How do you engage yourself and feed your spirit? Keep in mind that it’s completely within your control. First, you load up on the right thoughts, actions, and habits. Second, you let go of toxic thoughts, actions, and habits.
Today’s post is about removing toxicity. Specifically, it’s about–
Starving the negativity out of your life.
Did you that attorneys are 3.6 times more likely to suffer a depressive episode in their lifetime than people from any other profession? That’s HUGE. In grad school I learned that dentists have a high rate of depression and even suicide. But that makes sense. I mean, who ever WANTS to go to the dentist? Nobody. In fact, people HATE going to the dentist. And think about it from the point of view of the dentist: he spends his day sticking his fingers inside the mouth of strangers. Wouldn’t you be depressed?
Anyway, back to attorneys. Researchers think they understand why attorneys suffer from depressive episodes.
But before I share that, let’s look at your typical attorney. The type of person who studies law is bright. And to finish law school and then study for and pass the BAR, you have to be driven. In addition to be smarter, more educated, and more driven than the average person, attorneys make more money and enjoy higher social status than the average person.
So why the heck are they depressed?
Negativity spills over into every area of life.
Researchers say that it’s a matter of training, reinforcement, and habit. From the very first course in law school, students are taught to be accusatory instead of accepting, cynical instead of compassionate. In other words, they are trained to be fault-finders.
Then they enter a law practice or go work for the district attorney. Do you know how they get reinforced? The better they “argue” cases, the more they win. The more cases they win, the faster they climb the ladder, make a name for themselves, and scoop up big money.
Over time, this tendency to argue, find faults, apply critical thinking, and to question everything becomes a habit.
Research suggests that attorneys don’t switch off their habits when they leave the office, and many times the negativity sticks to them and follows them around like toilet paper clings to the bottom of a wet shoe.
If you want more engagement in your life, LET GO of negativity.
Even if you’re the district attorney, learn to let it go once you leave work!
So if your coworker “blows off” your email requests or phone calls, let it go. It probably has nothing to do with you anyway. Haven’t you ever gotten behind or had to deal with something your own boss dropped on your desk?
And if your wife accidentally leaves the car window down in the driveway overnight just in time for it to rain cats and dogs for hours, let it go. You’re not perfect, either. Remember the time you forgot to fill up the gas tank and that led to your wife getting stranded on the side of the road? She forgave you after a few years. Now it’s your turn.
And when your son takes his I-phone to school…only to have it stolen and gone for good, let it go. Remind yourself that the loss of the phone is bad enough without you heaping on extra guilt or lectures.
And even when you do something boneheaded and embarrassing, let it go. Do you really want to be remembered by the defining moment of your last screw up? Stop beating yourself up, and replace the error by doing something positive instead.
Make a list. Check it twice. Then let it go already.
1. Make a list of the situations and people that get you stuck in a downward, negative spiral.
2. Ask yourself these two questions: Can I control it or them? Can I limit my contact with it or them? If the answer is YES, do so. If not…
3. Check your shoes for toilet paper. If your shoes are TP free, say “Poof!” as a little humorous, magical incantation to remind you that you alone have the magical power to keep the negativity from sticking to you the rest of the day.
4. Apply the previous post: start LOOK FORWARD TO SOMETHING positive that is on the other side of this situation or person.
When you put a cork in negativity, you start inviting engagement.