By Jessica Osborn
In all my years of therapy and spiritual recovery, those sticking points within me that have caused inappropriate anger, sadness, or any negative emotion, have been called buttons. You hear this saying all the time, “Don’t let them push your buttons.” Many of us have those: our knee jerk reactions that can allow anyone with a bit of psychological knowledge to maneuver us.
I have discovered that as much as I work on my buttons, something still triggers me into inappropriate responses to situations that aren’t really a threat. For instance, getting mad at people for doing normal, everyday things. Nothing in their actions is meant to be mean, hostile or in any way negative. Ahh… but for me it can set off a wave of energy that courses through my house for days, volleying that energy back and forth. Quietly, no shouting, but very alive.
Being Steered by Someone Else
While examining a couple of recent reactions, I was struck by how subtle these reaction points were and how pervasive the energy was. My mental imaging was not of buttons all over my energetic body, but of rudder handles, like the rudder that steers a boat. These seemed like they stuck out of my body and attracted certain types of responses to me. As these energies came to me in the form of interactions with others, they would move my energy rudders and cause me to course-correct to an old setting of myself. This was a self who had not yet worked out the hot-button issue. It was taking me on a side trip where the terrain was familiar, but I didn’t seem to be in control of the vehicle.
These rudders, that would course correct me into old troubled waters, would move me into non-free will. I was helplessly manipulated by an energy no one was producing to take me deeper into my emotional territory. These energetic waves grew out of actions that were free of an intent to manipulate, but fraught with memory associations from when I was treated badly in the past. A trivial action could call up the energy wave and alter my conscious course.
It is sometimes tough to see when someone is handling those emotional rudders. We are so used to the familiar feeling of being controlled that we don’t realize that it is happening again. Or, we can assume that someone who means well is trying to manipulate us because they have engaged with that energy construct in our personality.
Once I became aware of the rudders, I had to become aware of the indicators that a rudder is changing course. That, thankfully for me, was easier to see. When I have an emotional reaction that is wildly out of proportion to the situation, I know I am about to venture deeper into old territory. I can either choose to bury it, or bring that energy more fully into consciousness to begin dismantling the rudder.
If I am aware, then when someone IS trying to manipulate me, then I can choose to take control of my emotional direction.
I am choosing to become rudderless, not in life, but in my life’s path, so that I can choose how and where I go.
Where are Your Emotional Handles?
Here’s how to know if you have some of these:
Do you find yourself doing things you don’t want to do?
Do you have trouble saying no?
Do people find it easy to cross your boundaries of any kind (physical, sexual, emotional)?
Do you get upset when people make requests of you, but go along with them anyway?
Do you go along with the plans of others even if they make you uncomfortable?
Do people ignore your emotional or physical experiences?
Do you ignore your own emotions?
Do you ignore your body’s signals?
Do you find yourself getting very upset when people do or say things that seem harmless, but don’t know why?
If you answered yes to any of these, you have energetic handles.