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Quality of Life: Life's curve balls require good coping skills

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While most of the country is concentrating on March Madness, my thoughts have turned to America's national pastime - and the concept of the curve ball (and not just because I had picked Kansas to win the NCAA Championship).

What happens when life is humming along just fine and suddenly you're up to bat and the unanticipated curve ball causes you to strike out? What do you do?

The curve ball can take many forms: the diagnosis of a serious illness; the death of a family member or friend; the unexpected end of a marriage; the demise of a business or loss of a job; or even the loss of property or loved ones in a natural disaster. The curve ball comes in many shapes and sizes, but the common denominator is that there was no predicting it.

How well you survive such a situation depends largely upon your coping skills and your ability to react to negative circumstances in a healthy manner. This can be somewhat difficult for attorneys for a number of reasons. First, attorneys tend to want to control situations. By definition, the curve ball is something that we cannot control. This can leave us feeling helpless and at the mercy of others, whether it be doctors or exiting clients. The feeling of helplessness can manifest as anger, sadness, depression, or a variety of other emotions. The first step to coping with the curve ball is to allow yourself to express those emotions. Don't bottle up your feelings or attempt to "tough it out" on your own. Try to rid yourself of anger in as constructive a manner as possible. Releasing negative emotions can put you in a much better frame of mind for making clear-headed decisions as you progress through the situation.

To cope with sadness or feelings of devastation or loss, enlist the help of family, trusted friends, clergy, or a professional therapist. This is often difficult for an attorney because we have been trained to provide help to others, not to accept it. Allowing yourself to accept help from others is a significant step toward dealing with unforeseen circumstances.

In a way, attorneys are short changed because they never receive training in how to take care of themselves, in direct contrast to the training received by physicians or therapists, or others in professions that deal with carrying the burdens of others. Other helping professionals receive training in self-care because of the psychological toll that comes from being responsible for the problems of others. Little wonder that attorneys might not be equipped to handle the curve balls in their own lives.

Lawyers are problem-solvers. They want to get to the root of the problem, analyze it, make sense of it, and fix it. The very nature of the curve ball, however, is that all of the analysis in the world won't result in making sense of it, or help in creating a solution. Sometimes the situation is just unfair and senseless.

So, what can you do? After you deal with the initial emotional fallout as well as you can, you should ask yourself some questions:

What do I need to get through this? How can I get that need met?

Is the situation one that I have the energy to fight? If so, what help can I enlist to do so?

What will it take for me to let go or accept the situation?

Answering these questions can help you to chart a path for action. Above all, be kind to yourself. Many find it helpful to turn the problem over to a Higher Power. Whether for you that means prayer or meditation, it can be helpful. Studies have shown the effectiveness of prayer and meditation in the healing process. Remember that you don't have to handle these situations alone. Give yourself time for reflection. Let other people take care of you for a change. Try to be patient. And remember that as trite as it sounds, time heals.

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  1. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  2. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  3. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

  4. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  5. This article proved very enlightening. Right ahead of sitting the LSAT for the first time, I felt a sense of relief that a score of 141 was admitted to an Indiana Law School and did well under unique circumstances. While my GPA is currently 3.91 I fear standardized testing and hope that I too will get a good enough grade for acceptance here at home. Thanks so much for this informative post.

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