If you’ve made it through your first day of law school you know that “thinking like a lawyer” has a very specific meaning.
Law school teaches you a set of critical and analytical tools that train your brain to think in a very particular way.
Those skills are great for being a lawyer. But they aren’t always great for the rest of your life. And when they run on repeat, unconsciously, for years, things can really go awry.
Thinking about all the potential worst possible outcomes, for example, is an important step of drafting a contract or developing a litigation strategy – but when you start imagining all the reasons that the partner on your case might get upset with your work, you’re actually just catastrophizing and creating unnecessary anxiety.
Or consider the adversarial nature of most legal practice. Framing interactions as a conflict one person must win is a necessary part of defending your client in official negotiations – but defaulting to that attitude every time you have a disagreement with a colleague (or even opposing counsel) just creates anxiety and frustration, and leads to worse communication.
I could give you many other examples, but you get the idea. When your brain is in Lawyer Mode 24/7, it’s running at warp speed all the time, and you never get a chance to relax, reflect, and reset your mind. You’re constantly mentally exhausted and reactive, and you don’t have the wherewithal to dream big – or even to get out of the office at a decent hour.
Many forms of coaching treat just the symptoms of the problem – if you tell a coach that you hate your boss and want to get a different job, for instance, your coach might help you come up with networking goals or tell you how many cover letters you have to send out each week. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that – setting goals is great!
But the truth is, if you want another job, you already know you should be sending out cover letters. You’re not an idiot. The question is why you keep watching four hours of Netflix at night instead of doing it. Giving you a weekly number of letters to send might help temporarily, but it’s not treating the underlying thought patterns that keep you feeling exhausted, hopeless, and glued to the couch instead of making progress on your goal.
And giving you a cover letter plan isn’t addressing the underlying thought patterns that are making the conflict at work so difficult for you to bear. Which means you can’t actually even figure out if you really do need a new job – because you’re feeling totally at the mercy of the one you have now. Even if you get another job, you haven’t really learned how to deal with stressful situations or understand your own brain any better – so you don’t have any new skills to use the next time a challenging or difficult situation comes along.
Cognitive life coaching™, is different because it treats the source of the problem: your mind.
This work teaches you practices and tools that work on every area of your life.
With cognitive life coaching you learn to:
- become aware of your thoughts,
- see how your thoughts produce your feelings and affect your actions, and
- develop the ability to think helpful thoughts on purpose to produce the feelings and actions you want.
These three steps are part of my signature method for coaching lawyers that focuses on helping lawyers tame their lawyer brains in order to feel better at work. As a lawyer, you’re primed for this work because you’ve already trained your brain to think analytically, to question perceived truths, and to ask good questions.
The problem is that you’ve been directing all that energy – and misdirecting it – at people and circumstances outside of yourself, and using it to come up with all the ways that things are going wrong. But in fact, the secret to feeling good lies in making peace with the external world, and changing what’s in your mind instead.
It can take years to build a meditation practice or complete a course of traditional talk therapy, but coaching can teach you in a matter of months the skills you need to create the life you want, using nothing but your thoughts. What you do with those skills is up to you!
If you’re ready to learn how to harness that lawyer brain of yours and use it for good, click below to schedule a free consultation call. We’ll talk about your unique challenges at work and ways to work together so you can like – or even love – your job again.
Kara helped me reach a better understanding of how my beliefs about how things “should” be aren’t actually reality. My favorite part of her style is how she is able to take out the meaty part — the stuff that could be painful to examine – and non-judgmentally show it to me in a way that is more like a fun exploration than anything negative.
I’d tell anyone considering coaching with her to get on board – but only if you are ready to change, and laugh at yourself while doing so!
– Caryn G.