In the late 1990s, I was working in a kindergarten class with a brilliant teacher named Candy. The class was filled with bright eyes and curious minds. There was one particular 6 year old who really knew how to push my buttons. Whitney knew just what to say or do to pull the rug out from under me. My efforts backfired, nothing worked, I was stumped. Fortunately, I was in an introspective place and journaling a lot, which helped me learn a few things:
- Buttons are meant to be pushed.
- If someone is pushing my buttons, I have buttons. They are mine and mine alone – I own them.
- The only way to ensure they aren’t pushed is to not have them. As long as I have them, someone is sure to push them.
- The only way to not have them is to get rid of them.
- Getting rid of them requires deep honesty, humility and help. It ain’t easy.
- Buttons usually reflect things I don’t want to take responsibility for in myself. It’s a mirror and a gift.
- Fewer buttons = more time for what matters most; meaningful connection with the people I care about.
When I started removing buttons, guess what? Whitney stopped pushing them. Magically, her strengths and talents became magnified and she became one of my favorite students. Not only was I happier but I was more compassionate and helpful. Removing buttons means making a bigger difference.