There is a "joke" response that I've often given when I've heard someone express frustration over their mother. "Why is it that she can seem to push all my buttons?" To which I give them the classic line (and I'm sure it's not mine originally), "Because she installed them."
I have been trying to write a post for some time now about button pushing people, and figuring out which buttons it is that are even being pushed.
Yesterday, for example, I saw the train coming. The headlight heading my way as the train approached. I had plenty of time to step out of the way, and even made one half-hearted attempt to do so (although when I made it I thought it was full-hearted, but clearly was not). But somehow I found myself caught in the light, stuck in the track and unable to get out of the way of this train that tried to steam-roll over me.
At some level, I remained detached. Unlike other interactions with this person before, I did not lose control of myself, but I did seem to easily lose control of the situation. Unlike before, when the train came from behind and I was completely surprised by this person, I saw it coming. But I still couldn't step out of the way. Why couldn't I let people behave idiotically if they chose to do so? What compels me to point out the error in their logic? Do I really hope to change their mind?
As I've written before, I am a church-going person. I admit that circumstances wouldn't have to be so much different for me NOT to be a church-going person. A lot of why I go is for the sense of community. And I have become very involved, so extracting myself, at this point, would be difficult. But I have found myself dreading Sunday mornings lately because of one parishioner who knows how to ring my bell - and not in the good way. He walks in the door, and already I'm annoyed. He can never answer a direct question. He can never accept a simple answer. And, I concluded last Sunday, the reason he annoys me most is that he has or at least shows little respect for me.
I like to think that I am a reasonably decent person who treats other people, well, reasonably decent. I don't expect people to kow tow in front of me and lick my boots. I don't hold myself in such high (over-inflated) self-esteem. But I don't expect people to walk all over me, either. I expect, surprisingly, to be treated reasonably decent.
Now I understand that I can provoke someone with the best of them. And if someone responds upset to something provocative by me, I can respect that. I can even respect an irrational response. But it makes a difference, in the end to me, whether someone can back up and try and understand their own response, and articulate to me why what I said or did upset them. If they can, at some point, step back and evaluate the situation and try to resolve it rather than escalate it.
I can even half-heartedly accept a half-hearted apology - "Sorry, woke up on the wrong side of the bed" We all over-react, and sometimes don't even understand our own over-reactions. And there will even be times when we won't see it. Over time and experience with you, I can learn to understand and accept that. And even in the beginning, I will give you the benefit of the doubt.
I work hard at giving the compassion the Dalai Lama states is the secret to happiness. But, I admit, in return, I expect or hope an attempt at compassion for me from you. I don't think that is too much to expect.
And apparently, those who can't give it, have found a button in me that they can push.
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