Stop letting them push your buttons

The more you allow them to upset you, the more power you give away to them. Set boundaries and stop letting them cross the line.

Image by @shanti via Twenty20

by: E.B. Johnson

As we move through this life, we’re sure to encounter people who annoy, irritate, and even enrage us. Not everyone is on the same wavelength as us, and we all have a different way of looking at the world. Part of learning how to navigate this difference in outlook and opinion is learning how to detach from it. After all, when we give people the power to impact our emotions — we give them power over us.

Stop letting people push your buttons. Stop letting them cross the line and stop allowing them to manipulate what you want and how you feel about your life. Start standing up for yourself and understand how much power you give away when you allow someone else to rupture your mood or ruin your day. You alone have power over your life and what happens with it. Embrace that and take back power for yourself and your happiness.

We give them power over us.

Emotions are a strange thing. They are at once powerful and delicate, rising up in us in the blink of an eye and moving us to some strange and irrational behaviors. Our feelings can be so strong that they seem overwhelming. It can feel as though they are moving us from the inside out, but we are the true masters of our emotions. Beyond that, we are the ones who choose how to react (if we react at all). We can’t blame someone else for making us unhappy. We choose to give our power away.

Getting emotional as a result of someone else is the same as handing over your personal power to them, gift-wrapped. It’s tying a string to the things they choose to say and do, rather than focusing on your own journey and the things you need to accomplish in order to feel as though you’re thriving.

If you want to take back your power and stop allowing annoying, hurtful, or irritating people to run your life — you need to recognize the signs, and learn how to stand up for yourself. Set more concrete boundaries and be clear about what you are and are not willing to tolerate. Then detach yourself emotionally and know that you have every right to walk away and create more space for yourself and your joy. Go to bat for yourself and be assertive enough to protect your wellbeing.

Signs you’re letting them get to you.

Are you letting someone in your life push your buttons? Is there an annoying or irritating individual that always seems to detonate your day? These negative influences can take a serious toll on our own personal wellbeing. To defeat them, we need to understand the warning signs of a loss of personal power.

Zero boundaries

Do you let people push you around? Do you set boundaries and then let certain people walk right over them? This is a classic sign that you’re losing your personal power. Rather than stand up for yourself, you give into emotional manipulation and let someone else push you around at the drop of a hat. All because you feel insecure, or you feel a need to please someone who has previously criticized you.

Feeling guilty

Guilt can be another sign that someone in your life is pressing your buttons in all the wrong ways. Perhaps you try to tell them “no” or avoid them, then they lash out with passive aggressive behavior that makes you feel bad for doing something for yourself. This is emotional manipulation, and one of the most common tactics someone might use to get us to change our behavior (or do what they want).

Constant anger

Anger is a powerful emotion, and it’s one which can arise from a number of places. When we get angry, we often lose control — and manipulative people spot that. Seeing how you react, they realize that they can gain control of you by upsetting you. Once you’re angry, you’re thinking clouds and you can then find yourself lashing out and reacting…instead of analyzing how you feel and walking away. They force you to engage in the worst possible behavior.

Low-blow behavior

Is there someone in your life who just seems to bring out the worst in you? Do they lash out at you, take jabs, and then act surprised when you sink to your lowest self in a means to hurt them back? When this happens, we end up with a bigger mess and more injury than the original wound. This person ultimately makes you a worse version of yourself, and it entertains them, validates their worst beliefs about you, and makes them look even better.

Switching aims

Have you found yourself changing your goals or the things you want in your life because of criticisms or input from outside sources? Maybe they rejected you, or told you that your idea was silly. So you changed course, put the damper on your dreams, and started doing something else differently entirely. Mis-aligning ourselves like this (based on someone else’s opinion) is a surefire sign that we’re giving our power to them and letting them push our buttons.

Eroded sense of self

Who are you? Have you lost touch with your core sense of self? Have you lost sense of your worth? When you have people in your life that push all your emotional buttons, or boss you around, you lose sight of who you are as an individual and what you want from your life. Within that, you can find that you also find that you stop valuing your needs, and start putting the needs and validation of others over your own true happiness.

How to stop allowing them to push your buttons.

You can’t allow toxic or harmful people to push your buttons forever. Taking back our personal power is a process, and it’s one that takes some conscious work. The results are transformative for our lives and our happiness, though. When we get behind the emotions and start standing up for ourselves, our boundaries fall into place.

1. Get behind the emotions

Dealing with someone who irritates us or makes us upset is challenging. They put us on edge and elicit some serious reactions that can overpower and overwhelm the entire situation. One great way to prevent blowups with these types of people, though, is to spend some time getting behind the emotions. Question why they make you feel the way they do and seek solace (and personal resolution) in the answers.

