How do you find happiness? That has got to be one the hardest questions to ask yourself and someone else. Law enforcement is the focus of negative stories currently, which creates a hard climate to find happiness during work. The profession of law enforcement is currently changing in the United States; with easier access to technology and video footage of interactions the profession has come to the limelight. The changing of the profession has not been viewed as a positive thing but rather a forced doing, leaving some officers to feel that they have done wrong.
Law enforcement is a unique field that attracts people who want to help others. The profession is viewed as helping others through the metaphoric battle with crime. This mindset of good vs. evil can help people in the profession handle and departmentalize the violent trauma and death they encounter while preforming their job duties. This may help us with our own mental health but it backfires when we hear negative stories about us. When you feel that you are part of the “good” side and you hear a negative story putting you on the “bad” side it can take an emotional toll on you. This can lead to you questioning yourself and your choices in career.
With so much negativity directed at your profession, you have to find the fire that drove you once before. This fire will help ignite the passion you had before and can help give meaning to your job. Why did you get into the career you chose? Find that answer and then focus on that again. If it was helping people, what made you feel fulfilled in accomplishing that? Sometimes taking the time and talking about your work with a co-worker can help you find the positives and good things you have done. Find a goal for personal accomplishment and not one for someone else’s approval. This inner goal can help bring happiness and meaning to your work and personal life.
If you feel like people are going after your profession take the time to read up about the history of your profession. Stigmas and media attention can bring negative emotions and thoughts towards a profession, which has shown throughout time. Stigmas can be associated with any profession and they appear to be higher in law enforcement. Taking the time to help de-stigmatize yourself and profession can give you control and meaning back which can help for happiness.
Take the time with things you enjoy even if you are drained. I love playing the guitar but after a long stress filled day when I get home I want nothing to do with it. If I take the time and force myself to play I will start to enjoy it again. It breaks the stress that I was feeling but it takes the action of doing. This is easier said than done but it can work with negative things also like chores and homework. Love playing with your kid? Know that they know when you are stressed, so take the time to engage with them, both of you will benefit.
If you are in a position of supervising take the time to talk about the positives of work. This will make your employees morale rise along with yours in the process. When things are changing take a positive look at them. Explain the reason for the changes to your employees don’t do the old saying “they told us we can’t anymore”. No one wants to be told what he or she can and can’t do, we want to be educated and feel like we are part of the change.
Law enforcement is a great career that gives you the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. It is one of the few professions that you can save someone’s life and change a community. All professions change and evolve with time and technology; law enforcement is no exception. If you feel overwhelmed and not part of the change in your department, take the time to find the answers. Talk to your peers and supervisors; find any forums and boards that you can be part of to create change.
Do you have any questions that you want to ask? If so send them to Ask@goCIT.org
Ask a Doc-Ask a Cop: The Mental Health Minute