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From Automatic to Exceptional Thinking: Legal Minds and Mental Wellness

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From Automatic to Exceptional Thinking: Legal Minds and Mental Wellness

It’s been estimated that almost half of our daily thoughts are automatic. Thinking like a lawyer is a skill developed in law school and honed throughout our years of practice. From issue spotting to analysis, we are well trained in the assessment of worst-case scenarios. We are paid to assist our clients in the artful management of potential pitfalls.

These cognitive patterns make us more effective in our common daily tasks but can come at a cost. In a profession that rewards skilled pessimism, such thought patterns can prove to be toxic. In this presentation, review practical examples and learn how to navigate automatic, negative thoughts and cognitive distortions to help you achieve professional and personal balance.

Transcript

Hi everyone. This is Dr. Patti McCartney. I am a board certified naturopathic doctor, an animal naturopathic doctor, a cognitive wellness coach, and a licensed Texas attorney. I want to thank you for joining me today as we discuss this topic of automatic thoughts, specifically from automatic to exceptional thinking legal myths, I'm sorry, legal minds and mental wellness. So let's review some of the learning objectives for the course. And those include. I if I can get my keys to function here and what automatic thoughts are. And we're going to look at those. We're going to look at how they affect the way you think, not just in your personal life, but specifically for purposes of this presentation, how you practice law, also understanding what cognitive distortions are and how they can help or hurt us as lawyers. Discovering how to effectively control legal catastrophizing. If you're not familiar with that term, we're going to review it and I'm going to explain how that impacts the way that you respond to beliefs that can impact the way you practice law in your daily life, both personally and again, for this course, specifically professionally, we're going to look at how to identify ways that we can refocus our mental filters, what our mental filters are, and how to use your legal training, your legal mindset to your advantage. And then we're going to explore some natural therapeutics to support healthy thought process. And along those lines, let me just say here for a moment, I have been blessed to offer several presentations through Quimbee and if any of you have taken more than one. Thank you for that. When I do my presentations, however, I don't assume that those who are attending them or viewing them have seen other presentations. So if you notice, duplicative strategies or natural remedies mentioned, that is for two reasons. One is those are the most popular and also the most effective remedies when it comes to addressing mental distress issues. There are certainly plenty more. So if you ever have questions or you want any additional remedies or strategies, feel free to check out my website lawyer hyphen doctor.net or even send me an email. So I just wanted to clarify that and. Let you as the viewer or listener know, I always try to offer new, interesting and fresh material, but at the same time make sure that I emphasize the most important remedies and strategies that are the easiest to work into our daily lives. And that can give you a ready made toolkit to help you tackle the challenges that can create this stress or impact your mental wellness. So that being said, let's move on. Introduction. According to Aaron Beck, the father of cognitive therapy, our beliefs fall into three groups. Before I cover those, let me just say I've included a link here for the Beck Institute. If any of you are interested in Aaron Beck or Dr. Beck and the Beck Institute or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, I would encourage you to check out the link. Dr. Beck is considered one of the five most influential psychologists in the field based on his contributions for cognitive behavioral therapy. So this course is not dedicated to CBT. I do have a separate course that focuses exclusively on that. So this is more of a culmination of different thought processes. But I do highlight Dr. Beck theories. So where I say automatic thoughts or automatic thinking, that is a CBT term in Rebt, which is a rational, emotive behavior therapy. I know a lot of initials at the beginning of a course, but that looks more at irrational thoughts. So these terms may be interchanged throughout the presentation. And therefore I wanted to explain it's not following just one specific therapy or approach. It's more of just how negative or irrational thoughts can impact us as lawyers. And that's what the target of today's presentation is. Again, there's more information through the links I've provided on my site and also through additional courses that I've done from for Quimby. So let's look at these three groups now. Core beliefs. These are statements that shape how we as lawyers perceive ourselves and other people and the world around us. So an example of a core belief is I'm good at my job or I'm great at my job. The negative version of that may be I'm a failure. Nobody or no one can be trusted. I don't believe anybody. Sometimes in the practice of law, we can become jaded where we're skeptical of anyone and whether they're telling the truth. If they come into our office, assuming that there's there's the truth, there's, um, uh, a lie and and or this version and that version. And somewhere in between is the truth. Most of us as lawyers understand that view. Well, it's based on perception, but the underlying view, especially on the right approach to automatic thoughts and cognitive thinking, is most people are going to do the best they can with