Life's Not Fair; Being an Emotional Winner

When I was sill in elementary school I decided that I’d become a cop. Certainly my strong sense of right and wrong, fair and unfair, good and evil would serve me well as a law enforcement professional.

Without actively working at taking control of their own emotional survival, these officers run the risk of becoming professional malcontents, and they may also drive away their family and friends, the very people who truly care about them. Their lives may become a self-fulfilling prophesy of misery, both personally and professionally.

This was all such great, eye-opening stuff that I began to also incorporate these principles into my own training classes, including classes like “Don’t Whine…WIN” and “The Winning Mind For Women.”  Pretty soon, I’d have woman after woman approach me and tell me some version of their own “life isn’t fair” struggle that had affected their personal or professional life. I had to do more than just quote my mom to them so again, I began to study, and I came across a wonderful book, “The Female Brain” by Dr. Louann Brizendine.  This book should be read by anyone who works with, lives with, cares about, trains, is raising, or is a female of the species.

Dr. Brizendine tells us something we already know, that women are generally not big on conflict, but she also shows us that we are “hard-wired” or biologically pre-disposed to such behaviors. There are reasons for us to feel the way we do, it’s all right there in our brain!  Think about it, one of the best ways to avoid conflict is to make sure everything is “fair.”

Just watch a group of little girls playing, they will make sure everyone has a role in whatever they are playing, they will ask questions like, “Let’s play soccer, OK?” or “Is it OK if we play house?”  Generally speaking, women prefer it when everyone is getting along -- when there is no conflict to deal with -- which often means everything is going the way they want it to go. (Sorry, ladies, I have to tell the truth here, no matter how much it hurts!) So when something perceived to be “unfair” happens (the department cancelled my day off;  that guy got a promotion that I deserved more than he did; the sergeant treats her better than he treats me, etc.) most women have a much harder time dealing with it than most men do.

What’s the professional implication here?  All cops have to be aware of avoiding the “victim” mentality when things aren’t going their way, but women have to be especially vigilant and work even harder to become what Dr. Gilmartin calls an “emotional survivor.”  In a profession where we have a significant divorce rate, a high rate of alcoholism and an increasing rate of officer suicides, our ability to “win” emotionally is just as important as “winning” on the street.

And in a profession that still has difficulty recruiting and retaining women, all trainers, administrators, and female personnel themselves need to study the science behind how women think and realize (and admit!) that men and women truly are different, and both sexes need to work hard at their own emotional well being, because remember, “Nobody Ever Said Life Was Going To Be Fair!”

Dr. Kevin Gilmartin

Bruce Sokolove

Valerie VanBrocklin

Dave Smith

  • Enhance your experience.

    Thank you for your regular readership of and visits to To continue viewing content on this site, please take a few moments to fill out the form below and register on this website.

    Registration is required to help ensure your access to featured content, and to maintain control of access to content that may be sensitive in nature to law enforcement.