Insanity Button

Insanity Button
May 10, 2011 5:38 pm

Share this article with friends.

Yesterday a neighbor said to me, “My friend has been making me crazy!� I don’t know what’s changed, but lately she criticizes everything I do and say and even think.� I feel so attacked that I can hardly listen.� I find myself cutting her off, attacking her in return.� Then everything escalates.� We move from issue to issue throwing darts at each other.� �I just don’t know what to do.”

“It seems that your friend is pushing your ‘insanity button,’” I replied.� “That’s hard.”

For the next half hour we discussed strategies she could take to improve convserations with her friend.�

I will be honest.� I have an “insanity button” too.� When people close to me say certain things, I feel myself screaming inside.� I can turn into a person I don’t even recognize.� The peaceful, kind, accommodating me becomes a self-protecting warrior on a mission to verbally destroy.�

For years now I have been doing deep work on my perceived need to “defend myself.”� I grew tired of wasting energy on dialogues in which another person and I tossed comments back and forth at high volume.� In the end, we would both leave exhausted having made no progress.� Worse, we would merely repeat the same pattern again and again and again.�

As my determination to deal with this problem grew, I began to watch how often I found myself arguing with family or friends, trying to make them see the validity of my viewpoints.� I realized I that wanted the other person to change—and admitted that they never would.� Gradually, I surrendered to the truth that the only one I could change or control was me.

One day while I was taking a walk, an illustration came to me. �In my mind’s eye, I saw an open wound.� Then, I saw someone pouring salt into it.� The person with the wound screamed in pain.� I came to a profound realization.� I had an inner wound, a sensitive raw spot.� When someone touched it, I lashed out to protect it.� What if my wound was no longer there?� I saw that it wouldn’t matter if someone poured salt on it.� It was time for Me to take care of My inner insanity buttons.� Not long after, I was shocked to find this ancient Latin Proverb, “If one throws salt at thee, thou wilt receive no harm unless thou hast sore places.”

People with inner wounds are difficult to deal with.� Here are a few suggestions that may help you begin to take responsibility for your own inner pain spots and improve relationships with others in your life who are carrying inner wounds.

1. Understand your “insanity button.”� Monitor your conversations to study your personal patterns.� If you pay close attention, you will discover the issues that rile you up, anger—even enrage you.� Try to get to the root belief or experience that activates your suffering.� An “insanity button” is an inner wound, a hurt that needs your attention.� Facing it is a place to begin.� Be responsible for your healing.� Apply the salve of truth to your hidden pain.�� Simply looking with honesty, as a compassionate observer, at wounds you hold in your heart can bring a measure of relief, stimulate new insights and spark the healing process.���

2.� Create space BEFORE you allow a negative conversation pattern to repeat itself.� When you notice your buttons being pushed in a conversation, take note and step back.� Cool down.� Maintain silence even if you want to fight back.� Take a few deep breaths. Breathing can soothe you in the midst of an intense interaction.� A moment of stillness can make room for inner wisdom to emerge, showing you how to turn the conversation in a new, more hopeful direction.

3. Listen.� Really listen.� Let the other person finish without interruption.� Rather than building your defense as they speak, focus on understanding what they are saying.� Try putting yourself in their shoes.� How might you feel if you were looking through their eyes?� Listening allows the other person to feel heard and valued. It often makes way for greater harmony and personal connection.� Those who give the gift of listening, often receive the gift of healing.����

4. Avoid the attack/defend cycle.�� When someone attacks us, our gut reaction is to protect ourselves.� Defense is actually attack that we consider justified.� By succumbing to this tendency, we get stuck in a cycle of escalating retaliation that fuels the conflict.� Resist the urge to counter an antagonistic comment.� Instead, let the other person know that you want to understand and communicate in a calm, respectful way.� If they seem unwilling or unable to maintain composure, firmly and politely excuse yourself and wait until another time.� If you are dealing with a verbally abusive person, you may need to be ready with a conversation closer.� You might say something like, “I understand that you are upset.� I can see that I may have upset you, and I would like to talk about that. You may not speak to me in this way. It is not acceptable. Let’s talk later when we are both calm.”

5.� Agree to disagree.� Each person has unique perspectives on situations, relationships and issues.� Allow others to have their views and ask them to allow you to have yours.� Learn to share ideas rather than quarreling about them.� As American philosopher Will Rogers observed, “People’s minds are changed through observation and not through argument.”�

6.� Seek outside support.� When it feels impossible to communicate, consider inviting a mutually acceptable third party to help.� A trusted neutral friend, a boss (if this is occurring in the workplace), a mediator or a counselor can help you hear one another and move toward resolution.�

Do these suggestions seem challenging?� They are.� In the words of an African proverb, “Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.”� Learn to navigate the waves of human interactions with growing awareness and wisdom.�

Apply these tips this week, and you may just find that you are coming to peace with yourself and improving your interactions, even with difficult people.� As you do, you will be amazed at the extra energy you free for creativity and enjoyment that comes as you take time to acknowledge and address your “insanity buttons.”

Food For Thought

“If you want to see the brave, look at those who can forgive.� If you want to see the heroic, look at those who can love in return for hatred.”� – Bhagavad-Gita

Copyright�Patricia G. Omoqui 2011, All Rights Reserved