Spirituality & Health Magazine

Couple sitting below tree
Tue, December 06 2016

Pushing Each Other’s Buttons

Eve Hogan

I was reading an interesting passage by Osho recently in which he explained that we are all allowing others to hold a “remote control” to us. They merely push a button through their words, gestures, behaviors or expressions and we react with anger, glee, giggles, or resentment. His point was clearly that we have become so externally referenced that we allow others and external circumstances to control our moods and emotions, and to dictate our behavior.

This all leads to an interesting reflection: “Who have you given your remote control to?” Your parents, your children, your spouse or sweetheart, your boss, your coworkers, customers, neighbors? We are often so unconscious about having mastery over our own emotional state that we even give total strangers the power to “push our buttons.” When being unmindful, we allow the opinion of even just one other person to impact our well-being.

Then there is the equally interesting inquiry of “whose remote control do I hold and how do my words and actions impact others?” Take a look around and notice how others react around you.

Years ago, I thought that I was surrounded by controlling people. I looked out on their behavior and thought that I was learning about them. But then I practiced self-observation and considered which “buttons” I was pushing that contributed to their controlling nature. I saw the possibility that my need for other people’s approval was actually evoking their ability to control or judge me. The antidote to this is to become internally referenced instead. I call it “accessing your Internal Guidance System” and putting your Self in charge of what you say, do or think, rather than giving that power to other people. (Yes, the capital S on Self was intentional. It is important that this control be given to our Higher Self of the Spirit, not to the small self of the ego-mind.)

I have come to realize and thus now teach that, “People are responsive.” In other words, if I am less than pleasant to my employees, they will react unpleasantly. When I am nice to them, they are more pleasant back. This is almost as basic as math. When we want to transform the behavior of others, we need to take responsibility for our behavior. Responsibility is the secret key.

Some of you may be thinking of times when you were kind to others and they were not kind back, or vice versa. There are numerous reasons for this, not the least of which is that there may not be trust that the kindness is not actually a manipulation.

However, it is also important to realize that we can push other people’s buttons with merely the energy that we hold, even more so than the words or actions we use. For example, if you were to greet an old acquaintance with a big smile and, “Hey, great to see you again!” while thinking, “What a jerk!” The acquaintance is more likely to react to the energy of your judgmental thoughts than the words. He might even say, “What is your problem” to which you will defend, “What? All I did was say, ‘Hi!’” in total denial of the energy that was hidden underneath.

When we become adept at taking responsibility for our words, thoughts, actions and the energy we transmit, we become super powerful over the buttons we push in others and the way we get treated.

Dr. Joe Vitale wrote about how Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len, a Hawaiian Therapist, healed criminally insane patients by healing his own energy through Ho’oponopono, an ancient practice of recognition and reconciliation, which literally means, “to make right” or to “restore balance.” Dr. Len subscribed to the perspective that we are 100% responsible for every aspect of our lives, that the world is our creation. When we heal ourselves, others shift in response to us. As he read his patient’s charts, he continuously said, “I’m sorry, I love you,” and miraculously, their behavior began to change. An expansion of this practice, should you wish to try it, is to say, “I love you, I’m sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you.” Keep in mind, that as Dr. Len teaches it, it is yourself you are loving, forgiving and offering gratitude to. By turning within with love, we transform the “buttons we push” with others.

Please don’t just believe me. Try it and see. Take 100% responsibility for yourself and see the remote controls suddenly no longer work!

Eve Hogan's picture

Eve Eschner Hogan is a relationship specialist, and author of several books including The EROS Equation: A SOUL-ution for Relationships. In Real Love with Eve, she shares skills, principles, and tools for creating healthy, harmonious relationships—with friends, family, lovers, co-workers, and the world at large. Her uncommon approach to common sense will help you sail away from ego battles and into the calmer waters of real love. Learn more about Eve's Heart Path retreats at sacredmauiretreats.com.


  • Atlantic University
  • Expand Adventures
  • Marina De Nadous
  • Celebrant Institute & Foundation
  • Omega Institute
  • Vitamin Angels