What Pushes Your Buttons?

(Last week I wrote The Control Epidemic and to be completely honest the content of that blog didn’t even really come close to being what I thought it would be, so I decided to do a whole other blog on what I actually wanted to write last week, so these two blogs kind of go together. Oh and I have no clue if all of that made sense or not. 🙂 )

You know how the smallest thing can cause major reactions?

Like the guy you accidentally cut off this morning as you drove to work. It seemed like a minor incident to you but not so much for him and he lets you know by blaring his horn, tailgating you for the next mile, then he speeds past you only to slam on the brakes right in front of you.

Then he leaves and you can only assume he feels better about himself after he let you know how he feels about your careless driving.

Except I think we all know he probably doesn’t feel very good about his actions, quite possibly he even regrets them.

Have you ever wondered tho, what made him react so aggressively to such a small thing?

Maybe he was just having a bad day and that was the final straw, that was the thing that made him finally lose his cool.

I think it’s safe to assume tho that the real issue runs a little deeper, actually I think it runs a lot deeper.

You probably have had those moments in your life, I think it’s safe to say that most (all?) humans have them.

Your day is going quite fine and then the smallest thing can happen and suddenly you find yourself snapping at the offender or the offense and honestly you have no idea why you had such huge reaction to such a small thing.

They call it the ‘Flight, Fight or Freeze mode.’ (We’ll call it FFFM for short.)

When you are physically under attack, like if your house is on fire and you’re still inside, you will react instinctively and logical thinking will often leave, it’s as if every part of your body is suddenly on high alert, your instincts will take over and you will react in one of three ways…

You will fight,you will flee or you will freeze.

This is why people do crazy things in a moment of panic and if the situation is bad enough, your brain will literally shut down on you and you will be operating fully in FFFM.

Here’s the part that is fascinating to me.

When we are under attack emotionally, our bodies and mind enter the exact same fight, flight or freeze mode as it will in a moment of physical attack.

Another interesting fact is this: Our subconscious minds hold information that we don’t realize is there.

So, if someone was hurt deeply as a child or even a newborn, they might not remember the actual event but this will still be programmed in their subconscious mind and the smallest thing like a scent, a feeling or even the sound of a persons voice that resembles something about this painful event will trigger this person to react in FFFM.

Another thing that often sends people into FFFM is when their self control is stepped on.

Ok, so when you were a child, your parents basically controlled you, I mean it is after all their job right? 🙂

Sometimes though, parents take it to far and they control their kids in a negative, harsh or unfair way which then results in the child feeling like their self control is being stepped on or doesn’t matter.

For more on this read The Control Epidemic.

Remember, no one can control you, but if you have a parent who tried to, you will probably have triggers that don’t make a whole lot of sense to you unless you already traced it back to your childhood and realized that when my parent did ‘this’, it made me feel like ‘this’ and that is why I react so strongly to similar scenarios.

Ok, I feel like I am talking in circles so here’s a hypothetical example.

Maybe your parent yelled at you a lot, maybe it wasn’t even really negative words but they often used their loud and stern ‘get it done’ voice. This didn’t seem to bother your brother or sister, they just went with flow and even soon cultivated loud and demanding voices of their own.

But you… you were the tenderhearted one and you hated loud, demanding voices and every single time that voice was used on you, you shriveled up a little on the inside and after awhile you automatically went into FFFM which means if you are a fighter, you probably ended up talking back to you parent, if you’re runner, you probably took yourself as far away from that person as possible, and if you freeze in tense situations, you probably quietly took it, without responding but on the inside the wall around your heart was being built higher and higher.

Your mind has now fully recognized any loud, demanding voice as a threat, which basically means you will view any person with a loud demanding voice, that you ever meet, at any time in your life, as a threat.

If this pain has never been dealt with, you will find yourself entering FFFM even now, it doesn’t matter if you are 20, 60 or even a hundred years old. If this pain has not been dealt with you will still enter FFFM every single time you meet someone with a loud demanding voice.

Interesting, isn’t it?

This will even play a role in the way you parent your kids. If you have a child who will yell at you if she doesn’t get her way, you will probably find yourself entering FFFM.

What is your trigger?

What is it that people (sometimes even your own children) do or say that makes your blood pressure rise, your heart skip a beat with frustration, what puts every fiber of your being on edge. You snap at them, or avoid them because your mind has just recognized them as a threat to the control you have over your own life.

They literally become a threat in your subconscious mind and they probably have absolutely no idea.

Now for some good news. 🙂

What makes you snap? What pushes your buttons?

If you think about it, you will probably find a pattern.

Maybe you feel uptight every time someone disrespects you and if you trace it back to your childhood you might find that your parents didn’t respect you as an individual person with feelings and an opinion of your own in the way they parented.

This is the part where you need to use caution, the goal of getting to the root of it, is NOT so you can tell your parents how messed up their parenting was, it is NOT so you can hold a grudge against them for the way they hurt you, it’s not even so you can go tell them you forgive them, although forgiveness is actually the end goal.

