Get out of your comfort zone and meet new people.
For many years when I was a police officer, I rarely wanted to associate with people who were outside of the law enforcement profession. Like many who have spent years on the job, I was conditioned to believe that if a person wasn’t a cop then they couldn’t be trusted. That was fostered and fueled throughout most of my years on the job by fellow officers and others in the criminal justice field. On my off time, I was also constantly reminded of human behavior that I rarely wanted to deal with on the job, let alone off the job. I rarely wanted to go out and socialize, and if I did, I didn’t want to be around many people. This was often difficult for my wife who is very outgoing and social.
Over time, like many veteran officers, I became jaded and negative. Not surprisingly, many aspects of my life suffered. My attitude, my relationships and overall outlook on life was often shrouded in negative thoughts.
Then something happened. A couple of years before I retired, I shifted my mindset and I started to venture out and meet new people outside of law enforcement. Surprisingly, I was meeting great and interesting people that I had much in common with. I wasn’t completely letting my guard down, but I was taking off my “cop hat” more and more. Something I would rarely do around others who didn’t have a shield or a star.
And you know what? My relationships and attitude started to improve. I started looking forward to going out and meeting new people. I was having fun and I loved it. I think I yearned for that time when I was outgoing and social, and how being on the job for many years changed that. We all change as time goes by, but for many years I didn’t have any type of connections with people that weren’t in law enforcement. That’s not healthy in my opinion.
I know in these difficult times it’s hard for some law enforcement officers to get out of their comfort zone and meet people outside of the job, but I think that is what exactly is needed for those officers for them to remain healthy. And when I say healthy, I don’t only mean physical health, but mental health as well.
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Also remember that when you leave the job, you are going to be out of sight and out of the minds of many who are still on the job. I talk to many officers who have left the profession, and many have told me they hardly ever hear from their “friends” who are still on the job. More reason you need to venture out and meet new people.
When I retired, I really believe that relationships I built with people outside of law enforcement were instrumental in building my criminal justice podcast, www.cjevolution.com, and other ventures I am now involved in. That wouldn’t have happened if I kept my old mindset.
If you are the officer who doesn’t trust anyone or would rather be isolated because you don’t want to go out and meet new people, I would encourage you to take a chance and start meeting people outside of the profession. You never know who you will meet, and there’s probably a good chance you will meet someone who can help you down the road.
As, always take care of each other and be safe.
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