Managing Self

Don’t believe everything you think

Written by Allison Wolf

During the cold blustery weather and long dark nights of winter, it’s a busy time of year for law firms and legal departments. This combination of a lot of work and not a lot of daylight hours can be quite a downer.

When our mood drops, our thoughts follow in a negative turn. When negativity creeps in don’t believe everything you think.

Waking in the morning darkness and thinking of the pressures of the day, we might start ruminating on our failings.

At the end of a long day when we are tired and facing a dark, seemingly endless commute home, our minds can easily turn to pessimistic musings.

My lowest thoughts come when I am tired at the end of day. I have learned to recognise them for what they are — signals that I have worked hard and need to rest and recuperate. I also know not to pay attention to what they might be telling me.

I don’t believe everything that I think.

Chances are you are in the winter doldrums when you find yourself thinking things like:

  • I’m not good enough
  • That was stupid of me
  • I am going to fail
  • I am going to mess it up
  • I shouldn’t have
  • This is hopeless
  • I’m trapped

Don’t believe what you are thinking. Instead, notice that you are feeling low and engage in some simple self-care.

Get a good night’s sleep.

Eat delicious healthy food.

Enjoy some time with loved ones.

Go play outside. Walk, run, ski, or do whatever you like to do in the fresh air.

Take some slow deep breaths a few times a day to keep stress at bay.

A senior partner shared this simple breathing practice with me from Adam Hart, the author of the Power of Food.

  • Get very comfortable – sitting
  • Eyes closed
  • Hand on heart
  • Breathe in for 4 seconds
  • Breathe out for 7 seconds
  • Smile while doing. Think a comforting thought while doing.

The partner told me, “I have done ten days and it has become a calming habit. A friend and I texted several times a day to ensure we did it for the first ten days to make it stick.”

If you’re facing some big challenges, consult with a friend, mentor, or coach for additional insight and a second perspective.

If you find your negative thoughts taking hold for days at a time, reach out to a counsellor for support.

I can tell you what I know is true. In those dark moments you don’t know yourself as well as you might think you do.

About the author

Allison Wolf

I am the founder of AWAL and one of the most senior coaches for lawyers in North America. I have helped countless clients over the past fifteen years, develop thriving legal practices and before that served as director of marketing for award-winning law firms. My specialty is uncovering the thinking traps and gaps holding clients back and helping them acquire the mindsets, skills, and habits for growing successful and rewarding legal careers. After a career in legal marketing and business development with law firms in Beijing, New York, and Vancouver, I was trained as a coach in 2004 at Royal Roads University and now coach clients from across North America. You can reach me at or learn more about my coaching practice from the coaching section of the Attorney With A Life Website.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.