The conundrum of Lawyer brain and the secret cure

persuasive

Lawyer Brain arises when you spend your career critically thinking, stripping everything around you of ambiguity or mystery. It’s something entirely unavoidable for lawyers in their day-to-day careers, the issue arises, however, when Lawyer brain encroaches your everyday thinking.

The consequences of Lawyer brain 

Lawyer brain can force you to exist in the black and white when in reality, the grey can be quite enjoyable. The thing is, lawyers are so used to breaking things down and analysing facts, that it can cause them to squeeze the spontaneous fun out of their personal life. Over-analytical thinking can lead to more pessimistic thoughts. This pessimism can lead to habitual negative thinking and depression. The key is to not to normalise this negative thinking when it occurs outside of work – otherwise, you are trapped in Lawyer brain.

How to heal Lawyer brain

Interestingly, John Stuart Mill, identified with the negative consequences of critical thinking. He said that he turned to poetry to heal himself of the depression he could feel from his analytical inclinations. His favourite poet was Wordsworth who he described as saving him from depression “… the delight which [Wordsworth’s] poems gave me, proved that with a culture of this sort, there was nothing to dread from the most confirmed habit of analysis.”

Poetry exists almost entirely in the grey and is a great liberation from the strict confines of critical thinking. Just simply letting your thoughts wander, without purpose, can ignite your imagination and help you to reframe your negative thoughts into more creative and positive ones. It also helps you to train your brain to use different thinking patterns. It takes you out of the Lawyer brain trap and helps you to become more self-aware. So, when you do start to feel negative – you can simply change your thought patterns. Try it out and see what you think. It’s the perfect break from all the legal reading.

For more on this topic read this great blog from Law Care here.

Why cravings and aversions can ruin your wellbeing

cravings

Buddist philosophy and Vipassana yoga are founded upon the belief that the root of all negative human emotions (such as depression, anger, frustration, annoyance, sadness, pride, arrogance, and fear) are caused by just two things; cravings and aversions.

What are cravings and aversions?

Cravings encompass everything we desire but do not yet have. This can be material items such as cars, houses or things such as a better relationship, an idealized family or more power in your career. The issue with cravings is that they create feelings of frustration, anger, and sadness. Without self-awareness, cravings can take over and lead us to constant disappointment or guilt.

Aversion is a similar but different beast. Aversion is feeling a negative emotion and avoiding it entirely. It might be that you’re avoiding uncertainty and possible failure and as a consequence you procrastinate.

Both craving and aversion arise when we are unable to process our circumstances and so, deal with the emotions in a negative way. In order to eliminate suffering from these two feelings, Buddist philosophy teaches us to be mindful of our negative emotions and understand where they come from – it will be either a craving or aversion. Once you identify the root cause of the problem you can start to unpick the feeling and in time experience decreased negative emotions.

Practical application of dealing with craving and aversions

In each moment where you have some kind of negative emotion … see what you’re averting from or, or what you’re craving. It might be that you’re avoiding uncertainty, failure or rejection and this is causing you to procrastinate or not communicate your feelings to another. It might be that you don’t want someone to act a certain way and so you’re craving a better way for them to behave. There are multitudes of possibilities, and it can take some time to understand what you’re avoiding or craving.

Finally, try this technique which is also taught in “mindfulness” –  be present in the moment you’re in, and see the reality you are facing. It’s important to separate your perception of the moment from the hard facts. Accept how it makes you feel, understand that your negative emotions will not change the situation and try to see if you can accept all of that it is, without craving something else, without avoiding what’s there. Just accept it. Importantly, this technique is not about submission to a set of circumstances that are below your satisfaction but instead, freeing yourself from negative emotions which add no value and doing whatever positive you can with a calm mind.

There’s an incredible feeling of tranquility that comes from the knowledge that you can handle any situation, without being blown over by negative emotions. It is ultimate control over your sense of self. You just sit there, observing the moment, in a happy (or at least calm) state of being, perhaps finding a silver lining to one of lives many twists. The best resolutions come from a calm and collected mind.

 

Why worriers will never win

worriers

Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy. – Leo F. Buscaglia

Worry is a human instinct related to immediate danger. When we existed as hunter-gatherers, worry played a vital role in our survival. However, since the agricultural revolution, this day-to-day primitive worry transformed into worry about the future. Farmers had to think about the upcoming weather, animals that could affect their yield and changes in the economy. Unlike hunter-gatherers who received daily feedback about whether their decisions were furthering their survival needs, agriculture brought society a new set of psychological stresses. People had to invest their efforts into uncertainties, hoping that it supported their distant future.

Modern society, obsesses about future, even more so, than our farming predecessors. Many of our goals (such as pay and holidays) lie days or weeks ahead, whereas others (such as academic degrees, job promotions, new homes, and retirement) may be years in the future. Unlike our ancestors, much of what we do, each day, is directed toward future outcomes rather than toward what we need today. It’s perfectly normal to live in the future and sacrifice the present. However, this type of living is incredibly damaging to our minds. It encourages and breeds, incessant worry. Thinking about your future and having goals is one thing, but obsessively worrying is plain unhealthy.

