Marriage Therapy Part 3 - by Family Therapy Ventura
Part 3 in this series on marriage counseling is about “pushing my buttons” that interferes with communicating the true message. It is part of the internal search process our brain goes through when it receives a verbal or non-verbal message from someone else. In order to be in a healthy relationship with someone we need to understand our own “buttons,” work on disconnecting them and be aware of our partner’s “buttons” so we don’t accidentally trigger them either.
There are numerous steps in communicating between people and most of those are non-verbal. Once a person says or does something then our brains take in ALL of the data (verbal and non-verbal messages). Our brain then immediately searches for anything similar to any part of the message we are receiving that we have experienced in the past so we can make sense of it or assign meaning to it. It does this for survival, the same as it does if you see a snake - uh oh that could be dangerous so jump back NOW! That is why sometimes we are reactive to something someone does or says - our brain reacts from past experiences in an instant and doesn't pause to consider whether this person or situation is completely the same or not. We often refer to that as someone "pushing my buttons." One of the things we often work on in counseling is to help people explore what their "buttons" are and then how to disconnect them so they are not so reactive. When we are reactive then we are giving our power and control over to someone else who can "push our button" at any time! We also work with both members of the couple to help the other person understand their partner's reactivity and how to communicate without "pushing their button" since once that button has been pushed the communication often goes off course and gets nowhere. Couples often get stuck in a vicious cycle of reactivity from pushing each other’s buttons that gets them no where! Professional counseling can help a person become aware of their “buttons” and how to disconnect those “buttons” from our past.
Putting the Pieces Together (So We Make Sense of Ourselves, Others and Our World)
Lois Zsarnay, LMFT, BCPC, RD
©2014 Lois Zsarnay, LMFT, BCPC, RD