“If bravery is a quality which knows not fear, then I have never seen a brave man. For the courageous man is the man who, in spite of his fears forces himself to carry on.” Gen. Douglas MacArthur
The quote by Gen. Douglas MacArthur is displayed on the walls of more than one police station. It humanizes a profession that most feel requires you to be superhuman. But no one requires an aspiring police officer to not have fear, or to have superhuman strength.
Contrary to popular opinion, the police force comprises some of the most compassionate and kind people in the country, because the primary nature of the job is protecting people and keeping the city safe.
Do police officers experience fear? Of course they do! Just like every other human being does. The only difference is that they’re trained to overcome it and use it as a motivator instead of letting fear control them.
If you’re thinking of applying to become a member of the police, here are some ways to overcome your fear.
Understand The Fight Or Flight Response
We’re all familiar with the fight or flight response. It’s also known as the acute stress response, and refers to a physiological reaction our bodies experience if we ever find ourselves in a high-stress situation.
The fight or flight response represents the two choices our primordial ancestors had to make when presented with mental or physical distress. They could either stay and fight or run to safety from the situation. The curriculum and in-service training program for police academies include the Human Adaptation theory, the survival mechanism, and emergency response.
The most important part of police training caters to how adrenaline rushes impact a person’s motor skills and their perception of a situation. Understanding the concept of fight or flight helps you know your reactions better and gives you deeper insight into how you can use them to great effect.
Admit That You’re Afraid
The second step in overcoming fear is to admit to yourself that you’re human, and that you’re afraid. This admission doesn’t mean you’re incapable of dealing with danger: instead, it is an acknowledgment of the fact that, like the rest of us, you can grow, learn, overcome challenges, and control your feelings of fear over time and with practice.
Acknowledgment of the presence of a feeling opens your mind up to possibilities, opportunities and ways to overcome it. An open mind helps you think better, so you can devise ways to deal with and navigate dangerous situations better.
It also helps you respond according to your training by helping you access different parts of your brain and making you aware of the bigger picture at all times.
Try To Not Dwell On The Danger Too Much
Dwelling on danger or the fear of failure is only going to bring your performance down. If you keep your mind constantly preoccupied with negative feelings regarding fear or danger, you’re going to take the focus off of winning or success.
To control your mind, the first step is to control your body. Most police officers in training are aware of how important autogenic breathing is. When faced with a situation that forces you into a negative mindset, try to slow down and take deep, rhythmic breaths. Inhale through your nose and slowly exhale through your mouth.
This will immediately calm you down, slow down your heart rate, and lower your pulse and blood pressure, helping you think better. When you feel calmer, you can focus on what you need and the steps you can take to complete the task at hand.
This may include going over combat tactics in your mind, calling for back-up, coming up with an alternative plan just in case things get out of hand, or even recalling potential escape routes.
Turn Your Fear Into A Motivator To Enhance Your Performance
Remember the quote mentioned at the beginning of the article? Let’s revisit an important part of it, “The courageous man is the one who, in spite of his fear, forces himself to carry on.”
The best way to turn fear into power and a motivating factor is to look at it as an opportunity for self-discovery and growth. When faced with fear, try and think of all the reasons you chose a field like this.
Think of all the good that will happen if you overcome your fear. All the people that will be saved and protected from future loss. Remind yourself of all the good that you chose to protect, and how many people will benefit from your courage.
Then, make a decision and don’t hesitate to take action once you believe your decision is the right one. And remember, that when you face a certain change in your life, or when you’re on your way to doing something big, and substantial, with high risks involved, it’s normal to be afraid.
The key to becoming a great police officer is not in avoiding fear, but in acknowledging and accepting it, and transforming it into something beautiful.
Do you feel it in your bones that you are meant to do something big? That you are meant to make your country a better, safer, and a more accepting place for its people? Do you want to contribute to making the world a better place? If you answered yes to all those questions, join the Civil Service! As a leading civil service exam preparation institute, Civil Service Success has helped several candidates in New York ace the exams. Our preparation classes and workshops include comprehensive resource material for the most sought after civil service positions, including Suffolk County Police and NYC Sanitation Worker. Contact us today!