So, how can you rid yourself of future worry and ease your mind? Here are 5 great ways to rid of your future worries;

1.Worrying wastes the present

If you’re prone to worrying about your future, start to think about the regrets you may have about your past. Think about it this way, future worries are outside of your control but the present moment is entirely within your realm of control. Appreciate the time you have and don’t waste it worrying about things that might not ever happen.

2. You can’t control the future 

You (nor anybody else) can control the future. Your incessant worry isn’t going to change how your future unfolds. As a rule of thumb, worry about what’s in your circle of control and nothing more. It’s a great rule to live by and it will certainly help your overall wellbeing and life enjoyment.

3. You incorrectly think worrying solves problems

Worrying does not solve problems but in fact, generates them. Problem-solving is constructive and practical, worrying is redundant, exhausting and leaves you feeling helpless.

If you incorrectly think that you can anticipate the problems of the future, you will justify your worrying. Once you begin believing this false (but common) justification, worrying becomes an obsession. Soon you just won’t be able to stop.

Let go of your future worries and start solving the problems of today.

4. Worriers lack the ability to focus

Worriers tend to be in a vicious cycle of dwelling on the negative things that might happen in their future. They have problems making decisions for today especially if it concerns their job, family, and other crucial things.

Taking control of your today is a way to alleviate your future worries. Shift the focus from what “might happen” to what “is happening”. The more present and conscious you are for your current decisions; the more faith you will have in your future. You will trust in your path – why? Because you carved it with deliberation.

5. Worriers are not confident that they can deal with life’s hurdles

Worriers typically create future problems and solutions and then spend the rest of their time, fearing of their inability to cope if things don’t work out as planned. Interestingly, that same worrier will perform well during a crisis. This is because they’ve spent a lot of time considering the worst scenario which makes them able to cope. However, non-worriers can perform just as well or even better, in a crisis. The only difference being that non-worries haven’t exhausted their brain with incessant worry. Non-worriers have the confidence that no matter what happens they can deal with it. This mindset is incredibly empowering and something we should all aim for.

How to stop negative thoughts taking over your day

negative

We all have days where negative issues or thoughts start to overtake our minds. So much so, that we can’t focus on our priorities. When something’s bothering us, getting it off our mind is easier said than done. In fact, research shows that when people tell themselves to not think about a certain topic, it makes the thoughts even more intrusive. But rehashing negative thoughts over and over in your head is unpleasant and adds no value whatsoever— it can even pave the way to chronic depression.

Luckily there are some proven strategies that help you to expel negative thoughts from your brain ASAP;

1.Take a step back

Sometimes we have worked ourselves up to such a degree that we start to think in absolute extremes. For example, “I’m definitely going to lose my job” or, “Shes definitely cheating on me”. Where is the evidence? How did we get to this extreme point? When we get to this extreme place we’ve lost all rational and the only thing we must do is take a step back. The thing we absolutely must not do is take any action when we are in this, “extreme thought” space. Take deep breaths and bring yourself down to your rational thinking point, this is the only way you can begin to focus on other things.

2. Don’t read into things too deeply

When we have negative theories or anxieties it causes us to read into every little detail, far too much, with little accuracy. They say that The Idle Mind is a Devil’s Workshop. So, if you don’t get replies from someone, or shorter answers than preferred, your brain starts over-thinking why, especially, if you have a negative theory – by doing this you exacerbate your negative thoughts. Just stop. Stop drawing assumptions without evidence, it doesn’t benefit your mental health. Just be as rational in your thinking as possible and when you start to jump to assumptions you can assume your emotional thoughts are driving you.

3. Maximize positive thinking and minimize negative thinking

Regardless of your thoughts at any one time, always ensure you have more positive thoughts in your head than negative. If you can’t reframe a certain thought, think of everything else you have in your life. Be grateful. Always try to keep your attitude in the positive zone. This mindset becomes a way of life – the glass can be half full or half empty, it’s your choice. A quote I like to remember if I feel in a bit of a slump and want to regain control is “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves”. – William Shakespeare

4. Reframe negative thoughts

Nothing is ever black and white. If you’re stuck on a negative thought, that involves a person, thinking with empathy instead of anger gives you a totally different perspective. Don’t be so set in your negative theories, people often don’t deliberately go out of their way to hurt others. Another way to reframe is to see the silver lining. How can this negative incident make you a better person? How can you grow from this? They say there is no success without failure, for a reason.

5. Don’t let negative thoughts become beliefs

Self-awareness is key. If you didn’t perform properly at work and you start to believe your own self-criticisms you will eventually believe you are incompetent. Positive people, instead believe they will do better next time. These tiny tweaks in your thinking, preserve your self-confidence and performance ability over time. Don’t be self-defeating. Monitor your negative thoughts and make sure you are not crushing your own confidence.

 

 

 

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