Nothing is Worth Sacrificing Yourself – A Reminder for All Lawyers [TFLP229]

Today’s podcast episode is an important reminder every lawyer needs to hear. Sarah reminds listeners that nothing about your job is as important as you and your emotional, mental, and physical health. For lawyers, it’s easy to feel their value as human beings is basically in job performance. 

It’s tough for lawyers to feel like they exist outside the lawyer bubble. Working a lot and being chronically sleep-deprived keeps your nervous system in a state that makes it hard to maintain perspective. The systems are designed to cause you to lose perspective, especially in large firms. The system benefits when you are all caught up in your own performance for the organization. 

This podcast often addresses how easy it can be to lose one’s identity and ask, “Who am I if I’m not a lawyer?” It’s not surprising that there are so many mental health challenges in the legal profession. People constantly put their emotional, mental, and physical health on the back burner to focus on work. 

Without support for human connection and authenticity, it can be really hard to step back and gain some perspective. So, it’s important to remind yourself that you are more important than any job. You are valuable, and it has nothing to do with the fact that you’re a lawyer. 

Therapy is a beneficial tool, and Sarah always encourages lawyers to go to therapy. Therapists can help you understand why your value is tied up in your job. They will ask questions that help you dig deep and gain more perspective. If you are looking for a therapist to start this journey, start with Psychology Today’s website. There is a search function that will help you locate someone in your area.

Nothing in the legal profession is as valuable as you are as a human. Your value and worth exist outside of that. If you are thinking about taking action to leave the law, you can join the Former Lawyer Collab, meet other people in the same position, and gain valuable resources.

Hi, and welcome to The Former Lawyer Podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Cottrell. I practiced law for 10 years and now I help unhappy lawyers ditch their soul-sucking jobs. On this show, I share advice and strategies for aspiring former lawyers, and interviews with former lawyers who have left the law behind to find careers and lives that they love.

Today, I'm popping in with a really important reminder that I think every lawyer needs to hear because it can be so hard to remember, and that is that nothing about your job is as important as you and your emotional, mental, and physical health.

It is so easy, as lawyers, to feel like our value as human beings is basically in our performance in our jobs. We've talked many, many times in the podcast about the really dismal mental health statistics about the legal profession.

Next week, I'll be releasing a conversation with my client, Kelcey Baker, talking about a new story that recently broke about a really horrible situation involving mental health and a former Biglaw partner in the UK.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to remind you that it is so hard when you're in the lawyer bubble to feel like you exist outside the lawyer bubble, that your importance as a person exists outside of your role as a lawyer, especially if you're in a role where you are working a lot, where you're chronically sleep deprived and your nervous system is being highly stressed, it can be very hard to maintain perspective.

Frankly, the way that these systems often operate, they are designed to cause you to lose perspective. Especially when we're talking about large law firms, the system benefits when you feel like everything that you are is bound up in your performance for that organization.

The reality is that in a lot of these environments, there is not support for authenticity, human connection, being a human with needs, any of these things. So I just wanted to share a really brief episode to remind you that you matter and you are valuable regardless of and outside of who you are as a lawyer.

We talk often on the podcast about how easy it is to lose our identity, ourself in our identity as a lawyer. It's so common for people to feel like, “Who am I if I'm not a lawyer?”

The fact that for so many of us, we do end up in that position, it's not surprising that there are so many mental health challenges in the legal profession because feeling like your emotional, mental, and physical health is less important than your job or your performance in your job, is a very damaging thing and yet it is something that is communicated in so many of our workplaces and in the profession as a whole, even while at the same time, people give lip service to the importance of mental health and wellness, “balance,” and all of these things.

So I just wanted to remind you, you are more important than any job. You are valuable outside of, apart from, having nothing to do with the fact that you're a lawyer.

For a lot of us, we may not have had a lot of experiences that actually tell us that is true so it can be really hard to feel that is true. So if I'm saying this and you're like, “I mean, that's nice in theory, but do I actually feel it? Hmm, questionable,” yeah, that's very normal.

Also, it's frankly one of the many reasons why I talk all the time about why I think lawyers should be in therapy. Because one of the things that therapists can do is help you understand like, “Why do I feel like my value is so tied up in my job, in my performance as a lawyer?”

Nothing about your job is worth sacrificing your mental, physical, and emotional health. You are more valuable than any job, and you deserve care if you are struggling. You're definitely not alone.

A great place to start if you are struggling and don't have a therapist is the Psychology Today website has a search function that you can go on and look for a therapist in your area based on various specialties.

I hope that you are able to take care of yourself and also to know that if you struggle with that, that is normal. You are normal. Just remember, nothing in this profession, in your job, nothing is as valuable as you, as a person, as a human. Your value, your worth, even if it may not feel like this is the case, exists outside of all of that. Thanks for joining me. I'll talk to you next week.

Are you sick of just thinking about it and ready to take action towards leaving the law? Join us in the Former Lawyer Collab. The Collab is my entry-level program for lawyers who are wanting to make a change and leave the law for another career. You can join us at Until next time, have a great week.