We all have times in our lives when things feel chaotic; when it feels like everything that is important in our lives is outside of our control and we cannot improve our plight. The typical reaction to this situation is to exert more effort directed at changing things that are outside of our control, followed by an increase in our stress. Obviously, this is an ineffective strategy, yet it is one that we almost instinctively attempt. So instead of running on that hamster wheel, what else can you do?
We all want to succeed. We want to make the best decisions, complete our work successfully, and feel competent in the things we are asked to do. However, when our desire for success becomes a pursuit of perfection, analysis paralysis can be the by-product of the fear of failure. When we want perfection so badly or when we fear failing too much, making the wrong decision can seem like the worst thing ever. This can influence us to avoid an uncomfortable decision, feeling frozen or weighed down; your brain unable to act.
The phrase “people-pleaser” is not often used as a compliment. It is the tendency to prioritize pleasing others as the cost of almost all else. This can lead to both positive and negative outcomes. The hope of people-pleasers is often to maintain a positive reputation and/or to minimize the displeasure of others. Behind the habit of people-pleasing is a fear. For some, it is the fear of admitting weaknesses or being thought of as less than. For others, it is the fear of what would happen if they disappointed the people whose opinions are most valued.
Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers (LCL) of Massachusetts, like the lawyer assistance programs in all 50 states, is in many ways based on the model of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which grew out of the early growth of the AA movement and initially focused almost entirely on alcoholism. The first official EAP seems to have been developed by the Kemper insurance company in 1962. Over the years, employee and lawyer assistance programs have greatly expanded their scope to include a wide range of human issues including emotional, family, and occupational sources of distress, and in many cases have been credited with saving the careers of people who would otherwise have lost their jobs.
Getting regular, quality sleep is one of the most important factors in good physical and mental health. Our bodies need sleep in order to repair and refuel our energy. While many of us use caffeine and sugar to replace the energy we should have gotten from a good night’s sleep, nothing can replace the benefit of a night of quality sleep. And while it seems simple, regularly getting quality sleep is difficult to do. Any parent can tell you that a full night’s sleep is more of a fantasy than a reality. However, there are some practical tips (generally called Sleep Hygiene) that can help you improve your sleep experience.
A new study published this month in the Journal of Addiction Medicine confirms that lawyers have higher than average rates of alcohol abuse, depression and stress. The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP) collaborated in a survey of over 12,000 attorneys in 19 states (not including Massachusetts). We know that the legal profession is a stressful profession with prior studies showing higher rates of alcohol abuse and depression than the general population, but find it gravely concerning that the levels of substance abuse, depression and stress remain so high, particularly among younger attorneys.
Let’s be honest, everyone would like to be perfect at what they do. After all, if you were perfect, no one could ever criticize you for anything. And let the honesty continue, we all hate being criticized and judged. It just doesn’t feel good. But I assure you, you too can survive criticism (even harsh criticism). The first place to start is to reject the idea that you need to be perfect. You don’t. You’re not. No one is. And somehow we all find a way to go on surviving despite lacking perfection.