The importance of self-love
In Alcoholics Anonymous, we recite the Serenity Prayer at every meeting:
[Higher Power], grant me the serenity To accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
This is a powerful prayer, which asks a Higher Power to help us love and accept ourselves no matter what we have done in the past, what we do in the present or what we might do in the future. It helps us recognize what we can change about ourselves to lead healthier lives. We can also think about this saying as a way to help us love ourselves.
Self-love is a basic human necessity. It means loving all parts of yourself: accepting your flaws and weaknesses, taking charge of your emotional, mental and physical well-being. Practicing self-love does not mean you are selfish or narcissistic. It means that you are taking the steps to be the best you to live a healthy and meaningful life.
I first learned about self-love in AA many years ago. I learned that once I started loving myself, it was much easier to create meaningful relationships, I slept better, and I had a better mentality on life, among many other things. Judges, like lawyers, are responsible for other people’s problems. You make critical decisions to help others resolve issues, but it is very important that you learn how to love yourself.
So what can you do to love yourself?
Be aware of the negative voice inside your mind
Have you heard it? The negative thought that pops into your head when you make a mistake, when you say the wrong words, when you wake up in the morning, when you are late? It might tell you that you are stupid, that you are ugly, that you are not good at your job. Learn to recognize these thoughts and challenge them. Replace them with something positive. For example, if you double-booked meetings, if the voice tells you that you’re unorganized and a failure, tell yourself that you will do a better job of keeping your calendar up to date. If you wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and the voice tells you that you are ugly and old, squash it. Tell yourself that you look pretty good for your age! Just as we start to believe our negative thoughts, if you replace them with positive affirmations, you will start to believe them.
We all make mistakes. Let me be clear. You are going to make mistakes. You will fail. We all do! It’s how you recover from that mistake that matters. Forgive yourself. Holding on to negative feelings about a mistake will only cause a grudge, and grudges hold negative energy. Release that energy. Forgive yourself.
Put an end to toxic relationships
A dysfunctional family member, a bitter friend, a nosy neighbor, a jerk business associate (yes, they exist!). These are just a few examples of toxic people. Think about the people who make you feel drained, confused, guilty, abused or taken for granted. You need to remove these toxic relationships from your life. A good friend of mine had a toxic relationship with his mother. She abandoned him when he was young, but then tried to make up for it when he got older and had a family of his own. After a couple years of trying to reconcile with her, he realized that she did not change. She was still her narcissistic self, she manipulated him, and she brought back tragic memories from when he was a child. This affected his relationship with his wife and his children. He finally realized that he could not have a relationship with her. It was toxic. Once he removed her from his life, his entire view of life changed for the better. Sometimes we don’t even realize that people are toxic, but once you remove them from your life, you can feel that a huge weight has been lifted.
It’s ok to say no
You are invited to several parties, lunch gatherings, soirees and galas. Your best friend is stressed and wants to get together to talk, your caseload is heavy, your co-worker needs you to review paperwork, you have to make time for your child’s baseball game, and your mom wants your help baking cookies. It is nearly impossible to meet everyone’s demands and say yes to their invitations. It’s ok to say no. If saying no is difficult for you, try “Thank you for the invitation, but I have a prior engagement” or “I would love to attend your event, but I have already committed to another event.”
If you are having trouble determining if you should say yes or no to the invitations, set up criteria based on your values. Ask yourself questions such as “Do I really want to do this? What do I gain from doing this? Does it interfere with family events?” This will help you choose wisely.
It’s not your responsibility to make other people happy
Many people believe that it’s their job to make others happy. This is far from the truth. For example, your significant other hasn’t been happy at her job. Every night you coach her and try to fix her problem. You start feeling stressed because you feel helpless and cannot fix it for her. There’s a difference between loving and supporting someone and trying to fix their problems in hopes that they will be happy. We cannot change how others feel. Your spouse is responsible for her own emotions. What you can do is support her, love her, listen to her and give her advice, but you cannot change the way she feels. She owns those emotions. The truest source of happiness comes from within.
Don’t forget about self-care
Don’t forget to eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, and exercise. There is only one you, and you are special. You deserve to be loved and treated with respect. That love starts from within.
By Scott R. Mote, Executive Director of the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program
About the Judicial Advisory Group
A judge’s job is to provide competent guidance to the public, which can sometimes turn into stress. Stress can lead to an undiagnosed mental disorder that could affect the way a judge decides a case, so it is important that judges seek help if they feel that their mental health could use a check-up.
Judges can contact the Judicial Advisory Group, a peer-based assistance group that helps the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program (OLAP) provide confidential assistance to judges.
JAG helps OLAP:
Screen referrals regarding judges to be sure they represent genuine concerns.
Respond to judges who need help in ways that address the demands of judges’ responsibilities and positions.
OLAP and JAG help judges in several areas:
Issues of judicial temperament and diligence that on their face do not rise to disciplinary violations
Burnout, stress, and other debilitating conditions
Depression or other mental health issues
Alcohol and substance abuse
For more information:
Call (800) 348-4343
All inquiries are confidential.