Police Psychology | Apocalypse or Utopia: You Decide
by Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D. ABPP
I have learned a lot in my sixty years about the intricacies of the human mind. I have learned about intelligence, about federal politics and the criminal mind. I have learned a lot about women, and especially when to keep my mouth shut. I am learning much more about children first hand, although I had a good handle on them before. And, I am also learning first-hand about aging and the process of going toward the “finish line of life.” But, I have never learned how to predict the future.
I will confess, I did not like Hillary Clinton. I have talked to a lot of federal agents, secret service and the like, who were around her from her husband’s presidency on, and they were not flattering at all to her. Him yes, her no. I also don’t like the refugee situation she wanted to create, the destruction of evidence, the confiscated FBI files from when her husband was president, among other things. On the other side, a close friend of mine did business with Donald Trump, and he was told point blank that he wasn’t getting what he was promised for work already done, for no other reason than Trump was cutting corners. Trump’s brash, emotionally responsive, and unfiltered, and he says things that are just off. He takes politically incorrect to a whole new level, and although I am far from politically correct, I am not as extreme. Besides, I am mellowing with age. What a choice, but the process is over and we go through an inauguration this week, one that is guaranteed to make some happy and others disgusted. But, all said, I still can’t predict the future. What I can predict is we voted for change, and we are likely to get it.
Free Will on the Horizon
Change is always stressful and always a little disturbing. Sometimes we look forward to change; sometimes we are afraid of it. Some people handle change better than others. After all, if our lives didn’t change we would remain in the same spot all the time. When I talk about change, I am reminded about elephants in circuses and the expression an “elephant never forgets.”
Ever wonder why a circus elephant does not move. It is held in by a little stake in the ground. Ten thousand pounds and ability to uproot trees, and it is held in one spot by a small stake in the ground. The way they used to train elephants to stay in one spot was when it was a baby they would tie a chain around it’s leg with a choke collar on the other end. They would hammer a little stake into the ground. The baby elephant would try to run away and move, and the choke collar would tighten and cause it pain. It associated pain with movement and an “elephant never forgets.” When it is a big elephant, it could easily pull up the stake and move freely, but it doesn’t. It remembers the pain and stays in one spot.
I read this many years ago, and thought how people have free will, but working for 30+ years as a police psychologist set me straight about how people use free will. Some people come in and say they can’t have another relationship because they were hurt in the past. Circus Elephants. Some people say there is no use trying on anything because they have failed before. Circus Elephants. Some people figure that conservative politics with a man they don’t have respect for will lead their life in a bad direction. Could be a Circus Elephant, but who knows. You see, Circus Elephants predict the future and are thus afraid of change. They do not exercise free will.
Some say, I must be an idiot because I can’t predict the future with Trump. Almost perfect GRE’s (the SAT for graduate school) and I am an idiot? I don’t think so! Some major Circus Elephants around in my life, I guess. I just want to wait and see. Building walls: I was at the Great China Wall and that was impressive. Changing Obamacare: I had insurance before that I paid for and I suspect I will have it at the end of this. Friends with Russia: I adopted a child in Russia and we made a few friends while there, and it wasn’t that bad. I don’t know how any of these are going to change my life, but I am sure they will and I will look for it. I would like a better life for myself, my wife and my daughter. I suspect the same things that the Clintons and the Trumps want. Is the president going to change that? I can’t predict the future, so I am going to relax and enter the future, keeping my free will to adjust to whatever change comes. I’ll be alright. Will you?
One thing I have learned through the years is life is cyclical. In my life, we went from Democrat, to Republican, to Democrat, to Republican. Actually, I started with Eisenhower, so my life started with a Republican. What it seems happens is whether your politics are conservative or liberal, the solution doesn’t work for everyone and we focus more on the bad than the good, thus we keep changing. If Trump does everything he promises, he is still going to piss some people off, just the way Obama did and Bush did, and, Bill and Hillary did. That’s why we change.
I keynoted a couple of conferences for the FBI after 9-11 when they were changing into more of a terrorist focus. Many unhappy folks because change was coming. So I developed 10 ways to look at change for the people in the audience. I offer them to you today:
- Thing inevitably change in life.
- Fifty percent adapt well to changes, fifty percent do not adapt at all. I am going to be in the good fifty.
- I have free will and can make this change work for me.
- Changes have gotten me to the point that I am now.
- If I can wait out the change, it will change again. Pendulums swing in all parts of life, both ways.
- I can enjoy watching the others that do not want to change as they struggle and flail all around.
- If I adjust to the change, I will be better off at the end of this presidency.
- I make decisions for me and my family. I adjust to the decisions of others.
- I don’t get to pick the disasters in life, just my reactions.
- Movement is good. Change creates movement. I choose direction.
Hopefully, one or more of these phrases get you past a momentous Inauguration this Friday. Trust the process. Trust the Change! Trust Yourself!!
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