Police Psychology | Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse of Your Life
Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D. ABPP
How to understand and deal with a mental apocalypse is important for anyone in police psychology to understand. But mental apocalypses are not just limited to people in law enforcement. Close your eyes and imagine the sun is setting, and beautiful pinks, reds, and oranges light up the sky. Beautiful mountains and glistening lakes surround you. You are sitting next to the love of your life as you ride off on a horse into a beach sunset. Extremely happy?! Of Course! But riding at you, with their swords drawn, is danger, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse of Your Life. They can destroy you in a minute and ruin any idyllic fantasy. They are better known as: Denial, Escape, Helplessness, and Blame.
Words Create Stress
Throughout life, everyone will inevitably experience moments of hardship, moments in which you may feel like you are going to collapse and fall apart because the world seems against you. Such feelings invariably come along with little voices in your head. And if you think these voices are going to be like good tenants, mild-mannered and pay their rent on time, you would be completely mistaken. These voices dig their way into your thought processes, worm through your mind, and plants seeds of doubt and uncertainty. They’re persons you know so well, so let me introduce you to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse of Your Life, devious little serpents who take pleasure in collapse and destruction.
Denial, a charming fellow on the outside—has sweeping brown hair and deep blue eyes—is a nasty human being on the inside. Whispering to you misguiding lies, telling you that your life is fine, and nothing is unsteady, when in fact you are on the brink of collapse. The sweet voice is as poisonous as a viper, forcing you to refuse help as you are slowly being convinced that nothing is wrong.
Denial is bad, Escape may be even worse. Don’t let his exterior confuse you, dressed as he is in welcoming clothes reminiscent of your last vacation to Costa Rica. Escape will tell you to run away from your problems, get away from everything for a while. “Maybe you should just move to Florida or California or Hawaii.” “Your problems can’t possibly find you there. And if they do, it’s too hot for them to last very long anyway.” Escape will wrap around you, and squeeze you until you can’t move. With every breath, Escape tightens, making breathing impossible. Finally you succumb.
Listen for the Whispers of Stress
Helplessness is a large serpent that swallows you whole, while you are struggling, while you still have hope. Whispers, sometimes even shouting, that your problems have taken on a life of their own and there is nothing you can do about it. “You that you can’t change anything so why try.” “Nothing matters anymore because you are no longer in charge.” Sometimes the trap is to remove accountability, you can’t control it so give in. You feel like you are never going to be good enough. You eventually feel like you are drowning in a pool of helplessness with nothing you can do to save yourself, no life preserver to reach out to.
Then along comes Blame, part dragon-part sea serpent from the Arabian nights, repeating over and over again that it’s not your fault—that you are not the cause of any of your problems. “Bob ruined your chances at promotion.” Or, “It was Sam, that idiot, who deliberately hid your car keys and now you’re stuck at home.” Or even, “It’s not your fault you were up all night, YouTube just wouldn’t let you sleep.” Blame has a seductive voice as it lulls you to exposure.
When you start hearing these Four Horsemen, when you hear yourself saying these things, you need to look at your life and ask yourself, “What are you doing?” Your destruction is coming soon if you don’t heed the warning. Start doing something. Start making changes. Luck may be about random events happening together, but it won’t compare to a call to action being answered. These little voices are your call to action! Listen for the phrases and signs of these voices, and if you hear them, get on your own horse and gallop away—get help or talk to a mental health professional. Don’t let these voices lead you down a trail to your Apocalypse. You if do not ride with the Four Horsemen, you are dragged behind them. And that just doesn’t feel good.
Site Editor: Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D. ABPP
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