Who’s Pushing Your Buttons?

I have a confession. When I was working through my life coach training, there was on teacher who kind of irritated me. When I saw her name on the roster, I rolled my eyes and sighed and figured it was going to be a waste of my time. I still attended those classes, but it was with a sense of duty and obligation, rather than curiosity or joy. I listened with maybe 60% of myself and got through it. I checked the box. Why did I react that way to her?

I think there were a few reasons, so I’ll give you the surface ones first. First of all, I just wasn’t ready for the part of the course she was teaching. I was still working on some things that made it hard to hear what she had to say. Secondly, the material she was teaching was stuff I didn’t feel as naturally drawn to – had already decided it was not my strong suit, so I probably wouldn’t enjoy it or benefit from it. Now with just those two surface reasons, there’s plenty of room to talk about how I was limiting myself and how I got in the way of my own experience. Yes, yes, yes, all true, but I think the bigger issue for me with this amazing master coach and teacher was that the way she presented and held herself in the world was immediately off-putting to me. You say: “Wait, that’s not the surface reason?”

Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. And I’m saying that because my reaction to her and the way she walks through the world had zip zero to do with her and EVERYTHING to do with me. What you may not know is that I’ve changed. For a long time, I was keeping an awful lot to myself. It was easier to just go unnoticed than to jump into the fray and risk failing or looking stupid, or just having some kind of negative attention come my way. It felt safer to just muddle through, get done what I needed to get done. I was okay after all, and that’s good enough, right? Right? right? right…

Slide1Not for that coach it wasn’t. Just okay was definitely not good enough. She was so out front with herself that she was like a bullhorn for strength, power, and joy. I didn’t realize the bullhorn she was toting (metaphorically, she’s not THAT out there) had a message just for me. And that message said: “Where ARE you? Why are you hiding? Why are you playing small? What happened? Where’d you go? You didn’t always do this. What’s changed? Won’t you come out and play? Won’t you come out and BE YOU?” So, I ignored her. Yep, I did. I admit it. Just decided she wasn’t my cup of tea, played myself some soothing music, made sure I was calm and moved forward with my day.

Yes, it’s true, I have from time to time ignored messages that I would benefit from, but I wasn’t ready. I just wasn’t ready. And that’s okay. The thing is, I began to change anyway. I began taking risks. I began being more assertive with my opinions (rather than forgoing or taking a passive aggressive stance – “Why don’t you guess what I’m thinking?”) I began moving forward on silly domestic projects that had been stalled for weeks, months, some even for years. I began sharing more of the hard stuff. I began asking for help when I needed it. And as I did these things, a whole lot of other stuff changed too.

I found myself craving new music. The well-known soothing soundtrack that I’d arranged around me for years grew tiresome. As I reconnected with myself I felt moved to reconnect with music that inspired action, that expressed anger, frustration, and motion. I reconnected with dreams and desires I’d long put out to pasture as unrealistic and therefore not worthy. I got out in front. I even put myself first (whoa!) and decided not to apologize about that (double whoa!). I established my practice to help other women start to do the same, to reconnect with their core, to wake up to their own capacity, and to get out in front.

Slide2And then one day, a little video showed up in my Facebook feed. It was her, that coach and teacher who I’d written off before. I clicked on the video and was delighted to find she was speaking to me, and I was hearing it. I no longer found her anything but helpful, inspiring, quite amazing really. All that lukewarm negativity I’d felt before (but kept to myself, BTW) had nothing to do with her. It had EVERYTHING to do with me and the part of myself I saw in her, the fear I felt at the idea of being more like her, the lengths I’d gone to to stuff my own amazing because I’d tried and failed, or I was too tired, or I couldn’t possibly do all that, or “that doesn’t work for people like me.”  So much of what I thought was a reaction to her was just an old, tired conversation I’d been having with myself for far too long. Seeing her, and knowing she was fabulous whether I admitted it or not, pushed my little light-hiding buttons. But I don’t need those buttons anymore. I imagine I’ve sewed on some new ones, but THOSE buttons are gone. Game on.

Who pushes your buttons? How much of your reaction has nothing at all to do with that person? How much of your reaction has everything to do with some story you’ve told yourself about who YOU are? What could you learn by listening to the button pusher? What could you learn by really seeing the button pusher in you?

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