Of lawyer brain
I’ve been away for awhile and going away always gives one some perspective - for better or for worse.
Lately it’s come to my attention more and more that there isn’t much talk or discussion about the occupational hazard of being a lawyer. Sure there are plenty of widely cited statistics - like how we are at one of the highest risks of suicide and drug/alcohol abuse - but what’s actually behind these statistics?
It seems to me that the longer I occupy my lawyer brain, the more I understand the occupational hazard. In fact, it’s now got a psychological buzzword: catastrophizing.
In general, lawyers get paid to anticipate the worst case scenario. Or, we are helping to deal with the worst case scenario. We’re basically modern mercenaries. Or war strategists. It’s hard to overcome our lawyer mindset: always prepping for disaster.
The chicken little mindset becomes a part of who we are; it’s basically in our DNA. So yes, when you spend 10 hours a day living in that mindset, it’s difficult to turn it off in one’s off time. It feels very much like an uphill battle to try to not constantly be living in anticipating the worst.
In reality, many things in life are a matter of perspective. If we can convince ourselves to look at it from another angle, it’s often not as bad as we think it is. But lawyers think that it’s even worse than bad. Now that’s what I call occupational hazard.
I wish I had some enlightened wisdom about how to NOT let this mindset bleed and occupy the off hours. But I don’t. I’m still trying to figure it out. I suppose one of the first steps is just to recognize it. Hopefully recognizing it means that I can eventually be better at catching myself catastrophizing and readjust the thinking when I catch myself doing it.
For now the goal might be just to be aware when it’s happening. A good first step.