by Julie Hryniewicz-Hache
The fact that you are
reading these words means that you are part of
a very unique group of individuals. Whether you
are an officer, the loved one of an officer, or
someone who is employed or involved in any
capacity in this industry, you probably
understand the deep impact of the policing
culture on your life. Policing is now in your
blood and will forever change the way that you
see the world.
Although I pulled the pin
on my policing career, after only eight years
on the force, it was news that a former
co-worker of mine had ended own his life, that
reminded me how we are all still connected.
Hearing this type of information affects every
one of us, whether we know the person or not.
It causes us to reflect on our own lives and is
a perfect opportunity to reestablish our
priorities for our brief time on this earth.
When we entered the
policing environment, we were full of
excitement and enthusiasm, we wanted to make a
difference in the lives of other people, and we
were also happy to earn a decent paycheck, good
benefits, and a pension at the end of the
tunnel! Along the way we were pleasantly
surprised that we actually got paid to do what
we do. Being at the heart of the action,
feeling that adrenalin rush, and knowing that
every day would bring a new adventure, filled
If you happen to be
someone who still feels this way about your
career and you also have your personal life
intact, then keep up the good work. For the
rest of us who have a past riddled with divorce
and divided families, bitterness over internal
politics, frustration over cutbacks and
amalgamations, suffering health, and cynicism
over the mess of our society, then perhaps you
It is a fact that this
occupation exposes us to the worst
circumstances in our society. We are witnesses
to violence, abuse, neglect, death, crime,
trauma, crisis, and despair. We add this to
sleep deprivation, poor nutrition, shift work,
the rise and fall of adrenalin surges,
post-traumatic stress, and attempting to
balance all of this with our personal life, and
it eventually wears down our spirit, our
bodies, as well as our family unit.
What began as a promising
career, progressively lead to my life falling
apart piece by piece. I became swept up in the
all-consuming identity and negativity of the
policing culture and I allowed it to jade me. I
noticed several officers counting down the
years until their retirement, I was shocked by
the number of coworkers whose marriages were
also in the throws of destruction, and I was
sad to see all of the people praying to win the
lottery to "get them out of here".
It is like the elephant
standing in the middle of the office that no
one is talking about. Discontent is everywhere.
Just look around in your own office and realize
how many of your co-workers are divorced. Look
at all the people who are continuing to swim in
sarcasm, anger, bitterness, worry, and constant
wallowing over things that they can't control.
This is no way to live; it affects your health,
your energy, and everyone around you.
Negativity in your life is
like adding black food coloring to the clean
water in a fish bowl. Eventually negativity
clouds your entire world, including your
health, your relationships, and your social
life. Even though we have always been trained
to look for the worst case scenario and should
continue to do so for purposes of safety, this
habit may be the culprit for why our personal
lives are taking a beating.
The whole world is not
bad; it is just what our radar is set for. For
every person that is caught speeding or
committing a crime, there are thousands who are
obeying the law. Can you see how negativity has
become our habit? It's no wonder that police
officers have such messed up personal lives!
If you are at the place in
your career where you are more cynical than
excited, more sarcastic than empathetic, or
more bitter than ambitious, then it may be a
perfect time to take a peek at where you have
been focusing your energy. If you find yourself
constantly rehashing the injustices of job,
talking about the latest scandal, feeling angry
and frustrated on duty or off, suffering in
your relationships or your health, then you too
could be headed for disaster.
Think about going into a
sports store to buy skates. When you get home
your spouse asks you if the running shoes were
on sale. You have no idea because you weren't
looking for running shoes; you were looking for
skates. The reality is that the running shoes
were there all along but you just didn't notice
them. Many things exist simultaneously and yet
we only tend to notice what we looking for or
what we are in the habit of concentrating on.
If I asked you make a list
of all of the things that you are angry,
bitter, or frustrated about on the job, then I
am certain you would be able to find tons of
problems for that list. Understand that
negativity festering in our mind and body
eventually causes stress and disease. Stress
and disease also leads to strained
relationships. Strained relationships then lead
to family breakdown.
On the other hand, if I
was to ask you to identify all of the good
points or positive things that have happened
because of the job, then you could also find
tons of things for that list; if you looked
hard enough. Negative and positive always exist
at the same time; it is up to you to choose
what to focus your attention on.
