One of the things I really dislike about Facebook are those posts that seek to play on our emotions to ‘make’ us share the post. You know the ones I mean – the “share if you care” or “I bet I won’t get even one like because I’ve been told I’m so ugly” kind of posts. Now, I’m usually an easy-going, even tempered person; but my internal reaction to those posts is usually “Well, I obviously don’t care then” or something similar. This is because my rebellious side kicks in – I don’t want to be manipulated into doing something just because the post has pushed my “guilt button”!
Now, I can usually notice this reaction, be irritated at the post and then slightly amused at myself for having that reaction, and then move on… but if a post hits a stronger nerve, I can find that harder to do…
Having said that, I also realise that it is a brilliant way to practice being assertive – especially in terms of assessing my own reaction to the post/comments and then deciding what I want to do about it. I don’t have to think on my feet – I can spend all day on it if I want and have the time – and I can respond with when I feel ready.
We all have “buttons” that others may be able to press – guilt, ambition, seeking approval, friendship, status, etc… so how can we protect our buttons to reduce them being pressed or not pressed at all?
One way I’ve found, through learning about, and training others in, assertiveness, is to really analyse what’s going on inside me. What was it about the post that created the reaction that has just happened? Why do I feel a twinge on guilt when I see a post that says, for example, “Share this if you care about the environment”? I think a number of reactions/thoughts are happening at once. Who doesn’t care about the environment, really? So, I feel like I’m being pushed into doing something I wouldn’t normally do, because I don’t want to be seen to “not care”. Also, I was bullied a lot at school, so I have a fairly sensitive button when it comes to feeling pushed around (I won’t stand for it). I like to be free to make my own decisions about things. Finally, I resent being judged and found wanting – especially on such a small action (scrolling on). So, when I analyse these feelings… yes, of course I care about the environment, but I don’t need to prove that I have those values to anyone else. I acknowledge that I was bullied and that I can chose how I will react now. My instinct to rebel is useful, because it tells me that this feels (at least a tiny bit) bullying, and so I can think through how I want to respond.
In retrospect, maybe these posts are useful after all!
What pushes your buttons and how will you give yourself more choice in how you respond?
Yvonne Coolbear, Licensed Springboard, Fresh Steps and Boost Trainer
Views expressed by the writer are not necessarily the views of the Springboard Consultancy Ltd