My phone died. What?? – or – Automatic thoughts and the fun they create for us

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This week, I had to take my laptop into the shop due to Blue Screen of Death and a series of other issues. I’ve been using my older daughter’s small notebook-laptop. Trying to do her a little favor, I updated Java yesterday, but the update wouldn’t “take.” Today I tried again to work on the Java issue – which created a whole host of crap problems – malware bullshit and constant pop ups.2147187_s

The malware wouldn’t have been horrible except I only had 2 hours to upload my scholarship recommendations for two high school students. So there was time pressure. Got the recommendations written and uploaded via my phone because I couldn’t figure out the computer problem.

Then my tire was flat – really flat. My husband took care of the tire situation, and I went home.

I walked through the door, and my younger daughter said, “My phone died.” My immediate thought was something like “give me a break.” (similar to that anyway.)

I immediately flipped into a vision of calling Verizon, trying to hurry to get the replacement phone sent overnight, etc.

It took her multiple attempts to get me to listen and realize that the phone’s battery had been dead (and therefore she hadn’t answered when I called.) The phone hadn’t bitten the dust; the battery was just temporarily out of power.

I was inordinately relieved actually. I really hadn’t wanted one more problem to deal with.

And I was really surprised that I had such difficulty hearing Kati explain that the phone was fine.

How often does this happen?

We see (or hear) what we expect to see (or hear.)

And we’re primed for certain conversations based on what the reference group of our overall life experiences, our most salient experiences, and our most recent experiences.

Let’s apply this to your work.

Lawyers’ days are not typically filled with sunshine and roses. People rarely hire a lawyer because they’re enamored with their lives. (Lawyers who handle start ups do get some of the excitement, but then they have to temper clients’ excitement with information and tough questions.)

If you’re like most lawyers much of your workday is comprised of dealing with conflict, avoiding problems, pointing out problems or potential problems, and being challenged by others and challenging others (whether in writing or aloud.)

Few people write thank you cards or invite you to celebratory parties.

What’s the mindset you take home at night? What’s the mindset you adopt after years of practice?

The most salient segments of your life are generally the emotionally charged ones – and those are generally negative for lawyers. Even when there’s a win, it’s difficult for lawyers to relax and enjoy it.

The most recent experiences you’ll take home are how you spent that day. If you’ve spent your day in stress, conflict or frustration, you’ll probably expect the rest of your day to be like that as well. When people spend their lives fighting, they tend to see everything as a struggle.

And all of this compounds with years of practice.

What’s the answer? Diligent, deliberate training yourself to see the world as a positive place. You literally learn to walk yourself through a process of setting aside the stress of the day as you go home. And you learn to pause before reacting. Don’t react automatically. Or, when you do react automatically, learn to see that for what it is more quickly. Doing these things will help you maintain internal calm and enjoy your life more.

You may spend your day dealing with stresses, but you can still enjoy your life.

Ready to talk? Email me – I’m here.

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