Balancing the Bar

Happiness and the Practice of Law

Dodging Second Darts

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I am reading Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom.  This is actually my second time reading this wonderful book by Rick Hanson.  It has been over a year since my first reading.  It was one of the first books I read when trying to sort out my work life balance.  It is an amazing book. 

One of the most amazing concepts is that of “second darts”.  As we all know, unexpected things happen and other people (lawyers in particular) can be aggressive and inappropriate.  You know the scenario the client or attorney wants things their way and thinks they can have it just because it is their desire or they try to beat you into submission verbally or worse yet by email.  After day after day of dealing with others expectations it is no wonder I leave my office and my brain hurts.  These instances are first darts.  They are the initial thing that can set your mind spinning and ruin your day if you let it.

The second darts are those thoughts that flow through your mind after the initial instance, email or phone call.   You know the ones.  “How dare this client complain about a settlement when I did everything but stand on my head to get this done!”  “What a jerk does he think I can be bullied?”  You get the idea.  I have spent many years throwing of second darts at myself.  The thoughts can go on for hours.  Second darts are what in the past fueled my desire to scream, throw things and/or throw up my hands and quit.  It is hard to keep them at bay. Everyone does this – it is a party of human nature to try to rationalize with our emotions.

Most people cannot differentiate between the first and the second dart.  You can watch others go from 0 to 60 emotionally in 2.2 seconds.  It is amazing to see how one event can start a cascade of worry and anxiety.  It is up to each person to stop the cycle.  And it is within each person’s power to do this.  If we all stopped let the first dart just sit there and then sent emails, or returned phone calls or stated our position how much aggravation and stress would we eliminate. 

Buddha’s Brain and Rick Hanson’s second book Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain one Step at a Time are full great techniques to help you calm and reset your brain.  Dr. Hanson has a website devoted to the practices and a weekly email sign up as well.  He lectures often and if you visit you tube he has a channel devoted to his new book called justoneminutetoday.  

My favorite technique is an easy one to do.  When you feel stressed or anxious  take three breaths inhaling and exhaling the same amount of time.  Some days I count to three several times.   And it helps a lot.


Author: Tabitha M. Hochscheid

Attorney since 1995, interested in Attorney Health and Well Being and related issues for lawyers and the general population. Developer and Committee Chair of the Cincinnati Bar Association Health and Well Being Committee.

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