The Source of our "Buttons"

1) Our experiences, following emotional injury the pain of the experience is in our memory and we have an area of sensitivity. If something in the present reminds us of the past experience, (any sense) that button gets pushed.

2) Our brains, we are each wired differently. If we are introverted, being pressed for information may push a button. If we are verbal and open, the other person withdrawing from us may push a button. Know what type of communication processor you are;

3) Our immaturity, we all have gaps between how mature we should be and how mature we actually are. Areas of immaturity create buttons. This is evident in our communication. If the situation requires us to be mature in one of those areas, our button gets pushed.

4) Our convictions, most of us have topics about which we feel strongly. It pushes our “hot button” if someone challenges or disrespects one of those areas.


If you find yourself responding emotionally to what
someone said, say so, and ask for more information: "I may not be
understanding you correctly, and I find myself taking what you said personally.
What I thought you just said is.... is that what you meant?"

Remember if you do what comes naturally you will be wiped out. If we do what comes naturally, following our intuitive impulses, bad conflict results. For negative conflict to become solved conflict we must go against the grain and intentionally do certain things to make it happen;

1) HUMILITY-the ability to acknowledge personal wrongness. A lack of humility feeds bad conflict in “rightness battles.”

“I could be wrong, you could be right. Let’s talk.” This is a learned behavior and we get better with practice.

Admitting we may be wrong strengthens our humility and decreases defensiveness.

2) SELF-AWARENESS-We all have gaps between our chronological age and our maturity, gaps between what we should do and what we actually do. We may be unaware of these gaps so they are “blind spots” or weak places noticed by others but not by ourselves. Developing self-awareness helps us to have “gap glimpses” to step back and see our blind spots so we can see the good and bad parts of ourselves and address any problem areas.

So Humility enables us to acknowledge potential wrongness on our part, awareness enables us to observe actual wrongness.

3) RESPONSIBILITY- Admit faults. We become aware of a gap and it bothers us, the most helpful thing to do is take responsibility for it and admit it. “Confession is good for the soul.” We need to apologize and do the appropriate “repair work.”

Take 100% responsibility for what you say and do

Take the initiative to apologize

Apologize sincerely

Apologize for specific offenses

4) EMPATHY-“The capacity for participating in another’s feelings or ideas.” If we are empathic, we seek to understand the other person. We consider the impact of our words and actions and allow that understanding to shape our behavior. With empathy, it bothers us if something we do or say causes pain for another person

Author's Bio: 

This article is a blog written by Marta Hatter, LCSW @

Marta provides psychotherapy services in Irvine, Ca. and is an EMDR Certified therapist specializing in both Relationship Therapy and Trauma Treatment.