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The one question every first responder should be asking

Reflect on who you are becoming, one high five at a time

Policewoman greeting boy as he walks by

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By Ash Johnson

In the shadows of badges and uniforms, there lies a journey unique to those who serve and protect. Behind the stoic expressions and unyielding commitment, every first responder bears the weight of an unspoken narrative, a personal odyssey woven into the fabric of their service. Your calling is unwavering, but in the quiet moments, beyond the echoes of sirens and the duties that define you, have you stopped to think about the ripple effects of your chosen path? How has the weight of your duties impacted you; your mental health, emotional responses, relationships, physical health, habits and beliefs about the world?

In the fast-paced and demanding world of law enforcement and first response, the question, “Who am I becoming?” carries a profound and transformative power. Beyond the daily grind and the uniform you wear, this question delves into the very essence of your identity, shaping not only your professional persona but also influencing your personal life and relationships.

Self-reflection beyond the badge

Law enforcement officers and first responders often face high-stress situations, demanding split-second decisions and unwavering composure. Yet, amid the chaos, it’s easy to lose sight of the person behind the uniform. “Who am I becoming?” is an invitation to peel back the layers, to reflect on the values, beliefs, and principles that define you as an individual.

What do you value most? Do your beliefs align with your values? How have your beliefs changed during your career? How do these beliefs shape your behavior? Is this who you want to be?

The evolution of identity

Your identity is not static; it’s a dynamic force shaped by experiences, challenges and choices. This question prompts a journey of self-discovery, encouraging you to assess whether your current trajectory aligns with the person you aspire to be. It recognizes that personal growth is not only acceptable but essential for navigating the complexities of life and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Are you practicing being a person of integrity on and off shift? Are you putting as much energy into being a leader at home? Are you prioritizing healthy “self-care” to keep your mind and body fit or indulging in patterns that lead to conflict, shame, breakdown, and internal friction? Who are you without your career?

Navigating the challenges

Law enforcement professionals and first responders often bear witness to human suffering and crisis, which can take a toll on mental and emotional well-being. “Who am I becoming?” becomes a lifeline, guiding you through the challenges, and offering an anchor in the storm. It helps you acknowledge the impact of your profession on your identity, fostering resilience and adaptability.

Are you practicing compassion and empathy toward yourself and others in difficult times or do you practice disconnection, isolation, or apathy? Is this the type of person you want to be?

Building resilience in relationships

Your identity isn’t confined to the workplace; it extends into your relationships, both with yourself and others. This question encourages you to explore how your professional experiences shape your interactions, emotions, and connections. It becomes a catalyst for building resilience, fostering deeper connections, and ensuring that the person you are becoming contributes positively to your relationships.

What does my ideal relationship function and feel like? Who is your ideal partner? Are your actions creating the type of relationship you desire? Are you giving what you want to receive? Are you respectful, open and honest, fun-loving, and a team player? Are you withdrawn, avoidant, closed-off, and cynical? Are you becoming your idea of a great partner?

Empowering choices

The power of “Who am I becoming?” lies in its ability to empower choice. It’s a reminder that you are not defined solely by circumstances but by the decisions you make in response to them. Whether faced with adversity or triumph, this question prompts intentional, values-driven choices that align with the person you aspire to be.

The question “Who am I becoming?” serves as a compass for law enforcement officers and first responders navigating the intricate terrain of identity, resilience, and relationships. Embrace it as a guide, allowing it to illuminate your present and future, empower your choices and responses, and shape a more authentic and fulfilling life both within and beyond the badge.

About the author

Ash Johnson is a maverick in relationship wellness and coaching. Over the last 15 years, she has been leading changes in the mental health and wellness industry as an ER nurse, life coach and behavior change specialist. With a radical approach to relationship wellness that blends neuroscience and the art of connection, Ash shatters the status quo of traditional approaches and revolutionizes the way clients experience relationships to create meaningful, long-lasting change for greater relationship and life satisfaction.

“I consider meditation as a form of elite cognitive training.”