Life is like that - we
tend to be blinded by what is going wrong in
our life to the point that we miss the good; I
certainly did. By the time I left policing, I
could rhyme off all the reasons why I needed to
get out; divorce, depression, illness, leading
eventually to bankruptcy. In hindsight, I
forgot to list all of the reasons why I used to
love the job and why it may be handy to stay
Although my life is still
riddled with the effects of my past decisions,
I have learned to instead focus on what I am
grateful for. No matter how much we try, we
can't change the past. There is no use wasting
any energy in guilt, anger, sadness, or grief
over something that we can't change.
Picture a jar of one
hundred marbles representing your energy level
at the beginning of every day. Throughout the
day you are constantly depleting your energy a
few marbles at a time. Often we give our energy
away to things we have no control over, only to
find that there is very little left for the
people or activities in our life that truly
matter. Where is your energy going? Would you
say that you are more negative than positive?
If all of your "marbles" are gone by the end of
your shift, how much energy is actually left
for your family?
Do you know anyone who
might be draining your energy or someone who is
figuratively always throwing up in your ear?
Decide in advance not to be a party to people
who are constantly talking negative. Remove
yourself politely or redirect any conversations
that are going sour. When you surround yourself
with people and situations that are constantly
negative, your energy is being contaminated. If
you are contaminated with anything, would you
bring it home to your family?
Asking yourself probing
questions are an opportunity to take stock on
your life. It assisted me in realizing that
wasting any of my already depleted resources on
things that I couldn't change, allowed me to
get very clear on what was truly important.
Realize that your life right now is a direct
result of the decisions you have made in your
past. You chose your career, you chose your
spouse, you chose your vehicle, you chose your
home - you can also choose to notice and
integrate the positive into your life that may
have been overshadowed by all the junk.
Who are you grateful for?
What are the good things that have come out of
your career? Whose lives have you positively
affected in the past? What accomplishments are
you proud of? What lessons have you learned
that you can pass on to your loved ones? How
many more people can you comfort, calm, or
perhaps even redirect to a more productive
future by your actions and your words? On your
deathbed, how do you want people to remember
you? What gifts, skills, and abilities do you
have that can be used to benefit other people?
What fun activities have you been meaning to
get around to but just haven't made the time?
If you are not happy about
anything that is going on in your life right
now, then realize that only you have the
ability to change it. You are only a victim of
anything if you believe that you have no power
or control. The good news is that you don't
necessarily have to resign from your job, move
positions, or attempt to fight the "system", to
find peace in your life. Are you actually a
prisoner of your job or it is your choice? Once
you realize that you are in control of your
life then you have shifted your perspective.
You, your colleagues, and
your families deserve to live a life of peace.
The only responsibility you have while on this
earth is to do what you love to do and make a
difference to as many people as possible. If
you think for a moment that you are here to
struggle, then it's time to stop and reflect.
The quality of your life is absolutely in your
control. If you want things to be different,
decide today, and shift your focus. It is much
more fun to live life full out. Life is too
Spring 2006 - Police Association of Ontario POA
Magazine – Reprinted with permission of the
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julie Hryniewicz-Hache was hired by the Ontario
Provincial Police in 1995 as a Provincial Constable. During her law enforcement
career she served in five detachments of the Northeast Region of Ontario.
Today, Julie Hryniewicz-Hache is a keynote speaker, workshop leader and author.
According to Julie, My purpose revealed itself through my adversity. Despite
divorce, depression, illness, and bankruptch, I am so blessed for every step of
my journey. Julie Hryniewicz-Hache is the author of Natural Balance: How To
Energize, Heal, & Simplify Your Life.
According to the description of Natural Balance:
How To Energize, Heal, & Simplify Your Life, You were created by the same
magnificent Power that makes our sun rise and set on cue every single day - you
have a purpose and you deserve peace. Where are you now? Where do you want to
be? How do you get there? Natural Balance: How To Energize, Heal, & Simplify
Your Life incorporates healing images of nature, inspirational quotes,
empowerment, self-exploration journal pages, and the opportunity to collage your
way to a better life. Whatever has happened in life so far is behind you; you
have the opportunity now to take your journey to new heights by releasing
anything that is holding you back, finding joy in your gifts and passions,
replenishing your energy levels, and living full out. You have this undetermined
span of time between today and the rest of your life; life is too short to miss
out on the amazing feeling of joy, fulfillment, and gratitude for your days. You
are truly magnificent; you just may not realize it yet!