My anger management group is no place for the weak. While I am very compassionate and respectful, I have zero tolerance for denial, blame, self-pity and the like. Monday night was no exception.
"Sharon" sat down on the large blue sofa along with the other women. As always, I asked the ladies how they were doing since our last meeting a week ago. "I'm having a problem with some of the women here," Sharon said. (She was referring to those at the battered women's shelter where our meetings are held.) "Last night I told my roommate to turn the light off so I could go to sleep and she got nasty with me. Then, when I got up the next morning to go to my appointment, no one told me the van was leaving so I missed my ride. Later, I was using the pay phone and moved the garbage can into the hall because it was in my way. A staff member yelled at me and told me I had to put it back. I told her it's a free country and I can do what I want. She got nasty with me so I got nasty back. I'm tired of these b*tches pushing me around!"
She proceeded to congratulate herself for not hitting anyone. "I've been to anger management before. I don't need this group. I didn't hit anyone like I used to."
I, too, applauded her for the progress she had made. This was impressive for someone who grew up where violence is an acceptable way of life. But I needed to take her beyond where the other group left off. "Let's take a look at the role you played in each of these situations so you can do things differently in the future and avoid further problems. In the first, did you ask your roommate politely or were you rude?" "I was rude but she didn't have to get nasty with me so I cursed her out!" "Could you have asked politely?" I inquired. "Yes but even so, she didn't have to be a 'b'!"
I proceeded: "You do know that the van leaves precisely at 6 am every morning, don't you?" I asked. "Yes", she replied. "What could you have done differently to ensure you were on time?" "I could have gotten up earlier." I could see she was becoming agitated that I was focusing on her role in each of the arduous situations. "This is a shelter and they have rules everyone is expected to abide by. To move a garbage can into the hallway presents a fire hazard and is in violation of the town's fire code. Staff was only doing their job." "That's ridiculous!" she shouted. "It's a stupid garbage can, for God's sake! I could move it if I want to!" I was not surprised when she left the group.
The hardest thing we ever have to do in life is face the truth about ourselves. We are quick to credit ourselves for the right choices we make while failing to acknowledge our defects. Finding fault with others is effortless as it requires no self-examination and effort on our part to change. But only when we are willing to acknowledge our role in what isn't working in our lives do we have the power to effect positive change.
Live in truth, no matter how (temporarily) painful: it is where your true personal power lies to prosper.
Janet Pfeiffer, internationally known speaker and award-winning author, is one of todays most highly sought after seminar leaders.
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, 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 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 The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, 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) and is a regular guest on Ebru Today. She is also the host of her own radio show, Anger 9-1-1, on W4CY.com.
Janet 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, MVP Seminars Speaker’s Bureau and Visions in Motion Speaker’s Bureau.
Janet's books include The Great Truth: Shattering Life’s Most Insidious Lies That Sabotage Your Happiness Along With the Revelation of Life’s Sole Purpose; 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).