Avoid the Corners
“…officers then kicked him repeatedly and beat him with batons for a reported 15 minutes. The video showed that more than a dozen cops stood by, watching and commenting on the beating.”
“Residents set fires, looted and destroyed liquor stores, grocery stores, retail shops and fast food restaurants.”
Are these quotes from today’s news coverage? Nope. These quotes describe the circumstances surrounding the Rodney King incident – 29 years ago. While they certainly could have been plucked from today’s headlines, they are nearly 3 decades old.
Unfortunately, many of our brothers and sisters are struggling right now. It can feel like the entire world is against those in law enforcement. It even seems as though there has never been such a blatant “us v. them” mentalities between criminal justice professionals and the rest of the world.
At moments like this it’s important to remember that the whole world isn’t against you. It certainly seems like it is. But it really isn’t. There are those out there that want you to believe that this is the case, but it simply isn’t reality. The reality is, though, that focusing only on those with negative views creates its own form of tunnel vision. As you know, most of the time tunnel vision decreases awareness of the whole situation.
Here are three simple methods for dealing with stress – not just today, but every day. Dealing with stress will keep you out of the proverbial corner.
First, breathe. Intentionally, deeply, regularly. There are many different names for this type of breathing. One of the biggest proponents of this practice is Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. If you haven’t read any of his books you need to – soon.
The second strategy is to have a plan to disengage. This doesn’t mean retreat. It means that you need to recognize when you are about to lose control and do something you shouldn’t. When you recognize that is about to happen, be willing to turn over primary contact to one of your fellow first responders. Doing this doesn’t make you weak – it takes incredible courage and self-realization to do this. By the way, we should also be keeping an eye on our fellow officers (see our blog entitled “We Are Our Brothers’ and Sisters’ Keepers” for more info).
Finally, be prepared to go to your happy place – mentally. Your happy place is the place that you would go if given the chance to go anywhere and do anything. This does not mean daydreaming in the middle of a critical incident. It means that when you have a down moment allow your mind to go someplace that will lower your heart rate, calm your nerves, and improve your decision-making ability. By the way, if you don’t have a happy place you need to find one.
Do not allow yourself to be backed into a corner – physically, emotionally, psychologically. The corner is a terrible place to be. Those who believe that there is no way out make foolish, rash decisions. Yes, times are incredibly difficult right now – and they may be for a while. But we’ve been here before and we came back better than ever. That will be the case this time as well. Keep the faith. Take care of yourself and each other. Don’t just remember your oath, live it. And, if you need someone to talk to, #IWillListen.