Today, I share a (humble) story that didn’t give me the lesson it was supposed to until a long while later.

Years ago, I was ranting to my coach about some gross injustice that had been done to me by someone or other, and he came back to me with this retched response:

She’s clearly pushing your buttons, but they’re your buttons. Your job is to learn to manage them.

WHAT?! The nerve! As if! How DARE he suggest that the reason I was so upset was (even in part) because of some flaw of my own

I seethed. 

Now HE was pushing my buttons. But a different set of them.

I’m quite certain I got off that call unsatisfied to say the least and riled up to put it more accurately. But here’s what I’ve learned since then – he was right. When we’re triggered, it’s usually a sign that we’ve got some sort of unresolved hurt that doesn’t likely have anything at all to do with the person that hit the nerve.

Practicing mindfulness is about consciously and non-judgementally becoming more aware, and in this case, taking it a step farther and getting curious. Not necessarily in the throes of righteous indignation (it’s far too much fun to expend a lot of energy in that space), but once the dust has settled a bit from the “blow.” Simply ask yourself, “why was that so upsetting to me? What story am I telling myself or what belief do I have that was stirred up by that situation? That I’m not respected? Not seen as important in some way?” You might be surprised at what you discover: perhaps that it wasn’t so much about what the other person said as it is about a belief you have. And now you’re empowered to question that belief and potentially lessen the trigger.

Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes things can simply be hurtful in which cases a different set of realizations to navigate the situation are helpful. Recall: hurt people hurt people. However, it’s worth taking a look at what’s going on in our minds, unconsciously, when we feel reactive. So this week I’ll reiterate something that very mean coach pointed out to me:

Others might push your buttons, but the buttons belong to you. And they can be managed.

I’m going to send a silent thanks out to that dreadful coach and to marvel at the way things can blossom years after the seed was planted. I’m also going to wish you a wonderful remainder of your week.