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Yesterday, I wrote about the most powerful tool you’ve got, which is the power of choice. It raised another issue, but first I need to back up just a bit.

I was saying that sometimes we feel trapped, even when we aren't. We might feel like we don't have a choice in certain matters, but the truth is, we do. It just might not be a choice that we like because of the potential consequences and in particular, when those consequences involve others being unhappy or upset with us.

"I can't say no, it'll hurt her feelings!" "You make me so angry!" "He pushes my buttons!"

The truth is, you cannot "hurt her feelings." She gets to decide whether or not she'll be upset if you say no.

And no one can "make you angry." Whatever other people do, no matter how boneheaded their choices, no matter how nasty or mean-spirited, thoughtless or selfish, you get to decide whether or not you're going to feel angry, or annoyed, or nothing at all. You get to decide to just dump responsibility for their thoughtless actions back in their laps and not waste any time or energy feeling miserable.

And there is no such thing as having anyone "push your buttons." Now, before you throw rocks at my house, let me explain.

Let's say your jealous younger sister knows you're self-conscious about something. So she teases you and you blow your top. You've given her the response she wanted.

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Next time she wants to get you riled up, she teases you again. You might even be a little angrier this time. She feels quite satisfied because once again, you've reacted as she'd hoped.

The more this goes on, the more you feel like she's "pushing your buttons and making you angry."

But the truth is that you've simply taught her that if she says anything about that issue, you will become angry. If you want the cycle to stop, you have to stop giving her the reaction she wants. She can't "make you" angry. You get to decide whether or not you let her words or actions get to you.

You could just as easily act like it doesn't bother you in the least (even if it does, just don't let anyone see it!). When your bratty little sister sees that she's no longer getting the desired response, eventually she'll stop trying.

So you see, there is no such thing as "button pushing." You are simply teaching people that if they do "this," you will respond like "that." If you want them to stop, then YOU have to stop reacting the way you do.

Be prepared for them to try harder to make you react the way you used to do, but stay strong and don't let them see it. It won't be long, they'll get bored and quit.

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