Archive for August 11th, 2011

Upon my return to therapy, at the end of my first session, I asked my therapist how I can process emotions without being swept away by them. His response was to give me homework the next week. He wants me to pay attention to each time someone pushes my buttons and then fill out a worksheet. These are the four questions he wants me to address:

  1. Identify the people who frequently “press your emotional buttons.”
  2. What emotions do you feel when these people press your buttons?
  3. How do you usually respond when these people press your buttons?
  4. What could be an effective way to disable these emotional buttons (that is, disable the button while feeling the feeling)?

I didn’t need to wait to fill out #1. I am painfully aware of the people who press my buttons, and the main ones live under my roof.

So far, I am beginning each response to #2 with anger. I guess that is progress because I used to react with shame, guilt, and fear of no longer being loved. Now it just p@$$es me off. Underneath the anger is sadness and frustration with my husband and mostly frustration with my kid.

For #3 – How I respond varies depending upon the situation. I was surprised to discover that my husband actually presses my buttons more by the things he doesn’t do than with the things that he says or does. Because he is typically not around when I discover the latest thing he failed to do, I don’t really react since he isn’t around to react to it. It’s more just grumbling in my own head.

I actually had to call a friend and ask if “inaction” counted as button pushing. She said it did, so I am including it. I think it is an interesting thing to note that inaction is what is really bothering me the most with him. Of course, the week is not over yet…

And then there is #4, which remains completely blank. How can I disable these buttons? I have no idea. With my husband, I mostly choose to stop caring. The sad thing is that, the fewer behaviors (or inaction) I care about, the less I care. That can’t be healthy for a marriage.

With my son, I actively choose not to go head-to-head with him because that is counterproductive. I have to step away and think through how to accomplish what I need to accomplish in a different way. Some strategies work nicely, such as rewarding him for making good choices. Other strategies, such as trying to reason with him, don’t work very well at all. He has a variety of special needs, which makes parenting him a challenge since none of the tips in the parenting books work for him.

I am going to keep trying to fill out my worksheet, but I fear that #4 will remain blank.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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