I remain amazed at how well the Uh-Oh Bingo technique works to defuse anxiety, so I thought it was high time to share it. The holidays are filled with potential (likely?) landmines of unmet expectations, both yours and those foisted on you. Rather than get all worked up about Aunt Gertrude’s insensitive comments about your weight, your lack of children, your lackluster career or your lack of $1M in the bank, put her likely carping on the card. Then sit back and laugh.
What you need, and what is fantastically hard for driven professionals like lawyers, is to simply let your mind wander with some ideas that are not calculated to solve a problem. To ponder without an agenda. To allow yourself to simply be, in all your unproductive glory. Walking is a great way to get to this state.
Dr. Dave Carbonell says, “Our brains are organs devoted to solving problems, just like our stomachs are organs devoted to digesting food. When we direct them to solve a problem, like adding up numbers or reading a paragraph, brains generally do a good job. But there is no “off switch” to the brain. It is always looking for problems, just as our stomachs are always waiting for food. When our brains lack problems to solve, they often make some up.” But when lawyers aren’t working, they don’t turn off that switch. They likely aren’t even aware there is a switch; they’ve been drilled that “THIS IS THE WAY IT IS.”
One of the chief reasons for the spike in depression, anxiety and hostility among law students and lawyers is that legal education teaches us to disconnect from our emotions and moral code—our values—and instead utilize logic and analysis exclusively as problem-solving tools. This disconnection is what drives so much lawyer unhappiness.