The Lawyer’s Compass Series: Wellness

 In Living Our Best Life, Practicing Law and Life, The Lawyer's Compass

The term “hermetically sealed”  finds its origins in the Greek God Hermes.  He was known for sealing boxes that were impossible to open and hiding them so they could not be seen.

While hermitically sealed is the ideal state of a vacuum seal.  it’s not an ideal state of being for you and me – especially when it comes to our professional lives.

Have you ever blocked out an unhappy aspect of your life that needed to be dealt with?  Did it solve the problem, make it go away or improve the situation?  Speaking from personal experience, denying a truth about an important aspect of my life, including work, does not contribute to my overall wellness.

Whenever I’ve decided to not deal with a difficult aspect of a relationship, not only does it not go away, but I also often find it spilling over into the other parts of my life.  The idea that I can hide it away is simply not true.  The deeper I try to bury it, the longer it festers. Overtime it manifests itself in depression, passive-aggressive behavior and other negative ways that lessen personal wellness.  How does it show up in your life?

As lawyers we are trained to advocate for what is best, right and fair for our clients.  Yet, when it comes to advocating for what’s best and right for me living my truest life, many of my advocacy skills seem to disappear.

Instead of being honest and forthcoming with myself (and the other person), I’m throwing away the key in hopes to keep it locked up.  Instead of taking the time to do what I know is right, I’m looking for excuses and justifications for not taking action. All of this leads to a lack of self-loyalty.  If I treated a client the same way, I’d be violating all the fiduciary duties I owe them and possibly be committing malpractice.    

Why is it so much easier to do what’s right for my clients than it is for myself?

Advocating for myself is a complementary, not competitive, process.  Unlike many aspects of the law, my winning does not mean the other person loses.  In fact, it’s the exact opposite. It may not feel that way because I’m afraid of what the other person may think of me or how it will affect the relationship.

When I am living my truest life, I am living full of wellness, which is the ideal state of any relationship – including work.

I am the one who is ultimately responsible for my wellness.  Others can care and want to help me but if I’m not taking the basic steps to create personal wellness, it will make little difference.

Are there truths that you that you once kept hermetically sealed away?  When you finally were honest with yourself, was it harder than you thought it would be?  Would you ever go back?  How did that experience affect your overall wellness?


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  • Ronn Elzinga

    Jim, I liked this piece. I especially like the probing questions at the end.

    “Are there truths that you once kept hermetically sealed away?”

    One those hermetically sealed truths in my life was that, in compartmentalizing my emotions in regards to my clients’ sometimes tragic and unfair situations, I was, over time, actually sealing my feelings from other relationships and from myself. The real tragedy of it was that I was completely unaware I had done this. It took a painful process to reveal it, and a more painful process to undo/unseal those emotions. Would I ever go back? Not a chance. The cost in pain to myself (and even to others I love) was well worth who I have become on this journey to wellness.

    • Jim Dwyer

      I so understand what you are talking about. In an effort to avoid uncomfortable feelings, what we ironically do is avoid the deeper truths about life. The more time and effort I spend avoiding how I feel, or telling someone else how I am feeling, it creates distance – adversely effecting the relationship from what it could be. Thank you for sharing a personal experience/lesson in life. I always appreciate your insight.

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