Chances are they have no idea they even hurt you so why stir up trouble? (However sometimes, you may need to talk to them about in order to find healing and be able to move past it.)

Talk to God about it first though and forgive your parents, move past it. Move forward and don’t look back.


You can’t relive the past but you can enter the future with a passion to make a difference.

So, here’s to hoping you find FREEDOM through understanding a bit about the FFFM. 🙂

(And that my friends is the blog that was supposed to written under the title The Control Epidemic but somehow that blog kind of had a mind of it’s own and ended up telling a different story.)  🙂



The Control Epidemic

Did you know that no one else can control you?

You, and only you have the ability to control yourself. Sure people can threaten or coerce you into doing things but even then you are the one choosing to do as they say.

Did you know that you can’t control other people either?

Not even your children.

Maybe you can control them for a season but the thing is, these kids have minds and hearts of their own and even if you succeed in controlling them when they are small, you  will lose that control once they are older.

Sounds like you’re destined to fail at this parenting thing doesn’t it?

That’s not what I’m trying to say though, because it is possible to hold the hearts of your children and through that, you have the power to teach and guide them.

However, you will never punish your kids into submission, it simply doesn’t work. Trust me on this, you don’t actually want it to work. 

Punishment brings almost immediate results, but it also creates an environment where your child doesn’t really care about his sin…


His biggest fear is that he will get caught.

Therefore he doesn’t care to commit the sin as long as his parents aren’t present or don’t know about it.

There is a better way though.

Are you ready for this?

What if we don’t punish our kids?


What if we talk to them instead? What if we let them know that we get it because we were kids once to and this was hard for us too.

I’m not sure how to explain this better but here’s an example.

Kenzie has a really hard time talking to adults. They talk to her and she will either look away or she will stare at them as if they completely lost their senses by thinking they have a right to talk to her.

If someone hands her a lollipop and I prompt her to say thank you, she rarely does.

Can you guess what my biggest challenge is with this senerio?

It’s not the fact that my child is being disrespectful.

It’s the fact that my disrespectful child makes me look like a bad parent.

Which would be called fear.

I am afraid that my child’s actions make me look like a bad parent, so I am going to train my child to act in ways that I think are appropriate.

Did you know that is not effective or Godly parenting?

Because like I said before, you cannot control your child. Your child has a brain and a heart and a soul that was put there by God himself  and you will not change that nor do you have permission too.

Most of us are familiar with Proverbs 22:6…

Train up a child in the way he shall go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Do you know how many people interpret that verse?

It is often interpreted as:

I must train up my child in the way I think he should go….

But is that really what it says?

It doesn’t. It says ‘in the way he should go.’

So how should he go?

Think about it.

This is my child but he belongs to God first, so who should be deciding his destiny.


Or God?

So maybe God is the one who knows ‘how he should go.’

So maybe we should be asking God how to teach this child and maybe we should embrace each child for who God has created them to be, maybe we should be raising each individual child differently! (Yes, we need to treat each child equal to their siblings but each child will interpret you actions differently… Ok so that alone could be a whole other blog so just take my word for it, or don’t! Research it!)

Let’s rewind back to my Kenzie story.

You see, I get it because I was the little girl once who didn’t like talking to adults because honestly I thought adults were kinda weird, first of all they always asked my name and then they asked my age, I mean duh, they didn’t ask my mom her age.

Another common question was ‘Do you want candy?’ and they would ask it with this grin, like they just knew I wanted a piece of their candy which was kinda dumb because they had no clue if I like candy or not! What an assumption to make about me! 🙂

So for awhile I did tell Kenzie if she didn’t talk to people she would get punished but then I realized that I wasn’t so much punishing her for misdeeds as I was to shield my pride.

That is awful guys, it is not a good parenting strategy.

So, I started simply encouraging her to talk to people and I tried to explain that it’s the right thing to and it’s impolite not to and… well, you get the point.

Sometimes I wondered if I was failing as a parent because my four year old doesn’t talk to people and that’s just kinda pathetic but I also knew that the reason it bothers me so much is because…. “what are people going to think of my parenting?”

Well, here’s the thing: It only took about 2 years and my daughter has started talking to people. She still doesn’t always but its definitely getting better and here’s the good part…

She did it on her own. 

Yes, we encouraged her but we didn’t punish her, so she didn’t start talking to avoid the punishment, she did it because after two years I think she is finally convinced that it might be the respectful thing to do, and since she wasn’t forced into it, I think it’s safe to say that is something that she will keep doing and not something that she practices only when she’s in our presence because she’s trying to avoid punishment.

Did you follow all that? 🙂

I find it a little hard to explain the difference between punishment and discipline but there is a difference. Punishment has faster results but basically just brings the body into submission while discipline has slower results but actually changes the heart.

Anyway… I didn’t even really get around to the control part of this blog so if you’re interested keep checking back, I might do a part two of this….

(Also… I do believe there is a time and place for punishment, but I also believe it is overused and often simply to keep the physical body in line without actually teaching our kids on a heart level.)