A Gift You Give Yourself: Benefits of Self-Reflection and Self-Care for Attorneys

A Gift You Give Yourself: Benefits of Self-Reflection and Self-Care for Attorneys

By Kenya Bodden

As we approach the end of the calendar year, we have a number of reasons to reflect. I must admit, writing this column is challenging. At the beginning of what is considered the holiday season, my family suffered a serious and significant loss. As I continue to process my family’s loss, and balance the demands of our profession, the necessity to give time has never been more apparent. I have been spending a lot of time in reflection.

Throughout this year my columns have focused on giving time to people in our community as attorneys and citizens. Very few people argue with the value of giving time to others. Previous columns this year have discussed providing pro bono legal services, and volunteering in the community. Each of those activities provide direct benefit to others. However, when we consider time for self, we often refer to it as “taking time for self.” It almost seems selfish to say. It would be better if we thought about taking time for self-care and self-reflection as giving ourselves a gift. Giving ourselves time allows us to reflect on our careers and personal life. The philosopher Confucius believed there are three methods to gain wisdom and considered reflection as the noblest of methods. 
The Health and Care Professions Council states, “Reflection helps you gain insight into your professional [practice] by thinking analytically about any element of it. The insights developed, and lessons learned, can be applied to maintain good practice and can also lead to developments and improvements for both the professional and their [clients.]” We all have spent time thinking about cases won and cases lost and what we would do the next time you encounter a particular issue or case.
Using time to reflect is also beneficial for our personal lives. It is good for our physical and mental well-being. Professional burnout is a very real thing in the legal field. This is why we as legal professionals, driven by scheduling, need to make sure to schedule personal time for ourselves. Reflection does not require us to sit in a quiet room with no sound, although that works too. Reflection can be done while preparing your favorite meal or treat; sitting down for coffee; spending time with family and friends; watching a movie; listening to or playing music ; reading a novel; exercising; etc. 
I know it is hard to give yourself time for reflection, but the benefit outweighs the difficulty to find the time. Hopefully, you will give yourself the gift of “me time” in the coming weeks to allow yourself the ability to nourish your physical and mental wellbeing. Not only will your personal health benefit, but your practice will too. 

“Time spent in self-reflection is never wasted – it is an intimate date with yourself.”

—Dr. Paul TP Wong, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, and professor

Kenya Bodden, 2022-2023 Ramsey County Bar Association President, is a partner at Thompson Coe LLP, a 70-plus-year-old national complex litigation law firm with more than 200 attorneys. Kenya focuses his litigation practice in the areas of casualty, transportation, insurance defense, and products liability. He also serves as a board member of Children’s Hospital Association (CHA), a dedicated group of volunteers who raise funds to invest in innovative and integral health care programs at Children’s Minnesota.