The Mentality and Attitudes of Lawyers

Shutting Down The News

I stopped reading the news this week. It has been affecting my mental health. No more scrolling from CNN to Associated Press to Apple News to Google News to National Post, to Jerusalem Post. I am even trying to scroll past posts on Facebook and LinkedIn which address hate around the world.

Should I be up to date on world events? Probably. Should I be advocating for certain principles in which I believe?  Undoubtedly. But there comes a time that you have to step back from all of the negativity and take care of yourself.

This is not the first time that I felt the need to extract myself from my environment. Back a few years ago I used to say that I wanted to retire to Ecuador because all of the news would be in Spanish, and I would not understand it. I thought that I was kidding. But now I realize that perhaps I was on to something.

When I was a partner in a law firm, I never understood that my mental health (or lack thereof) was a function of what I internalized. Instead of removing myself from the battles for control over the direction of the firm, I would leap in and try to win them.  Even when they became unwinnable, I would still have opinions and follow the discussions.

Some of my partners just buried their heads in their work and ignored the nonsense. At the time I thought that they were like Nero fiddling while Rome burned, but now I think that they were wiser than I gave them credit for.

Other partners voted with their feet. Back then I thought that they had just given up and should have stayed and fought. Now I recognize that they too were wise.

Whether it be law firm management, foreign wars, or hate here at home, there comes the point where we have to see the wisdom of the Serenity Prayer and ask God to, “grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things that we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

People who have any experience with twelve-step programs know that internalizing the Serenity Prayer is one of the key planks to restoring mental health to addicts. The rest of us would do well to understand that although we may not have turned to a substance to help us cope with the world (or the legal profession), the wisdom of the Serenity Prayer can help us all cope.

As for the news – if you have been reading it constantly like I was until a few days ago, you may want to consider taking a break before it breaks you.

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