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This is a fascinating phenomenon, and understanding it can give us a lot of insight into figuring out why we do what we do, and how we can stop doing things that take us nowhere.
Feeling Stuck & The Hitting the Button Phenomenon
Let’s think about relationships. If you want something from your partner and discover, quite disappointed, that you are not getting what you need, you will probably feel very frustrated. You may need more affection or you may need more help with the kids. You may need more help around the house, or you may want more communication. Whatever your need may be, it is not met.
Feeling Stuck in Life-Changing Behaviors or Doing the Same
We may want to stop, think, recalculate our route and maybe pick a completely different style of communication. This can be a heart to heart talk, humor, a change in our own behavior. Anything but more of the same has a higher chance of actually getting what we want from the other person.
With kids discipline, we tend to do more of the same as well. When a kid misbehaves, we may scold them. When that does not work, we may scold them even louder. If that fails, we turn to punishments and consequences. The question to ask ourselves here is: are we truly eliminating the undesirable behavior? Do we keep doing more of the same just because we are so frustrated at this point, and feel a need to ‘do something’.
If our goal is to reduce the frequency of undesirable behavior and choosing a certain course of action did not work, we need to pause. We need to think and decide if we want to continue picking actions from the same group of actions. Things like scolding, yelling, sending a kid to his room, taking away something. These are all the same course of action in varying intensity. Or, do we want to try something new? Some of these things being a talk, a change of location or format for the communication, encouragement, reading something relevant together, seeking positive influences. These are all different courses of action that we can (and should) explore if what we do seems to fail.
So why do we do it? Why do we do the same things over and over again with increased intensity and then get so frustrated when they do not work? The main reason for this is that our brain hates change. If we set our minds to react in a certain way, our brain is already wired that way. Challenging our course of action and reaction requires a lot of thinking. It requires a lot of energy and self-reflection. Unfortunately, we do not always have the time and emotional budget for it.