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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. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  2. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  3. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  4. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  5. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

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