When we talk about “awakened lawyers,” we don’t only mean lawyers who are conscious of what they think, feel, say and do. Awakened lawyers are also acutely aware of the effect these things have on their world. Thus, they not only understand their own presence but also have empathy, sympathy and compassion.
What Does ‘Awakened’ Mean?
The basic meaning of “awakened” or “enlightened” is “to be aware” of everything — your thoughts, emotions, biases, behaviors, motivations and speech. Being awakened also suggests having control of all these aspects of our psyche.
According to Psychology Today, “Self-awakened persons aren’t dependent on their environment to meet their needs. They feel empowered, even in hostile environments, to weed out toxins and find nutrients. Driven by a sense of purpose and undisturbed by the opinions of others, they embrace freedom and independence.”
Being “awakened” also involves an appreciation of one of the most fundamental principles of awareness: All perception is projection. That is, what we see and experience is a function of what we believe, our prejudices and our biases. No two people perceive the same thing the same way. Individuals who are awakened understand this phenomenon and can use it to control their experience.
Awakened Lawyers Share These Five Traits
The following are the five most common traits of awakened lawyers.
1. Awakened Lawyers Are Emotionally Mature and Know How to Take Responsibility
Everyone knows the practice of law is challenging and competitive. Whether it causes stress and anxiety is often a function of emotional maturity. Awakened lawyers are able to reach the highest levels of emotional maturity.
Being emotionally mature means learning to accept responsibility for how we feel instead of placing blame or making excuses. By taking responsibility and asking what actions we can take to improve or change — including when to ask for help — we become awakened.
Emotional maturity is also the ability to control our emotions — to not take things too personally and be objective when necessary. Perhaps most importantly, being emotionally mature means being able to look for the positive lessons of any experience. When we focus on the growth and wisdom gained from an experience and limit self-criticism, we thrive.
Gratitude also plays a role in emotional maturity. When we can be grateful rather than think or feel negatively about a situation or experience, we become better lawyers and individuals. When we make gratitude our priority, we reduce stress and anxiety.
2. Awakened Lawyers Understand Their Own Motivations and How to Use Them
The reasons we do or say something may be more important than what we do or say. When we are aware of our motives, it affects what we do. The results we see when we are being generous as opposed to selfish can be profound. Similarly, when we are excited and engaged, we will get different results than if we are lazy and bored. It follows that we prosper if we focus on integrity over profits, respect over arrogance and long-term gain over short-term gain.
3. Awakened Lawyers Think Outside the Box
Awakened lawyers are not constrained by doing things the same old way every single time. It is ironic that jurisprudence has a built-in limiting factor: stare decisis. We follow existing rules until there is an overriding reason to disregard them. People who are awakened are bound only by integrity and compassion. We don’t do things simply because “that is the way it has always been done”; we do them because it is the best for all concerned.
Society is evolving faster than our legal system. We need lawyers who are creative and forward-thinking to be creative and proactive about solving the small and large issues that confront us every day. “The same old way” will not suffice.
4. Awakened Lawyers Prefer Collaboration Over Confrontation
Current legal systems were developed centuries ago as an alternative to violence to decide disputes. We need to apply the same creativity to find more effective ways to resolve conflict today. Awakened lawyers are advocating for more mediation, collaborative law and expert consultation to replace the jury system we have today.
For example, a different approach is desperately needed in family law. Everyone who deals with divorce, custody, child support, and property division disputes knows the current system is cumbersome, expensive and divisive. For years, I have been advocating to remove family law from the court system and create mediation panels that would review the case and employ not only legal processes but emotional, mental and financial counselors to create a holistic framework for the families. It would certainly help the overburdened court system and remove the stigma, delay and trauma from the process.
5. Awakened Lawyers Prioritize Health and Wellness
Physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health is every lawyer’s right and responsibility. When we struggle or suffer, it is counterproductive to do so in silence.
When they are physically sick, most proactive people will seek medical help. Those who struggle mentally or emotionally, however, will not always reach out for support or counseling. Awakened lawyers are not afraid to be vulnerable or honest about their feelings. We have the emotional maturity to recognize when we need help and take an active role in maintaining and improving our overall health.
Beacons in the Legal Profession
I am sure we all know someone who sets an example for others to follow. We need to be that person as well.
Awakened lawyers have a substantial impact on the society around them. They are a beacon for those who connect with them and a positive influence on those around them.
Leadership happens by example, not by edict. Awakened lawyers who serve the profession with integrity and honesty can be the example the world needs.
Nothing in our own lives or our world will improve, however, if we take life for granted and blame others when we don’t get what we want.
Awakened lawyers are capable of so much more.
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