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Hot Buttons

"So get rid of your feelings of hatred. Don't just pretend to be good! Be done with dishonesty and jealousy and talking about others behind their backs. Now that you realize how kind the Lord has been to you, put away all evil, deception, envy, and fraud. Long to grow up into the fullness of your salvation; cry for this as a baby cries for his milk."1

One of the major problems Daily Encounter readers write to me about is relationship conflicts. When any close relationship is out of order, mental and emotional stress results. If continuing over a long period of time, this can cause major illnesses. No wonder that God's Word, the Bible, instructs us to get rid of our feelings of hatred, jealousy, dishonesty and the like. In other words we need to resolve all negative emotions, stop repressing and denying feelings, and grow up in emotional as well as spiritual maturity. When we fail to do this, we pay the high price of relational conflict and run the risk of many physical and emotional illnesses.

Furthermore, when we fail to resolve super-charged, repressed negative emotions from the past, we have various "hot buttons" that get easily triggered and cause us to over-react. If for example, when growing up I had an angry father and was often in conflict with him, I am bound to have a "hot father-button." And then, in my adult life whenever someone's behavior towards me reminds me in any way of my father, my "hot father-button" will get triggered. I will then relate to this person in exactly the same way that I related to my father and overreact in my response towards that person. In my thinking I will automatically blame that person for my response. What this person did to me may or may not be a problem; however, my response to him/her is always my responsibility and to the degree that I overreact, that is always my problem! As long as I play the blame-game, I will "be lame"; that is, I will never resolve my relationship conflicts.

It is only as I become authentic (get real) and face the truth about why I overreact to people, will I ever be set free from and/or resolve my impaired relationships. As long as we are in denial, as John Powell so insightfully said, "We defend our dishonesty on the grounds that it may hurt another person; and then, having rationalized our phoniness into nobility, we settle for superficial relationships."2

To resolve super-charged negative emotions from the past—even all the way back to childhood—often needs the help of a skilled professional counselor. If this is your situation, recovery begins with acknowledging your problem and admitting that you need help. Ask your minister or your family doctor if they can recommend a counselor who specializes in helping to resolve damaged emotions.* Above all, admit and confess your problem to God. One of the most powerful prayers anyone can ever pray is, "God I have a problem. I need help. Please be merciful to me a sinner and lead me to the help I need to overcome my problem." (Be sure to name the problem. Call it what it is).

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, in every conflict situation in which I find myself, please confront me with the truth of what I am contributing to the conflict. Help me to recognize my 'hot buttons' and see when I am overreacting. Direct me to find the help I need to resolve my problem and overcome my 'hot buttons.' Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."

1. 1 Peter 2:1-3 (TLB)(NLT).
2. John Powell, Why I Am Afraid to Tell You Who I Am, Argus Communications.

*For counseling help, if you live in the U.S. or Canada, call the Narramore Christian Foundation at 1-800-477-5893 and press "1" for Dianne and she should be able to give you the name of a fine Christian counselor or two in your area.

NOTE: For further help see the article, "Resolving Conflict Creatively" at:


All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.