Do you find it hard to ask for help?
Do you prefer to keep your business private and try to fix problems yourself when they arise?
That’s fine. Autonomy is a good thing. But what if you can’t fix the problem? What if it only gets worse? Maybe it’s a difficult case or client. Or a larger issue involving sex, money, food, relationships, drugs or alcohol.
You come up with one great idea after another, but nothing works. The problem grows worse. You keep running into walls. You feel yourself sinking.
Try asking for help.
This is a challenge for some of us. We were raised to be self-sufficient. We were taught to be strong and independent. We come from cultural and religious backgrounds that preach the virtues of suffering in silence and sucking it up.
Reach Out and Find Relief
But we don’t have to stay this way. We can choose to ask for help. We can choose to see this as an act of empowerment and strength, not weakness. It can lead us out of some dark and dismal places.
Lawyers could certainly use it. Alcohol and drug abuse is higher among our profession than others. Suicide rates are higher. Stress, depression, anxiety and other health problems are higher.
The law is a big deal, and pressure goes with the territory. What lawyers do every day – the decisions they make, the actions they take – has a direct impact on people’s lives. This is a heavy burden.
Asking for help is a way to lighten the load.
Take it From Top Coaches
Some people are naturally comfortable reaching out to others. They do it instinctively. Others are more tucked-in.
If you are a lone ranger, take heart. The more you practice asking for help, the better you will get at it. It’s easy. Start by practicing self-awareness. Every now and then take a mental step back see how you are doing. If you find you’ve dug yourself into a hole, have the sense to stop digging and put the shovel down. Then go get some help.
We get by with a little help from our friends.
You will be pleasantly surprised to find most people will welcome the opportunity.
Remember to go to the right place, though. Solicit help only from sources you feel are professional and trustworthy.
A final note: asking others for help is a smart career strategy. True leaders – in sports, business and the military – are inclusive. They know when and how to ask for help. They recruit top talent, and they ask that talent to go out and execute – the key word being “ask.”
Five Training Tips
- Know where to go if you’re feeling low. A great North Carolina resource is BarCARES. This group offers free mental health counseling to lawyers, law students and families across the state. Its confidential, short-term services cover depression and anxiety, alcohol and substance use, marriage and parenting, financial concerns, work stressors and time management.
- Consider the Lawyers Assistance Program. The NC State Bar helps lawyers struggling with alcohol, drugs or mental health issues through its Lawyer Assistance Program. The LAP has a trained staff and network of lawyer-volunteers.
- Recognize the warning signs. Pay attention. Watch for red flags that mean you are sinking into a sad place. You lose your sense of humor. You stop jogging or listening to music or going to the movies. You lose interest in things that usually bring you pleasure.
- Call Lawyers Mutual. If you are stressed about a case or worried you might have made a mistake, call the claims department at Lawyers Mutual. Their lawyers have been where you are. They can help.
- Remember this adage. A problem shared is a problem halved.