RED BUTTON THEORY
As we move through life and interact with each other, we can often be puzzled by our own or someone else’s behaviour.
After a particularly unpleasant encounter with a man in the main street of my hometown, I was stunned, hurt, angry and felt a strong sense of injustice that I had been on the receiving end of his pent up anger, insecurities, grief and frustration at life. I hadn’t done anything merely said ‘hello how are you?’ and he had unleashed a powerful emotional force that literally blew me off my feet. Not much was actually said, but it didn’t have to be – he was not at peace with either himself or the world and I happened to be the one on whom he chose to vent his negative energy. I left the scene quickly but afterwards I was troubled for days. I hadn’t deserved the emotional push, I wanted to ignore it on one hand and yet go give him a mouthful on the other.
It challenged me, made me think about what he might be going through and left me feeling like he should have asked how I was too. We had both shared a catastrophic event that left us grieving on many levels. I knew that, he knew that, but somehow he seemed to expect that I also knew that he didn’t want to be asked ‘how are you?’
The answer must have held too much pain for him. My concern was genuine. Life had taken its toll on both of us as life can at times. I had inadvertently pushed his red button and he had retaliated with aggression and defensiveness. It got me thinking that this is how arguments often start, escalate and sometimes even develop into wars.
His reaction to me pressing his red button set off my own red button. I can’t stomach injustice at any level and I felt he had been unjust to me. Instead of walking away, I could have retaliated which in all likelihood would have caused an upfront argument. Others were there and they may have joined in and even taken sides and before we knew it, an all out very destructive confrontation could have occurred.
Fortunately I had the sense to walk away – this time. I was able to stand back and see things from his point of view. I tried to understand him better and not allow myself to react to his actions in a negative way. I haven’t always done that well. I have allowed my own red buttons to cause me to act in hurtful ways. I have missed out on peace and love because I got angry myself.
I actually bless this man and this encounter because it has set me on a path of better thinking. It has caused me to stand back more and empathise with people before I react. It allows me to know more peace and love.
I hope he was able to do the same.
Merelyn Carter - Be HappyFrom Merelyn's Inspire Book
Merelyn’s writing is supported in part by the sale of her books. Autobiography - ‘The Deepest Part of Me’. ‘Inspire’ – inspirational reflections for your life’s journey. ‘Stories behind the Songs’ and her first children’s picture book ‘To The Moon and Back - Grandma’s Rocket Ship Adventure’. To find out more about her work and to support her through the purchase of her writings and music, please go to www.carterandcarter.com.au