Peacekeepers or Zookeepers?

by: Cris Corzine-McCloskey

Last week I spoke to peacekeepers about being courageous and honest. If you know and love a peacekeeper, it’s your turn for the hot-seat, because peacekeeping is a defense mechanism derived from placating difficult personalities. Personalities I think of as alligators, porcupines, puffer fish and fainting goats.

Alligators are scary. Their victim never sees them coming. It’s fun in the sun, then chomp, and the gator has its prey! Their victim is locked in an inescapable horror, dragged underwater for a “death roll.” If you are an alligator, you know you have a bad temper. If someone missteps they experience your rage. You yell, scream, curse and belittle. For your family, this is terrifying and unpredictable. They begin placating you, lest you turn on them. You have created peacekeepers who are too frightened of you to connect.

If you are a porcupine, you shoot quills at anyone who gets close to you. These quills are poisonous barbs of sarcasm and criticism. And while they may not be as terrifying as an alligator attack, they leave your family scared and scarred. They begin walking on eggshells, living in fear of the next quill coming their way. They try to appease you to avoid the barbs. Classic peacekeeping.

Or perhaps you are a puffer fish. These creatures are small, but when they feel threatened they abruptly blow up, so they appear bigger. That intimidates and confuses the other fish, who then leave them alone. Puffer fish aren’t as dangerous as alligators and porcupines, but the result is the same.

If you are a puffer fish, you feel instantly threatened when someone tries to talk to you about your behavior. Your employ the “best defense is a good offense” strategy in times of duress. If your wife mentions you forgot to take out the trash, you fire back a list of her shortcomings. It works, because the price tag of confrontation is so high, no one dares to cross you. You mistakenly think that’s the goal, but your defensiveness destroys authenticity, and your loved one is now a peacekeeper.

And lastly, we have fainting goats. If you are one of these, you are fragile, sweet, and easy to love. But you tend to burst into tears and fears at the slightest whiff of negative emotions. This makes others feel like terrorists when they try to confront you, so they begin “handling” you to avoid meltdowns.

Do you see yourself in any of these scenarios? Kris Vallotton says “if it costs a lot to be honest in your home don’t be surprised when people lie.” Quite often the lie is one of omission. Everyone is afraid to tell you that you are scary and hard to love. My guess is that your behavior is masking your fears and insecurities. Pray about this and let God show you what’s making you angry and afraid. Get some help, and please allow your peacekeeper become a peacemaker!