When peacemaking doesn’t work and you can’t deal with the button pusher, or your own buttons you just have to abandon your adult sensibilities and join forces with your inner child. Shannyn Steel
Every now and then someone comes along and pushes all your buttons. Those great big red buttons, best used in case of emergencies. The ones best avoided due to the inevitable ugliness that can arise. Sometimes those very same people push those very same buttons on a seemingly regular occurrence. The worst button pushers, in my book, are the stealthy ones. The ones who won’t actually confront you, who actively avoid direct contact with you but make a raft of comments to others, provide input when you are not present and actively and subtly undermine you. They just seem to make those comments, dismiss and devalue you and your work in a calm, off-handed yet deeply cutting way. Their many small jibes, combined, are as strong and powerful as an upfront all out attack. Those buttons, once pushed, can send you reeling, into an internal rage or plummeting into an abyss of self-doubt and torture.
Of course, psychologists, and those whose buttons haven’t been pushed in the moment, will tell us the other person cannot make us feel a particular way, it’s our choice how we react to the momentum they use to push our buttons. They are, after all, our buttons. I agree and good advice suggests we attend to our buttons.
My first question in situations like this is always – where am I at fault? Is there some justification for the way this person is behaving (not that I condone bullying but behaviour happens in a context). It’s hard to stay calm and so terribly easy to dissolve into a trade of unpleasantness, behind the person’s back. But it’s wise not to go there, apparently (but by golly it does feel good to let it all out with a trusted friend). Sage advice also suggests we avoid confrontation. I’m onboard with that, though taking a direct and civil approach has yielded good outcomes for me in the past.
When calm reason fails, peacemaking doesn’t work and the professional advice just don’t cut it, I abandon my adult sensibilities and join forces with my inner child.
I actively avoid my inner child as a rule but she comes out to play, in ways never intended by the gurus, coaches and psychologists, when flummoxed by a button pusher and when I’ve failed to deal with my own buttons. At times like these, thank goodness they don’t happen often, I feel my demeanour slip and I slide dizzyingly into a place where biting, kicking, stamping and yelling feel like the best course of action. Of course, this isn’t entirely appropriate in many settings (mind you, I haven’t actually succumbed and staged this drama for real) but no one else sees the montage playing in my head, right! The physical and mental relief that would flow from a good old tantrum might just have a much-needed transformative effect. That got me thinking about healthy ways adults could unleash the inner beast of frustration in socially acceptable ways.
Running is good. People tell me drinking helps them but that doesn’t meet the healthy criteria (and this was all about avoiding self punishment), getting out in nature and sitting on the grass under a tree rates highly, walking too. Writing your frustrations is suggested by many (hey, I’m a genius and didn’t know it). Talking to a friend and a myriad of other great tips exist to relieve the frustration and stress of a situation.
Exercise and physical movement get high marks by a lot of sources. I guess we all knew that, though in a light bulb moment the realisation dawned that if our emotions, our stress, our anxiety can trigger chemical reactions which effect our physical health causing inflammation, a weakened immune system and more, then reversing the equation could have a similarly positive effect. Combined with the instinctual need to throw a tantrum I hit upon the single best outlet for dealing with the aftermath of your buttons being pushed.
When peacemaking doesn’t work and you can’t deal with the button pusher, or your own buttons. When you can’t seem to move on and things are weighing you down and you just have to punch the shit out of something; go a round with a boxing bag. You can hit and kick and yell and grunt and flay about until you have nothing left to give. It’s acceptable adult behaviour, and it’s a damned good salve for a raging mind, a wounded heart and a dinted ego. Plus, there are a whole raft of physical benefits from the release of endorphins. A good old round with a boxing bag can not only reduce the stress that’s mounted but stave off anxiety, boost self-esteem and improve sleep too.
Have you stumbled on any unique and successful ways to cope with an awkward situation and regain your equilibrium?
On a serious note: if you are experiencing workplace bullying or are in a difficult situation, don’t ignore it. It won’t go away on its own. Seek the assistance of the workplace advisor, a health care professional or a skilled and trusted colleague.