What does it take to Armor Your Self™ Spiritually?
As we prepare for the Spring 2014 publication of John Marx’ new book: “Armor Your Self™: How To Survive A Career In Law Enforcement” we are going to preview some of the information and concepts contained within the Armor Your Self™ book and training program.. This book is meant to provide guidance to all law enforcement professionals and their families about tactics and strategies that can work to protect them and help create a positive quality of life.
The basic premise of this concept is that in order to successfully survive a career in law enforcement one must Armor Your Self™ physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually to strengthen and condition your being to guard against the “hidden dangers” of this very toxic profession.
The spiritual component of this self-protective prevention program is one of the most challenging for… many officers to grasp and one that many resist.
For hundreds of years the focus in law enforcement training has been on the danger from the bad people and what we can do to prevent any line of duty deaths, most importantly our own. We learn to shoot, wrestle with someone and put them in handcuffs. We also get lots of hand to hand combat training. But over the last twenty-five or so years we have started to recognize that there are other dangers, beyond being murdered on the job, that are inherent in this career that might be killing us in larger numbers. What’s worse is that we are starting to see that in order to defend ourselves properly we not only need to focus on what might kill us but also on what might make our lives miserable or unbearable. We should also focus on what might be hurting our families and our co-workers.
Some of the “hidden dangers” of this career, that many of us have been overlooking, include suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence as well as heart disease, diabetes, depression, and cancer. It’s easy to suggest that all of these threats are being caused by an excessive amount of cumulative stress, and while that may be true, that may be too simplistic a premise.
At the Law Enforcement Survival Institute we have created a term called “Blue Trauma Syndrome” to describe the spectrum of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual injuries that can be manifested during a career in law enforcement.
We believe that in order to resist these “hidden dangers” and side-effects one must build a system of “Tactical Resilience” to resist and protect your “self” from these dangers. The Armor Your Self™ process is one component of Tactical Resilience.
Our definition of Tactical Resilience is a process of strengthening and conditioning the mind, body, brain and spirit of a police officer or other law enforcement or military professional to withstand the rigors and hidden emotional, physical, spiritual and physiological dangers of continuous high threat, high stress situations. We at the Law Enforcement Survival Institute coined the term “Tactical Resilience” not to make things more complicated but rather to create a laser focus onto what we are talking about and more specifically what we are trying to protect against.
In order to Armor Your Self™ Spiritually you may have to set aside all of your own preconceived notions, both positive and negative, about faith, religion and this broad concept of spirituality and consider what is at the core of your being that drives you to work in law enforcement?
What are your core values and where do your values come from?
What are your most sacred beliefs about life, and about good and evil?
What are you willing to sacrifice your life for?
What are you willing to do to save a life?
These beliefs can’t be strengthened in any physical, mental or even emotional training program.
With some overlap to other parts of your being here are some of the components of your spiritual self:
These are the things we are talking about when we use the term spiritual, and despite what your religious beliefs are, these are the ideals and values that can be put at risk when you are faced with the excessive amount of depravity, corruption, trauma and tragedy that a law enforcement professional must face on the job.
Remember our #1 Goal in this program be to create a “Positive Quality of Life” for ourselves, our peers and our families.
You should also understand that there is a difference between the physical side of exercising and the intellectual side where one is more active and the other is more etherial. While doing physical or mental exercises you might be very active physically and mentally, but in doing emotional and spiritual exercises you need to be more in your head. In fact for some exercises you need to be quiet and still and this will drive some of you crazy!
The most important question in this discussion then becomes:
What are you willing to do to save your own life?
We also need to determine how do we strengthen and condition ourselves spiritually to endure the rigors of a career in law enforcement?
In the book we list a number of exercises you can do as an individual, with a partner, in roll-call and with your family. Our recommendation for your Armor Your Self™ Spiritual Workouts is to find some exercise to practice for 10 minutes daily. This could be reading, discussion, research or some other kind of study. You might consider topics that are important to you or that come up in your daily activities that you think need further examination.
As a teaser for the book here is one of the Spiritual Strengthening and Conditioning Exercises we list there:
Take about ten minutes to sit quietly and consider:
What does your integrity mean to you?
Ask yourself “what are my beliefs about integrity?”
Ask yourself what “giving your word” means to you and to others?
What are your beliefs about honesty?
Ask what you would never be willing to do because it would compromise your integrity?
Finally, write down your thoughts about what integrity means to you and consider writing a credo or concise statement about your beliefs about integrity.
I’ve always liked the credo expressed by John Wayne’s character in the movie The Shootist: “I will not be wronged, I will not be insulted and I will not be laid a hand upon. I don’t do these things to others and I require the same from them.”
That credo says more about what he won’t tolerate rather than what he believes in, but it is all food for thought as you decide what you believe in.
Here’s a link to an interesting article from the Alliance for Integrity entitled: “An Integrity Credo: Do You Have One?”
I would also like to recommend an excellent class being put on by one of our faculty members Cary Friedman. Cary is a law enforcement chaplain and author of the book: “Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement”. He will be teaching a class in March of 2014 in Michigan based upon the topics in his book.
You can learn more about his “Spiritual Survival in Law Enforcement” course by CLICKING HERE to download a PDF flyer about the program with contact information, or you can also find the same information on the website of the Police Officers Association of Michigan at:
You can also learn more about the Law Enforcement Survival Institute, our On-site Armor Your Self™ training program and some of our other programs with these links:
At The Law Enforcement Survival Institute (LESI) we train law enforcement officers to cope with stress and manage all the toxic effects and hidden dangers of a career in law enforcement.
Our “Armor Your Self™: How to Survive a Career in Law Enforcement” on-site training program is an eight hour, hands-on, “How to” seminar that helps police officers and other law enforcement professionals armor themselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually to survive their careers in police work. To learn more CLICK HERE
The concept of “True Blue Valor™” is where one law enforcement officer has to muster the courage to confront a peer who is slipping both professionally and personally and endangering themselves, their peers and the public. It takes a system of organizational support and professional leadership to support and foster the concept of courage and intervention. We will train your trainers to deliver this program to your agency.
To learn more CLICK HERE
Our “Armor Your Agency™: How to Create a Healthy and Supportive Law Enforcement Agency” Program includes critical strategies that you will need to build a system of support and encouragement for a healthy and productive agency. To learn more CLICK HERE
CLICK HERE to read more about The Law Enforcement Survival Institute.
CLICK HERE if you would like to contact us to learn more about training for your organization.
I’m John Marx, Founder of The Law Enforcement Survival Institute and the Editor of CopsAlive.com. Connect with me on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
CopsAlive.com was founded to provide information and strategies to help police officers successfully survive their careers. We help law enforcement officers and their agencies prepare for the risks that threaten their existence. Thank you for reading!