Lessons of Aloha

If you are finding yourself beaten down and constantly angry, or your cynicism is turning you against your own species, both your emotional and physical health are at risk. You need to regain perspective.

…Friedman (one of the cofounders of the Type A/Type B typology) reports three common and significant symptoms of maladaptive behavior associated with this personality type.  These are: free-floating, easily triggered hostility, impatience causing frequent irritation, and an overdeveloped competitive drive resulting in stress and an “achievement-driven” mentality; they will even invent competition with others where none existed.  When these symptoms appear they can have a wide-ranging negative impact on both physical and emotional health, interpersonal relationships, job performance, and even unrelated people within the Type A’s sphere of influence.

Okay, now look around at some of the cops you work with or know (or maybe yourself?) and compare them to these maladaptive behaviors Friedman described.  Free-floating, easily triggered hostility?  Check!  Impatience causing frequent irritation?  Yep. Overdeveloped competitive drive… even inventing competition with others where none existed?  Do you know that guy?  I know more than a few with all these behaviors.  And of the ones you know, how are they doing physically and emotionally, at home and on the job?  Any problems you are aware of? 

The anger, frustration, and stresses of law enforcement

The truth is, a career in law enforcement exposes its practitioners to a variety of emotions and stress that, if not properly managed, can set them onto maladaptive or even self-destructive paths.  We feel disgust and anger at the predators among us, those who prey on the law-abiding and, even worse, the weak.  You grow frustrated with not only the many frequent flyers we see over and over, but also the politicians, bureaucrats, and bona fide bozos with whom you must deal but can never lock up because stupidity in its purest form still isn’t legal.  And we stress over the many ways things can go horribly wrong in an instant, jeopardizing your job, your future, or even your life. 

And on top of all this is an often unappreciative public, woefully ignorant of why and how you do your jobs but always willing two throw their two cents in whether you care to hear it or not.  Is it any wonder cops become cynical, or that so many isolate from the very public they are sworn to protect?

Recently, on this and other police websites, and in the other various media, I’ve followed stories and their related comment threads about LE-related issues pertaining to Occupy Wall Street, notable crimes, public employee unions and pensions, Supreme Court decisions, and other topics.  The stories themselves are one thing; the comments from the public quite another, and it becomes clear there are some people out there who don’t like us very much!  Or that there are so many, who know so little, so willing to expound from a position of utter ignorance.  Who woulda known?

That public antipathy toward law enforcement we so often see, whether it happens to be real or perceived, hurts and puzzles crimefighters is to be expected.  A lot of cops will profess to not be bothered by it, or that they've become so used to it as to no longer care, but I wonder if they are trying to convince others or themselves.  When you sincerely do your best, act in good faith, diligently respect and defend the rights of the public, and believe deeply in your mission - and you know the overwhelming majority of your brother and sister law enforcers do too - it's expected you would be hurt, puzzled, frustrated, or angry over the unfair disrespect or dismissal toward the profession by so many. 

What is more disheartening, when you think about it, is how we in law enforcement become beaten down psychologically over time by the attitudes of an unappreciative, and sometimes hostile, public.  Worse yet, is how we ALLOW ourselves to be beaten down, to lose sight of our mission, to have our perspective on humanity changed so cynically, and to develop or nurture that “free-floating, easily triggered hostility, (and) impatience causing frequent irritation” seen in many with the Type A personality so common in law enforcement. 

The sad truth is, if you are finding yourself beaten down and constantly angry, or your cynicism is turning you against your own species, both your emotional and physical health are at risk.  You need to regain perspective.

Adapting “The Aloha Spirit” to police work? 

Of course, as tourists in Hawaii, we wondered if “The Aloha Spirit” we read and kept hearing the locals we encountered talk about was real or an affectation for our benefit.  Of course, Hawaii has problems - like anywhere else - but people kept talking about “The Aloha Spirit” and were unfailingly friendly and accommodating to tourists and other locals alike.  Maybe there is something to this “The Aloha Spirit” after all.

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