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Emotional Life of Lawyers: Stop Ignoring What You Feel!

Emotions matter … and your emotions will only allow you to ignore them for so long. We actually feel before we think. Dr. Travis Bradberry writes in his books on emotional intelligence that human beings experience everything emotionally first, logically second. I strongly believe that to be true. Many women lawyers have a bad habit of pushing […]

Emotions matter … and your emotions will only allow you to ignore them for so long.

We actually feel before we think.

Dr. Travis Bradberry writes in his books on emotional intelligence that human beings experience everything emotionally first, logically second. I strongly believe that to be true.

Many women lawyers have a bad habit of pushing down how they feel about something because they do not have the time, energy, patience or desire to deal with it. They have mastered the ability to power through their feelings and shift from their heart (emotional self) to their head (logical self.) Their steely will power allows them to draft motions; research briefs, and expertly propound discovery even when they are feeling sad, frustrated, angry, overwhelmed or alone.

What about you? What are you pushing down right now as you read this?

Oftentimes, everything you are pushing down and not allowing to rise to the surface is something you are tolerating. Your logical self overrides your emotional self, demanding you ignore your emotional experience and emotional needs.

The problem with doing so is this: YOUR EMOTIONS MATTER. And your emotions will only allow you to ignore them for so long.

Eventually, everything you are pushing down will rise to the surface. And often when it does, it just might show up in the form of a cancer diagnosis, a heart attack, or a professional course-correction you didn’t see coming.

I was recently speaking with a very successful European lawyer who is managing several things she is tolerating. One situation involves a circumstance where her personal life and her professional life intersect.

Sophia (not her real name) and her brother manage the firm their now-retired father built. The firm is very successful and has a stellar reputation, servicing a few Fortune 500 corporations.

Sophia is the eldest child and the firm’s Managing Partner. Her brother is a decent lawyer but avoids any involvement in the day to day management of the firm. He is rude, dismissive of her as the firm’s leader and has a reputation for being impossible to work for, scaring away support staff and junior associates.

Sophia finds her brother’s behavior “disgusting.”

I asked Sophia to imagine how it would feel to walk into work every day knowing her brother would not be there. She said it would feel “amazing.”

Sophia has contemplated ending her partnership with her brother and establishing her own independent firm. However, she is afraid of the repercussions: How will it look to our clients if we dissolve the firm as it is now? Would there be damage to our reputational capital with our clientele as well as within the legal community? How would we divide the clients we serve?

Her concerns are valid.

Sophia is in therapy, trying to learn how to tolerate her brother and manage the stress working with him is causing in her life. She believes in time he will essentially become a non-entity.

I am not a mental health professional but I do know this, the time Sophia is banking on to feel better about her situation might never come. And the stress she is experiencing is definitely taking a toll on her. She is sad and she is tired.

I advised Sophia to remember that her emotional life matters. I help women lawyers create lives they love, not tolerate lives making them miserable.

The first step to creating a life you love is to allow your feelings to show up. Stop ignoring what you are feeling. Then, identify and eliminate tolerations. Whether you know it or not, tolerations drain your emotional energy. You may not notice it now because you are logically doing all the things you must do on a daily basis but your tolerations are having an impact on your life overall.

Do you need support in identifying and eliminating tolerations so you can create a life you love? I can help. It is what I do every day with women lawyers just like you. Email me confidentially at [email protected] or on LinkedIn.

#emotionalintelligence #womenlawyers #womeninlaw

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