I was preparing recently for this follow up article on health and wellness when I had a telephone conversation with my good friend and mentor Robert Lindsey who is known intimately by many in law enforcement as “Coach”.
I discussed my suggestions for steps a public safety professional may consider when they are restarting their own wellness plan.
When I shared with Coach a situation I encountered many years ago when I truly became SICK AND TIRED OF BEING SICK AND TIRED, Coach politely responded with his thoughts for my consideration and I am honored to share this with all of you.
Both Coach and I come from backgrounds in law enforcement in which our personal lives declined out of control with our physical health out of control at over 300+ lbs. in body weight, substance abuse and addictive behaviors and a deep spiritual decline which bordered upon total hopelessness.
Coach brought up Dr. Elisabeth Kuber-Ross’s 5 stages of the grief cycle from her book, ON DEATH AND DYING.
Coach uses this point when he teaches others on discovering our personal inner self. He challenges all of us to consider this:
- We would never allow the bad guy to hurt us or our loved ones BUT why won’t we take care of ourselves when it comes to our own health, well-being or our own personal sense of safety?
- When we encounter pain, whether physical or emotional, it is a signal that something is wrong AND the real test is addressing the cause of this pain.
- Whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual WE need to take action.
- The real question is WHEN DO WE TAKE ACTION?
- WE NEED TO BE OUR OWN BEST BODYGUARDS.
Coach brings up Dr. Kuber-Ross’ 5 stages in the sense of self-examination that if we discover an issue with our well-being in that DENIAL stage and if we can progress over toward the ACCEPTANCE stage, we can implement a plan to move forward in our life. To address the cause of the pain that is personally afflicting us while hopefully by-passing the middle stages of frustration, chaos and more pain.
From our personal experiences, Coach and I are trying to help our brothers and sisters avoid the frustration and pain that denial along with the pain of frustration of the non-realistic decisions we make up in our minds when we attempt to deflect a bad situation or avoid the personal issue all together. When we are honest with ourselves taking a serious inventory of where are and the impact the issue has on us, we are hoping that you will not suffer the pain and embarrassment of continuing living in present problem but have the honest courage to move along to a positive and healthy solution.
Later that day, I looked onto www.changingminds.org for their analysis on Dr. Kuber-Ross’ work which they noted that this emotional cycle is not exclusive to the terminally ill but others effected by sad news such as losing a job or other situations negatively affected by change. Whether the change is good or bad, it is perceived as a negative event.
www.changingminds.org goes on to publish her cycles to include 2 additional stages (noted *):
*SHOCK: Paralysis of hearing bad news.
DENIAL: Trying to avoid the inevitable.
ANGER: Frustrated outpouring of bottled up emotions
BARGAINING: Seeking in vain for a way out.
DEPRESSION: Final realization of the inevitable.
*TESTING: Seeking realistic solutions.
ACCEPTANCE: Finding the way forward.
They noted that people sometimes get stuck at the Denial stage or they may move on too quickly or move backwards (through Avoidance).
What our message is for you reading this article while you reflect personally on your own present well-being is that you recognize the present reality of poor health, declining physical fitness, weight management problems, that secret addictive behavior you may struggle with that we tell ourselves that no one else knows (trust us they do) or that mental anguish that continues to replay in our minds which continues that emotional beat down of in-security, loss of confidence and poor self-esteem.
What Coach and I are asking you is consider the following actions:
- Admit and confirm with yourself the issue at hand.
- Tell someone you trust and can confide with about the issue.
- Ask for help for resources to help you address the issue.
- Be courageous and willing to accept the help and be willing to change by addressing the issue.
Our roles in public safety place huge demands on us which affect all of us in a variety of ways as our careers progress. Recognizing that most fictional super heroes have their weakness too. We need to take the proper positive self-care to survive our careers, maintain and develop our relationships with others and keep a mentally positive outlook in our lives. We need to work towards a sense of physical, emotional and spiritual balance. Our loved ones, our peers and our communities we served deserve it.
Retired Colonel Robert “Coach” Lindsey of Jefferson Parish in Louisiana is a founding member of ILEETA and ASLET. He is a well-known law enforcement trainer and mentor to many public safety professionals.
Sgt. Mark St.Hilaire is a 30 year veteran police officer in a busy Metro-west suburb of Boston, Mass. He is a volunteer police peer on a regional CISM team. He is a passionate trainer and writer on public safety health and wellness. He can be contacted confidentially by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NPD3306 or Linked-In.
1st published SCN