Resilience is the ability to adapt or ‘bounce back’ from negative experiences such as criticism, rejection or significant sources of stress arising from family issues, health problems and, as lawyers, all of the stressful elements that we face every day in the workplace.
While each of us is born with a certain degree of resiliency, environmental factors can also influence our ability to move past difficult life experiences and recover more quickly. As a result, some people are highly resilient while others are not, if at all. Unfortunately, studies have shown that lawyers overall have low levels of resilience which likely provides some explanation as to why we, as a profession have higher rates of depression, anxiety, substance abuse and suicide. Some theories also include the view that lawyers are often more cynical, skeptical, critical and negative due to the nature of our work.
All hope is not lost. There are proven ways to boost one’s resilience allowing for a greater ability to deal with and recover from unsettling and upsetting situations and will become a key skill for tackling anxiety and depression in the profession. In his best-selling book, The Resiliency Advantage, the late Al Siebert, Ph.D. writes that “highly resilient people are flexible, adapt to new circumstances quickly, and thrive in constant change. Most important, they expect to bounce back and feel confident that they will. They have a knack for creating good luck out of circumstances that many others see as bad luck.”