How to Resist Negativity

Jul 19, 2023

As many of you are aware, I travel a LOT! Probably more than 45 weeks a year I’m in an airport, renting a car, or checking into a hotel somewhere. I do it because of my commitment to grow the next generation of leaders. But that doesn’t mean that it’s all roses and sunshine. In fact, over the last couple of years, it’s not been fun at all. Delayed flights, missed connections, and late arrivals that prevent you from getting your rental car can really drag on your mindset and mood.

As a police chief, I remember going through a phase where it wasn’t fun anymore. The problems were no longer challenges to overcome but became daily reminders of how much it sucked to be chief. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until one of my sons gave me a book titled, “How to be a Happy Father”, that I realized my negative mindset had carried over into my family life, as well. Something had to change...

Changing your mindset is not easy. Negative thoughts often create a momentum to having more negative thoughts. In class, I often talk about creating momentum and how it can be created in a negative or positive way. Because I know the last several years of being a cop hasn’t been easy, I wanted to share some of the techniques I use to overcome negativity when it creeps in and how I start to look outward for opportunities to be positive:

  • RECOGNIZE THE NEGATIVE THOUGHT: We all have them. Everyday, there is an interaction, a comment, an email, or a look from someone (maybe a significant other or work colleague) that sends us into a negative thought pattern. Being mindful enough to recognize that you are having these thoughts is the first BIG step to turning it around. It sort of allows you to stop it in its tracks.
  • RECOGNIZE THE TRIGGERS: The negative thought is not always the source we think it is. Someone may have said something negative or your flight got delayed, but in reality, the negative thoughts are coming from something deeper. The event was just the trigger. Now I’m not going all psycho-analytical on you, but really this does happen! You are “triggered” by missing a flight, but the real source is feeling a loss of control – because you really don’t have control over it. Once you understand that it may be something deeper, file it away and start to look for ways to divert your negative thought(s).
  • LOOK FOR OPPORTUNITIES TO BE POSITIVE: One thing that has absolutely helped me is being aware and looking for ways to be positive in the face of a negative situation. If it’s a bad travel day, go give someone who works for the airlines (who’s likely having a worse day than you) a compliment or kind word. If it’s a bad work day, tell your folks how much you appreciate their effort and commitment. Sometimes the simple act of doing something kind or positive for someone will immediately change your mindset and start to create momentum in a positive manner.
  • JOURNALING YOUR GRATITUDE: For so many of us in law enforcement, this was our dream job! The career we always wanted. For those of us who have risen to command level or higher, we are the luckiest of the lucky. Law enforcement hasn’t been easy these last several years. Leading law enforcement has been more challenging than ever. However, the opportunities we have in law enforcement to look for positive opportunities is greater than most professions. We interact with the public more and see both the worst and best of humanity. Making an effort to focus on creating as many positive interactions as possible with the public will go so far in setting the example for those you lead. Be grateful for the opportunity to serve others and to be the guardians we all are at heart. Journaling is one way that I do this every day. I’m no longer in the trenches, but I interact with a lot of you every week. I know and see what is happening. Taking a few minutes daily to jot down what you love about your job, career, and/or life will go a very long way (I promise you) in helping you keep a positive mindset.

I’d love to hear from you as to the positive ways of how you turn your mindset around when you feel it turning negative.

Until next time!

- Dean

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