Avoid burying the emotions away when this aggravating person comes into the picture. Instead, take a step back and analyze the way you’re feeling. Where are these emotions coming from? Are they reminding you of any negative experiences? Are you projecting anything onto this other person?

Let go of your need to react to their behavior or their remarks and embrace an analytical approach instead. By seeking to understand why we feel certain ways, we increase our emotional intelligence and enhance the way in which we see others and the world around us. Getting behind the emotions is a brave thing to do, and brave things require deep courage. Have the courage to question how you feel.

2. Set clearer boundaries

There cannot be enough said about the power of boundaries. Every relationship we build thrives from clearly communicated boundaries. These are the things we are and are not willing to accept, as well as the things we accept to give (and get) from those same relationships. It’s not wrong to set boundaries. No good person and no good friend would question them or rebel against them.

Spend some time setting some boundaries for yourself and this annoying or aggravating person in your life. Limit the time you spend with them, and when you do spend time with them be candid with them about what’s acceptable and what’s off limits.

You have every right to be treated the way you want to be treated. You have a right to be surrounded by people who bring you joy and support. If someone makes you unhappy, you have a right to share that with them. When they make you uncomfortable, you have a right to walk away from them. Get clear on where your limits lie. Then, make sure the other person is clear too.

3. Be okay with walking away

Setting boundaries and clearing up the reasons behind your reactions will only get you so far. At some point, in order to remove power from the toxic or irritating people in your life, you’re going to have to walk away and reclaim your space. You absolutely do not have to tolerate someone who disrespects you or makes you uncomfortable. You can remove yourself from them and do it at any point you need to.

Stop allowing yourself to tolerate behavior that you know is not in line with your values or your integrity. There is no bond in family or friendship that says you must be around someone who is mean, condescending, or otherwise at-odds with your personality and who you are fundamentally.

When you feel the pressure building — walk away. Excuse yourself, make no apologies, and get somewhere you can decompress and re-connect with your inner calm or peace. You can come back to face them when you feel more level and you’ve had time to think about how you want to respond. Then, you can come back to the table with your battery recharged and your thinking clear.

4. Go to bat for yourself

If you are someone who tends to please others, it can be hard to set boundaries and limits for yourself and others. It’s an uncomfortable thing to do, but it’s so necessary in the long-run. For us to protect these boundaries — and our happiness — we have to be assertive and go to bat for ourselves through honest and direct communication.

Once you’re clear on who you feel and what you want your relationship with this person to look like, sit them down and have a frank conversation. Be candid with them and know that it’s all for the best on both sides. Tell them how they make you feel, and what behavior leads to your negative emotions with them.

Avoid blame language, though, and stay as detached as possible. Stick to the facts and let them know that you’re doing what you believe to be the best for everyone involved. Not everyone gets along with us. Some people just rub us the wrong way. If the energy the two of you bring together is corrupted, express your need for your own space and your mutual desire for their happiness…with other people.

5. Build out some authentic space

The more we focus on building an environment that is aligned to our authentic needs, the less we will find ourselves encountering those who push our buttons or rub us the wrong way. To build this type of life for ourselves, we have to actively seek to fill our relationships and our homes only with the people and the things which can coexist with our true joy and our absolute harmony.

Build out some authentic space for yourself. Our lives only have a limited amount of real estate in them. Don’t fill it with people who don’t need to be there; people who ruin your day every chance they get, or destroy your confidence whenever they can. Focus on the people who bring light to your life. Focus on people who build you up.

You can discover more of these individuals by ensuring you’re on the right path for yourself. This means engaging in the experiences you really want to engage in and pursuing the things that actually mean a lot to you. Prioritize the careers, the relationships, and the situations that matter. Then put everyone and everything else on the back-burner. We only have a limited time here. We can make the most out of it with as many positive people and positive experiences as possible.

Putting it all together…

In this life, we’re going to cross paths with people who push our buttons. It’s not so much about overcoming them, as it is learning to deal with them. For us to do that, though, we need to understand the toll they take on our lives. Then we can get active about changing the way we confront and deal with them. Don’t give your power away another day longer. Be assertive, set boundaries, and build a world that’s more authentic to you.

Rather than reacting right away to someone who pushes your buttons, get behind your emotions first. Question them. Why does this person make you feel so negatively? Once you have that answer, you can start setting some boundaries and get some emotional distance from the way they choose to behave. When things reach a fever-pitch, have the courage to walk away and process. You don’t have to be surrounded by people who bring you more bad than good. Stand up for yourself and stand up for your boundaries. When someone crosses the line, there have to be consequences. Say “no” and do it earnestly. Then, you can focus on building up an authentic space which is filled by the people and the things which really matter. That’s what a happy life is all about, though. Authenticity and alignment with our core truths.

Author and Certified Coach. I help you unlearn your pain. Heal your childhood trauma:

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