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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

You’re Looking at Stress the Wrong Way

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Stress is an unavoidable component of legal practice.

If you want to really experience joy in your legal career (yeah that’s a thing) then you’re going to have to re-evaluate how you view stress.

You see, we have a couple of different approaches we can use:

  1. The standard way – to battle stress, fight it, and consider it to be an evil facet of practice that is to be avoided at all costs;
  2. The non-standard (or, as I like to say – better) way – to embrace what stress can do, to understand it properly, and to re-evaluate our perception of what it’s there for.

If you’re inclined to the occasional freak out, then I’m sure you are more aligned with the first paragraph above.

But here’s the fact: if you’re a lawyer, you are going to experience stress.  That’s not going to change – there are no strategies, tactics or environments that I can propose to you where legal practice will take place within some serene environment with soft whale song playing in the background while you experience legal transcendence from a zen like state.

Don’t believe me? Watch this video I made a while back:

Why is Practice so Stressful?

Because legal practice involves people.

And people are annoying.

They boss you around. They make decisions you don’t agree with. They don’t take your advice. They do things wrong. They don’t pay bills. They basically make your life extremely difficult (at this point  you can tell I’m an introvert – right?)

And people cause stress.

At the same time, as lawyers we are positioned to help people – at its most fundamental we are problem solvers, and so often stress comes as a consequence of that passionate desire to help people.

So perhaps a new approach to stress is called for – one which understands it better and appreciates what we can gain from it.

Stress can Be your Friend

So I could write out a thousand words on the research – or I could link you to this awesome video from Kelly McGonigal which tells you front and centre where the current research on stress is really at.

I chose the second option 🙂

Change your Reality about Stress in the Legal Profession

So what’s the lesson here?

It’s that stress is not something to be fought – fighting stress is futile and worthless. It only serves to heighten your inability to function.

Instead, why not accept a certain amount of stress as inevitable, and embrace how you can use it to your advantage.

Change your reality.

Happy lawyering!

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