What is the mental health issue that affects lawyers more than anything else?
Yup, you guessed it, it’s anxiety…
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week and anxiety is this year’s theme. Very apt given that a recent LAWCARE INTERNATIONAL (UK) LTD study found that almost 61% of those in the legal profession suffered from frequent or very frequent anxiety.
We at The Carvalho Consultancy are talking to lots of lawyers this week about all things fear-related. And, specifically, how to turn your anxiety from a fiend into a friend.
4 key points to remember:
1. WE ARE ALL ANXIOUS!!
I’m sure you think that Hargun in the office next door is cool, calm and collected and never gets flustered.
Or that Anton in Accounts has never questioned himself a day in his life.
NOT TRUE! One of the interesting things about being a therapist is seeing all the different ways in which anxiety manifests. We all show it differently (and often we don’t show it in a way that the outside world would recognise as anxiety). But believe me, we all have it.
2. Labelling yourself as ‘anxious’ isn’t really that helpful. It’s part of the human condition. Not a problem with you.
3. Often it’s not the fear or the anxiety that does the damage. It’s our (maladaptive) attempts to get rid of it that cause us so many problems.
Take a really simple example.
I’m scared of delegating in case my trainee does a rubbish job and the client gets annoyed with me. Therefore I start delegating less and less to avoid that problem arising. My anxiety increases as my workload rises. And the fear of what would happen if I ever did delegate gets bigger and bigger. See my point?
4. Your focus needs to be on your response to fear, not on trying to eliminate the fear itself.
YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO ELIMINATE YOUR FEAR.
What happens when we get fearful is we start spiralling. What if this happens? What if that happens? It’s like our mind starts travelling through endless possibilities and permutations of terrible outcomes. Like it’s going down a well with a load of poo at the bottom.
Your focus needs to be on turning away from the spiralling. Noticing it with compassion and then placing your attention elsewhere. Don’t try and fight it. Just notice it and turn away. If you try to fight it, it’ll dig its little nails in even more.
If you’d like to have some training, therapy or coaching on how to turn anxiety from a fiend into a friend, get in touch with our Emily Wilson on email@example.com