can cause extra work in the long run.

After you have waited the 1 to 3 weeks, it is time to start your analysis. You are trying to establish a pattern of information. Sometimes it turns out the pushing is from a co-worker/supervisor and at other times, it might just be your ‘best friend.’ Regardless of who or what caused your ‘button(s) to be pushed’ much information about how to help yourself can be gleamed. Do not worry about resolving your reaction at this point, we are only trying to identify the source and root reaction.

To this point we know there:

• Is/are button/s that exist

• Who/what pushed the button(s)

• What the button(s) were

The where and number of times can be useful information if you need to analyze for future. In the meantime, it is now time to try and figure out the WHY. By this we mean, why this is a ‘button or buttons’ situation. Unless you are an observer, absolutely not involved with either side (the pusher or the receiver) the why will not come right away! Instead, the why will work its way up thru your subconscious into your conscious little by little, until one day it sort of smacks you in the face as in “epiphany” and we are not talking months, years or lifetime. This process works rapidly, usually within several days to a couple of weeks once you start the journaling process! That means, even if you are only into your 3rd week of journaling, the process has already started! Your subconscious has already began to exercise and little by little, the exercise strengthens the ability to bring issues to the surface.

Now the Phase 2 begins. The phase where you might become uncomfortable. This is where you have inklings of what the root cause of reacting to a button/buttons might be. Continuation of exercise is vital and just because a couple of weeks journaling has taken place, does not mean you should stop. You need to continue exercising that part of the brain, otherwise you will have regression taking place (that is like beginning an exercise program, losing 10 pounds and saying to yourself, great now I can eat whatever I want). Your brain will start to identify the root cause and you should be including your feelings in your journal/diary all the while. Each week that passes by, you should go back and re-read that week. This reinforces the mental ability to work with this issue. It is here that at some point when the “epiphany” can start to work its magic and allow you to start building your ‘wall of resistance’ to those buttons.

Phase 3 is the final phase of this process. In this phase we can both understand internally what the buttons are and why we react when they are pushed. Now we can work towards not reacting in our Child state. Once the cause of our discomfort is established, and again with the exercise ‘thing’, we can exercise our ability to remind ourselves; the root cause of my discomfort associated with this button/buttons, is in the past, it cannot and will not affect me in the future. I am empowered to allow it to pass by me without a thought or worry. No you do not have to memorize the above! You need to put it into your own words and commit to writing it, BY YOUR HAND, not on the computer! Time and Time again, writing in your own hand has proven to be a VERY, VERY IMPORTANT tool the brain uses to remember and work!

There can be no guarantees this will work. It is a successful tool. BUT not all associations can be as easily corrected. If you find after DILLIGENT work has been put forth, and you are COMPLETELY HONEST with yourself that you have followed the above, your specific button is still being pushed, you will need external assistance moving from the Child state!

DO NOT GIVE UP ON YOURSELF! You deserve to not have buttons! You deserve to be reaction free, if you so choose! The last word on this;

"remember buttons are a mere reflection of unresolved issues still lingering within our brains. They deserve…, we deserve to set them free and in doing so, we are set free!"


[i] Please refer to article for reminder about the Theory:


Carol Davis can be found at and

Contributor: Carol Davis

Published here on: 11-Aug-13

Classification: Psychology



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