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What is your inner voice telling you when you’re on scene?

Recognizing and listening to your internal dialogue can help your situational awareness when responding to specific calls or stops


By understanding and harnessing that power, you can make dramatic, positive steps in police work and home life.

Despite all of the possible jokes about the voices in your head, officers need to understand how powerful your internal voice is. That voice is with you every day and it can lead you to success or failure in your professional and personal life.

Only you can hear the voice. Think about the last “conversation” you had with it and ask yourself if the conversation was helpful or not. If a friend spoke to you in the same way, would you remain friends? That voice, positive or negative, helpful or harmful, has a great influence on you.

By understanding and harnessing that power, you can make dramatic, positive steps in police work and home life. The first thing to understand is, ultimately, you control the voice. If that voice is harsh and critical, you can change the tone and the context of the conversation. Just that simple change of how you choose to talk to yourself can have a dramatic effect on how you perceive and respond to the world around you.

Here are three ways you can harness the power of your internal voice.

1. Positive mental imagery

There are several programs out there. I had the privilege of attending police trainer Brian Willis’s “Excellence in Training” course several years ago. It is the only class that I have ever been to that has a money back guarantee. If you don’t think it is the best training program you have ever attended, you get a refund. One of the main focuses in the class is the understanding and creation of Positive Mental Imagery sessions. The sessions can be created for you or for others that you train, your spouse or your kids.

It entails a specific method of addressing identified needs and then programming your brain on a subconscious level to begin working towards those goals. The method is relatively easy once you understand it, and it only takes the time to create a session by recording it and then listening to it. The session can be used once or on a regular basis depending on your need.

I have personally experienced the benefit, and Willis uses this method on professional and Olympic athletes with great success. If it has a proven record of success for elite athletes, why not give it a try yourself? Willis has sessions on healthy eating habits, rest and relaxation for better sleep, and firearms proficiency available.

I highly recommend the “Excellence in Training” program. Brian can be reached at Winning Mind Training where he also has a subscription training series, “Excellence in Training Academy” which provides resources and access to information for trainers.

2. Stress reduction

I first met Lisa WImberger of the Neurosculpting Institute at the ILEETA Conference in 2013. During that class, she took us through a guided meditation involving stress reduction. After that session, I had one of the best night’s sleep I have ever had. You can listen to her talk about the process.

Lisa has a series of DVDs specifically tailored to the reduction of stress, ending self-defeating behaviors and healing trauma. She has worked with LE personnel around the country using her techniques to improve the lives of officers.

3. Heightened situational awareness

You also have that little voice that speaks to you when there is danger. With time and experience, you know what the behaviors and the environment feel like when responding to specific calls or stops. As you approach each call and each stop, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this look normal?
  • Is what you are seeing matching up with your previous experiences?
  • Are people acting within the range of normal behavior for this type of situation?
  • Does this sound normal?
  • Is it too quiet?
  • Are people talking too much or too little?
  • What is or isn’t being said? Take the time to truly listen to what people say.
  • Does this feel normal?

Your brain can pick up on cues on a subconscious level. Deep down it may have identified a danger cue, but on a conscious level you cannot specifically identify it. You may just have an uneasy feeling, or the hair goes up on the back of your neck, or you get that feeling in the pit of your stomach that something just isn’t right.

If the answer to any of the above questions is no, slow down, identify what seems out of place, and attempt to deal with what it is that you are seeing or feeling. That may mean stopping and doing a better assessment of the scene, moving to cover, creating distance or calling and waiting for back up.

Those little voices are there for a reason. Use them to your advantage. Harness them to move you in a positive direction in your personal and professional life. Ask yourself right now what the little voice is telling you. Is it motivating you to make positive changes or is it telling you that you don’t have the time for all that? The little voices can guide you to excellence or mediocrity. You choose the voice you listen to and, as a result, the path you take.

In February 2014, Duane Wolfe retired from his career as a Minnesota Peace Officer after more than 25 years of service (beginning in 1988). During his career, he served as a patrolman, sergeant, S.R.T., use of force and firearms instructor. He was a full-time law enforcement instructor at Alexandria Technical & Community College in Alexandria, Minnesota for 28 years. Duane has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Bemidji State University and a Masters Degree in Education from Southwest State University.