I practised Criminal Defence for over ten years. The question I am frequently asked is ‘how do you represent someone when you know they have done it?’ My answer, by being professional, objective and removing my emotions from the situation.
As Lawyers we get paid to think and not dream or make emotional based decisions. Years of law school and practice teaches us to rely on our mind and to think analytically. But what if this becomes such a habit, that we switch off or numb our feelings a little too easily? In the last couple of years of practice, I used to joke that it was not my client’s who’d got a life sentence, but me instead. I started to find that the energy I needed to face every day was becoming more and more difficult to muster.
Your Mind is not designed to make you Happy – Tony Robbins
Our mind is there to keep us safe. It uses the past to predict the future and warn us of danger, risk and teaches us to fear the unknown.
Certainly, no matter what area of law you are in, our job is dealing with someone else’s problems all day. The corporate world also teaches us to sacrifice our time and the success will come. We see productivity and billing hours as equating to self-worth. We see lack of sleep and exhaustion almost as a badge of honour in the sacrifices we are making in our bid for ‘success’.
Statistics both in the US and UK confirm that there is an extremely high rate of stress, depression, and addiction of those practicing and entering into the legal profession.
Is part of the problem that lawyers live too much in their thought processes and mind? Letting their head rule their hearts and burying intuition, emotion, wisdom and desire. Brene Brown discusses how in society, many of us have emotional armour where we use perfectionism, numbing and other tactics to avoid feeling vulnerable. I certainly know in the world of Criminal Defence being vulnerable didn’t feel like much of an option to me.
So do you need to start giving yourself permission to start dreaming again? Tuning back in with you is absolutely key. Meditation, journaling, yoga are all practices which help you to tune back into your dreams and true desires again. So what can you commit to changing today?