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Most anyone would be familiar with the touch activated talking toys.  Implanted beneath the surface is a button that when pressed activates sounds, such as used in talking toys.  Squeeze the hand and dolly says "I'm hungry", squeeze the foot and she says "I love you", squeeze her nose and she cries. You get the picture.

Imagine for a moment that we have a similar mechanism. Beneath our surface are many little invisible buttons that when activated send a message to our emotional memory center that we are danger. They come from painful emotional experiences in our past. They can't be seen, and we may not even be aware of them ourselves, until they become triggered by the words or actions of another person.  Remember the amygdala hijack?  When we feel attacked we react, often returning fire, inflicting harm on the one we perceive hurt us.  And so it goes, you hurt me, I hurt you back.  

The Smalley Relationship Center calls this the "Fear Dance".  This is how they explain it:
When we hurt we experience a range of emotions: bewilderment, sadness, disconnection, anger, confusion, worry, frustration, embarrassment., just to name a few.  When we hurt, we want a solution, something to happen that will make us feel better, make the hurt go away.  Sometimes we use eating, shopping, drinking, other substances, or anything that will help us forget our troubles.  

Without even realizing it, we may expect others to satisfy that need and give us what we want.  We live in "If only" land.  "If only my spouse was more loving...If only the kids would be quiet...if only I had a raise..." The "If only" is usually followed up with "then I could be happy".
Smalley goes on to say that at the heart of this "dance" is misplaced expectations.  When we expect people, places, and things to fulfill our wants, we will be disappointed.  When we place our expectations for help in the wrong place, fear is the result.

Fear? What are we fearing?  Look at the list below and see if you can relate to any of the fears listed there.

rejection, humiliation, abandonment, worthlessness, being invalidated, being invisible, condemned, judgment, failure,  loneliness, neglect, disconnection, feeling unwanted, unhappiness,  powerlessness, feeling inferior, danger, insecurity, feeling defective, despair, feeling devalued, ignored, mistrust, being misunderstood

As with all personal growth, self awareness is the first step. Recognizing the feelings as a fear response for not getting what you want or need will help keep you from reacting when your buttons are pushed. Eventually you may not even notice!

For more great relationship information check out the Smalley Relationship Center at [Link Removed]


Coachmombabe, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.



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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Mz. Queen wrote Jan 30, 2009
    • How timely.  Disappointment last night was so strong that it manifested into disgust. It kept me from getting a good nights sleep and my stomach had ulcer activity, indigestion and the works.

      Pushing my buttons is the presence of my son in my house, disturbing my empty nest with his untimely presence. And this too shall pass.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Coachmombabe wrote Jan 30, 2009
    • Ladies, I understand! My buttons have been pushed by my adult kids not taking care of my property while they have been living with us. I have released my expectations in exchange for building relationship, knowing that they will be leaving soon.  

      ganma, glad your little one is okay! I think she’ll survive without Disney! estatic



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Martinilush wrote Jan 30, 2009
    • LOL - 47! This too shall pass is something I keep repeating to myself several times each day it seems! My 5 year old son is totally pushing my buttons these days. His latest is that he has gone from eating anything and everything I put in front of him to not wanting to eat ANYTHING I offer! AAARGH! I am pulling my hair out!!!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Coachmombabe wrote Jan 30, 2009
    • It’s just a phase, he’ll outgrow it. I think my youngest son was 7 before he ate on a regular basis! He’s 22, 6‘4” and probably 250 lbs now!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Martinilush wrote Jan 30, 2009
    • oh, thank you - that makes me feel sooooo much better! I keep wondering if he is going to starve to death!! tongue out



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Psalmist wrote Jan 30, 2009
    • my buttons are pushed by inconsiderate drivers and i will often lash out on the road (even from non-road related things).  i sometimes do reckless things and i will often “step outside of myself” and say “are you nuts???? what do you think you‘re doing???” and yet, even though i thought i would calm down as i aged, my buttons seem to be on a hair trigger lately.  i don’t think it’s menopause, but i find myself getting angrier and angrier at smaller and smaller things lately.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Cynthia Schmidt wrote Jan 30, 2009
    • Cindy I think this is a good lesson for the ladies at Shiloh. So many of us will lash out in one way when we‘re really hurting from something completely different. It’s confusing at best for the target of our outburst and yet even though we have a verbal or emotional release, there’s no real resolution if our release is misdirected.

