Holding the Line
Noticing the disconnect
By Michelle Vincent
I normally encourage people to look for the positive in order to achieve their goals, whether it’s at work or at home. When we look for something, we always find it, the mind makes it so. This is why it is so important to be selective in what we entertain from a mental perspective.
By Michelle Vincent
If we want to find what is going right at work or in our personal worlds, we will find it, every time. If we want to find what is going wrong at work or in the home, we will find that just as easily. It is all about our ego that silently wants to be right.
That being said, ensuring that we determine the goals we want to achieve is equally as important in our selective mental process, as in the focus on what is going right. There are also times when there may be more than one goal.
In the world of policing there appears to be a significant amount of what I like to call “disconnects.” This applies in the working relationships we maintain and in our personal family dynamics. An example of a disconnect might be when a member is experiencing anxiety in a situation at work and the supervisor isn’t able to see the obvious signs of distress because they are intensely focused on their own tasks. An example in a family situation might be a parent texting their partner about their teenager being in trouble, and the police officer partner responding to their partner that the trouble is not a crisis and that it can wait to be addressed until they get home from work.
A crisis from a civilian perspective is likely very different than what is perceived as a crisis in the eyes of a police officer. As the result of this perception, a real disconnect in relationships can occur, both in the workplace between colleagues and in the home between family members. This disconnect can lead to the dissolution of those relationships, as one or more persons may feel that they are not being valued.
Our response as police officers is understandable, as we have to focus completely on our work tasks in order to effectively investigate incidents. Some situations may become dangerous, so we need to focus on our personal safety and often the integrity of the investigation itself. The challenge comes in the form of noticing the disconnect in the relationship which may be compromised in that moment. How do we maintain the focus we believe we need in order to effectively and safely complete the task expected of us while maintaining the feeling of value for those in the workplace and in our personal lives?
One suggestion I have heard repeatedly, in various forums, is the power of meditation, or as is suggested in the The Art of Stillness Ted Talk by Pico Iyer, is the concept of “going nowhere.” Calming the mind through “going nowhere” in a mental perspective has been proven to significantly enhance emotional intelligence.
How is this related to managing “the focus” in the world of policing? It allows our mind to be more open and receptive to the tasks at hand as well as providing an opportunity for our mind to be available to listen and “hear” when a colleague, friend, partner, child or family member is really in need at that moment, or whether it can wait to be heard later.
In order to notice the disconnects we must be connected. That clear mind that is not only essential in police work, but imperative at other times, in order to successfully negotiate the unpredictable experience or the investigation at hand, is also just as important in maintaining the connection in crucial relationships.
A wise person once said, making a living and making a life, can point you in opposite directions if you are not connected. Although policing is far from being as simple as “making a living,” without those special people in our world, whether they are our partners at work or our family and friends, our life would be meaningless. Notice disconnections, look for connections and try “going nowhere” as often as you can.
Michelle Vincent is a 15 year York Regional Police officer with a Masters Degree in Arts in Counselling Psychology and a background in equine assisted therapy, workplace reintegration and teaching. Her counselling practice is supervised by a psychologist with a specialty in addictions and trauma. She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.