“The sharpest sword is a word spoken in wrath.” (The Buddha).
A little boy, prone to anger, was told by his father, “Every time you’re angry, drive a nail in that wooden fence. When you’ve learned to control your anger, start removing them.” Six months later, the boy had removed every nail he had driven. Triumphant, he showed the fence to his father. The father sadly pointed out, “See the holes? The fence will never be the same.”
I first heard this story several years ago and thought it a perfect analogy to the potential damage anger can have on another person.
All emotions have purpose and value. None are inherently bad, even anger. It’s how we choose to express them and what we do with them that determines if they become a positive or negative force.
Here’s the problem with anger: we become upset with someone for whatever reason and lash out in fury. “You idiot! I told you not to do that!” “I never should have married you! My parents warned me!” Ouch! Hurtful words hurt…over and over. We may say something once yet the person on the receiving end of our rage replays those words again and again, each time gaining momentum and power. For the offender, the incidence occurs once and is forgotten. For the target, they relive it ten, twenty, one hundred times. Angry words have the potential to cause a lifetime of suffering.
When I was young, I distinctly remember an adult telling me in a nasty way I’d never amount to anything in life. Clearly they were angry although I never understood why. I hadn’t done anything to warrant it at that time. (I had plenty of other times though.) Those words stayed with me for decades. I attended college (with no aspirations) simply because my mother insisted. (Thank you, mom.) Eleven days after graduation I married my high school sweetheart and soon thereafter started a family. Staying home raising children was safe and at times became a convenient excuse for not venturing outside of the home. After all, what else could I possibly do? I reminded myself I’d never amount to anything so why even try?
It wasn’t until I was in my forties that I was able to revisit those hurtful words and re evaluate their meaning. What had caused me great anguish for nearly thirty years, in reality, had no value. That adult’s words were not truth. They were spoken in anger. Now as an adult, I was finally able to put the past behind me by forgiving the one who so cruelly drove a nail into my spirit.
Hurtful words hurt – over and over. They can leave holes in the very fiber of one’s being. Choose your words wisely. Choose kindness.
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 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).