For Women in Law By Women in Law

Managing the Self-Critic: Believing in Yourself is Enough

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Sometimes, we are fortunate enough to have people close to us who believe in us and who support us unconditionally in achieving our greatest goals. But that is not always the case.

This profession is notoriously challenging no matter what level of experience. The hours are long, clients depend on you, your colleagues depend on you, and you are constantly pulled in different directions having to readjust priorities and swiftly and efficiently resolve conflicts all at once. Not to mention home life responsibilities. It is no surprise that the burnout rate is high.

In this line of work, it is important, and arguably essential, to have the right support systems in place. Support can come from family, friends, colleagues, or mentors. And when these sources of support appear to be lacking, we always have ourselves.

When it comes to believing in ourselves, it’s not exactly a walk in the park. For example, at times I find myself buried in self-doubt and self-criticism (read: the little voice on my shoulder that never seems to go away). This negative self-talk has been proven to alter brain function and cognitive performance.[1]

The self-critic will always be there. But what can we do about it? I suggest that we can learn skills to manage the self-critic, and to foster positive self-talk. This takes time, education, patience, grace, and resilience. This can be as simple as reminding ourselves that “yes, I can”, and as difficult as working through limiting beliefs through courses, books, counselling, or other strategies.

Women are incredibly strong and resilient. We face challenges head on. We take care of our families. We take care of our colleagues. And often we do this without even realizing it. This can leave little room, if any, for us to take care of ourselves. And sometimes, taking care of ourselves and believing in ourselves may be exactly what we need to push through hard times.

What does self-care look like for you? What does believing in yourself look like for you? Regardless of the answer, yes you can.


About the Author

Leyla Salmi is an associate at Harper Grey and practices with the firm’s Construction and Engineering Law Group. Leyla takes pride in giving back to the profession and her community. She currently acts as a Beedie Luminaries Mentor, providing mentorship to students as they complete their post-secondary education.

[1] See for example, Cadinu, M., Maass, A., Rosabianca, A., & Kiesner, J. (2005). Why Do Women Underperform Under Stereotype Threat?: Evidence for the Role of Negative Thinking. Psychological Science16(7), 572-578.
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