Wednesday, June 13, 2012


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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