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Episode 273: When Your Buttons Get Pushed

core work Feb 28, 2024

8 Tips to Not Get Ripped Off as an Actor and the Three Pillars to a Successful Acting Career

Let's start talking about those buttons being pushed, right?

And I want to talk especially about how to help yourself.

There's a little phrase that I love. It's one of my absolute favorites, which is “if you're hysterical, it's historical.”

I find that when my buttons get pushed, if I'm upset about whatever it is for longer than five minutes, it's not about that thing.

It's about something from my past.

The other really helpful thing to note about buttons, because it's generally family members who push your buttons, is that your family knows how to push your buttons because, hello, they installed them.

Your family knows how to push your buttons because they installed them.

So I want To help you so that when you have that moment, when your buttons get pushed, you can start to practice this particular formula.

Now I need to also say this, when my buttons get pushed, I find it's better that I go by this saying, which is “when in doubt, leave it out.”

out. I also find it's best for me to remove myself from the situation so I can do that very valuable thing, which is stop and take a step back.

But I want to describe the full process of what happens when our buttons get pushed.

Something will be said to us and we will immediately react.

Now this is important because remember our reactions are fine, but it's our second reaction that we really need to be paying attention to.

There's this phrase, and I love this because I think this is so true, “we are not responsible for our first thought, but we are responsible for our second.”

 So again, if you can split your paper into two sides, make two columns.

On the left column, I want you to write, Something happens. Then, right underneath that, I want you to write, React.

And then, underneath that, a couple lines down, I want you to say to yourself, “I am not responsible for my first thought, but I am responsible for my second.”

Therefore, we have the second column.

That second column is that something happens.

Now, that could be your mother saying to you, “Oh, you're going to wear that?”

Or, “Oh, you're growing a mustache now.”

It's that, okay?

Could be your father, too, or your brother, or your sister, or a friend, or an acquaintance, or an agent, or a casting director.

So again, on this second side of the piece of paper, the same thing, something happens. And guess what?

You are going to react.

Especially in the beginning.

You may not be totally reprogrammed yet, but after that reaction happens, you want to tell yourself this, “stop.”

And sometimes I literally say to myself, “stop it right now. Stop. Just for goodness sake, stop.”

And then I literally say to myself, “take a step back,” and sometimes, while that person might be continuing to put their opinion of me on me, I literally will take a step back.

Literally, a physical step back.

And I always use this example, and if you've listened to this podcast a lot, you've heard me say this, is if you put your hand on your face, and you literally attach that hand onto your face, that's how it feels when somebody comes at you and they push that button right in your gut. It's like your hand is glued to your face.

But this is the truth. No, it's not. And you can't remove their finger from your button.

And that, again, requires you to take a step back.

So if you keep your hand where it is, but you move your body back, that's what I'm talking about. Because now you can look at your hand.

See, when it's right up against your face, while they have your finger in your button, as it were, you can't see anything.

You just see potentially red, or hurt, or weeping. So it's important to get it out. If you are, God forbid, shot, what do they do first? They remove the bullet. That's what taking a step back means.

You remove the bullet.

And when you've removed the bullet, then you can observe.

You have taken a step back. And you can observe what was said, and you can ask yourself if what you are about to do is healthy for you or unhealthy for you, and then you can respond.

And that response is a reaction with a pause and a thought behind it.

And then we have triage. We need to ask ourselves the following questions.

Afterwards, later that night, the next day.

I always encourage it to be within 24 hours of when the situation happened.

We sit down with pen and paper and our journals and we ask ourselves

how emotionally reactive was I to this situation?

What was my button? Which is your interpretation of what got you so damn upset.

And then ask yourself, what is really going on here?

Let's be honest with ourselves. Practice rigorous honesty with yourselves so you can get better.

So that you can heal this button.

And then If this situation comes up again, or this comment comes up again, how will I handle it?

How will I handle it?

Always remembering we are never given more than we can handle but we are given more than we can control.

Also remembering that what people say or do is about them, but what you hear or see is about you.

Know this, and disconnect yourself from the button.

So I need to make that separation.

I had someone once say to me that my life was like a bowl of spaghetti and I needed to take my strands out of all of my family members, my friends, everyone around me.

I had to take out my strands because I would look at my life and not know what was mine and what wasn't.

It was a very valuable image for me.

And then I decided to make my own sauce. And it's delicious. Because now I'm keeping the focus more on my own life.

Certainly don't do it perfectly.

But it's a lot easier to manage and handle my life than try and control what other people think of me.

Another valuable thing about my buttons getting pushed, remember, is that no one can push a button that didn't already exist.

Nobody can push a button that didn't already exist.

Remember, button pushing is about me. And my doing the surgery to remove it.

It is a very personal and emotional thing.

And it is so wonderful for me to become aware of my buttons, accept that they exist, and then take that Valuable action to start healing and repairing them.