‘It always happens to someone else.’ This seems to be the mentality of so many people today. But, what happens when you notice yourself or your LEO falling into this mindset?
How do we keep ourselves from falling into one of two categories: being overprotective or coming off as unconcerned?
As supporters of LEOs, we tend to overcompensate. I’m a worrier. My husband is not. You may be the other way around. It seems that you tend to have one or the other in your life. Either your LEO is aware of what things can happen in the world and tries to protect you from every little possibility, or they’ve become immune to the stupidity they deal with on a daily basis and believe that many things happen to certain people. Whichever category your LEO falls under, chances are you overcompensate on the other end of the spectrum.
Mr. Troop worries about things like the kids falling off an unfinished porch, going out by the road, or going near the water without supervision. He worries about D opening doors and running out behind his vehicle while he’s backing down the driveway for work. And, he worries about where we sit in a restaurant in case someone comes in and decides to open fire or rob the place.
I worry about someone breaking into our house at night because they know Mr. Troop works the night shift. I worry about taking my kids to the store on my own. D is entering the independent stage where he pushes boundaries. All it takes is for him to turn a corner in the grocery store and be gone. And, I worry about getting my kids into the car in the parking lot before getting the groceries in the car.
You often see them become jaded by simple scenarios. They work in or around the area in which you live and they tend to the same calls every shift for years. Depending on the area you live in, those calls could be drunks, B and Es, domestic violence, murders, CSCs, larceny, fires, etc. Depending on the area you live in, your concerns or the concerns of your LEO will differ. So, how do you keep these worries from overwhelming you and causing arguments? How do you keep your LEO from being overprotective or unconcerned? And, how do you find balance?
The Unconcerned Supporter
To begin: if you’re coming off as unconcerned, identify why you may be acting this way. Are you afraid to show your LEO that you fear for them while they’re on the job? It’s absolutely normal to feel that your fears may make you seem unsupportive. When you start to feel this way, you tend to push many feelings down so that you can try to be the person you think your LEO needs. But, your LEO needs you to fear for them. They need you to understand the dangers of the job and to be able to openly communicate with them how you’re feeling and when you’re feeling it.
Although there may be a smaller percentage of LEO supporters who fall into the ‘unconcerned’ category, it does exist. And, you need to identify why you’re acting this way. It may simply be due to the fact that you don’t worry or that you have the uncanny ability to control your fears. Whatever the reason, identify it and discuss it with your LEO because I’m sure they’ve noticed the lack of concern.
The Overprotective Supporter
Now, for the larger group of LEO supporters: the over protectors. You are the one that worries because you don’t think your LEO worries or you feel that they don’t put as much thought into what could potentially happen while they’re away.
Erma Bombeck said, “Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do, but never gets you anywhere.” If you’re the worrier, stop. You can sit all day long and think of scenarios to worry about. If you worry about every possible thing that could happen to you in life, you’ll never leave your home and you’ll never be able to support your LEO.
Worry vs. Fear:
Instead, separate your worries from your fears. You may be asking yourself what the difference is, so let me define via Google:
Worry: a state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems.
Fear: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
Look at it like this: worry hinders your ability to live, fear drives you to protect yourself.
Worry tends to light the fire under fear and spread it like wildfire. The more you worry, the less helpful you are to your LEO.
Fear is unavoidable. It’s an emotion you have that triggers your fight or flight response. Worry is a state of being that you let yourself feed into.
If you sit down and list all of your worries, you can more than likely group them into a handful of fears. Once you’ve identified these fears, you can move onto the next step:
You should never let the fear of something keep you from going out. If you have identified your fears, you can prepare yourself by finding ways to protect yourself and your loved ones. Whether that means identifying every escape route in case someone opens fire in a restaurant, purchasing a security system for your home, or concealed carrying in case someone tries to run off with one of your children, you can take comfort in knowing that you are prepared.
Talk about it:
Make sure you communicate your fears with your LEO. This will help you both understand why behaviors change in certain situations. It will help you identify your fears and your worries. I mentioned above that I’m a worrier. It’s something Mr. Troop and I laugh about often. Over the years, I have been able to cut out a lot of worry by simply talking about it. I’ve gotten to the point where I often laugh as I’m voicing my worries because when I say them out loud, I realize just how ridiculous I am being.
Without communication, you lose your own support. And, if you’re not feeling supported, it’s hard to be supportive. You become overprotective because you don’t know how else to deal with your fears. You think that keeping your LEO out of certain situations is the only way to keep them safe. But, if you openly communicate your fears, your LEO will put in a little more thought if and when those situations arise.
Finally, understand that your LEO does worry and does have fears. However, like Mr. Troop and myself, they may be different from yours.