with their situation and try and process the information the best they're able to. Some of that processing comes from our core beliefs. So we're going to explore these a little bit further as the course goes on. But another example is the world is dangerous. It's unpredictable. Uh, or again, like I said, your view may be. Um. An all or nothing approach. All. All clients distort facts or all clients can be believed until proven otherwise or um. Or this judge is always going to rule against me. That's an example. So. Ah, those are a few examples. I hope that helps. Again, this will flesh out a little bit more as we go through the presentation. The second group is intermediate beliefs. So these are assumptions that govern your behavior in different situations as a lawyer, and they usually appear in the form of if then statements. If someone's nice to me, it's because they don't know the real me or if opposing counsel compliments me, he or she is wanting something from me or. If somebody is. Kind to me. They must have an ulterior motive. You can get the idea. It's these if then loaded assumptions or loaded beliefs that you have where you're not taking the circumstances at face value or from a neutral perspective and then automatic thoughts. And that's really, again, based on the title, you can probably assume that is the focus of today's presentation. And these arise quickly and without any apparent effort through our day to day lives. And they're in response to specific events or triggers, thoughts and memories. Automatic thoughts are not facts, but they're so immediate and familiar that we often look at them as being true. Um, an example of an automatic thought is. The phone rings and or your assistant buzzes and says, the client's on the line and your automatic thought is, Oh no, it must be bad news. Oh, no, I've done something wrong or any kind of situation. Your senior partner wants to see you and you go into the automatic thought of what have I done wrong? So those are the types of thoughts we're going to be examining more closely in this presentation. Okay. Exploring it a little bit further, what is automatic thinking? It's estimated that nearly half of our daily thoughts are automatic and fortunately most of those are more negative than neutral or positive. But they, um, they can take the form not only of negative or neutral. They can be positive since we know most are negative. That's what we're going to be focusing focusing on here and trying to address and rework. Um, automatic thoughts can take the form of words or images. You may be thinking, well, a thought is going to be. A mental sentence or a phrase that runs through my mind. But sometimes it can be an image if that's how it was implanted into your brain, into your mind to begin with. It can show itself definitely as an image. So be aware of that. If you're having an image in your brain and you're automatically responding, also be aware that you're responding at a subconscious level. And that's one of the benefits of therapy such as cognitive behaviour, CBT or Rebt. All of these positive psychology therapies is to get us from these unconscious beliefs to conscious strategies that we can rework them and improve ourselves and the way we function, the way we perform as lawyers. Understanding automatic thoughts a little bit further, up to 60,000 thoughts are believed to travel through our mind on a daily basis. That number seems mind blowing. But at the same time, for those of us who are lawyers, it's probably for us as lawyers, for those of us who have been trained as lawyers, we all understand our minds are constantly at work. They're constantly processing information. So I'm at a conscious level, some at a subconscious level. So because of that, the mind's seeking through this massive amount of information that's racing and relaying through through your brain and trying to filter, what's coming through, what's not, what's going to shape our perception and what's not. And. That's where our focus and our filter becomes all the more important. If we don't hone it in, then some of the automatic thoughts can actually impact the way we're interacting with clients, the way we interact with other attorneys, just the way we view ourselves as lawyers or the way we think we're performing our jobs on a daily basis, the way we perceive courts or judges, mediators, whatever your specific area of practice involves and who you interact with daily, if you don't control those automatic thoughts, then they will end up controlling you. That's one thing we know. So the problem arises when we assign meaning to those thoughts. As I was saying, as those thoughts are filtering through and your mind is is discerning which thoughts are are are those that should be your focus as it's filtering through if we're giving meaning to the wrong thoughts and those are negative thoughts, negative thoughts can have obviously negative consequences. So again, that's where we're going to concentrate our efforts on trying to take our thoughts and our amazing training that we have as lawyers to be able to. Utilize those tools to make us more effective in the way we communicate, in the way we interact and so forth. For the most part, we're more cognizant of the emotions we experience than the automatic thoughts, which the thoughts lead to the emotions. And we're used to focusing on the emotions, which is why I would submit we have such a enormous challenge in our profession when it comes to mental health because stress levels are so high most of the time in that fight or flight mode. In other courses, I've given the statistic that it's been estimated that lawyers operate approximately 70% of our time in a fight or flight mode. Well, that results in the emotion, not to mention the other physical and quality of life effects, so forth. But if we're responding at the emotion