Breaking Stigma - The Value of Lived Experience

At LAPBC, we are grateful that so many individuals in our legal profession are concerned about the well-being of their colleagues. We feel privileged to have the opportunity to guide and support these people, many of whom volunteer with us, as they connect and enhance the lives of others. One of the most powerful tools people have in terms of connecting with another is the sharing of their ‘lived experience’. Simply put, ‘lived experience’ is the collective wisdom and understanding one garners from the various positive and negative experiences of their life. 

When shared for the purpose of connecting with another it can be truly inspiring, and this is very evident when ‘lived experience’ is used to shine light on the darkness of stigma. Sharing how your well-being became prominent in your life can inspire others to value their own. It’s important to note that a senior lawyer can show their humanity and the challenges of the profession without feeling completely vulnerable with a junior lawyer. Senior lawyers can normalize asking for help by giving junior people the permission to do so. Junior lawyers can talk with peers about challenges so that others feel less isolated.

At all times, and especially during this Well-Being Week, we encourage our colleagues in the legal community to share their lived experience with others as it relates to well-being. So many junior lawyers and other legal professionals are hampered by the stigma of asking for help when their well-being is suffering. The acknowledgement and validation of well-being by the profession’s leaders is a powerful and transformative force. Many individuals, often those new to the profession, need guidance connecting the importance of their well-being to the success and enjoyment of their legal careers. The practice of law is a marathon, not a sprint, and learning to care for our whole selves and all the dimensions of our lives leads to long, purposeful careers practised by stable and happy lawyers. When that message is delivered by caring, grounded lawyers it is nurturing and empowering.

During this COVID pandemic many of us have realized our well-being can’t be taken for granted and needs some of our energy and focus if we are to thrive in our lives. The pandemic has helped us realize that our happiness is vulnerable to external realities and forced us to examine what really gives us meaning and purpose. ‘Benefit finding’ is the practice of realizing the lessons learned and the strengths uncovered through experiencing difficult circumstances. Many of you are taking this reality, this benefit of the pandemic, and using it as an opportunity to examine your own well-being and that of those close to you. This is important and we encourage you to take this opportunity for self-reflection and to connect with others by sharing your lived experience to break down the stigma of asking for help.

At LAPBC, we encourage you to be brave, to be present, and realize on your desire to help and connect with those around you on the importance of well-being in your own life. Please reach out to us any time if you would like further support.