I love reading the Sunday funnies. One of my favorites is For Better or Worse by Lynn Johnston. In a recent comic, the young child, Mike, was having a bad day. Trying to construct a building out of Lego-type pieces, gravity was working against him as the entire structure collapsed. In a fit of frustration, he kicked the remaining pieces while simultaneously letting out a few choice juvenile words accompanied by a blood-curdling “Aagh!!!” Mom promptly grabbed him by the arm and directed him to go to bed. As she turned to leave, he whispered a tearful request, “Mom, aren’t you going to kiss me goodnight?” “Mike”, she replied, “when you act like that, I just don’t feel like kissing you at all!” He hung his head in shame as he murmured, “But Mom, that’s when I need it the most.”
Mike is just a kid and apparently hadn’t learned how to manage his feelings appropriately. Like most children when upset, rather than verbally express how he felt, he lashed out physically in defeat. A loving parent would take the time to explain to their child the proper way to deal with life’s challenges in a less aggressive and destructive way. Patience, repetition, understanding and gentle guidance would ensure the child learns the necessary lessons while feeling loved and valued at the same time. Typical behavior expected of a child, most adults are sympathetic to their plight and patient as they learn and grow.
But at some unspecified age, adults become non tolerant of such outrageous behavior. There is an unspoken expectation that adults should know how to behave properly when upset. Witnessing an adult throwing a hissy fit typically does not evoke compassion in those observing the shocking behavior. Even less obvious behaviors leave the average individual feeling annoyed, upset, angry and repulsed. Like Mike’s mom, they respond by pulling away rather than moving towards. “Get over it!” and “Deal with it!” only add to the other’s distress as they experience feelings of abandonment, rejection and insignificance.
I will be facing my “Mike” in a few short days. I would be grateful if their bad behavior was limited to kicking over a few wooden blocks but sadly theirs takes hissy fits to a whole new level. I understand this individual is deeply unhappy and may feel hopeless in their current situation as well. Does that condone their bad behavior? Not at all. But when people are hurting, they need understanding; when they are frightened, reassurance; lonely – companionship. The way to neutralize a negative (feeling or behavior) is with the opposite: a positive. At the times they most push us away, we need to move even closer.
I am by nature and choice a compassionate and patient person. But in all honesty, it will take every ounce of my strength and empathy to give this person the love and understanding they so crave, and so rightfully deserve. To walk away in their time of pain only escalates their suffering. I wouldn’t abandon someone who was injured and bleeding. I would address their wound the best I could. Neither can I abandon my injured “Mike”. It’s now he needs my love and support the most. Keep me in your prayers.
Janet Pfeiffer, internationally known speaker and award-winning author, is one of today’s most highly sought after seminar leaders. and is NJ State Certified in Violence Counseling.
As a leading authority in the field of anger management and conflict resolution, Janet serves as a consultant to such companies as the U.S. Army, U.S. Postal Service, AT&T, Hoffman-LaRoche, Rutgers University, Carnival Cruise Lines, United Way, YWCA, New Jersey Education Association, Care-One, Insurance Restoration Specialists, Learning Annex, William Paterson University Women’s Center, Catholic Community Services, Passaic County Community College, American Business Academy, Bergen County Police and Fire Academy, Cook’s College, Kean University, Rotary, Ocean County College, Kiwanis and more.
Janet received her N.J. State Certification in Domestic Violence Affairs and is a consultant and instructor at a battered women’s shelter.
Janet has spoken at the United Nations, Notre Dame University (for the NACSDC National Conference), has served as committee member and keynote speaker for the YWCA National Week Without Violence Campaign, and is a member of the National Police Suicide Foundation and past board member for the World Addiction Foundation.
She is a former columnist for the Daily Record and hosted her own cable TV and radio shows. Janet has also been a contributing writer to Woman’s World Magazine, Living Solo Magazine, Prime Woman Magazine and N.J. Family. She has recently appeared in Fusion, Alaska Business Monthly and more than 50 other publications.
As an inspirational speaker and private consultant, Janet is a frequent guest on radio and TV and has appeared on CNN, ABC News, The 700 Club, Lifetime, NBC News, Fox, CBS News, The Harvest Show, TruTV, Celebration and more than 100 top radio stations. She appears as a regular guest on WGUN Radio (Relationship Thursdays with DJ Kay and Janet Pfeiffer).
Janet also runs “The Antidote to Anger Group” for court ordered offenders and those with issues of anger. Additionally, she is a member of EAPA, NJAWBO, ISBOG and Visions in Motion Speaker’s Bureau.
Janet's books include: The Secret Side of Anger (endorsed by NY Times best selling author, Dr. Bernie Siegel), 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life, Vol.3 (co -authored with Mark Victor Hanson of Chicken Soup For the Soul), The Seedling’s Journey, The Angel and The Gift, The Orchids of Gateway Lane , Jordan's Promise and Dying To Be Safe: Ultimate Solutions to Violence.
She has been nominated for many prestigious awards including the Russ Berrie "Make a Difference Award", 2010 NJ Governor’s Jefferson Award, and has been presented with SOS "Positive Life Force" and "AOH" awards.
She has achieved recognition as an award winning author, photographer, and race walker. (1994/1995 NJ Gold Medalist; 1994/1995 National Gold, Silver and Bronze Medalist in marathon competition), and is also listed in the "Who's Who in Authors".
In 2001, she founded "Reunion of Hearts", Reconciling and Reconnecting Estranged Families", the nation's first non-profit support group of its kind dedicated to the emotional healing and reuniting of estranged family members.
Janet is a graduate of Englewood Cliffs College (now part of St. Peter’s).