level, then we're missing the core. Underlying. Thought or belief system that is triggering that emotion. And if we can address it at the core level, then we can change the outcome. One of the reasons I love cognitive therapy or rebt. All of these areas of. Retraining our brain neuroplasticity, which literally means our brains are elastic and can be retrained, is based on my training as a naturopathic doctor. Naturopathic doctors are holistic. We approach a person from their whole being mental, physical, emotional, spiritual. And we look at the underlying cause, the root cause. That's really what these therapies look at is the root cause, the triggering event. And again, the more we know ourselves and the way we respond, the better we are at practicing and also at handling the stresses that come with practicing. Because the facts of distress and mental health issues within our profession are real. The statistics bear. Those facts out. But that's not the rest of the story. We can change those if we're aware of simple steps we can make. Now we're going to also address the governing rules of conduct. We know as lawyers, we're bound by professional rules of responsibility. So I've included some here that link our automatic thoughts with our professional responsibility, our professional responsibilities, and how those. Interact, how there's an interplay in the way we respond and the way we think and the way we carry out our duties. So I've included ABA model rule one, point one, 1.16 82 and 8.3. These all have to do with the way we're interacting with. Uh, clients, the way we're interacting with other counsel and also our obligations to be aware if our automatic thoughts get to the point to where. They are impacting our view of ourselves such that we're turning to a source that is going to create harm to ourselves or hinder our ability to practice law. Then obviously we have a responsibility at that point to take charge, step away. And also, if we're aware of other attorneys that are in need of help to to report those, to advise them, there are separate classes that explore these more fully. But I did want to touch on our responsibilities as lawyers. We have a responsibility, a responsibility first and foremost to ourselves simply because. It's our minds that are our greatest assets. As lawyers, those are. Um, the way we think as lawyers that can determine how we respond. Again, the thoughts trigger the emotions. The emotions can create the problems if they go without being controlled. So that being said, let's turn to. Uh, an example here of automatic thoughts. As lawyers, our thoughts determine everything from the way we evaluate cases, the way we interact with clients, as I've already said, and colleagues, and how we present an argument. So I've included an example here. Um, depending on your area of law. You may or may not see these on a daily basis, but you get an order from the court. The order is lengthy and it addresses your arguments. The judge makes a point of saying that one of your arguments is not as persuasive as others. But in the end, the court rules in your favor. So you go through the order, you look at the bottom, you see granted affirmed, whatever the appropriate term may be, but the ruling is in your favor. Rather than focusing on the positive ruling, however, you're hung up on the fact that the judge did not think one of your arguments was as persuasive as possible. So. This can trigger destructive emotions such as thoughts of disappointment, anxiety, thoughts of self doubt and your ability to argue. Well, I didn't argue well enough. Why did I throw that argument in there? Why did I focus on this rather than that? Am I? Am I doing the best I can? Your thoughts can go from just I should have done better to escalating to the point of being catastrophizing and we'll address that shortly. But you get the idea of what I'm saying here, that it's the way we're responding based on these built in automatic thought that can control the way we take criticism or even a positive outcome if we're looking at it through the wrong lens. It's going to skew our view. It's going to skew our interpretation. And so those are ways that we can look. That, again, may not be the best example, depending on your area of law, but I included it just to give you a general idea. So I mentioned catastrophizing. Let's look at that a little bit more closely here. It could be said that catastrophizing is our most essential skill as lawyers. In fact, um, one lawyer who's also a PhD in psychology wrote that it is actually our stock in trade. However, studies have shown that the same skills that make us effective as lawyers can actually result in outcomes such as depression and sadly, even substance abuse. We know the reality is this is going on in our profession and researchers have found that the predisposition is commonly associated with a risk of. Depression or other mental health issues. So. Again, if you have those automatic thoughts that predispose you to a negative outcome then it can change the way your emotions are and the way you're not just responding, but the way you're perceiving your response and the way you're feeling it in your in your mind and even physiologically. So I've included a link here that explains. A little bit more about the negative effects of. Or I'm sorry, the different effects of positive and negative thoughts and expectations and how they impact depression. So if you want to learn more about catastrophizing, I would encourage you to look that up. An example of catastrophizing is you're retained by a client. Again, I know these are broad based. I never know who's going to be listening to a course, obviously. So if you're in family law, a contract example may not be the best example. If you do estates and trusts, it may not apply to you either. But these are generalizations. We've