As I have been writing my book, and teaching my course, Bridging the Gap, I have been doing some serious soul searching. I have heard comments from participants that take me back to my days in the early 90's as a younger officer when I thought I "had my shit together". To when I first heard Dr. Kevin Gilmartin. I felt I really didn't need what he had to say as my marriage was fine. Twenty years later, after being divorced twice, I look back and realize, I should have listened more. Now, as I teach courses I hear, "I don't tell my family anything about work. They don't need to know that stuff." I look at what that same lack of communication did to me over the years and realize, the box we have built around us in law enforcement, hasn't really changed over the years. It is still extremely small.
I look at how the claims that we have changed the way we do and look at things are a total falsehood and how we keep reverting back to the same old thing. One example is community oriented policing in the early 90's. This was the new panacea to all community related problems. Communicating and working in conjunction with the community. I remember setting up business advisory groups, school advisory groups and working with neighborhood watch groups. This was outside the box and was pushed by the administration. I saw some really good things come out of it for a couple of years. Then, manpower, money, and time got in the way and we slowly reverted back to what we have always done. Some of the terminology was still there, giving the impression we were still doing things differently. The new thinking people became beat down by the resistance of the "old guard". Now it was all a facade and we slowly slithered back into the old box we were comfortable in.
It brings to mind the saying, "If we always do what we've always done, we will always get what we always got". In the old box we have always gotten a very high divorce and suicide rate. We have always gotten PTSD and no one could talk about it because of the stigma. You need counseling, you aren't fit for duty. Despite the best efforts of the "old guard" things are changing and it is about time. It is time for us to stand up and get outside that old box. Time for us to create a far larger box that allows more room for thought and mentally healthy choices. One question I ask in class is, who in here has tried meditation? One or two people will raise their hand. I now comment, that's not true. Who has done combat breathing, or tactical breathing, some call it box breathing? Almost everyone now raises their hand. I can only say, wow, that is actually a simple form of meditation and you've been doing it. Now with that realization, it is ok for them to talk about meditation, and we do a short meditation. The comments at the end of the class are varied. The vast majority say they enjoyed that part of the class and are going to continue, especially once the benefits are explained. Once they understand that cycling, swimming, running and other types of exercise can be meditative. Then, there are always one or two, who comment, do less mediation in the class. I can easily guess they are older guys, who are afraid to venture outside the old box. That is okay. They are only limiting themselves and their experiences in life .They can continue to do what they've always done.
I know it takes 90 days to break a habit and 90 days to create a new habit. I now add an assignment at the end of class to start creating a new habit. Each participant selects a partner to be accountable with and they follow up with each other for 90 days. This will expand the box so that we can make a difference in the lives of our families, our co-workers, our community, and ourselves. We cannot boldly change the world in one stroke. We can change the world, one person at a time until the whole world is changed. We get to be that person. We get to be that change. A couple years before I retired, I started looking at things differently. I quit expecting to get into foot chases and fights and they stopped. I still accomplished what was required of me. The funny thing is, people, citizens, and patrons, started approaching me with questions and sometimes just to chat. Wow, that was new. I changed, and the world around me started to change. My challenge to you is don't just think outside the box. Get rid of the box, enjoy the freedom, enjoy the journey, enjoy your life.
Techniques to improve our communication and work through traumatic events are shared in my course, Bridging the Gap. Come join us and learn something outside the box.