We have all heard some version of the adage, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Part of standard pre-flight instructions for air travelers is to “secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others.” Regardless of the metaphor, all of these phrases echo the same sentiment - we have to tend to ourselves before we can adequately attend to others. The advice is sensible, but how many of us lawyers are actually following it?
Starting with law school (or even farther back), the path to becoming a lawyer is laced with pressure at every turn from law society exams and securing articles to building a client base and coping with client demands - the list goes on and on. Now add to the mix pressures from other areas of your life, like maintaining relationships and parenting or family demands, including caring for aging parents. Along with the external pressures, are our internal expectations and sometimes perfectionistic tendencies i.e. what we “should be doing”.
We can see why the cup remains empty or close to empty! The reality? Our well-being requires attention and maintenance and without it, our longevity in the profession, as well as our ability to navigate and care for those around us is compromised.
Part of a good protective strategy is to prioritize ourselves. Each of us has a rich and unique sense of self that is worthy of care. Internal and external pressures will attempt to chip away at that self, sometimes daily. We are complex beings, with the capacity to enjoy multiple pursuits. Extracurricular activities are often associated with children’s schedules - sports, art classes, playdates with friends, etc. These activities are an enriching part of childhood, so why can’t they continue throughout our lives? The activities will take different forms, but we can still benefit from setting aside time for interests, contemplation and practices that are ours alone, standing apart from our other roles. We can give ourselves permission to tend to the different dimensions of our lives that can help us thrive. The LAPBC well-being model complements those different areas of our lives. Reflecting on these categories can help us keep tabs on areas of ourselves we might be neglecting. Intentionally filling our well-being cup (or seven cups!) is an essential part of a well-being strategy.
Take your vacations, sign up for that art class, jump into yoga, go for a walk, call a friend - whatever “it” is that fills your cup, take the time for it now and your future self will thank you for it.