all had contracts in law school, so you'll get the idea of what I'm talking about. So you're retained by a client who's being sued for a breach of contract. You're tasked with evaluating the claim. You present different worst case scenarios and then describe the steps that you can take to attack. The plaintiff's case or the petitioner's case, whatever the situation may be. And create legal roadblocks to help minimize your client's risks. So you're explaining, well, these are the potential liabilities. Of the contract. This wording may work against you if the petitioner or the plaintiff prevails. You may be looking at these types of damages. You're doing your job. You're explaining the worst case scenario to the client. That's your professional obligation. And then you're explaining. The. The acts you're going to do. The steps you're going to take. To try and minimize. Those. So because our jobs involve. Imagining and discussing and focusing on worst possible outcomes. Sometimes those can impact us negatively and. Those negative thoughts. Can create the negative. Emotions, as we've already discussed. So there are times in the practice. Of law. For some of us that success can often create its own. Form of challenges based on our ability to properly manage those worst case scenarios that thinking like a lawyer mentality. Where we keep it in check and we keep it in balance. So beliefs. We're going to turn now to a discussion on beliefs from thoughts to beliefs. And that may seem a little nuanced. Again, I have some other courses that explain this a little bit more. But we begin with those thoughts, those automatic thoughts and those thoughts are formed into beliefs. And again, those beliefs, they shape our conduct. They shape the way we respond. They shape our emotions unless we know in advance how to. Retrain those, refocus those. The good news about all of this, let me just say right here, the good news for us as lawyers is we're already well equipped with the tools we need to master all of these issues. And I think that is one of the most encouraging messages I can pass to lawyers. And that also is one of the saddest realities when it comes to the true mental distress issues that we face. Because given the proper. Guidelines and framework and learning how to use our tools more effectively. Can make all the difference where we don't have these mental wellness challenges, at least to such an epidemic rate that. We do. So my. Goal here is to be proactive and preventative and where these. Issues are present, to give you tools. And to make you aware. Of simple. Changes you can make in your daily. Practice. That can. Create a much. More positive outcome and a much more positive outlook. So beliefs, they are formed based on our combined experience and gathered through our senses. John Locke back in the 1750s wrote. An essay. About how our senses actually shape. Our, um. Our experiences and shape our our mind. I've included a separate link here on how our senses shape our view and our perception and those form. Um, and can be cemented into our beliefs if we don't filter through. Those perceptions which. Are positive and those which. Are. Negative or potentially destructive. So our mind turns that information into the form of messaging. That messaging creates our beliefs. How something tastes or smells, what we hear, what we see. All of our senses. Are at play in shaping our beliefs. And these are formed primarily on an unconscious or a subconscious level. But we can change those and take control of those again by reshaping those and questioning ourselves on a conscious level rather than letting the unconscious mind run away or create more of a negative belief. So questioning your thoughts. Coming out of law school. We've all been trained. In the Socratic. Method of questioning. We're pre-wired in that way. So we question everything. Good lawyers, question everything, which is great. And it makes us very effective in what we do professionally. If we're questioning the things and the circumstances and events around us, but often we fail to apply that same Socratic method when it comes to our own thoughts. And that's what the point here is. So when you're thinking something as you're going through your day, if you're noticing a triggering event. That you're automatically. Thinking something. Negative. Well, stop and ask yourself, where does. That belief come from? What? Is making me think that it's going to be negative. We're going to. Discuss a little bit more. How to question and examine those thoughts, but we need to do that. Ourselves. I know this may seem a little bit more unusual than what we're used to dealing. With in continuing education presentations, and that's the. Point. Because we need to. Utilize our tools and our skill set that were developed in law school, but also. The stress that came with those also. Studies show us developed in law school. So we need to get a handle on those. We need to learn. How to rewire. And reframe. And turn those into our assets. Like all of our other cognitive skills, we are in a cognitive profession. Our ability to function cognitively. And think through and analyze properly. Those are all skills that. Are. Dependent on our ability to. Do our job. So also are those automatic thoughts that turn into beliefs that shape the way we respond. In our daily. Practice. So that's the. Point I'm trying to make here. And if we repeat those thoughts. That are negative and they form a belief again. If the belief is a positive or neutral belief, that's fine. But so often they're negative. Again, studies show that the majority of our automatic thoughts are negative, don't have a citation in here for that specifically other. Than the citation previously provided. If you want additional information, feel free to reach out to me or again, check out my website. By routinely. Questioning