Control your own perceived chaos. Well, what on earth does that mean? Let me begin by saying that chaos is relative or subjective to an individual. Or in other words, chaos is only defined by the merit you choose to give it. Only you can define what chaos is. What is chaotic to one person is peaceful to another, what is an obstacle to one is an opportunity to another, and what offends one rolls off the shoulder of another.
For example, as a first responder (specifically law enforcement for this scenario) you get dispatched to a neighbor dispute where one neighbor is having a melt down because their next-door neighbor mowed the grass a little too far on their side of the yard and the height of the blades were too low for their liking. That person’s day is absolutely ruined, they do not know how to hand it civilly and feel that the only way to solve their problem is to force it to fall into the hands of the police. Where as you, the police officer, personally recognize just how trivial this matter is and end up having to explain to this person that grass grows back just as sure as the sun rises tomorrow, and that everything will be ok. One situation, two perspectives with different points of view; one chaotic to the point of a conniption, the other is laissez-faire.
So how does that apply to first responders? Well, for starters, we tend to be high strung and find any type of stress chaotic, and most of the time when you detach, you see just how small those stresses tend to be in reality. We find poor leadership chaotic, shitty calls chaotic, Facebook lawyers chaotic, being held over shift to cover the soup sandwich-relief-that’s-late-everyday chaotic, and we find the word “pig” written on a cup of coffee the coup de grace of all chaos. Good lord! So, I reiterate, chaos is only defined by the merit you choose or allow yourself to give it. So, stop allowing yourself to give any of that crap credit.
Stoicism is a school philosophy that stresses the importance of being able to come to internal piece despite the perceived external chaotic world around us; recognizing what is in our control (i.e., our thoughts, opinions, and perceptions), recognizing what is not in our control (i.e., death, taxes, the actions of other people, and natural disasters), and having the wisdom to know how to react rationally to it all. Knowing that we cannot control what happens to us in life, only how we react to it. But probably more important than that, how we CHOOSE to react to it.
That essentially is what I mean when I say: Control your own perceived chaos.
Author: Bill Mauro
Bill Mauro is an active LEO with experience in corrections, patrol, and investigations. He recently authored the book "The Stoic Cop" which applies the philosophy of stoicism to the law enforcement profession, and encourages a motivating mindset to all first responders."