      When you‘re talking with the ladies you may want to guage their understanding and connection by watching their eyes, body language (are they fidgeting or are they engaged) and see if you notice any heads nodding. Then you know you’ve connected with them.

      I hope this helps. I hope this is helpful feedback.

      The topic is a good one!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Coachmombabe wrote Jan 30, 2009
    • Psalmist, have you had any thyroid issues? Just a shot in the dark, but I have hyperactive thyroid nodules and when they go into hyperdrive, it causes me anxiety much like severe PMS.  

      BTW, inconsiderate drivers are a major pusher of my husbands buttons too!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Coachmombabe wrote Jan 30, 2009
    • That’s very good, Cynthia! Thanks!

      You are right, most of the time they’ve no idea what they are really responding to is an old emotional experience rather than the immediate situation.  

      The main focus of this lesson is recognizing that our reaction is from the fear we have of not having our needs or expectations met. I may need to work on clarifying that.

      Thank you!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Psalmist wrote Jan 30, 2009
    • nope, my last physical was completely clean, so no physical problems.  I’ve always had major mood swings via pms, but lately, they haven’t been scheduled around my monthly schedule, i just fly off the handle. granted i deal with complaints for a living, so i have a lot of negativity shoveled at me all day.  i’m due for my annual physical in March, so I’ll bring that up, but maybe its pre-perimenopause?????



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Coachmombabe wrote Jan 30, 2009
    • haha, Psalmist, I blame EVERYTHING on peri-menopause! estatic



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Onevision wrote Jan 30, 2009
    • That darn menopause. What do the guys have to deal with? US, I guess! HA!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Onevision wrote Jan 30, 2009
    • That darn menopause. What do the guys have to deal with? US, I guess! HA!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Robinesque wrote Jan 30, 2009
    • Today?  My husband!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Mztracy wrote Jan 30, 2009
    • my buttons get pushed by:

      people who park in handicapped that do not need to
      people who think their sh** doesn’t stink when it DOES!
      people who think they are better than others...hmmmmm
      anonymous!

      gr8 blog!!

      oh and my kids...lmao



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Dee Dee Shaw wrote Jan 30, 2009
    • Great article Cindy! When my buttons are being pushed I turn it into a game (I am competitive) and ask myself who’s winning? who’s in control? Sometimes I allow them to trigger responses without realizing it though. My teenage boys have been doing alot of that lately with their daddy not here.
      One other thing I’ll mention (and am I going out on a limb here.) I have learned a technique called EFT - which actually ‘untriggers’ the buttons. Your analogy was a good one to play off of - we have electrical currents that ‘trigger’ our responses when our buttons are pushed. Sometimes, like a broken record, they continue to send signals when the button is no longer being pushed. This results in continued behaviors, even after the event has long since past. We can ‘reset’ these signals using a technique of tapping meridians. It is based on the same principles of accupressure, but it actually helps you remove the emotional trigger as well as the broken repeating signal. If I have piqued your interest, hop over to youtube and do a search for EFT (Emotional Freedom Techique) and watch a demonstration. I know it looks hokey - but try it - it works is all I know. estatic
      Now, for those who didn’t already think I was missing a few light bulbs, there is no question is there? LOL
      It really does make a lot of sense when you understand the underlying phisiology that is being affected.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Coachmombabe wrote Jan 31, 2009
    • DeeDee, I’ve actually read about EFT, but I’ve never known anyone who uses it! That would be a great question to post. You want to or should I? estatic



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Jackie Croasdale wrote Feb 4, 2009
    • My Husband is pushing my buttons right now, telling me what I should and should not do because he thinks it is not right, where does he get off being so high and mighty, damn.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Robinesque wrote Feb 4, 2009
    • Jakaroo, sounds like mine!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Gottagorightnow wrote Feb 18, 2009
    • I’m surrounded by passive aggressive people - my sister, my mother and my husband....they push my buttons big time...and I let ‘em...how dumb is that?



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Coachmombabe wrote Feb 18, 2009
    • Gotta, that’s not dumb at all! Most of us do that until we are aware of it. But now that you are aware...yeah, you can change that!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Faye43 wrote Sep 5, 2009
    • I hate it when you are having such a wonderful day. You walk around with that warm fuzzy feeling and are so content and than along comes someone.....bam!!! they totally burst your happy bubble. I guess this is the ultimate red button push worried Great one Cindy, thanks estatic



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