our. Beliefs. And our thoughts, then we can manage them. And again, these are one of the skills that we apply so much outward and we're so busy. And I know my audience here is young lawyers, and you're certainly going through the formative years of your practice and you're busy and balancing everything. And that's that's great and it's important. But take the time to think about your. Thought. Process. And in any given day, what your automatic thoughts are, what your automatic. Beliefs are. And if they're shaping the way that you're responding to a senior partner, to co-counsel, to opposing. Counsel or. Even clients. So again, this is just supposed to give you some tools to make. You more aware of. Facts that or. Thoughts and beliefs that you may not be thinking about. There's nothing in law school that gets us to think. In this way or to. Evaluate our thoughts. Nothing equips us with that, which is why I submit it's important to. Have courses like this. So. By changing our language and asking better questions on where the belief is correct. And whether an experience is able to help us in breaking it down also is important because it. Helps us address. The irrational beliefs. And this is based on what I said in the previous slide. But also the fact that. Our beliefs can cause fear, stress and anxiety and even apprehension. If we don't take control over them. So that's the point. Lawyers like being in control. And again, the good news is you can control your thoughts. I mentioned. Neuroplasticity. Earlier and I've touched on it at length in other presentations. But for those of you who may not. Have seen those, let me just say the. Belief. For decades was that our minds. Were locked in. From the time we were. Basically. Teenagers and our brains were unable to be reshaped or. Reformed. Thankfully, we now know that our minds can be reshaped, reformed, our thoughts can be retrained and reframed. And because we are so skilled in being able to reframe arguments and and rearrange scenarios and organize fact. Patterns in a way that will benefit the. The points of law. On a particular case or a particular. Statute. All of these are skills were well trained. And well versed in. We need to apply them to ourselves and we can to help minimize the stresses that we feel daily and even those that lead to something like anxiety or. Or even worse to addictive behavior. Okay, let's look at something that has been. Referred to as shoulds and musts. I know. That may not be the. Most correct title for a slide, but. You'll understand. What this theory is based on in just a second. The three shoulds. And musts that control lawyers lives. Can include these. I should or must be significant. And when the approval of others this can be peers, clients, co-counsel, opposing counsel, a judge. Think of this as. The super lawyer standard. We're all familiar with super lawyers. We understand that the majority of us are never going to reach the super lawyers status. And that's okay. If everybody was measured. As a super lawyer, then the super lawyer standard wouldn't. Have the same value. But at the same time, we can be our own level. Of super lawyer. And the problem with. Striving for that high. Level of. Of perfectionism. Can become. Or that high level of. Recognition can cause us to lose sight of the other relationships in our lives or balance in our lives. It can lead to self doubt. It can lead to insecurity. It can even lead to depression. So. As far as this first. Should or must with regard. To significance. It's fine to want to strive. For. Significance and recognition for a case. Well, one or I'm sorry, a case. Well, for a. A verdict. One success in your profession. Anything that causes you to stand out. Just like in law school, we all strive for the best grades to achieve the most whatever. Recognition or award we could get. And that carries into our profession. And that's great until it becomes at the cost of us having balance in the way we respond. The next should or must is under expectations and acceptance. This is a similar, but a little different than the first one, and this is based on other people should treat me based on the fact of how I treat them. The problem is we. Understand. In life that's not going to happen. You can be kind and courteous to another attorney and have that attorney. Be so rude. And and, um, cunning or cutthroat to you? Uh, the scorched earth. Approach and maybe his or her way of practicing law. And that can be so distressing. And so discouraging. We can control the way we respond. If we respond back in like manner, then it changes who. We are as professionals. We fail to meet our professional standard of conduct. And I know it's tempting. Don't misunderstand me. I know it is. But the point is, we can control the way we respond. And all of us have our own. Emotional baggage. We all have our own built in beliefs. We all have our own automatic thoughts. So rather than reacting and responding in. Kind. To an opposing counsel or to. Someone who may say. Something rude in a professional. Setting, it may be more beneficial. To extend a little grace. And I know that's not always easy. I completely understand. But. I like to look at it as extending the grace. To others that you would. Want them to extend to you. If you're having a bad day and everything's off and you spilled coffee on your set yourself and you're running late to a hearing because you were stuck in traffic even though you allowed. A lot of. Time or your. Alarm didn't go. Off, whatever the setting or whatever the situation may be. And so you're just off your game or you're feeling like you're starting to get run down and a little sick. And we know if we get sleep deprived, then we're more edgy. So whatever that underlying issue is, you're not performing at your best. You may be a little more a little bit more irritable