To Understand Others, First Understand Yourself


Have you ever had people in your life who seem to know how “to push your buttons”: people who trigger certain negative emotions or behaviours in you?

Psychology Today magazine recently published an article addressing this situation, and the author suggests that instead of focussing on what is wrong with the other person, and why they do what they do, that first you figure out what is triggering you and why.

The steps to this understanding are:

  • Examine what is triggering you, and what you wish you could control about the other person.
  • Think about why this particular behaviour triggers you. Assuming that this person is not physically harming you, why does someone’s sharp response to one of your questions make your blood pressure rise, for example? Why does someone who goes on and on about their knowledge and expertise make you feel like wrapping duct tape around their mouth? Is it because of some prior experience you have had with a similar personality, or is it because they are not exhibiting values that you hold dear?
  • Focus on what you want out of the relationship. Determine if this person is a casual acquaintance, someone you want to build a relationship with, or someone you really care about. If the person is someone you love, then think about what you want to gain by working on this aspect of your relationship. Realise that the situation is probably not as simplistic as ‘he’s wrong, I’m right’.
  • Think about when you have been in the wrong. All human beings make mistakes, and just as the person who is triggering you has made mistakes, the chances are that so have you. Rather than holding a grudge, realise your similarities and that you are both hurting over something that has gone wrong.
  • Realise that life has its ups and downs for everyone. Everyone is dealing with their own problems and stressors. One technique we’ve found useful over the years is to hold the person’s hand and talk to them about how you feel and seek to understand where they are coming from. Be open to feedback and commit to changing behaviour that they have found upsetting. To paraphrase the author, everyone needs a shoulder, a friend, some support, and to be given a break.

The article can be found at:

Stay Connected

    Get in Contact

Goulburn News to your inbox

Sign up now for the latest news from the Goulburn area direct to your inbox.

You might also like


We are always looking for new articles of interest to the local community.

Please feel free to submit an article for possible inclusion in a future issue.

To submit an article, click here to use our online article submission form.


The Goulburn Phoenix FacebookThe Goulburn Phoenix InstagramThe Goulburn Phoenix TwitterThe Goulburn Phoenix YouTubeHilltops Phoenix Subscribe
About UsJournalistic Ethics and Complaints PolicyConflict ResolutionPrivacy PolicySite MapRSS Feed