I had a profound revelation a few weeks ago in my meditation class with Scott McBride that has since, in many ways, changed my life. Scott was discussing how we habitually handle inconveniences and/or difficult people in our lives and how we can learn to bring mindfulness and loving kindness to such challenging situations. In the moments when our “buttons are pushed”, he eloquently stated, it is important to remember that we created our buttons.
I paused with this statement and felt my ego begin to struggle against it. My small self, kicked, pressed and whined about it for a few moments. What do you mean they are my buttons? I don’t have any buttons!
As I sat with this and observed myself for a few days it all became crystal clear. Yes, I do have buttons. Yes, I created these buttons and yes, they provide magnificent moments for me to grow and practice loving kindness towards myself.
Our buttons are triggers. They buzz the ego with what feels like an electric impulse. You all know exactly what I am talking about. It’s those small moments of annoyance when, perhaps, the woman on the line in front of you is speaking loudly on her cell phone or perhaps when the man on the yoga mat next to you is huffing and puffing in every pose or the teacher offers up a pose that you hate. Buttons can also be larger in scale. They can be in the form of a co-worker that finds a way to take the credit for every success but then manipulates situations so that others receive the blame when things go wrong. Big buttons exist everywhere in our intimate relationships with our partners, kids, parents and siblings. (There are loads of buttons there!)
It has been incredibly liberating for me to digest the truth that my buttons are mine. I created them and only I can dissolve them. They are mine and I need to take responsibility for hoarding them. I have pre-set the level at which I am mildly annoyed, inconvenienced and plain old pissed-off. This is not to say that there are not rude people in this world, narcissistic co-workers or pain-in-the-butt in-laws. I am just trying to simply and honestly work on taking responsibility and owning my stuff.
So, two of the best places to observe our buttons are… you guessed it… our yoga mats and meditation cushions. Things become crystal clear to us when our minds are steady and spacious. During our practices, our buttons will blatantly pop up and boldly present themselves if we are courageously willing to see them. When they do reveal themselves in the form of an annoyance, whine or judgment, we can label it “my button”. Perhaps we will see the silliness of the button which will help us to disassemble and dissolve it or perhaps, for the bigger buttons, the practice of labeling will give us the courage to begin to dive deeper into it’s origins.