than normal and you may not even be. Aware of it. You're responding less than your normal, professional. Courteous self then. You would want somebody to give you a little bit of grace. And that's all I'm saying here. Just give some thought to understanding. People aren't always going to respond the way you want them to respond. To you and. The way you're treating them. In turn, that gives you the opportunity to. Respond back. In the same professional manner. So in other words, you're courteous. And professional, someone's rude to. You, you can respond back in kind or you can say, No, I'm going to maintain my level. Of. Professionalism because that's who I am. And. This person may be having a bad day. You don't. Know what the background of that. Person's day. Is. We can't know. All we can do is try to balance our response and hope that the. Same will be given to us. Okay. Winning can't be everything. We all know this. But the third must or should touches on. I always should get. Should or must get the outcome I want. It's not going to happen. If every lawyer wants every case, there would be no. Practice of. Law because. The practice is set up where we're going to have attorneys. On each. Side. That's part of. The system we work within. That being said. One of us is going to win, whether it's an argument or a case or. Or appoint at trial, whatever it may be. If it's a deposition and you feel like. You came out of that. Deposition in. A stronger sense than opposing counsel, or if it's a hearing and you're asking in a family law. Situation. Or an or an estate and trust matter. If you're prevailing and the judge grants you whatever you're asking for, that's wonderful. If you don't get everything you're asking for, that's the way. It's going to go. That given day. One of the best and most successful attorneys in Dallas that I went to law school with used to say to me he worked in. The DA's office for a few years. Before he became a hotshot criminal law attorney. And he used to say one of the things that kept him humbled, even though. I will tell you, this guy has a very strong sense of his own self worth and his his ability. But he understood that on any given day, any given lawyer can win any given case. And most of us understand that. But in those moments where we're responding to something that doesn't go in our favor, that should or must is kicking in. And that's when. We need to step back and say, okay, I need to accept the fact I did the best I could. I'm not going to win every case. And if you don't do that, the risk is maladaptive. Perfectionism. Lawyers like to be perfectionists. We strive for perfectionism. The problem is, nobody's perfect. There's no perfect case. There's no perfect client. There's no perfect fact pattern. We all know this. We understand this. If we've practiced law for more than a day, we get this. But yet we apply perfectionism. Standards to ourselves. And that can be dangerous. We need to accept that your best is your best. You can't run someone else's race. You can't measure yourself. Based. On someone else's standards. If you do, it's fundamentally unfair to you. You can only do the best you can and your skill set got you this far. You are a lawyer. I mean, congratulations on that. You're able to practice law in a field. I still love and am so passionate to be part of. But what I want to help you do is understand that. You can strive for your best. And accept that that's enough. And not. Always have to win, not always have to reach that level of perfectionism because it's not going to happen. And you don't need to set yourself up for that. Here, you need to. Apply to. Yourself the same grace. That you would consider applying to somebody else. Give yourself a little grace. No, you work hard. You're well. Prepared. You do the best. You can. And your best is always going to be in that. It has to be for you to continue to grow and strive. And practice at your best. And to increase that. The only thing I heard one therapist say, the only. Thing and the only person you. Should compare yourself to today is who you were yesterday. So if you're a better lawyer today. Than you were yesterday, you're doing great. If you're growing in your knowledge of a case or. Your skill set is improving every day, which I'm sure it is. Then that's your only measure. It shouldn't be someone else. Some goal out there that maybe. And reasonable based on where you're at. Just accept the fact. That you push yourself. That's how you got here. You know how to. Organize and draw on your strengths that got you through law school. They got you through the bar, they brought you into the practice of law. They got you to the point to where you are. Practicing every day. So use those skills to your benefit. And again, give yourself. A little bit of grace. The one person you're guaranteed. To travel through this world your entire life with is yourself. So the harder you are on yourself. The harder it is to be happy where you're at professionally. Personally, that can create a lot of negative outcomes. So don't be that lawyer. Be the one who accepts where you're at. If you have some weaknesses, work on changing them and strengthening them, but. Do your best. To be your best. And then accept. That as. The only standard. You have to measure up to. So I hope that helps. Okay. Types of lawyer Irrational thinking, situational and generational. Irrational beliefs are two examples of automatic thinking again. Irrational beliefs is an rebt theory more than a. Cognitive behavioral. Theory. Same underlying. Principle here. Irrational. Negative thoughts. For example, all or nothing thinking it's black or it's white. We win or we lose. And there are plenty of lawyers out. There who think. It's got to be a win every time I've got to win. I don't want to settle for less than the best. I don't want to settle for less than