The goal in addressing hot buttons is to manage them, not to eradicate them.
That would make you a robot with no emotions.
“The good thing about having our buttons pushed is that
we can no longer ignore the sensitive areas where we need to heal.”
– Mary Buchan
Hot buttons are a part of every person, and therefore they are a part of every relationship. You would not be human if you did not have emotional responses to events, statements made by others or the actions of others, including your spouse.
The goal is to recognize them and manage them so they don’t rule your life and your relationships. You can learn more bout identifying triggers like this in our live marriage seminar. And you and your mate can even learn to help each other manage your hot buttons so that it becomes a game or a secret language between you.
It begins with you!
Managing your hot buttons doesn’t begin with changing your mate, however. It begins with you. Even if your mate could avoid pushing your buttons, someone else would…someone in a store or at work or on your team, etc. So, to better control your buttons, there are a few steps that you can take.
Step 1: Identify your hot buttons!
So, what are your hot buttons? Do some introspection and self -evaluation. Take ownership of your own feelings and hot buttons. Don’t expect your mate or others to know what your hot buttons are if you don’t. Get a blank sheet of paper. Now look at the list below and write down 3 to 5 of your “hottest” buttons on the sheet of paper. This is not a comprehensive list, so feel free to write down any that aren’t on the list. Begin with the thought:
My hot buttons get pushed when I feel…
- Feeling Defective
- Not Trusted
Think about this:“Every hot button has an origin, and it is not your spouse!”
What made your hot button an emotional trigger? Was it a controlling mother or a father who devalued your thoughts and opinions? What is being humiliated or bullied at school? Did you feel abandoned because a person or people near to you died when you were a child? Whatever the feeling, go back as far as you can in your memory to a time when you felt that button getting pushed. That is most likely representative of why you have this particular hot button.
Step 2: Beside each hot button that you wrote down, now write down where you believe that this button originated.
Your hotbutton may have come from a childhood memory or even a past relationship experience such as an affair…no matter the type. Once that you have identified some of your hot buttons and where you believe they originated; you are ready for the next step.
Step 3: Replace that negative thought and feeling with a positive thought and feeling.
What is the truth about you? What is a positive affirmation that you could make about yourself? Are you really worthless, unimportant, stupid, controlled, powerless, unwanted, without a valid opinion, etc. The truth is usually the exact opposite of the feeling from the hot button. “I am valuable, important, smart, empowered, wanted, with a worthwhile opinion, etc. “Write the truth about you underneath or beside each hot button that you listed. You may not completely believe the truth/positive affirmation yet, but it is important that you begin to speak it and believe it if you want to neutralize the hot button that you are experiencing.
Step 4: Practice managing your hot buttons.
Don’t wait until you’re in the heat of an emotional exchange with your mate to practice managing your buttons. Take the list that you have made and go down the list, one by one, following this pattern:
- Take a deep breath and say: My hot button is getting pushed and I am feeling ______. I realize that this is coming from my childhood/youth when________. The truth is ______.
Example: (Deep breath!) My hot button is getting pushed and I am feeling controlled. I realize that this comes from my youth when I felt very controlled by my mother. The truth is, I am an adult and no one controls me unless I give them permission to.
Practice identifying the button, recognizing where it is coming from and what the truth/positive affirmation is that you want to remind yourself of. Do this for every button that you can identify.
Now, you are ready to share these with your mate. Let them know that you are working hard to manage your hot buttons because he/she and your relationship are important to you. Ask if you can share about your hot buttons and say that you would like their feedback and help in managing your buttons. Hopefully, you mate will respond in a positive fashion and be willing to identify some of their own hot buttons and learn to manage them as well! If not, keep working on yourself and perhaps seek out marriage help if your mate is willing to go with you. Whatever the outcome, you can become emotionally healthy, with your hot buttons under control and improved relationships in every area of your life!