Focusing on self-love, gratitude, confidence, and practice in all areas of life will help family lawyers achieve their goals – in both their careers and lives.

The trendy catchphrase these days is “self-love”.  Many attorneys fail to realize that they can’t love their work or anyone else until they love themselves. Even now, with countless self-help books, webinars, coaches, gurus, religions, meditation, and social media posts galore, we can’t seem to fully embrace this concept.  

The truth is we can’t be happy until we love ourselves. We can’t be satisfied until we love ourselves. We can’t be balanced until we love ourselves. We can’t achieve true success until we love ourselves.

Listening to the constant chatter of your own self-criticism is exhausting. 

When I started practicing law back in the ‘70s, I assumed (like many of my colleagues) that having a law license would make life easy and wealth assured. What I found was that I had jumped from the baby pool of academia to the deep, shark-infested (pun intended) end of the pool of the business of practicing law. Competition and the struggle to make “the big bucks” was a painful reality.

We were told that we had to “fight”, we had to “sacrifice”, we had to devote time, energy, and money to create a successful career. I will never forget a conversation I had with the senior partner of the law firm I joined after I passed the bar exam. He told me that a successful career was based on a three-part foundation: devotion to 
1. work, 
2. family, and 
3. community. 

He was correct to a certain extent; a successful career does require devotion to those three concepts. However, what he neglected (and what attorneys often neglect) is a devotion to self.

Listening to the constant chatter of your self-criticism is exhausting. You wouldn’t let a stranger treat you or your loved ones that way.

4 Paths to Self-Love for Family Lawyers

Mental and emotional health depends on the alignment of your conscious mind and subconscious mind. When you have goals, plans, expectations, or dreams that are not supported by your subconscious mind and you suffer from a lack of self-love, your hopes and dreams will never be realized. If your subconscious mind believes that you are unworthy, an imposter, a loser, or a fraud, it is impossible to love yourself and achieve your goals. If you are suffering from deep emotional or mental trauma, you can’t love yourself.

Several concepts directly bear on the conflict of the conscious and subconscious minds.

1. Motivation vs. Behavior

Family lawyers must examine what motivates them. Is it love, or is it something else?

Why we do the things we do is just as important as what we do. Motivation is broken down into positive and negative attributes. We behave based on altruistic or selfish purposes. For example, do we practice law because we want to fix something that we believe is broken, or do we practice law because it is admirable and just? Do we strive mightily because we are afraid of being poor or because we enjoy helping people?

This distinction can make all the difference in how you view yourself and your career. Lawyers who are motivated by service and compassion achieve satisfaction and fulfillment while lawyers who are only motivated by fear and selfishness are never satisfied because making money does not feed their soul – it keeps the wolves at bay, but the wolves are always there.

2. The Experience of Gratitide Leads to the Experience of Self-Love 

All perception is projection. We can only see what we are looking for. If we believe that we are flawed, or an imposter projecting a persona that is false to appear competent and confident, our cognitive bias will find evidence that this is so. Our subconscious minds are powerful and create our own reality.

If we experience gratitude, forgiveness, understanding, acceptance, intuition, and inspiration, we will experience self-love. We will believe that life is simply a series of experiences that teach us how to love ourselves, not a battle to be fought every day to avoid ridicule and ruin. When we accept the fact that we are just as valuable as anyone else no matter our experiences and that we matter and deserve success, we can achieve our goals.

3. Self-Confidence 

Self-love includes confidence. According to the dictionary, confidence is defined as “a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities”. The phrase “appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities” is also the definition of self-love.

When we are stressed, afraid, depressed, and on the road to burnout, we focus on everything that is going wrong. We forget that we have achieved a high level of success merely by becoming licensed attorneys. We must focus on our talents and successes and learn from our experiences. By focusing on these aspects of our lives we can achieve a positive outlook and be resilient. Focus on “I can”, not “I can’t”.

4. Practice in all Areas of Life

I always wondered why it is called “the practice of law”. I believe we practice what we want to excel in. Do attorneys practice, or do they simply “do”? Like the other learned professions, lawyers never achieve perfection – but we do our best while striving for it.

Practicing law presupposes that we always can improve. If our “practice” is not where we want it to be, we must strive to do better, not beat ourselves up about where we are now. Do you practice giving arguments? Do you learn how to behave like a successful lawyer? Do you practice your people skills, your confidence, your client relationships? Or do you just wing it hoping for the best? How many times have you gotten in front of a mirror to practice your arguments or explanations?

Self-Love Can Help Family Lawyer Achieve Their Goals

Self-love recognizes that we can always do things “better” and we have the confidence to find out how. We take continuing legal education, but do we go to wellness seminars? Do we seek out continuing life education or continuing relationship education? Practice in any of these areas will vastly improve your practice of law (and life).

Focusing on self-love, gratitude, confidence, and practice in all areas of life will help lawyers achieve their goals. Focus on the positive aspects of your life and work on improving whatever you perceive to be negative and you will enjoy a life well-lived.

View this article as it originally appeared on Family Lawyer Magazine.