a. Judgment or jury verdict or settlement. Of this amount. I have to achieve this. That is putting a lot of stress on. Yourself. And a lot of stress on. Your abilities to control situations beyond your. Control. You can only control what you can control. Again, you can't control the. Facts of a case. You can't. We all know you take your client where you find them. You take the plaintiff where you find them if you litigate. So. Taking what you've got and. And shaping. It into. The most positive outcome is what you do every day in the practice of law. But that all or nothing thinking is a trap. So if you notice. That in. The way you're. Responding and in your. Belief system, work. On that. Because again, you need to build in some grace here. Otherwise you're going to be setting. Yourself up. For immense pressure, also perpetuating a. Belief through. Avoidance. We all know what it's like when we have a deadline and we want to wait till the. Very last minute to tackle something. Well, the longer you put it off, the more. Pressure you're feeling at the end as you're pulling an all nighter to finish that brief or prepare. That will or the documents for the estate administration or the family law decree. Or whatever it is you're working on, or a brief an argument preparing for court. Don't wait till the last minute and don't. Put that don't perpetuate that belief of. Avoiding. Something because you think it's going to be stressful. The belief is that whatever you're trying to avoid is still going to be there. So. In trying to avoid the belief. Of whatever the challenge is or whatever the thought is. It can also lead to professional liability. We covered the rules earlier. Don't set yourself up for that. Just take on your beliefs. Take on your your deadlines. Take on. The pressures or the perceptions. Head on. And even if you have to do that incrementally. Do it incrementally, but give yourself a break. Don't feed that perception of, Oh, this is going to be so stressful. I need to wait till the last minute. I can't tackle it today. I don't feel. Like. I've. Got enough reserve in. My tank to to argue this point or the case laws. Are all going to be against my client. I don't want to deal with it. Try to avoid that again. That's your perception. Don't feed that perception. Belief defining questions. As lawyers, we're so skilled in questioning. Everything and in questioning our clients. And looking at the. Potential consequences of a particular situation. So we need to. Look at applying those not just with our. Clients, but also with regard to ourselves. So. In looking at the defining questions. We need to look at. Questioning again. Where is this thought come from? If I have a thought going through? We all hear that inner. Voice going through. Our. Head and so often it comes in. The form. Of doubt. And nothing's wrong with taking a second and saying, Where's that thought come from? And also understand. The reaction. That. Engaging that thought or focusing on that thought can have. And one of those. Reactions can be. Anxiety. Automatic thoughts can be positive. Neutral or negative. As we discussed. Before. But if you dwell on it, if you feed that negative. Thought. Then it can result in. Anxiety, and anxiety can. Cause us to. Lose perspective of the big picture. It can put. Enormous pressure on it on us that we're putting ourselves that we can. Control. So when you find yourself. If you find yourself in. An anxious. Situation, rather than saying, I'm so stressed, I'm so anxious. I can't I can't I can't. Think about this. It's overwhelming to me. And we all have those. Days where things. Just seem overwhelming. You have the phone ringing off the hook because clients are unhappy. Maybe a partner or opposing counsel is is. Making your life more difficult. You got a negative ruling. Things just seem like they're. Coming at you from every side. Whatever the. Circumstances are. Just if you start feeling anxious. Tell yourself. I recognize I'm feeling anxious, but I don't have to stay here. I don't have to feed this anxiety. I'm not going to let. Me I'm not going to let it affect. Me beyond this moment. Take some deep breaths. Shake it off. Go get some fresh air, get a cup of tea or coffee, anything. Just don't feed the anxiety. Step away from it. Don't let that automatic thought take. Root or. Grow any more than it has. Again, you've got this. You've got the skill set to make this. Work in your favor. To restructure your stresses where they don't have. To consume your day or steal your effectiveness. This goes to the disputing. Irrational. Thoughts. We're well trained again and skilled in addressing and assisting our clients in their aggression, in their irrational thoughts. How many times have you had to calm a client down and show them this? This isn't going to necessarily. Come out this. Way? I know it seems bad now. It's just take a deep breath. I'm here to help. We're going to tackle. This, apply. Those same standards to yourself. The same. Pep talk or encouraging words you're going to. Give your client. Give yourself. But let me. Say that when we're looking at. And automatic thoughts and confronting and dismantling automatic. Thoughts or irrational beliefs. We're not just changing it. To looking at things. More positively. It's actually getting in there and doing the work of recognizing the automatic thought, recognizing. The belief based. On. That irrational or negative thought. And the response and changing those around. The reality is, the better we become at identifying. And disputing our own irrational beliefs. The more effective we. Are not just. As human beings but also as lawyers. And again, the more able we are to help our clients with their irrational beliefs. So iron sharpens iron. We know that the skill set. That we developed for lawyers. Or I'm sorry, as. Lawyers for our clients. We can