Kids are masters at button pushing. Or so it often feels. However, by looking at things from a new perspective you may find your buttons melting away and even feel grateful that your kids are such amazing teachers of button awareness.
When you’re having your buttons pushed ask yourself these seven questions:
1. What is triggering me?
Be specific about the thing that’s gotten under your skin. For example, My kids didn’t put their shoes on when I told them to, so I yelled at them.
2. What do I feel when I’m reacting to the situation?
Get clear on what feelings are coming up. Anger frustration, sadness, worry, fear? When you’ve mindfully felt the heaviness of a button being pushed it can inspire and motivate you to find out what it feels like to not respond to that button.
3. What is the interpretation I’m making that causes me to react?
Maybe you’re assuming that your kids want to make you late. Maybe you think they just don’t respect you enough to listen. Maybe you think if you were a better mom they’d do what you tell them. Maybe it’s that they just don’t care about anything, especially not you and all that you do for them. Understand exactly what story you’re assigning to the situation.
4. What’s another possible interpretation of the situation?
Looking at the situation in a new light can help you see it in ways that feel better to you and don’t result in you flipping out on your kids. Maybe they were preoccupied thinking about the mean kid at school they don’t want to see. Maybe they were engrossed in the sound of a bird singing outside. Maybe they were in the zone and desperate to finish their Lego tower before switching gears. Consider the possibility that their actions come from a positive place.
5. What’s really going on here?
The thing that triggered you isn’t really the issue. It’s just what at first glance appears to be the issue.
I yelled at my kids because they didn’t put their shoes on when I told them to.
What else? Go deeper.
I yelled at them because I was in a rush—we were going to be late.
What else? Go deeper still.
I didn’t want to be late to work because my boss already doesn’t like me.
I want my boss to like me.
I’m afraid that if he doesn’t like me I’ll lose my job and we’ll run out of money and have to live on the street.
OK, so what’s really going on is that you yelled at your kids because you’re afraid you’ll end up homeless. Now we’re clear.
6. What do I really want/need?
Your buttons point to a deeper desire or need. We tell ourselves the story that it’s about something else—in our example the kids putting their shoes on—but really there’s something deeper and more important going on. For instance, the previous example suggests that what you really need is to feel secure.
7. How can I go about getting the things I want/need in healthier, happier, more loving ways?
Reacting to the situation instead of mindfully responding to it may give you immediate results, but they won’t be sustainable in the long run. And chances are, even if your kids comply, your deeper want or need won’t be met because the fulfillment of our desires and needs must come from within.
Coaching for moms