Mark Perlmutter is back for the second post in his six-part series on law school lessons that are not advisable for a healthy home life. If you missed his first post, be sure to read it here. Mark is a Texas trial lawyer turned counselor who helps individuals (many of whom are former lawyers) have better relationships. Welcome back, Mark!
In Part 1 of this series, we talked about how we lose in love when we try to win at all costs. Now we consider the costs of not feeling.
By the time I see law students in their third year, much of whatever emotional awareness they had has been eradicated. Just like “there’s no crying in baseball,” there’s no feeling in law school. We’re taught that dispassionate analysis is the goal, made fun of for reacting emotionally when we complain in class that a court’s decision was unfair, and taught to not show our feelings to our opponents for (the legitimate) fear they’ll take advantage.
We’ve got to be tough, to squash our longings for connection and support.
The problem with this is twofold.
- Many of our partners want us to not just say we understand what they’re going through, but also to show we really get what they’re feeling. This is impossible if we’ve disowned our own similar feelings.
- If we’ve disowned our own needs for warmth and tenderness, we may see such needs in our partners as weak and “whiny,” and rather than reacting with warmth and tenderness, we may become cold and judgmental. This pattern can go on for years until the exasperated, left-wanting partner seeks therapy. But by then, the pattern may so entrenched that it can’t be undone short of divorce.
But here’s the rub.
Once we start feeling things at home, we may feel unpleasant things at work more acutely. The good news is therapists and other professionals can show us coping skills to help us manage the inevitable feelings of anger, frustration, anxiety, sadness, and longing for peace and solace that are endemic to lawyering.
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And check out the rest of the posts in this series:
- Six Things Learned in Law School That Shouldn’t Be Tried at Home
- Six Things We Learned in Law School: How to Solve Problems
- How to Drink: A Skill That May Have Been Pre-Learned and Finely Honed in Law School
- Six Things We Learned in Law School: How (NOT) to Compromise
- Six Thinks We Learned in Law School: How to Give Advice
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