apply to ourselves. And the. More we apply. Them to ourselves, the more effective we are at applying them to our cases. And our clients. Okay. Creating cognitive balance. In 1957, Leon Festinger or Festinger? I'm not quite sure on which way that should actually. Be pronounced formed a belief. Based on this theory. That the mind wants to stay in balance. And I love this. Because that's a core principle of naturopathic or natural medicine, holistic medicine that the body wants to be in balance. Well, so does the mind. So when we get out of balance, the mind is is. Looking for ways to get back in balance. When it gets out of balance, that's where we get the frustration. That's where we. Get sadness. Depression. So we can use. Exercises to reshape our thoughts and to get our mind back in balance. One of the great ways to do this is by journaling and writing down all of our negative thoughts. When you find yourself. Getting stressed or anxious, if you're near a computer, just open a screen and start typing. If you've got your phone with you or an iPad, turn it to the notes. And just just verbally. Um, speak. Out everything. Or type. Out whatever your preference is, everything that's. Frustrating. You just purge those emotional responses and then look at. Going back to what triggered. The initial the initial thought and the belief and then the response. Work at replacing those. Negative automatic thoughts. As we've talked about, those preset professional filters that we have. Applying them, turning it inward as well as outward to our clients. So. Um, there is. Actually an approach. That is taken with regard to automatic. Thinking that is done in a courtroom type setting. It's presented as a court case, did not include that here because it would have taken multiple slides. If any of y'all are interested. Again, that's something. That is available through my site. My site is membership based. So if you want. Information or you just want me to. Send that to you, then. Feel free to email me again. I was going to include it, but it is lengthy. It's an example that's been used. Numerous times. And is very beneficial. I did talk. On. The medicine for the emotions. Briefly Essential oils. This is something that I suggest to be used because it's so beneficial to help relax and relieve your stress. Just like Bach. Flower remedies which address. The underlying emotional level that can result in physical stress and impact your quality of life. These are just suggestions. Again, I have many more suggestions. These are key tools that I always recommend in coaching to lawyers and law firms because they're easy hacks, they're easy fixes to have on hand, and they're something that can fit in your briefcase, your purse, your desk and have readily available to you if you so choose. Also, make sure that you're nourishing the brain. What we feed our brain is going to have a direct correlation to the way we respond and react. So I hope all of that was helpful. I know it's a lot of information that was packed in there, but the key takeaways are to recognize that our automatic thoughts can be managed to make us more effective as lawyers. The more effective we are professionally, the more satisfied we can be personally, as long as it's not at the cost of our our relationships and the way we perceive others.At the cost of the filters that we have shaping our perceptions.Stressful and anxious thoughts. Again, they can be reworked to have more positive outcomes. Cognitive support is easy to incorporate in your life. There are resources out there. Those are there are those of us who are there to assist you with this. If you want that, you can certainly research it more or reach out. And changing our filters and our perceptions makes us more effective in handling those negative beliefs. We don't have to feed the negative beliefs. That's the bottom line. You can let your negative thoughts control you, or you can take control of them and control the practice and the the professional demeanor you want and the the professional and personal outcomes you want. As a final word, I just want to thank you for choosing to listen to this. Listen or watch this presentation. I never take for granted the opportunity to be able to share with all of you. So I hope you found something helpful. And no matter what you're facing, I hope you found a little bit more hope in your ability to conquer it. I've included my contact information. Thank you again for listening or watching. And until next time, take care and be well.

Presenter(s)

PM
Patti McCartney
Attorney
DrPattiMcCartney.com

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                                                                                                  December 31, 2026 at 11:59PM HST

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                                                                                                  March 22, 2025 at 11:59PM HST

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                                                                                                  March 22, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

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                                                                                                                    March 22, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

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                                                                                                                        • 1.0 personal development & mental health
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                                                                                                                        March 23, 2028 at 11:59PM HST

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