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Most of us spend a lot of time working. At minimum 5 hours a week, 8 hours a day, and even more if we include commuting. Work itself is hard, and many of us – in any profession – can find it difficult to go from working all day to feeling happy and comfortable at home. There is a reason that, to address mental health, we often have to discuss the effects that our jobs have on us.

This is especially true, however, in the legal profession, and it is not only because the jobs themselves are fairly high stress. It is also because the legal profession, more than nearly any other profession, is one of the few jobs where a person is faced with black and white thinking – you either win, or you lose.

The Long Term Effects of Win/Loss Thinking

Rarely do we have to think in terms of wins and losses in most of our jobs. Work itself is typically gray area. A landscaper’s job isn’t winning and losing. A therapist’s job isn’t winning and losing. Even doctors do not typically deal with wins and losses every day (though they may have their own stresses related to loss in their profession).

But lawyers are different. Lawyers have to think in terms of winning. They have to look at cases to determine how they can win, and then – when they’re done – they have a peer that will almost literally tell them if they won or lost based on what they put together.

If they go to trial, they have a judge or, potentially, 12 other people that will tell them if they won or lost. Even in cases they win, this type of thinking, where you’re judged on your ability to win or lose, can have long lasting consequences.

This is believed to be why lawyers one of the careers most commonly linked to depression. When a person has black and white, win/loss thinking:

  • Every loss makes someone a “loser”
  • Every mistake means you’ve failed.
  • Every opposing counsel becomes an enemy.

You spend days at a time trying to get the information you need together to “win” a case, and even if you do win, you’re often constantly overthinking your choices and thinking about how someone else may prove you wrong. It is a lot to take on, and it’s something that you keep with you in other areas of your life. When you combine that same style of thinking with the stresses of the profession, it’s easy to see why depression can develop.

Depression, Black and White Thinking, and Therapy

Depression itself is, in many ways, a function of black and white thinking – where someone is either a winner or a loser. When you internalize your failures, you become more prone to thinking negatively about yourself leading to the conditions that can create depression.

Therapy, however, can help address this. Therapists that work with lawyers, like Flourish Psychology, can provide you with mental health tools that can break you out of this win/loss cycle and help you see yourself and the world in ways that are not so psychologically damaging. Through therapy, we can provide you with tools and guidance to get you to feel more comfortable with yourself and better able to function at your job. If you’re looking for a therapist that specializes in working with lawyers and those in high stress positions, contact Flourish Psychology, today.

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